2003 Hunting Seasons Take Shape

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The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission recently approved changes in the 2003 hunting regulations and agreed to final spring turkey season dates, spring turkey quotas, spring and fall black bear seasons and quotas. The Commission will make final decisions on all license and permit quotas for deer, elk and antelope at its August meeting.

Spring Turkey

Spring turkey season is set for April 12-May 11. Turkey permits in northwestern Montana’s FWP Region 1 increased on the West Clark Fork from 80 to 115.

In Lincoln County, turkey permits increased from 80 to 125. In southwestern Montana’s Ravalli County, there will be 100 turkey permits, with 20 permits designated for hunters ages 12-14. Turkey applications for special permit hunting areas must be postmarked by March 15.

Black Bear

The black bear spring season begins April 15 with closing dates that vary by bear management unit. Hunters need to purchase a spring season license by April 14. The fall black bear season generally runs from Sept. 15-Nov. 30. Some bear management units have different opening dates, so be sure to check the regulations.

Deer

Mule deer populations in general around the state are stable to increasing and white-tailed deer numbers are in good shape. As a result, regulations in most hunting districts remained unchanged or reflected minor changes based on specific situations. For example, in a number of FWP Region 1 hunting districts, where seasons were made more liberal, hunters will be allowed to pursue either sex white-tailed deer during the first two weeks of the season. In addition, in hunting district 620, the general season deer A license will change to either sex mule deer and either sex whitetail.

Elk

The Commission approved the addition of youth hunting opportunities for elk in several districts. Modifications to specific permit types available for elk were made in hunting district 520 and several other districts across the state. In FWP Regions 3, 4, and 5 there were a handful of specific reductions in tentative elk permit quotas for antlerless elk. The reductions were made because elk numbers are at or below objective levels in those units.

In hunting district 446, the tentative quota for antlerless elk permits was increased and the season length extended to run from Oct. 20-Feb. 15 in order to deal with high elk numbers primarily on private land.

Moose, Sheep and Goat

While final quotas for moose and sheep will be revisited this spring, the Commission approved the reduction of both antlered bull and antlerless moose permits in hunting districts 319, 325, and 341 and a reduction from 12 to 8 either-sex sheep permits in hunting district 216. The Commission closed mountain goat hunting in hunting district 213.

2003 Hunting Regulations

Hunters will notice modifications to the format of the regulations books for 2003. The changes are to help make the various types of hunting opportunities in each hunting district easier to identify. This year, moose, sheep, goat, deer, elk and antelope regulations will be available near the end of March.