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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2019: Montana Sheep, Moose, Goat, Bison

2019 Montana sheep moose goat bison application strategy

Montana's 2019 bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goat and bison application overview

Jump to: New for 2019 State Information Draw System Rocky Bighorn Breakdown Shiras Moose Breakdown Mountain Goat Breakdown Bison Breakdown

Montana has long been known as the bighorn sheep capital of the world and boasts more record book entries than any other state or province by a long shot! Along with world-class bighorn sheep hunting, hunters can always find themselves with the opportunity to draw a coveted moose, mountain goat or bison permit. Great populations of all of these species can be found throughout the state with excellent trophy potential to boot. Like many other states, the draw odds are steep; however, with a low cost to apply and some of the biggest representatives for these species in the West, Montana is a no brainer for nearly every applicant.

At first glance, applicants can quickly become overwhelmed at the sheer amount of hunt choices for each species—far more than most any other state. Still, with some good research and understanding, this system can be quite simple.

Note: The application deadline for Montana moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat and bison is May 1, 2019 by 11:59 p.m. MST and can be mailed in or completed online.


Why Montana for bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goat and bison

Great trophy potential

Montana offers great trophy potential within all four of the trophy species with the crowning jewel being the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. In fact, Montana hunters have entered nearly as many bighorn sheep into the record books as all other locations combined!

Public access

Montana contains nearly 30 million acres of public land with another 7.3 million acres of private land that is enrolled in the Block Management Program. In most units, hunters will have little to no trouble finding huntable ground.

Options!

Montana has more choices for hunts per species than many other western states. For 2019, there are 97 moose, 44 bighorn sheep, 34 mountain goat and two bison hunt choices available.

Long seasons

Montana has some of the longest seasons in the West with a one-week archery-only season for bighorn sheep and an 11 week any weapon season for bighorn sheep, mountain goat and moose! Additionally, there is an eight week season for the Absaroka Wilderness bison tag and a 14 week season for the remaining bison units.


New for 2019

  • The archery-only moose season has been removed
  • Two week long archery season for bighorn sheep is now only one week
  • Nonresident cannot apply for the nanny only mountain goat hunt

Ewe, nanny and cow moose draw odds

Remember, goHUNT has Draw Odds for all female species. 

Ewe bighorn draw odds

Find your resident ewe bighorn draw odds here

Find your nonresident ewe bighorn draw odds here

Nanny mountain goat draw odds

Find your resident nanny mountain goat draw odds here

Cow moose draw odds

Find your resident cow moose draw odds here

Find your nonresident cow moose draw odds here


State information

View important information and an overview of the Montana rules/regulations, the draw system and bonus points, SuperTags, tag and license fees and an interactive boundary line map on our State Profile.

Montana State Profile Rocky Bighorn Profile Moose Profile Mountain Goat Profile Bison Profile Draw Odds Filtering 2.0

Important dates and information

  • Applications for moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat and bison must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. MST on May 1, 2019.
  • Applications can be submitted by mail or online here.
  • An 80% refund can be requested on nonresident licenses if requested by Aug. 1, 2019.
  • A 50% refund can be requested on nonresident licenses if requested after Aug. 1, 2019.
  • Draw results are slated to be available the week of June 17, 2019.
  • Bonus points are available for purchase if you did not apply in the main draw. You can purchase points between July 1 and Sept. 30 for a fee of $75 for nonresidents and $15 for residents for each species (moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat). Read more about the points only period here.

2019 moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat and bison season dates

Species Archery General
Bighorn sheep Sept. 7 to 14 Sept. 15 to Dec. 1
Moose NA Sept. 15 to Dec. 1
Mountain goat NA Sept. 15 to Dec. 1
Bison NA Nov. 15 to Feb. 15, 2020
Bison
(Absaroka Wilderness)
NA Sept. 14 to Nov. 14
 
Pay close attention to regulations to your specific unit. The above listed dates are for general use and cover 95% of the available hunts, but there are several one-off scenarios where different date ranges are used.

Wolves in Montana

With the Montana wolf hunting and trapping season well established for the last few years, the amount of predatory activity has definitely subsided to some degree; however, the evidence is still—and will likely always be—visible. A late winter storm hit Montana this year, which will likely increase predation when compared to a normal year. While this likely won't make a huge impact on the statewide totals it could make larger impacts in some localized areas.

