By Mike Bodenchuk, Editor-at-LargeEditor's Note: In our December issue we looked at elk opportunities in states with early draw deadlines. Now, for the rest of the story.
Certain western states get most of the attention when it comes to elk, and some of them hold their tag drawings later than others. But there are a host of lower profile opportunities that can harbor a great trophy or just a plain fun hunt. Enjoy!Montana
isn't known for lots of trophy bulls-the best elk come from private land on the eastern side of the state. The Missouri Breaks and some of the land around the headwaters of the Powder River south of Miles City produce the best bulls, but access is almost always through an outfitter. If you can book through an outfitter here, you should certainly hold out for a 300- to 340-inch bull.
To complicate issues, Montana sets some hurdles for acquiring limited-entry nonresident elk tags. A nonresident must apply for a big game combination license ($1,001) or an elk combination license ($851) before applying for one of the draw choices. If you are successful in the limited-entry application, you may then hunt that season. If you are not successful, you can turn in your combination license (by a certain date) for an 80% refund, or you can hunt the general seasons available in western Montana. The general seasons are in areas with good access and plenty of elk, but the general tags are over the counter for Montana residents, and these areas tend to get a lot of pressure.
If you end up without any tag after all the draws are done, the general big game combination license rarely sells out, and leftover tags have always been available after the draw....