Montana Elk and Deer Draw 2024

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Update: The 2024 Montana Elk and Deer Draw is now closed. If you missed it you can start tracking draw deadlines for free with OnPoint – never miss an application. Available on Web, Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Montana Elk and Deer Draw Overview

Montana provides an exceptional opportunity for hunting elk and deer, with both general and limited-quota tags available for both species across the state. The annual Montana Elk and Deer draw represents the principal chance for both resident and nonresident hunters to obtain limited-quota tags, and general tags as well for nonresident hunters. This draw is organized by the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), with applications typically due in early April. Montana uses multiple points systems, depending on your residency status and the type of tag you are applying for. In this article, we will delve into the key aspects of the draw and point system, offering insights on how to efficiently complete your application and enhance your likelihood of securing a tag.

Sale Date: When is the Montana Elk and Deer Draw?

The draw for 2024 tags opened on March 1st, 2024 and closes on  April 1st 2024, at 11:45pm Mountain Time. 

Results are usually announced in mid-April. Click here to start tracking your apps for free.

Tag Types & Associated Points Systems

Montana has multiple elk and deer tag types, with somewhat different processes between them. At it’s most simple form, Montana offers General tags, Limited-Quota tags, and Limited-Quota “B” tags.

Montana General Tags

General tags, as the name implies, are the most basic form of tag. These allow the holders to hunt in a large number of units in the state, which are typically lower demand units than the limited quota ones. For Montana residents, these tags are available over the counter for elk and deer.

Montana Nonresident Combination Tags

For nonresidents, general deer and elk tags are available as part of the Combination Licenses options. There are three combination license options to nonresident: Elk Combo, Deer Combo, and Big Game Combo (both deer and elk). Each of these also includes a season fishing license and upland bird license.

Montana Preference Points System and Combination Tag Draw

Nonresident combination tags have an associated preference point system. However, it is not a straight preference point system which awards to only highest point holders. Rather, the Montana system awards 75% of the tags to holders with maximum points, then awards the remaining 25% of tags to applicants with zero points. This arrangement can actually result in better odds with zero points than 1 points, and in recent years has. Preference point s can be purchased at the time of the draw and used immediately. Applicants can also purchase a preference point separately later in the year through the preference point purchase window, however they are only eligible for this if they did not apply for the license through the draw. Below are some additional key changes for the 2024 application season:

  • Accumulated preference points will be used during the current drawing whether you purchase an additional preference point or not.
  • Any accumulated preference points are lost if the applicant does not apply for a nonresident combination license in consecutive years, or if you are successful at obtaining a combination license. This means you cannot simply accumulate preference points in the points purchase window only. If you purchase in the points window, you need to apply in the following year or you will lose your points.
  • No one may hold more than 3 preference points.
  • Outfitter clients are eligible to purchase second preference point for an additional $100 at the time of application. Licenses issued using this point are only valid for hunting with an outfitter.

2023 Combination Tag Odds

Below are the odds for Combination tags in 2023. Note that Elk Combo and Big Game Combo odds are part of the same odds grouping.

Montana General Deer Draw Odds Montana General Elk Draw Odds

Montana Limited Entry Permits

Limited entry permits allow the holder to hunt specific higher demand units for specific hunt seasons. Both residents and nonresidents must secure these permits to hunt limited quota units. However, for nonresidents they must be successful in drawing a General Combination Tag for their target species prior to considering in limited quota permits. The general and limited entry applications are submitted at the same time, but those unsuccessful in drawing a general tag will not be considered in the limited quota draw, even if they have sufficient points to draw a tag.

Montana Bonus Points System and Limited Entry Draw

Montana uses a bonus point system for the limited entry permit allocation. It is a “Bonus Squared”, meaning the applicants bonus point number is squared, then 1 additional is added for the current year’s application. For example, if an applicant has 4 bonus points, they get 4 x 4 = 16 bonus entries, plus and additional 1 for a total of 17. This creates a system that is functionally a hybrid between bonus and preference. Bonus points are specific to a “species opportunity”. Elk and deer are under different points, but also there are points for Elk and Elk B tags. Bonus points purchased at the time of the draw are used in that draw. If you are applying in the limited entry draw, you should buy a bonus point.