The number of wolves taken during the 2018-2019 season in Montana

Wolf Management Unit No. of wolves taken
100 11
101 52
110 0
121 26
130 12
150 5
200 14
210 9
250 20
280 0
290 28
310 22
313 2
316 1
320 19
330 10
390 37
400 27
Statewide total 295

Grizzly bears in Montana

2018 Montana grizzly bear range

Source: Montana Field Guide

With delisting efforts for grizzlies in the Lower 48 tied up in lengthy court cases and injunctions, it’s unclear when hunters will actually be given the opportunity to hunt grizzlies. Even if the hunts were passed, states would only hand out a few tags, which means that any impact to bear populations will be minimal. It could be just enough to instill a fear of man in the bears.

Grizzly populations continue to climb as do the number of hunter-bear altercations every season. When hunting areas with a high density of grizzly bears, hunters need to be prepared for the worst and a sidearm or spray is highly recommended. The range of grizzly bears keeps expanding, but the primary areas of concern will be found in the areas immediately surrounding Yellowstone National Park, the Big Hole Valley, the Flathead Valley and the Rocky Mountain Front.

More information on bear safety can be found here.

Current weather/snowpack

2019

Montana snow water equivalent as of mid April 2019

Montana snow water equivalent as of April 16, 2019. Source: National Resources Conservation Service

2018

Montana snow water equivalent April 2018

2018 Montana snow water equivalent update for April 10, 2018. Source: National Resources Conservation Service

The winter of 2018/2019 started out fairly normal although a late storm hit western Montana that dropped several feet of snow and broke many historical snowfall records. Although this storm hit hard and fast, the residual snow has also been melting quickly and shouldn’t cause any major issues for wintering herds.

2019 tentative nonresident hunting districts

Nonresident hunting district choices rotate yearly for bighorn sheep, moose and mountain goat. Districts may change when final quotas are set in July. Be sure to check the information carefully to ensure you are applying for the correct hunting district because the area you applied for last year may no longer be offered. See each species breakdown below for the list of nonresident hunting district choices for 2019.


The Montana draw system

Understanding the draw

It is important to understand the draw system before you begin. You can find a complete explanation of the draw process along with important dates and fees in our Montana State Profile. As a prerequisite, residents and nonresidents must at least possess a base hunting license before applying. The cost for the base hunting license is $10 for residents and $15 for nonresidents.

Nonresident tag allocation

In Montana, nonresident applicants are awarded up to 10% of a district’s permits. The 10% quota is not a guarantee, though, and it is possible for residents to be drawn for every permit in a hunting district before a nonresident's name is pulled out of the hat.

Montana SuperTag

The SuperTag is a unique opportunity offered by Montana. Essentially, it is a lottery drawing for eight different species (moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, antelope, elk, deer, bison and mountain lion) that can be used in any hunting district of the state regardless of it being a general or limited entry area. Only one tag per species is drawn each year. These are very similar to Governor's Tags, which are found throughout the West, but are much, much cheaper. Hunters can purchase as many “lottery tickets” in the SuperTag drawing as they wish for $5 each. These are nonrefundable and must be purchased by July 2, 2019. If hunters draw a SuperTag in the same year that they have drawn a permit, then they must forfeit the permit back to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MTFWP) who will then issue a full refund and reinstate any bonus points the individual possessed prior to the drawing.

The downside to Montana’s cheap application fees

For any applicants already possessing their base hunting license, the application fee for trophy species is only $10 per animal for residents and $50 per for nonresidents. This does not include the bonus point cost of $2 for residents and $20 for nonresidents. While the low fees are great since it allows anyone to apply at a minimal cost it has also driven draw odds to an even more depressing low. Since this change in fees was implemented in 2014, application numbers have drastically increased. Below is an in-depth breakdown of Montana’s total applications by species since 2012.

Bighorn sheep 1st choice applications since 2012 in Montana

Year Resident % change Nonresident % change
2012 16,650 -- 6,928 --
2013 16,893 +1.46% 7,101 +2.5%
2014* 20,161 +19.35% 7,500 +5.62%
2015* 20,232 +0.35% 7,676 +2.35%
2016* 20,135 +0.48% 7,662 -0.18%
2017* 21,799 +8.26% 7,885 +2.91%
2018* 22,411 +2.81% 7,702 -2.32%

A fine scale example for Montana sheep

Montana HD 680-20 bighorn sheep application trends

Year Total applicants Residents Nonresidents % change
of total
2010 6,289 3,496 2,793 --
2011 6,820 3,741 3,079 +8.44%
2012 7,105 3,870 3,235 +4.18%
2013 7,400 4,046 3,354 +4.15%
2014 8,322 4,138 4,184 +12.46%
2015 7,112 3,813 3,299 -14.54%
2016 6,922 3,649 3,273 -2.67%
2017 6,098 3,774 2,324 -11.9%
2018 6,032 3,823 2,209 -0.95%

In the past nine years, 2015 to 2018 are the only years that applications actually decreased for HD 680.
 

