The story for Central Montana firearms elk hunters is the same as for archery: There are lots of animals, plenty of public land access and most all of the elk hunting is by permit only. Because elk herd numbers are above or at management plan objectives, the Montana FWP has instituted a number of special hunts to try and control the population. Hunters interested in these hunts, and many of them are available in Central Montana should review the regulations. Applications for permits usually have a March deadline, and the number of permits given, particularly for bull elk, is very limited in some hunting districts in Central Montana. However, sportsman looking to harvest an elk, whether a trophy or one for the freezer, can choose from a variety of promising options when it comes to Central Montana. Also, there are several guides and outfitters operating in the area that provide access to elk hunting on private land.
With solid populations of both mule deer and whitetails in proximity to Lewistown in every direction you head, hunters are sure to find a deer hunt that meets their expectations. All of the hunting variety results in necessary regulations to manage it, so hunter are encouraged to study the rules governing each species and each area. Generally speaking, however, hunters can buy an either sex tag over the counter for most of the areas surrounding Lewistown. While Central Montana is not noted as one of the trophy mule deer areas, there are respectable deer taken each fall. Whitetail hunters are very likely to get a chance at a trophy while hunting this area. Probably one of the more enjoyable parts of deer hunting in Central Montana, if not the most enjoyable part, is that you get to see lots of game. It is not uncommon for hunters to see 20 or more animals per day.
Lewistown sits right in the middle of antelope country. All of the pronghorn hunting is restricted to permit only, but several of the surrounding areas have liberal quotas so interested hunters have a reasonable chance of drawing a tag. To the north and east of Lewistown, there is a lot of public land access, mostly via BLM lands. To the north (Winifred), west (Stanford) and south (Judith Gap), more of the access is on private land, but if you plan ahead, you can usually find a spot to hunt. A good idea is to ask permission before you apply for your permit so that you know you will have a place to go if you get a tag. Whether you hunt on public or private land, Central Montana antelope hunting gets you out on the wide open plains of the west during one of the prettiest times of year.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition reported seeing Bighorn Sheep in Montana on 27 separate occasions, and today, with some help of reintroductions efforts, there is a population in the Missouri River Breaks north of Lewistown. The application deadline is in May, and permits are restricted to only 20 either sex tags total for both archery and rifle hunting seasons. None the less, lucky applicants have the chance at a trophy ram in this area, and will experience an unforgettable hunt in rough, but scenic country.
Hunters interested in taking a black bear will find a lot of opportunities in the Central Montana region. Hunting districts in the Snowy and Bels Mountains both have fall and spring seasons and over the counter tags available. Hunters need to have passed a “Black Bear Identification Test”, which is available online on the Montana FWP site, before they can purchase a license.