Back to News

ALERT: Montana's New Bonus Point Application Period

Montana 2017 bonus point application period

Missed applying for a bonus point in Montana? Well, you now have a second chance to purchase bonus points for next year's draw.

In Montana, every hunter who applies for a special license through a big game drawing can participate in the bonus point system for an extra fee. New for 2017, individuals who missed the deadline to apply or did not apply for bonus points at the time of application, may purchase bonus points.

In years' past the only way to gain bonus points was to purchase them in the main draw. But, due to House Bill 623 that was introduced by Rep. Kerry White during the 2017 Legislature, you now can apply for bonus points from July through the end of September, specifically for 2017, the bonus points application period is July 3 through September 30. And in future years, the bonus point period will be July 1 - Sept. 30 according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks' (FWP) newly updated Bonus Points page. Note: you can still purchase nonresident preference points for the general combination tags during this application period.

This new system is very similar to Wyoming's preference point period application after the main draw.

Before I go any further, I will say this is a huge benefit in Montana due to FWP making more money and a system like this was needed for those who just wanted to build a point each year without having to go through the confusing application stage. All of that is on the surface level, but dig a little deer and keep in mind that it might have a negative impact on draw odds due to the possibility that more people can now build points and then apply at a later date. Also, this has a potential to create huge points creep swings because now people can avoid entering the draw, build a bunch of points, and then jump in the draw with the impact of swinging odds (this is a different type of points creep than preference point systems... but still similar). So... with all that said, the state will in theory make more money, but at a potential cost to your odds. You can purchase a bonus point here.

Continued below.

goHUNT Gear Shop

Another new feature for Montana bonus points

Any bonus points you acquire will never expire until you draw a tag. They will always be tied to your ALS number. In the old system you could skip two consecutive years without losing your points, but if you missed the third year, you'd lose all points. That is no longer the case.

Note: This new system doesn't allow an additional opportunity to gain two bonus points in the same year because you cannot apply for and purchase bonus points in the same year. 

Bonus point only fees

Below are the new fees for purchasing a bonus point without applying for a license. There are no prerequisites to purchase the points.

Resident & nonresident bonus point fees

Species Resident Nonresident
Deer $15 $25
Elk $15 $25
Antelope $15 $25
Moose $15 $75
Bighorn sheep $15 $75
Mountain goat $15 $75

How to purchase bonus and preference points

You can purchase bonus points online here or at any FWP license provider. Nonresident preference points can be purchased just like years past for $50.

Screenshot of the new Montana bonus point application page
Screenshot of the new Montana bonus point application page.
Montana preference point purchase for general tags
The preference point purchase period is the same as in years past. You can still purchase preference points for general nonresident combination licenses until September 30.


Log in or register to post comments.

Brady Miller
Brady M. - posted 3 months ago on 03-15-2018 09:19:17 am
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

@Justin B. - That is because the bonus/preference point only period is July through October. You can't purchase points only at this time.

Justin B. - posted 3 months ago on 03-14-2018 07:15:30 am

Montanas website does not look like your screen shot or have bonus point / preference point button/links
am i doing something wrong

Brady Miller
Brady M. - posted 3 months ago on 03-09-2018 09:20:39 am
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

Hey Neis L. Yes, the same preference point is used between all combos. So if you use it for the deer combo one year and draw, you will lose your preference point. The preference point can be used on any of the three general combos, but you can not gain three separately. So that is why no matter which one you chose, you will still lose your points if you draw.

@Gary - Terribly sorry I didn't see this earlier. Definitely, select that you want to participate in the bonus points portion when submitting your app if you want a chance at a special draw area. On average, it's really only 2-4 years to pick up some of the breaks archery tags in Montana. But upwards of 10 for some of the breaks rifle hunts.

Nels L. - posted 3 months ago on 03-08-2018 07:23:33 pm

If I have 1 preference point on a particular year and I choose to only apply for the deer combo and not the deer/elk combo and I draw the tag do I loose my preference point for the next year for the elk combo? Or visa versa if I am only applying for the elk combo and not deer combo?

Gary K. - posted 8 months ago on 09-27-2017 05:14:31 am
Lakeville, MN

@Brady... thanks for replying. I'm a non-res... so to increase my odds... I did pick up a preference point for my son and I. Thanks for that advice. Also... so if I plan to hunt a limited entry unit... then I should pick up the bonus point as well? On average... how many Bonus Points are needed to win a better Elk Unit?

Brady Miller
Brady M. - posted 8 months ago on 09-26-2017 11:52:26 pm
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

@Erik - That is correct. The B points that you see are for female species only. There are only a few cases where that is not the same. Off the top of my head there was a Bitterroot deer tag that you could shoot a buck on a B tag in years past... but I'm not near my desk right now to double check that was the still the case in 2017.