Mountain goat 1st choice applications since 2012 in Montana

Year Resident % change Nonresident % change
2012 10,062 -- 3,029 --
2013 10,383 +3.19% 3,028 +0.03%
2014* 12,902 +24.26% 3,373 +11.36%
2015* 13,131 +1.77% 3,512 +4.12%
2016* 13,384 +1.93% 3,525 +0.37%
2017* 14,501 +8.35% 3,666 +4.0%
2018* 14,875 +2.58% 3,449 -5.92%

 

Shiras moose 1st choice applications since 2012 in Montana

Year Resident % change Nonresident % change
2012 18,714 -- 2,560 --
2013 19,018 +1.62% 2,549 -0.43%
2014* 23,266 +22.34% 2,910 +14.16%
2015* 23,477 +0.91% 2,978 +2.34%
2016* 23,015 -1.97% 2,984 +0.2%
2017* 24,923 +8.29% 3,149 +5.53%
2018* 25,165 +0.97% 3,001 -4.7%

*2014 through 2018 are years following the application fee change.

Unlocking Montana's system

Moose and mountain goat

  • Applicants can only make one hunt code selection.

Bighorn Sheep

  • Applicants can make two hunt code selections.
  • You can only apply for one limited license hunting district (HD) and it must be your first and only district choice.
  • Second choice selection is for ewe only.

How do my bonus points work?

Montana runs solely on a bonus point system via a random lottery drawing. A few years ago, Montana began squaring each applicant's points in an effort to weight the draws in the odds of those individuals possessing the most points. Two points become four, five points become 25 and so on. Points are earned after an applicant is unsuccessful in drawing his or her preferred tag. Points cost $2 for residents and $20 for nonresidents. Each year a hunter is unsuccessful, another point will be added to their tally to be used during the next year. Once a tag is successfully drawn, the applicant forfeits their points. Inactivity for two consecutive years on your ALS account for points on a given species will result in the loss of your accumulated points. Points may only be used on first choice tags and cannot be transferred. Bison is the only animal on the list that does not use bonus points.


Montana's 2019 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep breakdown

Out of all the trophy species to apply for in Montana, none are as high profiled and sought after than the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Montana has long since been the unofficial king in terms of giant rams and has no intention of slowing down. As with nearly every other bighorn sheep out there, hunters will find crazy steep odds for one of Montana’s tags; however, the payoff could be the ram of a lifetime. It is not uncommon for rams near or above the 200” mark to be taken every year and even an “average” ram will still generally come close to the minimum score to enter the Boone & Crockett (B&C) records books. If waiting for a bighorn sheep tag is a daunting and depressing thought, hunters can also consider applying for Montana’s unlimited bighorn sheep units. These units can be drawn every year with hunting being conducted on a quota system. These tags are hard to fill—arguably the hardest in the Lower 48—but the adventure of a lifetime could be had.

Seven year Montana Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep permit quotas

Year Permits
issued
Drawn by
residents
Drawn by
nonresidents
Unlimited HD
applicants
2012 230 218 12 113
2013 230 211 19 202
2014 256 242 14 233
2015 259 242 17 302
2016 320 299 21 297
2017 314 294 20 306
2018 311 285 26 314

Current 2019 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep herd condition

The bighorn sheep population in Montana is doing fairly well given the large outbreaks of pneumonia in recent years although the risk for disease is still very high. Some winterkill will be expected on the western edge of the state due to late storms that dropped several feet of snow. Still, any hunters lucky enough to snag a permit in 2019 will be in for a good hunt.

Eight year harvest trends for bighorn sheep in Montana

Year Total
harvest
Rams
taken
Ewes
taken
Avg. horn
length (rams)
Avg. base
circumference
(rams)
2011 201 127 74 35.96" 15.24"
2012 167 125 42 35.02" 15.82
2013 189 124 65 36.25" 15.40"
2014 190 120 70 36.48" 15.38"
2015 223 122 99 35.81" 15.24"
2016 259 125 130 35.92" 15.25"
2017 225 120 101 36.43" 15.54"
2018 246 126 112 35.96" 15.47"

Montana bighorn sheep entered into B&C record book since 2010 - updated 2019 app strategy

Montana’s unlimited bighorn sheep hunting districts

A common thread of discussion around social media and hunting forums is the unlimited districts (300, 303, 500, 501, 502) in Montana. These five districts give out an unlimited amount of tags every year and the hunts are conducted on a quota system. Once a harvest quota for a certain unit is met the unit will close to all sheep hunting 48 hours later. During the 48-hour period, hunters are still allowed to hunt and harvest sheep and some units do occasionally see a higher actual harvest than what the quota called for.