Nonresidents who have drawn a combination license and residents are treated roughly the same in the draw process, subject to nonresident caps. The nonresident cap generally requires a nonresident to have substantially higher bonus points to draw the same limited quota tag as a resident applicant.

ImportantBonus points can be acquired through the draw process or later in the year via a separate Bonus points purchase window. However, applicants that apply in the draw must select to purchase a point in the case of unsuccessful draw. If the applicant applies for a species in the draw, but elects not to purchase a point during the draw if unsuccessful, they are unable to purchase a point later in the year via the point purchase window.

What if I draw a general combination tag but not a limited entry permit?

When submitting an application for both a combination license and an elk permit, you have the choice to opt for the 80% refund option. Choosing this option means that if you win in the combination license lottery but not in the elk permit lottery, you will be refunded 80% of your license fee. Furthermore, your accumulated preference points will be reset to zero.

Draw requirements: What is required to apply in the draw?

Applicants must possess a valid base hunting license and conservation license to apply in the Montana elk and deer draw. These are fairly low cost licenses relative to other states, making Montana an affordable state to build points in. In addition to the base hunting licenses, you must pay an application fee for each species applied for. If electing to purchase a bonus point or applying for only a bonus point, you must pay the bonus point fee as well. These prices are generally comparable to purchasing points in the separate bonus or preference points purchase windows.

Tag prices: How much does a Montana elk or deer tag cost?

Prices for the required licenses and tags are summarized below.

General Fees
ItemResident PriceNon-Resident Price
Base Hunting License$10.00$15.00
Conservation License$8.00$10.00
Nonresident Preference Point (For Big Game, Elk, Deer Combo)N/A$100.00
Archery License$10.00$10.00
Species specific tag fees
ItemResident PriceNon-Resident Price
Application fee$5.00$5.00
Bonus point during draw application$2.00$20.00
Bonus point during points only period$15.00$25.00
Elk Tag$20.00$1,048.00
Elk Permit (not an additional tag)$9.00$9.00
Deer Tag (whitetail + mule)$16.00$724.00
Deer Permit (not an additional tag)$5.00$5.00
Big Game Combination (elk + deer)N/A$1,242.00

Nonresident cap

Nonresident tags are capped at 10% of the allocated amount for any limited quota unit. Nonresidents are not guaranteed that amount, but typically receive it due to the ratio of applicants.

Alternate options to get tags in Montana

There are a few additional opportunities to secure tags in Montana if you are unsuccessful in the Elk and Deer draw. These include the Surplus List, Alternate List, and B Tag draws. Below are a summary of all draw opportunities in Montana.

Montana Elk and Deer DrawElk, DeerMarch 1, 2024April 1, 2024
Montana Moose, Sheep, Goat, Bison DrawMoose, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat, BisonMarch 1, 2024May 1, 2024
Montana Antelope and B Tag DrawAntelope, Elk, DeerMarch 1, 2024June 1, 2024
Montana Super Tag LotteryAntelope, Bighorn Sheep, Bison, Deer, Elk, Moose, Mountain Goat, Mountain LionJanuary 1, 2024June 30, 2024
Montana Bonus Points PurchaseAll speciesJuly 1, 2024September 30, 2024
Montana Preference Points PurchaseGeneral Elk, Deer, or combination tag permitJuly 1, 2024December 31, 2024

Montana Elk and Deer Draw FAQ

What is the difference between a General tag and permit for elk and deer?2023-04-13T01:15:22+00:00

General licenses or general tags offer the ability to hunt a number of general units across the state. These are typically lower success units with higher hunter population, as they are not limited in hunter quantity. For non-residents, general tags are associated with preference points.

Elk permits are unit specific and offer the opportunity to hunt a higher success unit within the state. They are associated with the state’s bonus point system, which applies to both residents and non-residents. In order to draw an elk permit, a hunter must also apply for a general tag and be successful in drawing one, although both these are assessed in the same draw process.

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