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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2020: Montana Sheep, Moose, Goat, Bison

MONTANA'S 2020 BIGHORN SHEEP, MOOSE, MOUNTAIN GOAT AND BISON APPLICATION OVERVIEW

Montana's 2020 bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goat and bison application overview

Jump to: NEW FOR 2020 State Information Draw System Rocky Bighorn Breakdown Shiras Moose Breakdown Mountain Goat Breakdown Bison Breakdown

The application deadline for Montana moose, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain goat and bison is May 1, 2020 at 11:45 p.m MST. The application process is done completely online here or in any Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (Montana FWP) office.

Before applying, hopeful applicants are encouraged to look over the trophy species application worksheet, which can be found here for residents and here for nonresidents. The list of available hunt codes for each species that nonresidents can apply for changes every year. A detailed breakdown of 2020 hunt choices can be found in each of the species sections.

Note: As the Covid-19 virus continues to spread, the in-person option for applications may become increasingly difficult. For 2020, it would be best to plan on online or phone applications.


New for 2020

No more mail-in applications

Mail-in applications will no longer be accepted in 2020. All applications will now need to be completed online or in-person at any Montana FWP offices.

New tag system

Hunters will now be able to print off any tags or permits at home using traditional printing paper. Additionally, items other than carcass tags (hunting licenses) can be carried in electronic form on a mobile device.

Quicker draw results

Because the application process has been moved to online-only, draw results will now be available within two weeks of each respective deadline. The approximate draw date for Montana moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, and bison is May 11, 2020.

Moose district changes and new units:

  • Boundary changes for Hunting Districts (HD) 310, 311 and 361
  • New HD 213 replaces existing HD 212
  • New HD 447

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

  • Boundary changes for HD 482 and 622
  • New HD 214 which replaces existing HD 213
  • New HD 380

Rocky Mountain goat


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. You can also view the Species Profiles to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy areas.

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 11:45 p.m MST on May 1, 2020.
  • Applications can be submitted online here after March 1, 2020.
  • An 80% refund can be requested on nonresident licenses if requested by Aug. 1, 2020.
  • A 50% refund can be requested on nonresident licenses if requested after Aug. 1, 2020.
  • Draw results will be available by May 11, 2020.
  • Successful applicants must purchase their drawn permit by Aug. 1, 2020.
  • Preference and bonus points are available for purchase for nonresidents who did not apply in the general drawing between July 1 and Sept. 30 for a fee. See more information here.

Current weather/snowpack

2020

Montana snow water equivalent as of March 2020

Montana snow water equivalent as of March 30, 2020. Source: National Resources Conservation Service

As of now, most of Montana is within the normal range of snow water equivalent for the year. Calf, lamb and kid recruitment should be good among all species and winterkill should play little effect on populations.

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

Predators in Montana

The predator populations in Montana are often the subject of spirited debates with strong feelings on both sides of the spectrum. Wolf packs continue to maintain healthy population levels and have firmly rooted themselves into most of the western portion of the state. Elk populations are down throughout the state compared to historic levels, but great hunting can still be found.

Predators in Montana 2020

Grizzly populations continue to climb along with bear and hunter interactions. As of now, hunting seasons across the West are still on hold for grizzly bears. Much of western Montana is home to a roaming population of grizzlies and hunters need to be acutely aware and prepared when spending time in these locations.

Even with growing grizzly concerns, hunters can still find plenty of huntable areas where they won’t have to worry about grizzlies. When researching specific areas, a quick call to local biologists can be well warranted. 


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 drawing 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

Montana grants nonresidents up to 10% of a district’s tag quota; however, the 10% is not guaranteed. Some years, the nonresident applicant pool will fill the entire 10% cap and other years it can be significantly less.

Points only option

If applicants are simply looking to build points for the current year—both preference and bonus— they can skip the expensive application prerequisites. Bonus points can be purchased between July 1 and Sept. 30 for $75 per species.

Bison hunts

Unlike moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat, the bison permits in Montana do not use a point system and are distributed entirely through a random draw.