While these hunts sound like a dream come true it is important to remember that these tags are often considered some of the hardest to fill in North America. The country is enormous, extremely remote and bighorn sheep densities are low. Generally, trophy potentials are low (140”-160”), but rams nearing the 180” mark can and have been killed.

When applying for unlimited districts it is important to note that the hunt must be listed as your first choice. If you choose to participate in the bonus point program during your application you will lose all of your accumulated points once the permit is drawn. Instead, choose to not participate in points so you can draw the tag without it affecting your point count. By doing so you will also be ineligible to build a point for that year.

Montana 2016 unlimited bighorn sheep district breakdown

HD Number of
hunters
Sheep
taken
Success
rate
300 23 0 0%
303 26 2 7.7%
500 41 2 4.9%
501 51 1 1.9%
502 35 3 8.6%

 

Montana 2017 unlimited bighorn sheep district breakdown

HD Number of
hunters
Sheep
taken
Success
rate
300 22 2 9%
303 19 1 5%
500 34 2 6%
501 37 0 0%
502 29 1 3%

 

Montana 2018 unlimited bighorn sheep district breakdown

HD Number of
hunters
Sheep
taken
Success
rate
300 29 1 3.4%
303 38 2 5.3%
500 30 2 6.7%
501 42 2 4.8%
502 22 1 4.5%

2019 nonresident bighorn sheep districts

Every year the available districts for nonresidents to apply for bighorn sheep will change, which means that the district you apply for this year may or may not be available to apply for the following year. It is incredibly important to pay attention when applying to avoid applying for a district that is currently closed to nonresident applicants. If a nonresident applies for a closed district, it will result in an ineligible application.

Nonresident bighorn sheep hunt districts for 2019

Either sex permits
203-20 270-20 302-20 441-20
482-20 622-20 680-20  
Ewe only permits
216-30 302-30 482-30 622-30
680-30 680-31    
Unlimited permits
300-60 303-60 500-60 501-60
502-60      

How to uncover hidden gem Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep districts

The unfortunate truth is that, with such high profile hunts, you won’t find any hidden gems in Montana or any other states. However because Montana has so many available units—particularly for residents—it can definitely pay dividends to do your research and pick the exact hunt the matches your personal criteria. Draw odds will be dismal in every hunting district; however, with Montana’s lottery system, it’s possible to draw a sheep tag at any point.

The biggest rams in the state have consistently come from the units within the Missouri River Breaks (482, 620, 622 and 680). These units will generally see the most applicants and lowest odds, but the highest amount of available permits. Rams in the 200” range have become more scarce in the last few years; however, anyone with some degree of commitment should have little trouble finding rams over 180” in these areas with 190”+ rams being doable.

Top hit list HDs to consider for 180" or better Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep
(not in order of quality)

HD Trophy
potential
Rams
taken
Success Avg. horn
length
Avg. base
circumference
Public land
%
Nonresident
in 2019?
680 190"+ 25 100% 36.89" 16.10" 56.9% Yes
124 185"+ 5 83.3% 34.94" 15.63" 53.2% No
203 185"+ 5 100% 36.99" 15.91" 72.8% Yes
482 185"+ 18 90% 37.78" 15.86" 28.3% Yes
100 180"+ 3 100% 35.48" 15.29" 91.9% No
121 180"+ 1 100% 42.19" 16.13" 58.7% No
123 180"+ 3 75% 32.17" 14.79" 85.2% No
213 180"+ 2 100% 39.94" 14.75" 52.6% NO
261 180"+ 1 100% 35.75" 14.50" 57.3% No
270 180"+ 2 66.6% 36.73" 15.52" 91.4% Yes
302 180"+ 4 66.6% 35.66" 14.50" 82.7% Yes
340 180"+ 2 100% 35.97" 15.72" 57.6% No
421 180"+ 2 100% 36.16" 14.03" 56.6% No
422 180"+ 4 100% 38.36" 14.77" 35.7% No
441 180"+ 1 33.3% 36.44" 14.25" 38.7% Yes
620 180"+ 1 100% 39.75" 15.75" 51.1% No
622 180"+ 19 95% 36.04" 15.87" 74% Yes

B&C entry trends for Montana Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

As we’ve discussed several times so far in this article when it comes to giant rams there is no other location that compares to Montana. In the following tables, we will explore just how Montana stacks against the competition as well as highlight some of the top counties around the state.


