Hunters in Montana can get an early start on making plans for the upcoming season thanks to recent license-purchase and special permit-application deadline changes.
This year hunting and fishing licenses go on sale Jan. 16 and the deadline for residents and nonresidents to apply for deer and elk permits has moved up to March 15.
In past years, new hunting licenses would go on sale at the end of February and special deer and elk permits were due June 1.
The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission recently adjusted the dates in response to public comment.
“Now resident and nonresident hunters will have their drawing results by mid-April, instead of the end of July,” said Ron Aasheim, FWP spokesman in Helena. “That gives hunters three additional months to make plans, scout hunting areas, get in shape, and talk to landowners.”
Resident and nonresident applications and information, including application success tips, will be available online at fwp.mt.gov  beginning Jan. 16. Click "New Deadline – March 15 Deer & Elk Permits".
Paper applications and information will be available from FWP offices and license providers by Jan. 18.
Hunters will also notice that the permit application packet has been revamped and simplified.
“We’ve heard for years that the application process is too complicated,” Aasheim said. “In response to the deadline change we boiled down 120 pages of hunting regulations to an eight-page information and application packet.”
Montana’s traditional deer, elk and antelope hunting regulations will still be available in early April.
FWP continues to urge hunters to apply online. “It’s fast, it’s convenient and it’s always accurate,” Aasheim said. “The online system won’t allow you to submit an application that contains an error. This year, we’re really encouraging hunters to read the application information, and then carefully fill out a paper application to guide their online submissions.”
Aasheim said the best tip he can offer is to start hunting plans early, but hold off on submitting deer and elk permit applications until sometime after Feb. 16. “There are many hunting districts with ‘pending’ quotas that won’t be finalized by the FWP Commission until Feb. 16. If you are interested in applying for one of the pending hunting districts, check the FWP website after the Feb. 16 meeting, make your choices and then submit your application.”
Nonresidents who wish to apply for big game combination, elk combination or deer combination licenses and deer and elk permits for the 2012 fall Montana hunting season can also apply online or download an application from FWP’s website beginning Jan. 16. To request an application by mail, write to: Licensing Section; Montana FWP; P.O. Box 200701, Helena MT; 59620-0701; or call: 406-444-2950. The application deadline is March 15.
Aasheim stressed that the deadline to apply for moose, sheep, goat and bison licenses remains May 1. June 1 remains the deadline to apply for antlerless deer B and elk B licenses and antelope and antelope B licenses.
Montana's upcoming hunting and fishing license year runs from March 1 to Feb. 28, 2013.