When it comes to hunting opportunity for bowhunters, Montana has lots to offer. Long season dates and plenty of tags give archery hunters a lot to be excited about. The dates on most elk, deer and pronghorn hunts run at least six weeks long. While there are no archery only permits for moose, sheep and goat, the season dates for these hunts are a couple of months long, providing plenty of time to get it done with a bow.
Generally speaking, Montana should be viewed as more of an opportunity state than that of a trophy state. Of the Rocky Mountain States, Montana annually ranks #2 in quantities of P&Y entries for elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and mountain goat. While the average size of elk taken is a little better than average comparatively to other states, there are at least five or six trophy class bulls taken each year with a bow in Montana. Big bull potential isn’t necessarily limited to the coveted draw areas as trophy class bulls do exist in many areas of the state. In 2016 the new typical world record bull was taken on a 900-20 permit, which offers the best draw odds of any archery permit in the state. When hunting pronghorn in Montana, you should expect to find plenty of average pronghorn with a low ceiling for trophy potential. Montana’s bighorn sheep on the other hand are a different story. Montana is far and away the best place to harvest a giant ram!
Where Montana really falls short is in its archery mule deer hunting. No state turns in a smaller average P&Y mule deer buck. Couple that with only four or five annual P&Y entries and it may be worth passing on applying for mule deer in Montana.
For moose, sheep, goat and bison you are required to pay only the upfront application fee, and then will be charged the tag fee if successful in the drawing. The state does however require that nonresidents front tag fees for elk, deer & pronghorn, making it an expensive state to apply for these species. That being said, if hunting Montana offers the type of opportunity you are after, it may pay off for you to be building points in Big Sky Country!