Hunting Districts listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Districts in this table are considered if any part of the district is found within any part of the county. Data provided below courtesy of the Boone and Crockett Club.

Montana's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for bighorn sheep

County No. of
entries
HDs found
within county
Fergus 44 482
Blaine 40 680
Chouteau 22 482, 680
Phillips 12 620, 622, 680
Ravalli 10 250, 261, 270
Sanders 9 121, 122, 123, 124

By looking at the above table it becomes blatantly obvious just how many record book rams the Missouri River Breaks area is producing with nearly 120 books rams coming from that area since 2010!

Map of Montana's Rocky bighorn B&C all time entries 2019

TOP B&C ROCKY SHEEP LOCATION ENTRIES SINCE 2015 - 2019 Montana

Along with producing more book rams than any other state or province in the world, Montana also holds the record for the most 200”+ rams entered into the B&C record books.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN BIGHORN SHEEP OVER 200" NET SCORE ALL TIME - 2019


Managing points and expectations

With Montana utilizing a random draw, it is important to understand that possessing the maximum number of points will never guarantee a tag like other states that utilize preference points; however, with the point squaring, it can make a huge difference.

Maximum points going in 2019 draw: 18

MONTANA RESIDENT BIGHORN SHEEP BONUS POINT TOTALS GOING INTO THE 2019 DRAW

MONTANA NONRESIDENT BIGHORN SHEEP BONUS POINT TOTALS GOING INTO THE 2019 DRAW

MONTANA ROCKY BIGHORN SHEEP BONUS POINTS GOING INTO THE 2019 DRAW

Really, when it comes to applying for bighorn sheep the unfortunate truth is that even at maximum points the odds are still incredibly steep with less than 2% to 3% separating all of the units. As a resident, the best odds at maximum points for 2018 were in HDs 250 and 302 with odds at 9.9% and 8.4%, respectively. When beginning your application strategy for Montana the best bet is to simply pick a unit to your liking and just keep rolling the dice every year. With Montana running a modified lottery system there is always an opportunity to draw.

Nonresidents will need to pay special attention from year to year as the list of available units is rotated. The unit you applied for in 2018 may not be available in 2019.

Find your resident Rocky bighorn draw odds here

Find your nonresident Rocky bighorn draw odds here


Montana's 2019 Shiras moose breakdown

Tyler Heine and brothers with his 2018 Montana moose

Tyler Heine and his brothers, Brad and Loren, and his 2018 Montana moose.

Along with its world-class bighorn sheep, Montana also offers some great hunts for Shiras moose. Draw odds—as with other states—are steep, but the trophy potential for most units is good. Moose hunts are available for a large portion of the state, which makes for a wide array of terrain types for hunters that ranges from the dense vegetation of northwest Montana to the high sage flats found in the southwest corner of the state.

Seven year Montana Shiras moose permit quotas

Year Permits
issued
Drawn by
residents
Drawn by
nonresidents
2012 360 349 11
2013 368 351 17
2014 365 353 12
2015 361 342 19
2016 361 347 14
2017 354 341 13
2018 350 335 15

Current 2019 moose herd condition

The moose of Montana are doing decent though populations have dipped some in recent years. While the culprit is widely unknown, the most generally accepted theories are predation and ticks. Still, there haven’t been any large cuts to permits and anyone lucky enough to draw a tag will be in for a great hunt!

Eight year harvest trends for Shiras moose in Montana

Year Total
harvest
Bulls
taken
Cows
taken
Calves
taken
2011 291 242 42 7
2012 275 241 33 1
2013 263 227 32 4
2014 278 252 24 2
2015 268 232 35 1
2016 261 229 27 6
2017 270 236 26 8
2018 246 216 25 5

Montana Shiras moose entered into B&C record book since 2010 - updated app strategy 2019


2019 nonresident Shiras moose hunt districts

Every year the available districts for nonresidents to apply for Shiras Moose will change, which means that the district you apply for this year may or may not be available to apply for the following year. Therefore, it is incredibly important to pay attention when applying for a district that is currently closed to nonresident applicants. If a nonresident applies for a closed district, it will result in an ineligible application.

2019 nonresident Shiras moose hunt districts

Either sex permits
100-50 101-50 105-50 106-50 110-50
111-50 126-50 140-50 141-50 150-50
291-50 292-50 293-50 319-50 320-50
322-50 323-50 324-50 325-50 326-50
327-50 329-50 330-50 331-50 441-50
Antlerless permits
320-00 324-00 330-00 331-00  

How to uncover hidden gem Shiras moose hunt districts

When it comes to any of the big name species the unfortunate truth is that hunters will never really find any hidden or overlooked hunt units. However, there are definitely some districts that can offer marginally better draw odds, especially when you get into the upper end of the points game.

