Montana Hunters Gain Hunting Time This Fall

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Montana hunters stand to gain seven hours of daylight to hunt in the evening this fall thanks to a law that extends Daylight Saving Time beginning this year.

Like a tax refund, this time refund, though small, could make a big difference for some deer and elk hunters in the general season by giving them a little extra time to hunt late in the day. Montana's deer and elk general hunting season opens Oct. 21 and closes Nov. 25. The seasons for some other species will also be affected to varying degrees.

This year, DST will end on the first Sunday in November, Nov. 4, while in years past it ended on the last Sunday of October. It is this change that generates roughly seven additional hours of evening light during the 2007 deer and elk general hunting season.

Here is how it works. Sunset on Nov. 3 in zone 2 will be 6:10 p.m.. On Nov. 4 we set our clocks back at 2 a.m. and sunset Nov. 4 will be 5:09 p.m. in zone 2. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended DST in hopes of reducing energy consumption. In all, a total of 238 days, or about 65 percent of this year is DST as a result.

Hunters pay particular attention to the timing of sunrise and sunset because most legal hunting begins one-half hour before sunrise and ends one-half hour after sunset each day. Waterfowl hunting hours begin one half hour before sunrise and end at sunset.

FWP's sunrise/sunset tables are useful to hunters because the timing of sunrise and sunset changes slightly each day as we approach winter and it also varies across the state from east to west. FWP's tables show the daily time changes and time zones based on latitude and county name.

The FWP Commission authorizes legal hunting hours and the sunrise and sunset tables are published in Montana’s annual hunting regulations.

If you have trouble grasping the significance of an extra hour of light at night in exchange for an extra hour of dark in the morning, you aren't alone.

It is probably simplest to view it through the eyes of the individual—such as a hunter who can take off work at 4 p.m. and still get in two hours of hunting. Or from the experience of a student, who may get to board the morning school bus in the daylight for a few days once we turn the clocks back an hour on Nov. 4.

Winter's progress is inevitable, though, as the hours of daylight grow shorter. In winter, Montana, located in the Northern Hemisphere, is tilted away from the sun on the earth's fixed axis so that the sun is much lower in our noon sky and we get less energy from it.

Hunters, and others who spend time in the outdoors, will undoubtedly enjoy seven additional hours of light under the Big Sky of Montana this fall. But in the end, nothing can stop the inevitable shortening of the days leading to the shortest day and the longest night of the year. That is the first day of winter, the winter solstice, Dec. 21 at 11:08 p.m.