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 2020 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep breakdown

When it comes to trophy species in Montana none is more highly regarded or dreamed about than the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Montana has long since been known as the king of giant rams and is currently sitting atop the Boone and Crockett (B&C) ranking sheet for the largest ram in the world. As with all other bighorn sheep states, the odds on the hunts are dismally steep, but with Montana’s draw system, there is always a chance of drawing a permit. Additionally, for those with an impatient attitude and an appetite for adventure, Montana offers five hunting districts with over-the-counter (OTC) bighorn sheep permits. These unlimited districts are considered among the hardest tags in the lower 48 to fill and hunters will be met with impossibly rugged country, brutal hunting conditions and low sheep numbers. The payoff? The adventure and trophy of a lifetime.

Current 2020 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep herd condition

The herd condition for sheep in Montana is doing great after a rough patch over the last few years due to pneumonia. While the risk for the disease is still high, Montana FWP has been very proactive in taking measures to prevent this. Bighorn sheep populations in HD 380 have grown to the point that the state will now be offering a hunt there in 2020. Overall, the winter has been generous this year and herds should look great heading into the spring and summer months.

Montana bighorn sheep permit quotas
(8 year look)

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
2019 284 265 19 243

Montana bighorn sheep entered into B&C record book since 2010 - updated 2020 app strategy

 

Harvest trends for bighorn sheep in Montana

Year Total
harvest
Rams
taken
Ewes
taken
Average horn length (rams) Average base circumference (rams)
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”
2019 185 115 63 36.08” 15.48”

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 bighorn sheep hunting 48 hours later. During the 48-hour period, hunters are still allowed to hunt and harvest bighorn 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 also low (140” to 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.

2019 Montana unlimited bighorn sheep breakdown

HD Number of
hunters
Sheep
taken
2019 quota HD quota met
300 30 0 2 NA
303 30 2 2 10/25/2019
500 54 2 2 11/11/2019
501 49 1 2 NA
502 22 2 2 11/20/2019

2020 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. 

Nonresident bighorn sheep hunt districts for 2020

Either sex permits
121-20 210-20 304-20 455-20
482-20 622-20 680-20  
Ewe only permits
203-30 216-30 482-30 622-30
680-30 680-31    
Unlimited permits
300-60 303-60 500-60 501-60
502-60      

The goHUNT hitlist for Montana bighorn sheep

When it comes to building your application strategy for Montana bighorn sheep there is really only one secret: there isn’t one. Montana is such a high profile state for bighorn sheep and odds for every hunt at every point level are drastically stacked against you. Still, with Montana’s straightforward draw system, there is always a sliver of hope in pulling a permit. 

The biggest rams in the state have most consistently been found in the units in and around the Missouri River Breaks (482, 620, 622 and 680). These units generally see the most applicants and the lowest odds, but they do offer the most permits for both residents and nonresidents.

goHUNT’s hit list to consider for 180” or better rams in Montana
(not in order of quality)

HD Trophy
potential
2020
permit
quota
2019 success Avg. horn
length (2019)
Avg. base
circumference (2019)
Public land
%
Nonresident
in 2020?
680 190"+ 25 63% 36.96" 16.11" 56.9% Yes
124 185"+ 6 100% 35.66" 15.52" 53.2% No
203 185"+ 4 100% 35.10" 15.25" 72.8% No
482 185"+ 20 58% 37.98" 15.84" 28.3% Yes
121 180"+ 1 100% 40.81" 15.81” 58.7% Yes
270 180"+ 3 100% 35.85" 15.23” 91.4% No
340 180"+ 2 100% 35.38" 14.63” 57.6% No
620 180"+ 1 100% 38.5" 17.25” 51.1% No
622 180"+ 10 57% 36.69" 16.06” 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.

HDs listed above 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 50 482
Blaine 42 680
Chouteau 23 482, 680
Phillips 12 620, 622, 680
Missoula 10 203, 210
Three more counties with 10 entries each.

Map of Montana's Rocky bighorn B&C all time entries 2020

TOP B&C ROCKY BIGHORN SHEEP LOCATION ENTRIES SINCE 2010 - 2020 Montana

It’s fairly obvious when viewing the above table that the units in and around the Missouri River Breaks have been producing some incredible rams. Still, nearly all of the districts in the state can — and have — produced book rams.

