Montana Nonresident Elk License Applications Tumble

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Last year Montana voters approved I-161 which raised the price of non-resident big game licenses and removed the outfitter sponsored tag system. The numbers are starting to roll in from the 2011 big game draw and it appears that non-resident applications are down significantly from 2010. The Billings Gazette has a write up about the applications and potential left over tags for this fall.

"Obviously the price is an issue," said Ron Aasheim, Fish, Wildlife and Parks' bureau chief. "Last year we had about 8,000 people who didn't draw. This year we're under by about 1,200." About 15,800 nonresidents applied for the 17,000 big game or elk combination licenses for the upcoming season. That means that every hunter who applied for either the $912 nonresident big game combination license, or the $812 elk combo license will receive one. Last year, more than 19,000 nonresidents applied for similar tags.


I live and hunt in montana. 

I live and hunt in montana.  this 161 nonsense was an angry bill.  I've never seen anythign good come from pitting one hunter against another.  every state agency was against this bill, even thought they won't say one way or the other publically.  we have a huge problem with illegal guys(like every state).  Anyway someone got mad at an outfitter in the eastern part of the state and started this, to hurt outfitters.  Completely backfired.  before this bill outfitters money went to pay private landowners who allowed public access (BLM) and outfitters agreed to stay off BLM ground.  Now that is out the window.  Outfitters take alot of guys who aren't capable of hunting on their own.  Or who shouldn't hunt on their own (lack of experience).  The set aside tags confined them to one area, or atleast suervision.  Now that is out the window.  oh ya not to mention that all legitmate outfitters over booked this year.  Guess what.  All their clients got tags.  oh and the outfitter tag end of this dropped, so its actually cheaper for oufitter clients now.  If out of staters, figure the price of a do it yourself hunt, including gear, packing, opportunity, food, fuel and the rest.  Goin with a outfitter is not really that much more, especially if you consider the state average is about 12 percent success and most outfitters are about 60 percent and many are better then that.  So your odds of harvesting a animal goes up drastically.  For most do it yourselfers anyway.  With an outfitter all you have to worry about is a plane ticket, some clothes and weapon.  Outfitters pick you up at the airport adn cater to your needs before during and after your hunts.  Outfitters in the sun river part of the bob marshall have a meat processor in town that cuts, wraps, adn freezes your animal and either ships it you or sends it on the plane.  I'm not sure of all the prices, I know they vary, however in the sun river drainage most are in the 4-5 thousand range all inclusive.  if this got you interrested in going this route check around.  Anyway, the only folks this really hurt were the in state guys who are now going to have to pick up the slack in funds this bill created.  I doubt very much the FWP is going to take a pay cut.  If you hate this bill you should look up the creator of it and email him your thoughts, along with our legislative body.

Hunt Okanogan's picture

Not suprised at all

I hunted deer/elk in Montana last year. The hunt was not very good (d.ue to weather) but I was able to bag a decent 4x4 muley on the last day. A local guy I met was telling me about the proposed price hike. He was livid at the fact they were going to take away the garenteed outfitter tags. As he put it there were a lot of guys over there who make their living guiding hunts and this ham-strung them something fierce. I for one did not put in for montana this year. A grand is too much to pay for the chance of geting drawn (even though everyone who applys should get drawn this year). And Montana is not Colorado or Wyoming or even Idaho as far as hunting goes. Montanas game quality has dwindled and their prices go up? Boycot montana this year...go to Colorado

numbnutz's picture

I'm not really suprised about

I'm not really suprised about the drop in nonres sales. The same thing happened here in Oregon when the ODFW raised the fees here, and when your states not considered a "trophy state" than the average hunter will not pay those high fees for an average animal when they can spend less for the same size animal in a cheaper state. it will take a few years but Montana might get some more hunters again but I'm sure they will always have leftover tag avalible from now on. Just simple economics.

hunter25's picture

I think this will probably be

I think this will probably be just a one year bump in the road. I have to admit though that that is a lot of money for one license. Even Colorado doesn't charge that much for a deer and an elk. When put to a vote this will usually happen as people want to charge the non resident hunters first hoping that it will keep them away or keep their own fees from getting raised. They fail to realize that all those non resident fees contribute a huge amount to the local game department.

I have been thinking about going for a hunt in Montana but only for antelope and maybe deer and that is not one of the combo permits offered. I have no desire to chase elk in another state as the fee is much higher and it just takes a lot more time.

Again the guys that really want to hunt there will get over being mad about the increase and pony up again next year or maybe show up in my hunting area in Colorado instead.

jaybe's picture

I'm wondering if at least

I'm wondering if at least three factors aren't involved in this statistic.

 (1) The increase in price at a time when the economy is down. I know that here in Michigan, thousands of people have lost their jobs. We are one of the hardest hit states, but there are many in other states also. Even for many who haven't lost their jobs, everything is more expensive, and it may just be bad timing on the part of Montana to have raised the non resident price this year.

 (2) Speaking of prices, has anyone else noticed the price of gas lately? I'm not really keeping records, but it must be up almost a dollar a gallon from this time a year ago. To travel from the midwest or east coast to Montana will be a pretty expensive thing, Anyone pulling a trailer will really feel it on the multiple stops to gas up and put $120 in every time to fill the tank.

 (3) It could also be that it will take a year or two for people to figure out that there are more tags available than previously. The article said that 8,000 people didn't draw last year. If I were trying to draw in Montana for several years and kept failing, I would probably look to another state where I thought I had a better chance. It could very well be that a lot of those 8,000 who didn't draw last year didn't bother to apply this year, not knowing that there were a lot more tags available!

  Well, at least it looks like they will probably all sell to hunters who apply for one of the leftover tags. I'm guessing that next year the situation will level out a little more as hunters get educated to the new quotas. That is if the price of gas doen't increase significantly and the economy doesn't get worse!