When Montana began extended elk “shoulder seasons” in 2015, they were not meant to be permanent, and more importantly, they were never meant to replace the harvest of elk during our archery and rifle seasons.
But under a proposal from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, that’s where shoulder seasons are heading in 18 hunting districts. They include HDs 262, 290, 298, 390, 391, 393, 411, 417, 502, 510, 511, 520, 530, 540, 560, 575, 580 and 590. These are areas with very limited public hunting access during the archery and general seasons to help us manage elk populations.
The Commission last year shortened these seasons because they weren’t meeting the criteria that were agreed to with the hunters of Montana. That included data collection on how they’re working, whether we’re seeing the increase in elk harvest during the 11-week archery and rifle seasons, and whether we’re getting half of the needed harvest in the longstanding archery and rifle seasons.
If the Commission considers accepting these recommendations, it has yet to provide the public the data on how these seasons are working, and whether they’re meeting the criteria for a shoulder season.
The shoulder seasons in the long run encourage some landowners to harbor elk. They can sell trophy bull hunts for six weeks of archery hunting and five weeks of rifle, then get hunters in for winter cow elk hunts to address the overpopulation.
Contact the Commission today and tell them to stick to the agreement with the hunters of Montana, that shoulder seasons were never meant to be permanent, and that we need to maintain some ethics in hunting and focus on our 11 weeks of archery and rifle hunting to manage our public elk.
The deadline to comment is July 26, so please send your message by emailing the Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org