This weekend marks the opening of the general deer and elk rifle hunting season.
Montana City resident Jim Manning came into Helena’s Capitol Sports and Western Wear on a mission on Wednesday.
“Oh, to buy good stuff,” he said, “you can’t ever have enough guns and bullets and clothes. It’s that time of year, right?”
It is that time of year, the general hunting season. Capital Sports Co-owner Jay Sherley is walking among the racks of orange jackets, camouflage and paper targets. He says business is up.
“Oh yeah, it’s been gearing up for the last two weeks. People are excited, gearing up to get out,” he says.
And with the way things are now, it’s picking up a little sooner.
“Cause usually they wait until Thursday and Friday but now that the kids are getting out there,” Sherley said.
Yep, the state’s youth hunt. This is the second year Montana is trying out this youth hunt, giving kids a couple days head start. The deer season starts for youth ages 12 to 15 on Thursday and Friday, it opens to everyone else on Saturday, along with the elk season.
Clerks are printing a seemingly endless spool of hunting licenses over at the Fish Wildlife and Parks headquarters. For new hunters like 12 year old Luke Phillips.
“I’m gonna get my first deer, hopefully,” Phillips said.
FWP spokesman Tom Palmer says those two ‘youth only’ days line up with days kids get off for state teacher conferences.
“So a couple of years ago, someone came up with the idea of why not open a hunting season for youth on those two days,” he said.
Palmer says it’s been a successful program. Then, by the true opening day on Saturday, “we’ll probably have 100,000 hunters out on the plains, in the mountains searching for deer and elk.”
Last year 150 thousand deer hunters harvested 81 thousand Montana deer. Just over 100 thousand elk hunters took down 21 thousand elk.
Back over at Capital Sports, customer Jim Manning has set realistic goals.
“I’m gonna take my gun for a walk in the woods,” he said.
He says he’s mostly just looking to get outside. Anything else is an added bonus.
The General rifle season lasts through November 25th
Wolf hunting also continues this year in Montana. That season started October 15th and runs through February 28th. So far about nine thousand wolf licenses have been sold. Nine wolves have already been killed. The state is looking to lower wolf populations, setting no quota on the animals and also allowing trapping for the first time.
The state’s wolf trapping season starts December 15th.