The type on the web page was small, but it seemed to be screaming to me: “NOT SUCCESSFUL!”

It was Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ license-draw results page (, the go-to web address last week for any hunter who applied for special deer, elk or antelope permits in Montana.

It’s been years since I failed to draw an elk tag, but here was a huge goose egg staring across the digital divide.

I really shouldn’t complain. The very day I found out my disastrous results in Montana, an Illinois deer tag arrived in the mail, legal tender for a rut-season bowhunt in legendary Pike County. And I did draw an antelope tag for southeastern Montana.

But as a Montana citizen, I feel almost entitled to a special elk permit, allocated by lottery for most antlerless hunts and many of the best bull units, and tend to feature high success on top-heavy bulls. Maybe it was time for my luck to run dry; I’ve pulled elk tags for most of the last decade, most of them archery either-sex permits, but one of them for a coveted either-sex rifle tag in the Missouri River Breaks near my home.

My disappointment is tempered by the knowledge that in Montana, I can still hunt elk on my general tag. I just have to travel a ways, and hunt with a few more people for a few less animals than I had hoped.