@Justin - You're very, very welcome! Always great to hear that an article helped people out. Best of luck this season!

@Gary - In Montana only nonresidents can get preference points. They are only for the nonresident general licenses: Big Game Combo, Deer Combo or Elk Combo licenses. Bonus points are for the special draw (limited entry you could also call them) permits in the state (deer, elk, antelope, sheep, moose, mountain goat).

And yes, in years past that preference point was honestly a waste of money because there were leftover general licenses after the main draw. But 2017 was the first time in quite a few years that draw odds for the Deer Combo license were not 100%. So if you plan on trying to draw a deer tag in Montana for the 2018 season, it might be a good idea to pick one up now so it will increase your chance next year if the draw plays out the same. My brother didn't draw his nonresident deer tag this year. Hope that helps.

Gary K. - posted 8 months ago on 09-26-2017 08:23:02 pm
Lakeville, MN

What is the difference between a preference point and a bonus point, when it comes to Montana? And I read that buying a preference point is a waste of money, since in the past years, 100% of applications were given a deer / elk tag anyway. Thoughts?

Justin G. - posted 8 months ago on 09-26-2017 07:15:02 pm
Ontario, Canada

The e-mail alert I got today with this post just saved me a ton of headache. Thanks

Erik S. - posted 8 months ago on 09-26-2017 09:30:59 am

So back in July I purchased Deer, Elk, and Antelope bonus points and forgot that I had done so. Then today purchased all of the above but "B Bonus points" for each species. All for $25 a piece, but I cant figure out the difference from my purchase in July? Are all the "B bonus points" for Cow/Does? Or??

Brady Miller
Brady M. - posted 8 months ago on 09-24-2017 02:29:32 pm
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

@Michael - Really sorry I didn't see this sooner. Yes, you can buy a preference point for next year even though you already have a 2017 combo license. I did that a few weeks ago and I also already have a deer combo. Best of luck on your hunts this year.

Michael M. - posted 11 months ago on 07-13-2017 01:53:21 pm

If I already have a Big game combo can I still buy a preference point for next year?

Sam E. - posted 11 months ago on 07-10-2017 07:26:54 am

Disregard, I missed that point in the article.

Sam E. - posted 11 months ago on 07-10-2017 07:25:46 am

Would you expect this to create significant point creep since points are cheaper (no license) and easier to buy now?

Brady Miller
Brady M. - posted 11 months ago on 07-05-2017 09:30:11 am
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

@Joe - I totally agree. Seems a little strange that they waited so long to release this information. Especially for people who never really want to enter the draw and just build points, it would have saved them some cash.

Joe W. - posted 11 months ago on 07-05-2017 06:47:00 am
Cedar Falls, IA

I wish I would have known they were changing their rules. With their old system, a deer and elk bonus point essentially cost $242 with the bonus point fees + 80% tag refunds. Now you can get those same bonus points for $50 and don't have to upfront any tag fees. Probably will be a nicer system - They just should have made the changes prior to their March deadline

Brady Miller
Brady M. - posted 11 months ago on 07-03-2017 02:45:02 pm
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

Hey JT. The Elk B Bonus Point is for cow elk. If you're looking for a special draw bull elk tag in the future, than you would want to buy a point for the Elk Permit one.

JT L. - posted 11 months ago on 07-03-2017 01:23:33 pm
Aledo TX

What is the difference between the Elk Permit Point and Elk B Bonus Point?

Brady Miller
Brady M. - posted 11 months ago on 07-03-2017 10:16:17 am
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

Hey John. Yeah, Montana kind of has a confusing system. Bonus points are for the special draw hunt districts for deer, elk, antelope, moose, sheep, mountain goat.

Preference points are for nonresident deer and elk combination licenses.

You can now buy points for both under this new system. Years past it was just for the nonresident preference points.

Once you log in to FWP's licensing system, right under the "BONUS POINTS (PURCHASED)" section there is a spot to purchase preference points.

The deer draw did not have any leftovers this year. There was an alternate list that was created that you had to sign up for (but is now closed and results are posted for that). You can read more info on that here:

I'm assuming that picking up a preference point is a very good idea so you could have a better chance at picking up a tag in 2018.

Sorry for the long response... just wanted to give you a bunch of info.

John D. - posted 11 months ago on 07-03-2017 09:55:57 am
Lewes, DE

So I'm reading this correctly... This new rule allows purchase of "bonus points" for attempting to draw a permit in limited opportunity areas. "Preference points" are used to award general licenses correct?

Does MT only allow purchase of bonus points at a later date and not preference points. Asking because I think the deer draw didn't have leftovers this year, correct?