Montana officials are planning to close Deckard Flats (outside Gardiner) to elk hunting Friday, in response to heavy snows.
Hunting will no longer be permitted one half-hour after sunset, according to the Billings Gazette. And hunting will not resume afterward, even before the official end of the season, November 29. The main reason (besides the snow) is to insure elk migrating out of Yellowstone National Park to their winter range. Deckard Flats (which falls in Hunting District 313) is one corridor Yellowstone elk use while migrating—a route that opens them to overhunting or (worse) exploitation as they move en masse away from the Park. From the Gazette:
“The objective of this closure is to moderate the elk harvest by providing additional security to elk during their migration,” said Howard Burt, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife manager in Bozeman.
By Fish and Wildlife Commission rule, Deckard Flats is subject to closure of all hunting with 24 hours notice. The closure comes on top of concerns of low numbers of mature bulls in this elk population.
Hunters will be allowed to pursue elk outside Deckard Flats anywhere in HD 313.
Montana FWP officials note elk often move north in response to heavy snows regardless of when they arrive. Winter has come in full force to Yellowstone National Park, as two feet of snow has accumulated this week.