Understanding Montana's Non-Resident Deer/Elk License Appplication

Montana hunting, Montana hunting lodge, Montana whitetail hunting

This is the time of year when Joanne and I devote an entire day to processing our non-resident deer/elk hunters license applications.  Each year we get many questions surrounding this process.  Here is a general explanation to help you better understand how things work.


In the past three years there has been a significant increase in big game hunting in Montana. For this reason, Linehan Outfitting is here to help our hunters draw tags and keep you up to date on changes. Below you will find the latest changes in preference points. Linehan Outfitting suggests that to increase your chances of drawing, that people start planning their hunting trips a year in advance. The information shared below came directly from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. FWP is working on updating their website, but is still in the process, so some of the changes you will read about in this blog are not yet reflected on the FWP website.

Preference points are used for nonresident combination licenses and increase the likelihood of obtaining a Combination license. In a preference point system, licenses are awarded to applicants with the greatest number of preference points.

Purchasing Preference Points

Preference points for a nonresident big game, elk or deer combination license may be purchased for a nonrefundable fee of $100. Preference points can be purchased at the time of application for the nonresident combination license or between July 1 and December 31st for individuals who did not apply for a nonresident combination license.

You can only purchase without applying for the combination license for 2 consecutive years. If you skip 3 years of applying for the combination license, all preference points are zeroed. Applicants may purchase only one preference point per license year. Preference points purchased at the time of application are awarded prior to the drawing.

Guided Hunters If you are hunting with an outfitter on a guided trip you are eligible to purchase two points at the time of application (regular point and outfitter point).

Parties Up to 5 applicants may apply as a party. FWP shall use an average of the number of preference points accumulated by those applicants to determine the party's preference points. FWP shall consider any fraction that result from the calculation of an average when determining that priority.

Give a call now if you have any questions about the Montana non-resident license application process or if you'd like to book a hunting adventure with us in the future.406-295-4872

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