Kalispell, MT — This weekend marks the beginning of the general big game hunting season in Montana.
The general deer and elk season is Oct. 26-Dec. 1.
If you have information about a possible wildlife or state lands crime, please call our toll-free TIP-MONT Hotline at 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847-6668).
Here are a few reminders for hunters in northwest Montana (Region 1) during the 2019 season:
There is a change in the antlerless hunts in hunting districts 122 and 130 this year. General hunters can no longer harvest antlerless white-tailed deer the first week or the last week of the season in those hunting districts, regardless of land ownership. Youth 12-15 years old and those with a permit to hunt from the vehicle are still allowed to harvest an antlerless whitetail in those hunting districts from Oct. 26-Dec. 1. Only B license holders can harvest antlerless deer in those districts.
FWP will have five big game check stations set up on weekends: Highway 2 west of Kalispell; Highway 83 north of Swan Lake; Highway 200 on the west end of Thompson Falls; Highway 93 near Olney; and on Highway 37 on Canoe Gulch Road east of Libby. Hunters are required to stop at check stations they encounter.
There are approximately 710,000 acres of private and isolated public lands enrolled in FWP’s Region 1 Block Management Program. The majority of these lands are owned by corporate timber companies: Weyerhaeuser Company, F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company, and Stimson Lumber Company. Each Block Management area has unique regulations, and hunters should review those regulations beforehand and pay close attention to site-specific rules. These regulations can vary greatly and include specific road-use requirements and camping restrictions. FWP game wardens enforce these regulations to ensure that these lands remain open for generations to come.
FWP has detected chronic wasting disease in white-tailed deer in the Libby area, and hunters need to be aware of the Libby CWD Management Zone, which includes portions of HDs 100, 103 and 104. All deer, elk and moose harvested within the Libby CWD Management Zone, including any harvested with a Libby Special CWD Hunt B license and any harvested with any other type of license, must be checked and sampled within three days of harvest. Hunters who quarter or bone out their animal in the field must bring the head for sampling. During general big game season, the Libby Special CWD Hunt Sampling Station will be open every day from 11 a.m. – 1½ hours after sunset. Hunters are only required to stop at the Sampling Station if they harvested an animal. Hunters will be required to document the exact location of the kill. Animals will be tagged with a unique identification number. Hunters can use that identification number to look up test results on the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov/CWD. Test results are usually available within three weeks. Hunters who harvest an animal that tests positive for CWD may receive a replacement 2019 license.
This year FWP is paying for the testing of CWD samples from hunter-harvested deer, elk and moose anywhere in the state regardless of whether they are in a management zone or sampling area. If these animals come from outside our sampling areas, hunters can either take the samples themselves, fill out the information sheet found online and mail them to our lab in Bozeman or bring the animal (or head) to a regional office for sampling. A video on the FWP website shows detailed instructions on how to remove lymph nodes, and more information is available about testing.
Hunters are reminded that mule deer buck hunting in the North Fisher portion of Hunting District 103 near Libby is permit-only. See legal description in regulations and legal district booklet.
Hunters should check their licenses in advance, and anyone with faded licenses can have them replaced at no cost at their regional Fish, Wildlife & Parks office. After Oct. 24, the cost will be $5 for each license replaced at a license provider. However, FWP will reimburse the cost to hunters and anglers who mail in a receipt along with their faded license and tags. These can be mailed to the address above. If you’ve already paid to have your license replaced, you can submit your receipt to FWP for reimbursement. Another option for replacing your license is to go to fwp.mt.gov, login to MyFWP and request a digital version of your license to print at home or download to a smart phone. Digital licenses are good for everything but a carcass tag.
Be Bear Aware. Northwest Montana is home to black and grizzly bears, and in fall they are actively seeking food before winter denning. Grizzlies often follow streams and river bottoms that offer shade, protection and food. Carry bear spray and be ready to use it. Hunt with a partner. Always let someone know where you’ll be. Look for fresh bear sign and activity and avoid those areas.