ALERT: New bill will greatly impact DIY nonresident hunters in Montana

Bill to give 60 percent of Montana nonresident tags to outfitters

Update: 2/15/2021 - New 2nd reading passes as amended 27 votes yes to 23 votes no. The new version of the bill available here.
Update: 2/12/2021 - New version of the bill available here.

Earlier this week we caught wind from Randy Newberg about a new bill that is being discussed in the current Montana Legislature.

Senate Bill No. 143 was introduced by Jason Ellsworth on January 26. You can read the full text of the bill here and see all the notes of the bill here. The hearing for this Senate Bill No. 143 is on February 2, 2021.

Randy also discussed this new bill on his Elk Talk Live! Episode 104 last night. You can jump to his conversation on this bill here and read comments on his Hunt Talk forum thread.

Screenshot of Montana Senate Bill 143

Screenshot from part of the Montana Senate Bill 143.

This bill puts the outfitter-sponsored licenses back in place and allocates 60% of the nonresident combination licenses to applicants hunting with a licensed outfitter.

Here is a snippet of the bill:

87-2-511. Sale of Class B-10 and Class B-11 licenses. (1) Except as provided in [section 1], the department shall offer the Class B-10 and Class B-11 licenses for sale on April 1, with 60% of each of the Class B-10 and Class B-11 licenses reserved for applicants hunting with a licensed outfitter pursuant to [section 1] and 2,000 of the authorized Class B-11 licenses reserved for applicants indicating their intent to hunt hunting with a resident sponsor on land owned by that sponsor, as provided in subsections (2) and (3) pursuant to [section 3]."


"NEW SECTION. Section 1. Limited outfitted Class B-10 and Class B-11 licenses. (1) To purchase a limited Class B-10 or Class B-11 license reserved pursuant to 87-2-511 for persons hunting with an outfitter licensed pursuant to Title 37, chapter 47, part 3, a person shall apply between January 1 and March 30 and submit a $100 application fee, in addition to any other necessary fees, and a written affirmation indicating the name and license number of the outfitter with whom the applicant intends to hunt.

(2) The department shall issue licenses pursuant to this section on a first-come, first-served basis. Any licenses that remain unsold after March 30 must be issued in the general drawing conducted pursuant to 23 87-2-115(5).
(3) If the department receives more applications pursuant to this section than the number of reserved licenses available, the remaining applicants must be entered in the general drawing conducted pursuant to 87- 26 2-115(5)."

For reference:

  • A Class B-10 is a nonresident big game combination license
  • A Class B-11 is a nonresident deer combination license
  • A Class B-7 is a nonresident A deer tag

Randy Newberg quote on Montana Senate Bill 143

We reached out to several outfitters to hear what they think of this new bill and haven't heard back from them.

Summary of the bill

  • 60% of the nonresident combination licenses would be reserved for applicants who will hunt with a licensed outfitter
    • Licenses that are not sold to outfitters by March 30 would then go into the general draw
  • Removes the ability for nonresident combination license cost to be adjusted annually
  • Adjusts the nonresident deer combination licenses from 4,600 to 6,600 total licenses 

One other change is making the preference point only purchase period extended until December 31 of that license year. Currently, the point only purchase period runs from July 1 through September 30 if you did not apply in the main draw.

What can you do?

Submit your comments by February 2 to members of the Montana Senate Fish and Game Committee.

On February 2 at 3pm MST, you can watch the webcast of this bill here.

Contact information can be found below:

Montana Senate Fish and Game Committee Contact Information

Name Party Seat Email Phone
Sen. Steve Hinebauch - Chair R SD 18 (406) 365-7967
(406) 989-1372
Sen. Bob Brown - Vice Chair R SD 7 (406) 242-0141
Sen. Tom Jacobson - Vice Chair D SD 11 (406) 868-9814
Sen. Mark Blasdel R SD 4 (406) 261-3269
Sen. Jill Cohenour D SD 42 (406) 227-1144
Sen. Jason Ellsworth R SD 43 (406) 360-0009
Sen. Pat Flowers D SD 32 (406) 580-0035
Sen. Greg Hertz R SD 6 (406) 253-9505
Sen. David Howard R SD 29 (406) 633-2762
Sen. Bob Keenan R SD 5 (406) 250-4111
Sen. Edie McClafferty D SD 38 (406) 490-5873

What are your thoughts?

If passed, these changes would be implemented on January 1, 2022.


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