Top draw odds at maximum points for Montana moose in 2019
(resident)

Unit Odds at
17 points
Tags
issued
Bulls
taken
Success
percentage
Public land
percentage
104 28% 5 2 40% 75.7%
291 18% 1 0 0% 19.3%
240 17% 3 2 66.6% 78.5%
100 16% 12 6 50% 92.6%
324 16% 1 1 100% 82.9%

 

Top draw odds at maximum points for Montana moose in 2019
(nonresident)

Unit Odds at
17 points
Tags
issued
Bulls
taken
Success
percentage
Public land
percentage
309 9.2% 3 2 66.6% 96.7%
121 8.8% 4 2 50% 86.3%
106 7.9% 12 7 58.3% 40.5%
315 7.7% 2 2 100% 31.9%
105 7.4% 20 8 40% 76.7%

B&C entry trends for Montana Shiras moose

While Montana is not commonly recognized as a trophy state for Shiras moose, many hunters would be shocked to see the number of record book entries that have come out of the Treasure State. Below, we break down the top counties for record book entries in Montana as well as a breakdown of total record book entries for each state across the West.


Hunting Districts listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Districts in this table are considered if any part of the district is found within any part of the county. Data provided below courtesy of the Boone and Crockett Club.

Montana's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for Shiras moose

County No. of
entries
HDs found within county
Lincoln 13 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 110, 111
Flathead 12 106, 110, 111, 112, 122, 140, 141, 150
Glacier 7 415
Beaverhead 6 300, 301, 302, 323, 324, 326, 327,
330, 331, 332, 333, 334, 340
Gallatin 5 304, 306, 307, 308, 309, 310, 311,
312, 313, 314, 315, 361, 362, 390
Missoula 5 150, 210, 230, 240, 261, 285, 292

Map of Montana's shiras moose B&C all time entries 2019

TOP B&C SHIRAS MOOSE LOCATION ENTRIES SINCE 2015 - 2019 Montana


Managing points and expectations

With Montana utilizing a random draw, it is important to understand that possessing the maximum number of points will never guarantee a tag like other states that utilize preference points; however, with the point squaring, it can make a huge difference.

Maximum points going in 2019 draw: 18

MONTANA RESIDENT SHIRAS MOOSE BONUS POINT TOTALS GOING INTO THE 2019 DRAW

MONTANA NONRESIDENT MOOSE BONUS POINT TOTALS GOING INTO THE 2019 DRAW

MONTANA SHIRAS MOOSE BONUS POINTS GOING INTO THE 2019 DRAW

When it comes to applying for moose in Montana applicants won’t see a lot of hope at low point levels. Once an applicant reaches the 10+ point level a few hunts will begin to jump out with better odds. Be sure to check out above tables for the best draw odds in 2018 for residents and nonresidents. When beginning your application strategy for Montana, the best bet is to simply pick a unit if your liking and just keep rolling the dice every year. With Montana running a modified lottery system there is always an opportunity to draw.

Nonresidents will need to pay special attention from year to year as the list of available units is rotated. The unit you applied for in 2018 may not be available in 2019.

Find your resident moose draw odds here

Find your nonresident moose draw odds here


Montana's 2019 Rocky Mountain goat breakdown

Montana, along with a few other northwestern states, has experienced recent struggle within the mountain goat population. Tags have been cut throughout the areas in the last few years and odds have continued to climb because of it. Yet, Montana is still producing good quality mountain goats and hunters holding a tag for 2019 will still be in for a good hunt.

Seven year Montana Rocky Mountain goat permit quotas

Year Permits
issued
Drawn by
residents
Drawn by
nonresidents
2012 292 268 24
2013 292 265 27
2014 282 257 25
2015 241 220 21
2016 234 217 17
2017 218 200 18
2018 183 167 16

Current 2019 mountain goat herd condition

While great hunting can still be had, it’s no secret that Montana’s mountain goat population has been dropping in recent years. A fair assessment of this fact can be seen in the above table that illustrates the drop in the number of available permits each year. While nothing has been officially stated as being a direct cause of this decrease, it is generally accepted that a decline of nutrient-rich foods coupled with the slow reproduction nature of mountain goat are major factors.

