Elk shoulder season set to open as general season closes - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Elk shoulder season set to open as general season closes

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According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, hunters passing through the Rocky Mountain Front were right on par with the 10-year average for elk as the 2017 general hunting season closed.

The Region 4 check station near Augusta saw 315 elk over the entire general big game season. That number is around five percent below the 10-year average.

The mule deer harvest was 15 percent below while white-tailed deer numbers were 14 percent above.

The check station in Augusta is FWP’s only biological check station in Region 4, which makes up the Rocky Mountain Front and stretches into central Montana.

For those who didn't kill an elk during the general season, there is still a chance to fill a tag through FWP's antlerless elk shoulder season.

A shoulder season is a firearms season that occurs outside the five-week general firearms and archery seasons with the primary purpose being to reduce elk populations in areas that are overpopulated. 

There are 43 hunting districts open in six FWP regions but hunters should be aware that regulations differ from general season and will change among the districts.

The shoulder season in Region 4 only allows hunting on private lands, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation lands, and federal Bureau of Land Management lands.

Hunters are not allowed to hunt on federal Forest Service lands, the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, or any FWP wildlife management areas during the elk shoulder season.

FWP wants hunters to research before the hunt especially since the season will be primarily be on private lands. Districts may also have different opening and closing dates.

A hunter's responsibility also includes obtaining landowner permission on private property.

FWP Region 4 Supervisor Gary Bertellotti said that prospective hunters need to be aware that hunts may not be easy.

"People should not have unrealistic expectations," Bertellotti said. "This is not a game damage hunt. At times, this will be an arduous hunt."

This is the second year Montana has held an antlerless elk shoulder season.

For more information on the shoulder season including regulations for each district, visit here.

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