Hunting season opens next weekend, but there's some new regulations to watch out for if you're elk hunting in Southwest Montana.
FWP spokesperson Andrea Jones told us they've tightened some of the protocol in Hunting Districts 360 and 362- the Upper and Lower Madison areas west of
Bozeman- and Districts 313 and 314 in the southern Paradise Valley and Gardiner areas.
For example, hunters can only harvest one elk in HD 360- no matter how many licenses they have. There previously wasn't a limit.
And in both areas, hunters can no longer harvest either cow or bull elk. A general license only covers a brow-tined bull.
For antlerless elk, hunters must have applied for and drawn an Elk B license.
Also in both areas, they must now report all harvests within 72 hours.
HD 313 around Gardiner is no longer open to general hunting licenses. Hunters must have drawn a specific permit to hunt in that area.
And in 314, instead of hunting both sexes, general licenses only cover brow-tined bull. Again, hunters need that Elk B license for antlerless elk.
At Bob Wards on Friday, hunters were busy getting ready for the season. We talked to a few to see if the new rules change their game plan.
"It is a nice option to have that- to be able to take a cow if you're out there hunting for bulls you're not coming across anything" said Bob Wards worker Griffin Woodal.
He hunts elk in those areas, and said he likes having the option of hunting cow elk.
He didn't get the special permit, so he won't be able to this year.
"It just kind of sucks when you have to see it change in one of the areas that you hunt a lot" Woodal said.
Though he said it's a disappointment, Woodal said it won't keep him out of the woods. He already has plans in place to go hunting next weekend.
Andrea Jones from FWP told us they made the regulation changes to better manage elk populations in those areas, because she said they've seen a significant decrease in numbers.
She also said those areas are popular hunting spots that previously had little regulation.
Before they finalized the new rules, Jones said they went through a process of drafting the regulations and accepting public comment earlier this year.
Hunters who wanted Elk B licenses or the permit to hunt in HD 313 applied to do so by last June. From there, they drew names to choose who got the special permits and licenses.
General elk and deer season opens October 20th, and runs through November 25th.