Back to News

Montana bill to make bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goat once in a lifetime licenses

Montana bill to make bighorn sheep moose and mountain goat once-in-a-lifetime licenses

Photo credit: Dreamstime

Montana bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goat, and grizzly bear could become a once in a lifetime harvest if a new bill passes. Currently, Montana House Bill 390 is making its rounds. Drafts were started around December of 2018 and it was introduced to the House on February 5.

Today (Feb. 26) at 3:00 p.m. there will be a hearing with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee.

The bill's primary sponsor is Rep. Denley M. Loge of Saint Regis, MT.

It will be interesting to see how this bill moves forward. If the once-in-a-lifetime part passed, you'd think that they would go back through the list of everyone that killed and cut them off from being able to apply again. Then at the same time, what happens to the accumulated bonus points and all the fees that some nonresidents have spent on applying who are looking to draw their second tag for a species?

Note: based on my understanding of HB390's language, this new bill doesn't limit a person taking more than one ram in their lifetime in Montana's unlimited districts. This new bill, on the sheep side, only impacts "limited mountain sheep licenses" which means a license that is valid for an area in which the number of licenses issued is restricted. If you've already killed a ram in a draw district, your only option for a second ram would be hunting the unlimited districts.

I will keep this article updated as we receive more information.

Track this Bill here

The once in a lifetime language reads:

(3) (a) Except as provided in 87-2-815 and subsection (3)(b) of this section, a person may take only one of each of the following species in Montana in that person's lifetime with a license authorized by 87-2-701:

(i) grizzly bear;
(ii) antlered moose;
(iii) ram mountain sheep;
(iv) mountain goat.

(b) The provisions of this section do not apply to licenses issued for disease management and depopulation purposes.

(4) (a) Except as provided in 87-1-271(2) and 87-2-815 and subject to the provisions of subsection (3) of this section, a person who receives a moose, mountain goat, or limited mountain sheep license, as authorized by 87-2-701, with the exception of an antlerless moose or an adult ewe game management license issued under 87-2-104, is not eligible to receive another special license for that species for the next 7 years. For the purposes of this subsection (4)(a), "limited mountain sheep license" means a license that is valid for an area in which the number of licenses issued is restricted.

Youth opportunity to draw big four licenses:

Also, this bill would take away the opportunity for youth age 12 to 17 years old from drawing an antlered moose, bighorn sheep ram or any mountain goat. They could still apply for antlerless moose and ewe bighorn.

See the language below:

87-2-701. Special licenses. (1) An applicant who is 12 years of age or older or who will turn 12 years old before or during the season for which the license is issued and is the holder of a resident wildlife conservation license or a nonresident wildlife conservation license may apply for a special license that, in the judgment of the department, is to be issued and shall pay the following fees:
(a) antlerless moose--resident, $125; nonresident, $1,250;
(b) mountain goat--resident, $125; nonresident, $1,250;
(c)(b) ewe mountain sheep--resident, $125; nonresident, $1,250;
(d)(c) antelope--resident, $14; nonresident, $200;
(e) grizzly bear--resident, $150; nonresident, $1,000;
(f)(d) black bear--nonresident, $350;
(g)(e) wild buffalo or bison--resident, $125; nonresident, $1,250.

(2) Except as provided in 87-2-702(3), an applicant who is 18 years of age or older, or who will turn 18 years old before or during the season for which the license is issued, and is the holder of a wildlife conservation license may apply for a special license that, in the judgment of the department, is to be issued and shall pay the following fees:
(a) antlered moose--resident, $125; nonresident, $1,250;
(b) mountain goat--resident, $125; nonresident, $1,250;
(c) ram mountain sheep--resident, $125; nonresident, $1,250;
(d) grizzly bear--resident, $150; nonresident, $1,000.

goHUNT's INSIDER Research Tools



Log in or register to post comments.

Seth D. - posted 1 year ago on 03-05-2019 10:14:31 am
Public Lands

@ Jim K.

I served in the Navy about 22 years ago with a kid from Missouri that had killed a bighorn sheep in Wyoming without drawing a tag. He had a school mate or cousin or something that had drawn a tag, and the two fathers decided that the tag would be filled no matter what. So (going from memory here) they get a few days into the hunt, and kill a big ram. Except it wasn't the kid that drew the tag, it was his friend (my airman recruit) that shot it. The kid had killed exactly one animal in his entire life, and it was this bighorn sheep, as a non-resident party hunted, and totally illegal.

The fury of not eating tag soup is pretty rough on an out of state bighorn tag.

I think the as you said, premier species tags get filled, but it is common place for the tag to not be filled by the hunter legally holding the license.

For me it is grey area poaching. Party hunting is legal in many non-western states.

It would also be a tough call for a game warden to want to make. You have a under age minor who poached a ram, or the father of a under age minor who shot it for them. Either way the kid is going to be tainted as a hunter, and probably never hunt again.

So knocking kids out of the pool, eliminates the chances that it can happen.

No one wants to eat tag soup on a sheep.

Jim K. - posted 1 year ago on 03-04-2019 01:08:16 pm
Dixon Mt

I think the age restrictions are long over due I personally know of two big horn sheep tags given out in petty creek that were issued to minors and harvested by their dads, and once in a lifetime is better also ,

Seth D. - posted 1 year ago on 03-04-2019 11:23:31 am
Public Lands

I grew up in Wyoming and Montana. We were lower middle class, and I don't remember a single year where we had the money for Dad and I to apply for anything beyond antelope, elk and deer were bought over the counter.

