When you think of venturing into the great Montana outdoors, traffic jams are probably not the first thing that come to mind.

But, an increasingly popular activity has prompted Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to make some modifications to how shed hunters can access their favorite locations in western Montana. Yep, here come more required parking permits.


Montana FWP tells us they are making changes to the opening day for antler hunting at the Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area (WMA) due to safety issues caused by traffic congestion along Highway 83 in western Montana's Blackfoot Valley. The area is a popular destination for shed hunters when it open annually at noon on Wednesday, May 15.


FWP, in conjunction with the Montana Highway Patrol and Montana Department of Transportation, is seeking initial feedback from the public to help develop and establish a pre-registration process, along with other opening-day logistics for vehicles, walkers, bikers and horse traffic.

Many of the specifics of the opening day access plan will be decided over the next few months. However, some basics have already been set.


For now, FWP won’t limit the number of people or vehicles that can access the WMA on opening day. HOWEVER, antler hunters planning to enter the WMA in a vehicle will not be allowed to do any staging along Highway 83 and will instead register for a spot in line ahead of opening day.

Typically, several hundred vehicles, as well as some campers and horse trailers, will stage along the highway, some for several weeks in advance, in order to line up to access the WMA on opening day. Montana Highway Patrol says this is a human safety issue for those parked along the highway and for adjacent highway traffic.


If you would like to see a summary  to see a summary of the issues to be addressed, initial ideas and, eventually, a comment box to provide feedback.You can visit FWP's Opening Day Plan page here. If you would like to be part of the meetings, FWP will be hosting those both online and in-person on Thursday, February 16, at both the Missoula FWP office at 3201 Spurgin Road and in Seeley Lake at the U.S. Forest Service Seeley Lake Ranger Station, 3360 Hwy 83 North. Online participation details can be found here.

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