Eight year harvest trends for mountain goat in Montana

Year Total
harvest
Billies
taken
Nannies
taken
2011 174 117 51
2012 213 146 67
2013 208 NA* NA*
2014 213 136 77
2015 179 121 58
2016 172 102 70
2017 142 80 61
2018 131 82 48

* MTFWP did not collect any data for billy and nanny harvest for this year.

2019 nonresident mountain goat hunt districts

Every year, the available districts for nonresidents to apply for mountain goat will revolve, which means that the district you apply for this year may or may not be available to apply for the following year. Therefore, it is incredibly important to pay attention to when applying for a district. If a nonresident applies to a district that is currently closed to nonresident applicants, it will result in an ineligible application.

2019 nonresident mountain goat hunt districts

Either sex permits
313-20 314-20 316-20 323-20 327-20
328-20 329-20 330-20 331-20 350-20
361-20 362-20 514-20    

How to uncover hidden gem mountain goat hunt districts

When it comes to any of the big name species the unfortunate truth is that hunters will never really find any hidden or overlooked districts. That being said, there are definitely some hunt districts that can offer marginally better draw odds, especially when you get into the upper end of the points game.

Top draw odds at maximum points for Montana mountain goat in 2019
(resident)

Unit Odds at 17
points
Tags
issued
Goats
taken
Success
percentage
Public land
percentage
323 36% 38 28 73.7% 87.7%
329 28% 15 9 60% 99.4%
362 25% 6 6 100% 97.3%
361 23% 2 2 100% 79.9%
314 21% 30 24 80% 58.2%

 

Top draw odds at maximum points for Montana mountain goat in 2019
(nonresident)

Unit Odds at 17
points
Tags
issued
Goats
taken
Success
percentage
Public land
percentage
325 4.5% 4 4 100% 40.3%
326 4.3% 2 1 50% 77%
519 3.9% 1 0 0% 79.6%
323 3.1% 38 28 73.7% 87.7%
314 2.9% 30 24 80% 58.2%

B&C entry trends for Montana Rocky Mountain goat

While Montana may not be home to the biggest mountain goats in the West, it does offer many great hunts that can occasionally produce record book animals. Below is a list of the top record book producing counties found in the state.


Hunting Districts listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Districts in this table are considered if any part of the district is found within any part of the county. Data provided below courtesy of the Boone and Crockett Club.

Montana's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for mountain goat

County No. of
entries
HDs found within county
Flathead 6 132, 134, 140, 141, 142, 150
Chouteau 4 447, 460
Gallatin 4 314, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 362, 393
Ravalli 2 240, 250, 261, 270
Madison 2 320, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 330, 361

Map of Montana's mountain goat B&C all time entries 2019

TOP B&C MOUNTAIN GOAT LOCATION ENTRIES SINCE 2015 - 2019 Montana


Managing points and expectations

With Montana utilizing a random draw, it is important to understand that possessing the maximum number of points will never guarantee a tag like other states that utilize preference points; however, with the point squaring, it can make a huge difference.

Maximum points going in 2019 draw: 18

Montana resident mountain goat bonus points going into the 2019 draw

MONTANA NONRESIDENT MOUNTAIN GOAT BONUS POINT TOTALS GOING INTO THE 2019 DRAW

MONTANA MOUNTAIN GOAT BONUS POINTS GOING INTO THE 2019 DRAW

Out of all of the trophy species in Montana, applicants will find the best odds with Rocky Mountain goats. Historically speaking, tag quotas have dropped considerably for mountain goats in Montana; however, great draw odds can still be found here. The best odds for low point holders will still generally land in the units handing out the most tags (313, 314, 316, 323, and 329), but applicants with a higher point level can find a few quirky units that have some phenomenal draw odds. When beginning your application strategy for Montana, your best bet is to simply pick a unit to your liking and just keep rolling the dice every year. With Montana running a modified lottery system there is always an opportunity to draw.

Nonresidents will need to pay special attention from year to year as the list of available units is rotated. The unit you applied for in 2018 may not be available in 2019.

Find your resident mountain goat draw odds here

Find your nonresident mountain goat draw odds here


Montana's 2019 bison breakdown

In addition to bighorn sheep, moose and mountain goat, applicants in Montana also have the opportunity to try their chances at drawing a bison tag. The bison hunt is centered around herds from Yellowstone National Park as they follow historical migration corridors for the winter outside of the park boundaries. Because the bison have to leave the park first, weather plays a huge role in the outcome of the hunt. During periods of light snow, very few bison will leave the park and, consequently, very few hunters will be given any opportunity.

