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elk herd

A herd of elk stand alert in a Bitterroot Valley field on a crisp November morning in this file photo.

Perry Backus for The Montana Standard

It’s that time of year again.

For those hunters interested in applying for elk or deer permits for the 2018 season a critical deadline is approaching March 15.

Fortunately, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks online application process and application packet make it simple to apply. An easy-to-use application packet is available from all hunting license providers, FWP offices and online at

“Resident hunters need a 2018 conservation, elk or deer license, and base hunting license to apply for a special elk or deer permit. Everything else needed to apply is in the application and information packet, and hunters should look into applying online,” said FWP spokesman, Greg Lemon. “It’s fast, secure and very convenient.”

Hard copies of the hunting regulations will be on the shelf at FWP offices and local license providers in April.

This year, hunters should note a few changes in the regulations from last year, particularly hunting district specific changes.

While many hunting districts in Montana offer an elk B license, either over the counter or through a special draw with a June 1 deadline, the number of hunting districts with antlerless elk permits has increased. Hunters must apply for these permits by March 15. For most of these antlerless elk permits, if hunters are successful they will not be allowed to harvest an antlered elk in that specific hunting district.

Hunters must apply for antlerless elk permits by March 15 in the following hunting districts:

Most hunting districts in FWP region 1, most hunting districts in region 2, hunting districts 313, 318, 335, 339, 343, 620, 621, 622, 630, 631, 632, 680, and 690. Be sure to check the regulations before you apply if you’re interested in hunting antlerless elk in 2018.

Two new options are open this year for antlered mule deer. A small number of permits will be issued for the north portion of hunting district 103. This new permit was approved by the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission in February.

Hunting district 262 will also have antlered mule deer buck permits available this season.

As always, it’s critical for hunters to check the regulations online or pick up an application packet at any license provider to ensure they’re applying for the appropriate permit.

To request an application by mail, write to: Licensing Section; Montana FWP; P.O. Box 200701, Helena MT; 59620-0701; or call: 406-444-2950. The application deadline is March 15.

The next big game deadline is May 1 to apply for moose, sheep, goat and bison licenses and then June 1 for antlerless deer B and elk B licenses and antelope and antelope B licenses.