Commission approves elk shoulder seasons, reduced season near Gardiner

In many parts of the state, elk season will now last as long as six months.

On Thursday, the Fish, Wildlife & Parks commission sat through more than two hours of discussion and comments before approving, with a few modifications, the next round of elk shoulder seasons. For the next two years, rifle season will extend mostly from Aug. 15 until Feb. 15 in about 40 hunting districts. But outside the general season, hunters can harvest only cows.

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FWP slates shoulder-season hunts for 44 elk districts

Pilot projects to test the new elk shoulder seasons are barely a week underway, but Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is already planning more than 10 times as many shoulder seasons next year.

At Thursday’s FWP commission meeting, Big Game Chief John Vore ran through an extensive list of elk hunting districts where shoulder seasons would be opened as early as August 2016 and run through the following March. The shoulder seasons would be effective for the next four years, although Vore said the commission could terminate a season at any time.

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Landowners speak out against shoulder seasons

The new elk shoulder seasons will be tested in a handful of pilot projects this winter, but the seasons are getting pushback from the very people they were supposed to help: landowners.

On Thursday, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks commissioners approved five hunting districts for a late elk season this year but rejected FWP’s recent inclusion of a sixth district partly because of opposition from landowners in the district.

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