Over The Counter Permits
Residents can purchase general deer (A) and elk licenses over the counter at any license provider.
Outfitter sponsored permits are not truly ?over the counter? as you do have to apply for them. However, if you do apply, you are guaranteed to draw. There is no limit to the number that will be issued, but the price of these permits will increase or decrease based on how close to the target of 5,500 deer/elk combo and 2,300 deer only are actually sold. (Elk only permits are also available and come out of the deer/elk combo quota.) If more than the target is sold, the price will increase the next year and then decrease if fewer are sold. If you choose to purchase one of these permits, you are required to contract with a licensed outfitter.
Unlike any other state in the nation, Montana offers the opportunity to hunt rocky mountain bighorn sheep without having to draw a license or pay an exorbitant amount to purchase one at auction. There are 4 units that are managed under a harvest quota system and anyone that wants a permit can get one. However, once the quota has been met, the hunt in that unit will be closed. These are also very remote and rugged areas along the north border of Yellowstone Park. A hunter needs to be in very good physical condition and a guide familiar with the area is highly recommended.
There are also various antlerless elk permits that can be purchased over the counter. However, some of these must be purchased prior to the application deadline in June. Be sure to read and understand the regulations regarding these permits before going hunting.
Most youth incentive programs are related to elk hunting. There are a large number of areas that allows a youth (12 to 15 years old) to hunt without having to draw a special hunting permit. However, a non-resident youth still needs to draw a combination license to participate in this opportunity. A resident youth wanting to purchase their first hunting license qualifies for a Resident Youth Combination Sports license free of charge.
Other Big Game Opportunities
There are also many black bear and cougar hunting opportunities in Montana. All black bear permits can be purchased over the counter. Baiting and hunting with hounds are not allowed. Some cougar permits are available over the counter and others must be drawn. The use of hounds is allowed when hunting cougar.
There are also a few wild bison permits available through a drawing. These bison are hunted as the leave Yellowstone park.
To participate in this hunt, you will need to apply by mid September. You will be allowed up to two choices on your application. However, the first choice must be for an either sex license and the second choice must be for a cow/calf license and you are not required to list a second choice. A list of "potential" cow/calf hunters will be created from the second choice applicants. If a cow/calf hunt is authorized, hunters will be contacted in the order they appear on this list. To participate in either hunt, you are required to complete a bison orientateion test and submit the completed form at the time of license purchase. Any licenses not purchased by November 1 will be awarded to someone else.