2021 Montana nonresident combination license alternate list open May 15 - June 30
The 2021 Montana Alternate List sign-up period is coming up! Due to applications being on the rise in 2021, there was another year of high demand for Montana licenses. Numbers haven't been released yet for the increase in demand for the nonresident combination licenses, but I've had several people reach out who had two preference points and didn't draw. So... if you didn't draw a general tag in the main draw or are now looking to hunt Montana, this alternate list is going to be your second chance to hunt deer or elk in Montana this coming year.
What exactly is the Montana Alternate's List?
Each year, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks receives a number of unused nonresident combination licenses (big game combination, general elk and general deer) that are returned. FWP then offers up a chance at these returned licenses through their Alternate’s List.
You can select your choice of several different nonresident combination licenses (big game combination, general elk or general deer). Note: you can only select one license option. Then, once the list is randomized and a license becomes available, the hunter at the top of the list will be contacted to finalize the purchase of the license.
- Permit (special draw) licenses are not part of the alternate list - this is for general combination (big game combo, elk combo or deer combo) only.
- When filling out your alternate list application, the day you register does not matter.
- Payment for the license fee is not required at the time you sign up for the Alternate’s List.
- If your name is selected, you will be emailed with instructions on how to complete the purchase of the license.
- Note: Drawing a tag or being on the list has no effect on your existing preference points.
- Party (group) applications are not accepted for the alternate list.
- If you and a friend both want a tag, you would each have to do sign up individually and hope your number is close to each other after they are randomized and that both of you get offered a tag if they become available.
- To apply for the alternate list, you did not have to apply in the general draw. Any nonresident can sign up.
- The Alternate List will be randomized in mid-July, then you check out your number on the list.
How to sign up
For 2021, you can sign up for the Alternate’s List from May 15 through June 30 by 11:45 p.m. MT on your MyFWP account by clicking the link below and then logging in. Once this period is open, you can sign up through the link below.
Each hunter may only register for one combination license list (big game combination, general elk or general deer), and is not eligible to purchase more than one nonresident combination license a year.
Once you are logged in, click on "MyFWP Information" click on the "Combination License Alternate List and Surplus License Lists" tab.
Once the alternate list application deadline has closed, the list will be randomized to determine each hunter’s prioritization on these lists.
Starting in mid-July, you can check your position on the alternate list after the drawing takes place. When a license becomes available, the hunter with the lowest randomized number on the list will be emailed to finalize the purchase of the license, and so on until the returned NR combo licenses are eventually exhausted.
The odds of getting a license can change throughout the season. Hunters turning back in their tags for a refund and the state reissuing these deer combo licenses may occur at any time, but the volume of returned licenses normally increases before the general rifle hunting season kicks off in late October.
Reference on alternate list tag availability
In late November of 2020, the number they got up to was as follows:
Elk Combo: 589
Big Game Combo: 320
Deer Combo: 256
I didn't write down the exact date of when I pulled those numbers, but I believe the last time I called into Montana and checked the alternate list number was the middle of November, so they might have gone higher on the list as November went on. This will give you a rough idea of how many people typically get offered a tag (some turn down the tag when offered it on the alternate list and if that happens, then it goes to the next number/person on the list).
Best of luck this year!