Elk Hunting in Sylvan Lake, Montana

by Dan Harkins

Sylvan Lake, in Roscoe, Montana, is a popular camping site in the Custer National Forest's Beartooth Ranger District. Southwest of the city of Billings, at the northeastern edge of Yellowstone National Park, Sylvan Lake is known throughout the region for its rainbow trout fishing and the plentiful wildlife elk, deer, bighorn sheep and other wildlife that dot the mountainous countryside.

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Get Licensed

Before you go hunting for any animal with any weapon in the state of Montana, you must obtain the appropriate recreational hunting license. A general elk hunting license for resident adults costs $20; for $70, residents get a sportsman's license that permits the hunting of all game except bear, which requires additional licensing. A license application can be filled out online or at one of a few hundred authorized vendors throughout the state.

Only in Season

Elk hunting season typically starts in early September for archery enthusiasts. A few weeks later, firearms hunting is allowed for either gender of elk, usually through late October. Late October through November marks the hunting season when only antlered bulls can be taken by those holding a general sportsman's license. To shoot non-antlered elk after Oct. 21, you have to be between the ages of 12 and 15 or in possession of a special lottery permit from the state. If you're caught hunting game you're not licensed to hunt, or hunting out of season, you can face fines and even jail time.

Where to Look

Elk enjoy higher elevations until the winter cold and the need for food pushes them down into flatter regions. Sylvan Lake is in Montana's Region 3 hunting area, in District 316. In 2010, 11 elk bulls and 11 elk cows were bagged in this remote area. Inquire with local game wardens at the state or national parks that dot the landscape here. Much of the public land is accessible to hunters. You must obtain permission from landowners to hunt on private land.

In Any Direction

Though you may confine your elk hunt to areas directly around Sylvan Lake, the possibilities are many in this backwoods area of Montana near Yellowstone National Park. You can drive into Yellowstone and take part in special elk hunts there or head north to areas of the state where denser elk populations thrive. The key is knowing where you're going and obeying the region-specific laws that exist in each area.

About the Author

Dan Harkins has been a full-time journalist since 1997. Prior to working in the alternative press, he served as a staff writer and editor for daily publications such as the "St. Petersburg Times" and "Elyria Chronicle-Telegram." Harkins holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of South Florida.

Photo Credits

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