Here in 2019, I am 44, and I have a 7 year old warrior princess who is aching to hunt. I have a skosh more money than my parents did in 1991, but it is a major expense to fund non-resident tags for your kid. Next year we will be applying for all species in New Mexico as residents. That in itself is $1200.

Then you have the problem of someone who draws a tag being able to physically get into the area and take the animal. Or have the finances to be outfitted.

How often does a minor draw a tag and not even do the hunt?

it might seem like this is a dig at hunter recruitment, but they should have published the data of how many tags they gave out to under 18 year olds and how many of those under 18 year olds actually hunted.

Brandon W. - posted 1 year ago on 03-04-2019 08:55:44 am

While it makes sense to try to give more people an opportunity to draw a permit for species with exceptionally low draw odds, would making these species once in a lifetime actually increase the odds by an appreciable amount. In other words, have the bill sponsers quantified what the impact of what they are proposing would be. If not, they should do this so hunters can make an informed decision on whether to support or oppose the bill.

I am strongly against the elimination of eligibility of youth hunters to apply for male permits for the species. Youth are already at a tremendous disadvantage in drawing the permits with the bonus point system, especially since they are squared. I recently saw a graph of draw odds for squared bonus points. It showed that the curve is pretty flat out to 10 pts and at 10 pts the curve gets very steep (a large increase I. the rate of increase of draw odds with increased bonus points). A kid just reaching the age of application eligibility will have a greatly impaired chance of drawing a sheep etc permit their entire life. A kid just born will be at an even greater disadvantage. It’s one generation stealing from the next.

gerald m. - posted 1 year ago on 03-04-2019 08:31:38 am

I like this concept. I have drawn once in a lifetime species in other states and i'm OK with it. However removing youth is the a really bad idea. I have seen youth hunters that are 1000% more focused on a hunt than older folks and really appreciate the opportunity and work hard. I am no where near youth age, but those were some of the best hunting years of my life. And now i see my son and his friends really enjoying the outdoors. My dad has never drawn the big three and he is 70's. Some people are just not lucky in the draw so why take it out on the youth?

ken h. - posted 1 year ago on 03-01-2019 09:47:36 pm

Have at least 10 points in 9 states. Am getting older. Lucked out on a random tag in Utah. Because of points creep may die before I draw another. If we don't go to a hybrid mixed type of draw, no younger folks will apply. Pretty simple to see. Tags that can be transferred from older family members to kids is baloney. Sheep tags going to old folks who can't walk is baloney. Shooting a moose, goat, or, sheep, or for that matter any animal on your kids tag is baloney. Let kids apply just like adults for male species. They should learn early about struggle. They should accept temporary and minor letdowns. Everyone is not a winner. BUT, The point system is broken. It is a money grab at this time. Point fees are sky rocketing, while the game departments can't provide the promised product. If you are rich, just buy a governors tag in WA state for over $100,000. I say just hunt, as often as possible with what ya got and press these game departments to make the draw a hybrid mix and reasonable for all.

Bill D. - posted 1 year ago on 03-01-2019 09:37:31 am

I’m over a decade into applying for MT sheep and know that there’s still not a likely tag in sight. If Montana is going to make changes, I wonder if they wouldn’t be better off going to an Arizona-like system. Both states are already complicated, but there seems to be a feeling that AZ’s changes at least give people a chance to draw, while still giving better odds to those that have been accumulating points. I don’t know the best answer here. Following this to see how it develops.

Seth D. - posted 1 year ago on 02-28-2019 08:27:57 am
Public Lands

While I am ranting I think preference points and the draws really need an update.

Here is my plan.

20% of all tags go to those with preference points in a lottery system. 10 points equals chances. 2nd group to draw

30% of tags go to max point holders. 1st group to draw

48% of all tags go to everyone else, points don't matter. This is the third group to draw.

1% of the tags are raffled off

1% of the tags are sold at auction

An application or point cost $50 per species for sheep, goat, moose, bison and grizz. No refunds.

Non resident application cost is $100 per species no refunds.

Seth D. - posted 1 year ago on 02-28-2019 08:17:28 am
Public Lands

I wish there was a way to prevent a person from putting their spouse in for a tag, and then shooting their spouses's animal for them.

Was standard operating procedure on antelope and deer as a kid. I know Wyoming G&F busted an 80 year old grandma about 5 or 10 years ago for it.

The wife of a friend of mine drew a sheep tag in New Mexico, and she wounded and lost the ram. He had pressured her into it, and then that happened.

Seth D. - posted 1 year ago on 02-28-2019 08:07:16 am
Public Lands

My father has drawn multiples of moose (I think 3 or 4), no goats, and no sheep in Wyoming, and nothing in Montana. He has been a resident one state or the other for most of his life.

I personally like the no tags until 18 rule.

I have heard of of several "hunters" that drew out of state sheep, goat, moose, or other tags on their kids name and shot big game while their kids looked on.

I wonder if they do this if they will make it retroactive?

jacob b. - posted 1 year ago on 02-27-2019 08:50:51 pm

great opportunity for others to be able to draw without 20+ years invested potentially while some manage to draw multiple times.

Josh B. - posted 1 year ago on 02-27-2019 06:26:01 pm

I like this idea.

JAMES R. - posted 1 year ago on 02-27-2019 07:50:39 am

Long time coming for big 3 to be once in a lifetime. I've applied every year as a resident in MT for big 3 for 24 years and finally drew a goat tag last season. I know of at least a dozen that have drawn multiple permits for multiple species in that time, and know of one who's drawn all three species multiple times!

I don't love the youth provision that they can't apply until age 18 for antlered big 3 permits. Why limit them when they would be under the same OIL blanket as everyone else.