The impressive stats on Montana’s bighorn sheep quality don’t stop at the state level. Montana also completely decimates every other location when it comes to total entries of rams.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN BIGHORN SHEEP OVER 200" NET SCORE ALL TIME - 2020


Managing points and expectations

Maximum points: 18

MONTANA ROCKY BIGHORN SHEEP BONUS POINTS GOING INTO THE 2020 DRAW

Really, when it comes to applying for bighorn sheep, the unfortunate truth is that even with maximum points the odds are still incredibly steep with less than 2% to 3% separating all of the units. 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 2019 may not be available in 2020.

Find your resident Rocky bighorn draw odds here

Find your nonresident Rocky bighorn draw odds here


Montana's 2020 Shiras moose breakdown

Montana has long been an excellent state for moose although herd quality and trophy potential have dipped in recent years. As with many of the other western states, draw odds are steep; however, the trophy potentials are good in many units. Moose inhabit most of the state and hunters will find a wide range of terrain types to chase them in.

Eight 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
2019 348 330 18

Current 2020 moose herd condition

Moose numbers continue to decline across much of the West. Western Montana has seen larger declines than other portions of the state largely due to predation by wolves. Fortunately, for hunters, even with declining numbers, the amount of available permits has not dipped significantly.

Eight year harvest trends for Shiras moose in Montana

Year Total
harvest
Bulls
taken
Cows
taken
Calves
taken
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
2019 245 217 26 2

Montana moose entered into B&C record book since 2010 - updated app strategy 2020


2020 nonresident Shiras moose hunt districts

Every year, the available districts for nonresidents to apply for 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. 

Nonresident moose districts for 2020

Antlered bull permits
100-50 101-50 102-50 103-50
104-50 105-50 106-50 110-50
111-50 112-50 210-50 211-50
213-50 332-50 333-50 334-50
335-50 340-50 341-50 343-50
350-50 361-51 380-50 382-50
390-50 447-50    
Antlerless permits
332-00 333-00 334-00 340-00
380-00      

The goHUNT hitlist for Montana moose

When it comes to any of the big game 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 for Montana moose in 2019
(resident)

HD Odds at
18 points
Odds at 8 points Tag issued Harvest success
104 22% 4.8% 5 20%
240 18% 3.9% 3 33%
100 16% 3.5% 12 91%
101 15% 3.3% 12 67%
103 15% 3.2% 3 67%
309 15% 3.2% 3 0%
314 15% 3.2% 2 50%

Top draw odds for Montana moose in 2019
(nonresident)

HD Odds at
18 points
Odds of 8 points Tag issued Harvest success
319 12% No apps 1 100%
141 7.9% 1.6% 2 100%
105 7.5% 1.6% 20 100%
101 6.7% 1.4% 12 67%
327 6.4% No apps 3 100%
324 4.7% .096% 6 70%
100 4.6% .094% 12 91%
*Note: Some of these hunts may not be available to apply for in 2020

B&C entry trends for Montana Shiras moose

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 17 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 110, 111
Flathead 13 106, 110, 111, 112, 122, 140, 141, 150
Beaverhead 8 300, 301, 302, 323, 324, 326, 327,
330, 331, 332, 333, 334, 340
Glacier 7 415
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

When looking at the table above it is interesting to note that a huge array of hunting districts are represented from around the state. This further illustrates Montana’s ability to produce good bulls in nearly every district. Additionally, when comparing Montana to other western states for B&C entries in recent years, this point gets further reinforced. 

Map of Montana's shiras moose B&C all time entries 2020

TOP B&C SHIRAS MOOSE LOCATION ENTRIES SINCE 2015 - 2020 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: 18

MONTANA SHIRAS MOOSE BONUS POINTS GOING INTO THE 2020 DRAW

When it comes to applying for moose in Montana, applicants won’t see a lot of hope at low point levels. However, once an applicant reaches the 10+ point level, a few hunts will begin to jump out with better odds. Be sure to check out the 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 of 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 2019 may not be available in 2020.

Find your resident moose draw odds here

Find your nonresident moose draw odds here


Montana's 2020 Rocky Mountain goat breakdown

This is perhaps one of the most adventure-inducing hunts in the West. Rocky Mountain goats live in some of the roughest country in Montana. Some hunts will have more easily available goats while others will provide a true backcountry experience. Draw odds are steep for Montana mountain goats, but the adventure is a guarantee.

Eight 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
2019 178 166 12

Current 2020 mountain goat herd condition

As can be observed in the table above, permit quotas for Rocky Mountain goats in Montana have been on a steady decline in recent years. While nothing has been officially stated as 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 goats are major factors. Even with lower tag numbers — and lower draw odds — anyone holding a tag in 2020 will be in for a great hunt.

