Montana makes big changes to regulations for 2022

Photo credit: Brady Miller

We are very excited to announce that updated draw odds are now available for Montana! Montana is undoubtedly one of our most researched states and this is a big one for us each year.

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Along with odds now being live, we also wanted to hit on some big changes that will be coming forward this year.

Big changes to Nonresident Combination License draw odds

It has long been written in Montana’s law that 75% of the available combination licenses should be made available to applicants with the highest points while the remaining 25% should be made available to applicants who have not purchased preference points. Historically speaking, the number of applicants who fell into the “have not purchased preference points” segment was not enough to fulfill the full 25% of allotted tags. Due to this, the remaining percentage is then turned back over to the original 75% of tags allocated for the highest point holders.

However, in 2021, there was such an increase in applicants overall that this small rule made a big impact on all three of the combination license options. In fact, in 2021 there were more than enough applicants that fell into this pool to completely satisfy the 25% ruling, a first in the history on the nonresident combination licenses. This can be illustrated by the fact that the drawing odds at zero points are now higher than those found at one point!

This also introduces the possibility of a new draw strategy — If you are sitting on zero points do you not buy a point with your 2022 application? After all, the odds are higher at 0 points than with 1. Or, will a lot of people attempt this angle and leave a big gap of sorts in the one-point pool? Really, there is no way of telling until next year's application but it will be very interesting to see how things play out. It’s likely that many applicants will be unaware of this big change and will still be purchasing points for 2022.

Preference Point fee increase

Under a new bill signed into law last year, SB637, there are also some big changes coming to Montana that will specifically impact nonresident combination licenses in 2022.

Preference point fees will now be increasing from $50 to $100 per point. This is the first price change for this point type and now also makes this an expensive add-on. 

Preference point only purchase period

Along with the increase in preference point fee’s nonresidents will now also see a change to the preference point-only purchase period.

In 2022, preference points can be purchased from July 1 to December 31.

Preference point expiration

Traditionally, Montana would allow applicants to use the points-only purchase option for two years but applicants then had to apply on the third year, or else their accumulated points would be zeroed.

Starting in 2022, applicants now have to apply every other year or risk losing their points. This means that if you bought a point last year you must apply this year or forfeit your points. This does not affect bonus points. 

Applying with an outfitter

As it sits, applicants can build one preference point a year but there is one exception. Under HB643, any applicant applying with and hunting with an outfitter can purchase up to two points per year! This creates a huge advantage for outfitted hunters while dealing a blow to those in the DIY camp. This will certainly have some effect on the draws but we will not know how much until after this draw period.

Closing thoughts

Overall, there have been some big changes enacted already. Along with changes going into effect for the draw, the Montana FWP has recently finalized the 2022-2023 regulations that will also force some big changes across the entire state. The regulations will be posted later this month with updates to our INSIDER platform close behind.

The deadline to apply in Montana in 2022 is April 1.


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