Bison tags can be obtained in one of two ways: a permit tag or a roster hunt. With the permit, hunt tags will be distributed through a drawing like all other species in Montana. One caveat to bison is that there are no bonus points available for the species and all of the drawings are conducted through an entirely random lottery. Roster hunts are used primarily for population control during years where a heavy migration is occurring. After selecting a permit to apply for hunters will be given the opportunity to also apply for a roster hunt. Hunters applying for a roster position will be assigned a random number and then placed into numerical order. When an excess amount of bison have left Yellowstone National Park, MTFWP will begin calling hunters from the roster, starting in the number one position for their opportunity.

During periods of the bison hunt, there may also be state tribal members taking part in a treaty hunt. These tribal members can, at times, hunt in areas otherwise closed to permit holders and there is no quota cap for tribal members. The quotas set forth by MTFWP do not include any animals taken by state tribal members though bison taken during treaty hunts can dictate closures and possible sanctions imposed on permit holder hunts.

Current herd condition

Overall, the total health of the Yellowstone bison herd is doing very well and above objective for the park. Predation from wolves and bears along calving grounds is still present though this is part of the natural cycle and something the bison have been dealing with—and overcoming—for years. Brucellosis continues to be a growing concern and has further created a rift between local ranchers and conservation efforts outside of the park. Brucellosis among bison is thought to infect over 50% of the population in the park although there has never been a recorded case where the disease was spread to domestic cattle from bison.

Harvest trends for bison in Montana

Year Total
harvest
Bulls
harvested
Cows
harvested
Unknown
sex harvested
2005 40 39 1 --
2006 31 30 1 --
2007 63 20 36 7
2008 1 1 -- --
2009 1 1 -- --
2010 22 7 4 11
2011 11 4 6 1
2012 37 16 21 --
2013 36 22 11 3
2014 47 40 7 --
2015 29 25 4 --

*MTFWP has not updated harvest data since 2015

2019 bison hunt districts for residents and nonresidents

Every year the available districts for nonresidents to apply for bison will change, which means that the district you apply for this year may or may not be available to apply for the following year. Therefore, it is incredibly important to pay attention when applying for a district that is currently closed to nonresident applicants. If a nonresident applies for a closed district, it will result in an ineligible application.

2018 bison hunt districts

Resident hunt districts
385-20 385-21 395-20 385-77 (Roster) 395-77 (Roster)
Nonresident hunt districts
385-20 395-20 385-77 (Roster) 395-77 (Roster)  

How to uncover hidden gem bison areas

Due to the simple fact that there are only three hunting districts for residents and two for nonresidents, anyone researching this hunt will not find any hidden gem areas. Trophy potentials in all of the districts are fairly equal with opportunities at bigger bulls being heavily reliant on timing and migration levels.

Application trends for bison in Montana*

Year Total
applications
Either sex
tags drawn**
2004 8,373 10
2005 6,178 24
2006 6,210 74
2007 4,402 38
2008 3,079 36
2009 10,363 36
2010 7,754 34
2011 8,079 34
2012 7,834 34
2013 10,132 44
2014 9,513 72
2015 10,424 72
 

* MTFWP has not updated application totals since 2015
*
* Does not include tags awarded to Montana tribal members


B&C entry trends for Montana bison

With the nature of this hunt, it can be difficult to actively hunt one particular animal based on size and, instead, hunters need to be opportunistic. While drawing a permit for any one of the two bison hunting districts does not necessarily guarantee a chance at a bigger bull, there have been more record book animals since 2010 taken out of the Gardiner (HD 385) districts at 14 animals than the West Yellowstone (HD 395) district at three animals.


Hunting Districts listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Districts in this table are considered if any part of the district is found within any part of the county. Data provided below courtesy of the Boone and Crockett Club.

Montana's top B&C producing counties since 2010 for bison

County No. of
entries
HDs found within county
Park 14 HD 385 - Absaroka/Beartooth, HD 385 - Gardiner Basin
Gallatin 3 HD 395

Map of Montana's bison B&C all time entries 2019

TOP B&C BISON LOCATION ENTRIES SINCE 2015 - 2019 Montana


Managing points and expectations

Which district do I apply for?

With Montana utilizing a strict lottery system for bison your odds of ever drawing a tag will never get better; however, they will also never get worse. The best strategy here is to simply pick a district and begin applying. The odds are long for both residents and nonresidents alike, but, with the current drawing system, you could draw a tag at any time.

Draw odds for bison in Montana

HD Resident Nonresident
385-20 0.62% 0.52%
385-21 1.2% NA
395-20 0.95% 0.59%

Find your resident bison draw odds here

Find your nonresident bison draw odds here

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