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Montana Elk Hunting

Montana Elk Hunting 2024

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If you are a hunter who wants to hunt elk every year, you need to be applying in Montana. With the way the preference point system is set up for the general elk tags, a hunter will never go longer than three years between elk hunts in Montana. The general season units cover most of the western portion of the state, with a handful of units scattered across the eastern side of the state. There are also a number of limited-entry units that have the potential to produce bigger bulls, with most of these units located on the eastern half of the state. The rifle permits have tough odds, but most of the archery permits can be drawn every three to five years as a nonresident. Take a look at our archery and rifle elk tables for the better limited-entry elk hunts.

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Montana Elk Draw

Non-resident hunters must draw a general license in order to be entered into the special drawing. Non-resident hunters who draw a general license and are not successful in drawing a special, limited-entry permit will still have options. The first option is that hunters may turn their general license back into the state for an 80% refund, if done so by August 1st, or a 50% refund before the general season starts. Keep in mind that your preference points will not be reinstated if you return your general license for a refund. The second option is to hunt elk in one of the general units. Remember that these general units are all over-the-counter licenses for residents and can receive a fair amount of hunting pressure.

A great thing about Montana’s general elk license is the liberal season dates that come along with it. It is a great opportunity for a hunter with a lot of time as it gives you over 12 weeks to hunt throughout the archery, rifle, and muzzleloader season dates. The archery season is September 7-October 20, rifle season is October 26-December 1, and muzzleloader season is December 14-22. The archery season dates will allow you to hunt all phases of the rut. Opening weekend of rifle season can be crowded, but then, most of the resident hunters wait for snow to push the elk down into lower, more accessible country. The muzzleloader season is relatively new and is not getting a ton of hunting pressure. It is a good opportunity to hunt wintering bulls in the middle of December.

Montana’s elk herds are still doing well across most of the state with most areas currently within or over population objectives. The exception lies in the northwest part of the state where many region 1 areas and parts of region 2 areas continue to struggle with their elk populations.

The Missouri Breaks units continue to produce good bulls, but Eastern Montana has been in a drought for the last couple of years and the grasshoppers have been tough on what feed was left. The elk population in most of the Breaks units are within objective. The exception being in the easternmost units, 630 and 700, which are below objective. This winter has been really light for precipitation across Montana, and if it keeps up, the Breaks units will more than likely continue being in a drought.



Remember, if you draw an elk permit, you can only hunt elk in that unit while your season is open. An example is that if you draw unit 410-21, which is an archery-only elk permit, you can only hunt archery elk in unit 410. You cannot hunt a general elk unit. Once your archery season is over, you could hunt the rifle or muzzleloader elk season in the general units. Another example is that if you drew unit 380-20, which is an elk permit that is valid on archery, rifle, and muzzleloader seasons, you would not be able to hunt elk anywhere else in the state as the permit you drew is valid for all three seasons.

Montana will always be a good place to hunt elk, especially if you are an archery hunter as you have six weeks to fill your tag. If you are willing to put in the work, you can have a good elk hunt with a bow, rifle, or muzzleloader. If you have any questions regarding Montana’s general elk hunting, give us a call as most of the Hunt Advisors have spent years hunting Montana elk. If you are interested in a guided hunt, the Huntin’ Fool Adventures team works with the best outfitters in the state.

2024 Montana Elk Season Dates

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Season Dates
Archery September 7th - October 20th
General Rifle October 26th - December 1st
Muzzleloader December 14th - December 22st
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Self-Guided, DIY Montana Elk Hunts

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Over the last 20+ years, we've collected hunting research and data, so join Huntin' Fool today and access the best research tools for hunting Elk in Montana including 3D Maps, Draw OddsConsultations, and much more. Go on more hunts with better information!

Private Land, Semi-Guided, and Guided Elk Hunts in Montana


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Application Deadline for Elk in Montana

The Montana Application Deadline For Elk is April 1, 2024.

2024 Montana Non-Resident Elk Hunting Fees

Licenses & Permits Fee
Big Game Combination License (Elk & Deer) $1,274.50
Elk Combination License $1,080.50
Youth Big Game Combination License $653.50
Youth Elk Combination License $556.50
Special Elk Permit Application $9
Bow and Arrow License (mandatory for all archery hunts) $10
Preference Point Fee for Combination License (optional) $100
Outfitter Preference Point Fee for Combination License (optional but must hunt with an outfitter) $100
Bonus Point Fee per Species (optional) $20
*All Combination License prices include the required Base Hunting License, Conservation License, Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass, and Application Fees.  


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