Eight year harvest trends for mountain goat in Montana

Year Total
harvest
Billies
taken
Nannies
taken
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
2019 126 95 32
*Montana FWP did not collect any data for billy and nanny harvest for this year.

2020 nonresident mountain goat hunt districts

Every year, the available districts for nonresidents to apply for mountain goats will change, which means that the district you apply for this year may or may not be available to apply for the following year. 

Nonresident Rocky Mountain goat districts for 2020

Either-sex permits
312-20 313-20 314-20 316-20
320-20 323-20 324-20 325-20
329-20 393-20 517-20  
Nanny only permit
313-30      

The goHUNT hitlist for Montana Rocky Mountain goat 

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 for Montana Rocky Mountain goat in 2019

Resident

HD Odds at 18 points Odds at 8 points Tag issued Harvest success
316 35% 8.3% 12 60%
329 31% 7.1% 15 79%
323 30% 7% 38 82%
314 18% 4% 30 77%
325 15% 3.3% 4 75%
362 14% 3.1% 6 83%
324 13% 2.7% 6 100%

Nonresident

HD Odds at 18 points Odds at 8 points Tag issued Harvest success
362 4.5% 0.92% 6 83%
316 3.7% 0.76% 12 60%
323 2.8% 0.56% 38 82%
314 2.3% 0.46% 30 77%
361 1.1% 0.22% 2 0%
331 0.81% 0.16% 3 100%
313 0.67% 0.14% 5 75%
*Note: Some of these hunts may not be available to apply for in 2020.

B&C entry trends for Montana Rocky Mountain goat

HDs listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. HDs in this table are included if any part of the district is found within 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

When compared to other locations in recent years, Montana is well below heavy hitters like British Columbia and Alaska, but is sitting towards the top of the heap when it comes to the lower 48.

Map of Montana's mountain goat B&C all time entries 2020

TOP B&C MOUNTAIN GOAT LOCATION ENTRIES SINCE 2015 - 2020 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: 18

MONTANA MOUNTAIN GOAT BONUS POINTS GOING INTO THE 2020 DRAW

Draw odds for residents are great once they get around the 10 point level and up. Nonresidents will still struggle even at maximum points, but odds here are still competitive with any other western state. Generally speaking, the best odds will be found in the districts handing out the most tags (313, 314, 316, 323 and 329) and these can be great routes for lower point holders to consider. 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 2019 may not be available in 2020.

Find your resident mountain goat draw odds here

Find your nonresident mountain goat draw odds here


Montana's 2020 bison breakdown

Bison is one of the more unique opportunities in Montana. The bison hunt is centered around herds from Yellowstone National Park that migrate outside of the park boundaries during the winter months. Because hunters are so heavily reliant on the bison leaving park boundaries, the weather is the biggest controlling factor for harvest success. 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 of the 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, Montana FWP will begin calling hunters from the roster, starting with the number one position and so forth for each hunter’s 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 Montana FWP 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 2020 Montana bison herd condition

Bison herds continue to do very well in this area with officials within Yellowstone conducting roundups yearly to reduce animal numbers. 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.


Montana bison hunt district breakdown

With three hunt options for residents and two for nonresidents, hunters will not find any overlooked or hidden gem areas. Instead, hunters need to simply hope the random lottery system works in their favor and that their name is pulled out the hat first.

Montana bison hunt breakdown

Hunt # Permit quota Total
applications
Resident
odds (2019)
Nonresidents
odds (2019)
385-20 40 5402 0.67% 0.65%
385-21 5 491 1% NA
395-20 40 3596 1% 0.88%

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 anyone 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) district than the West Yellowstone (HD 395) district.

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

County No. of
entries
HDs found within county
Park 15 HD 385 - Absaroka/Beartooth, HD 385 - Gardiner Basin
Gallatin 3 HD 395

Map of Montana's bison B&C all time entries 2020

TOP B&C BISON LOCATION ENTRIES SINCE 2010 - 2020 Montana


Managing points and expectations

Which district do I apply for?

With Montana utilizing a strict lottery system for bison, your odds of 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.

Find your resident bison draw odds here

Find your nonresident bison draw odds here

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