By Sean Forbes Explorebigsky.com Contributor

There’s an old saying that describes what assuming makes out of “u” and “me.”
And it’s something that hunters in southwest Montana should take note of with the recent regulation changes in Region 3.

“I’ve been telling a lot of people, don’t trust your buddy who went there last year, because [the regulations have] changed,” said Andrea Jones with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Bozeman. “And they do change, every two years.”

Many of the larger alterations this year concern elk hunting in the Madison and the Paradise valley areas.

In hunting districts 360 (upper Madison) and 362 (lower Madison), hunters are now required to report a successful elk harvest within 72 hours – which is not necessary in the rest of Region 3.

The change was prompted in large part, by FWP’s work with local sportsmen and landowners.

“In this case they want to see better documentation of harvest for better future management of elk,” Jones said. “They also wanted to take a look at where the elk are that are being harvested, whether it is private or public property.”

Another change in HD 360 and HD 362 is that adult hunters (over 15 years old) may only use a general license for harvesting a brow-tined bull, and must have drawn an antlerless elk license to take a cow.

In HD 360 only, hunters are allowed just one elk, using either a general or antlerless B license.

“That’s a big deal if you think that you can go and take two, and you can’t,” Jones said.

The southern Paradise Valley districts of 313 (Gardiner) and 314 (upper Yellowstone west) have also seen changes in elk harvest regulation.

Reflecting a slight decline in overall elk population numbers in HD 313, hunters must draw a permit for the district and can only hunt brow-tined bulls during general season. The permitted cow harvest has been removed.

Hunters in HD 314 must have drawn an Elk B license to take antlerless elk during the general season, and may only hunt brow-tined bulls with a general license.

“We want people to spend some time with the regs,” Jones said. “Especially if you’re just visiting one hunt area for the weekend. Sit down, read it. Get to know the sunrise, sunset times. Get to know the boundaries, who owns the land… It’s less than a paragraph, and it’s important.”

Early statistics from opening weekend, Oct. 20-21, in southwest Montana show a slight increase in elk harvest numbers, with the highest success rate found at the Cameron check station in the Madison, and a small decline in deer harvest.

For further information and to report an elk harvest, call (877) 397-9453, or go online: fwp.mt.gov. Click the “For Hunters” menu.