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Montana surplus license system crash causes problems for hopeful elk hunters

2019 Montana surplus elk tag update

Photo credit: Getty Images

According to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), due to various technical difficulties, many hunters who were recently trying to purchase a nonresident surplus elk combo license online on Monday, May 6 at 5 a.m. were unable to complete their transactions for a leftover elk license. Over the next 10 days, FWP will be contacting the customers who were one of the impacted individuals that attempted to purchase their license between 5 and 5:30 a.m. on May 6 by email and phone. Those customers will then be given the opportunity to complete the purchase of their elk only combination license.

I called FWP this morning, and they mentioned they are going to run this process starting from the hunter who tried to purchase the first licenses at the 5 a.m. starting time and will go down the list until they hit the 393 surplus elk tags that were available. They discussed that the purchase time/error codes all have timestamps, and so that information will be used to figure out the order of who to call in order to offer up a license.

According to information on FWP's Facebook page, they will also be addressing the processes they use for future surplus license sales to ensure a better transaction experience. Additionally, FWP will no longer be offering sign-ups on the alternates list for big game combination licenses, however, the list for deer combination licenses will still be available. The alternates list will be open from May 15 to June 30.

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9 Comments

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Rick B. - posted 1 week ago on 05-13-2019 11:52:15 am
Sanger, Ca.
goHUNT INSIDER

I just called Montana FWP licensing. I was on hold for about 15 min. I was able to purchase a surplus elk lic. for both me and my son!

Rick B. - posted 1 week ago on 05-13-2019 11:29:03 am
Sanger, Ca.
goHUNT INSIDER

I received an email on the 8th stating that I was identified as on of the customers that met the criteria for being able to still purchase a tag. She said someone would be contacting me by phone in the next several days to be able to complete my transaction. Still waiting for that call. Also they charged my debit card over 13k dollars because I had made about 15 attempts to purchase. I have received full refunds though.

Jesse A. - posted 1 week ago on 05-13-2019 08:23:50 am
goHUNT INSIDER

I was of the people who received the error message. They called me Thursday and made it right. I was able to purchase then Non Res Elk Combo License right over the phone with the individual that called me. I was definitely bummed when it happened but impressed they made it right.

robin m. - posted 1 week ago on 05-13-2019 06:03:21 am

Not sure about Montana exactly, but when I need to talk to fish and game in other states I rarely call the main office. Try calling another smaller headquarters and you will probably get to talk to someone.

Terry P. - posted 2 weeks ago on 05-09-2019 05:20:06 am
goHUNT INSIDER

This is nothing new. They use a company to run their online licensing system which charges a percentage to process everything. For you non residents who can get a license is an absolute gouge on top of another gouge. In saying that I was unable to get a turkey application in for the entire 2 days before deadline on a turkey permit that was “guaranteed” but I had to apply to a system that is proven not to work. Something needs to change or the people who pay the real money will stop coming and go someplace else. 800+ a year for a general elk tag in hopes of drawing a “special permit”? In some of these units I see people talking about the mathematically impossible. A year with 250 permits given in a unit and not even 1 nonresident drawing. Others with over 120 permits over 2 years and only 1 non resident permit?

Mark.patzer1
Mark P. - posted 2 weeks ago on 05-08-2019 05:34:49 pm
San Diego, CA
goHUNT INSIDER

I got the email from Montana FWP that they will award me the tag. Just have to wait for them to call me to complete to order process. At least they are trying to do the right thing and resolve the issue appropriately.

Mark.patzer1
Mark P. - posted 2 weeks ago on 05-08-2019 11:56:54 am
San Diego, CA
goHUNT INSIDER

@Gary I connected with them yesterday right when they opened after being on hold for 10 minutes but wasn't about to get through on my lunch break today. They just told me to try for a B tag and the next surplus sale in Aug. Hopefully I can them on the line tomorrow around the same time

Gary H. - posted 2 weeks ago on 05-08-2019 11:51:04 am
goHUNT INSIDER

Good luck getting through. They wont even call me back. I have tried to get through to them for over a week now. This is getting a little ridiculous.

Mark.patzer1
Mark P. - posted 2 weeks ago on 05-08-2019 10:50:19 am
San Diego, CA
goHUNT INSIDER

Guess I better call them again because there was no mention of this when I spoke with them on the phone about what happened. I have a screenshot of the error code with the time stamp thankfully and will update whether or not they award me a tag.