Hunting in the State of Montana

Montana is a good place to conduct hunting expeditions as it has more-attractive species, especially in the big game category than a lot of other States. Below you will find the basic requirements for obtaining a hunting license in Montana. Moreover, there is a list of game species, including seasons, currently available as well as other information to get you on your way to successfully conducting a legal hunt in the Treasure State.

Contents

How to Get a Montana Hunting License

Applications to get a hunting license in the State of Montana can either be submitted through conventional mail or their online portal.  If a license is not listed on the conventional mail site that means the deadline for its submission has passed or it is not available through mail-in application.  In addition to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) regional offices, there are a number of locations throughout the State where one can apply for hunting licenses in person.

Who is eligible for a hunting license in Montana?

In general, 12 is the minimum age in which a person can obtain a hunting license in Montana, although there are certain instances in which an 11 year old can apply.  Children as young as 10 years old can hunt in Montana under its Apprentice Hunter Program, even if they don’t have the mandatory Hunter Education certification whose acquisition is a prerequisite to obtaining a hunting license for anyone born after 1 January 1985. However, if a person has successfully completed a State-approved hunter education course in another part of the country, the State of Montana will recognize that instead of its own Hunter Education certificate.

Both residents and nonresidents of Montana can apply for hunting licenses, with a basic license for both costing less than $20 (as of 2018). However, for more-advanced licenses, the prices can be exponentially higher for nonresidents than for residents. For current information about Montana hunting licenses and permits as well as their costs, please follow this link.

Where to Hunt in Montana

The State of Montana has over 33 million acres of publicly owned land. Owing to this, Montana boasts of many different ideal places for hunters to practice what they love doing – capturing animals.

Flathead National Forest

With over 2 million acres of land, the Flathead National Forest offers abundant hunting opportunities for hunters. This forest, which is surrounded by Montana’s famous the Rocky Mountains, is home to a plethora of big and small game animals. It also contains several streams and rivers, thereby making it also an ideal place for fishing.

Here is the contact information for Flathead National Forest:

650 Wolfpack Way
Kalispell, MT 59901

Phone: (406) 758-5208
Website: 
www.fs.usda.gov/flathead

Custer Gallatin National Forest

The Custer Gallatin National Forest occupies over three million acres of land. This forest gives hunters the opportunity to engage in various kinds of hunting ranging from game bird/waterfowl to big game to small game hunting.

You can contact Gallatin National Forest here:

P.O. Box 130 10 E Babcock Ave
Bozeman, MT 59771 

Phone:  (406) 587-6701
Websites: 
www.fs.usda.gov/custergallatin

Kootenai National Forest

The Kootenai National Forest is one of the most ideal places to hunt big game. Here, you can chase after a number of big game animals such as moose, bear, deer, mountain lions and elk. Hunters can also find great opportunities in this forest to hunt upland game, waterfowl and turkeys. Furthermore, the Kootenai River that snakes its way through is an ideal place for trout fishing.

Here’s how you can get in touch with the Kootenai National Forest:

31374 US Highway 2
Libby, MT 59923-3022

Phone: (406) 293-6211
Website: 
www.fs.usda.gov/kootenai

 

Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest

Situated in central and north-central Montana, the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest has a measurement of approximately 2,912 square miles or 7,500 km2. This forest is home to a huge variety of wildlife such as mountain goat, deer, bighorn sheep, elk, lynx, mountain lion, etc. In addition to big game, the forest also provides hunters with a wide range of waterfowl and upland birds to hunt. For more information about hunting in this vast forest, below are the official contact details of the forest’s supervisors:

2880 Skyway Drive
Helena, MT 59602

Phone: (406) 449-5201
Website: 
www.fs.usda.gov/hlcnf

Hunting Guides and Outfitters in Montana

No matter which angle you look at it from, hunting outfitters and guides can make your hunt a more comfortable, successful and memorable one thanks to the tons of knowledge and experience they have about the wildlife. These professionals exist to serve hunters by offering, among other things, guided hunts, hunting gear, coaching and provide grounds to hunt on. Some even offer to lodge to hunters near hunting grounds. That said, here are links to some of the popular hunting guides and outfitters you can find in the State of Montana:

  • Broken Arrow Lodge & Outfitters (406-842-5437). This establishment offers guided and unguided big game hunts.
  • Eagle Nest Lodge (406-665-3711). The Eagle Nest Lodge specializes in fishing and bird hunting.
  • Forrester’s Big Horn River Resort (406-333-1449). This establishment is situated in the Bighorn Valley and specializes in upland bird, pheasant, grouse and partridge hunts.
  • Snowy Spring Outfitters (406-226-9225). Snowy Spring Outfitters specializes in black bear and other big game expeditions.
  • Swan Mountain Outfitters (406-387-4405). This looks like a place that anyone interested in hunting multiple species of big game would want to check out.
  • Trophies West Outfitting (406-599-2585). These outfitters specialize in the big game, turkey and waterfowl. They also have accommodation for hunters.
  • Hidden Valley Outfitters (406-795-8286). Hidden Valley Outfitters is one of the oldest hunting outfitters in the State of Montana. They specialize in hunting the likes of mule deer, antelope, black bear, turkey, mountain lion, and upland birds.
  • Hell’s A-Roarin’ Outfitters (406-848-7578). These outfitters have been operating since the 1980s. They provided guided bear hunting, mule deer hunting, wolf hunting, elk hunting, etc.
  • S & W Outfitters, Inc. (406-640-1673). This company was established in 1981. They call themselves the experts when it comes to fly fishing and big game hunting in Montana.
  • Trophies West Outfitting (406-599-2585). These outfitters guide and assist hunters in a wide range of hunting expeditions ranging from elk hunting to antelope hunting to mule deer hunting. They also provide hunting lodge.

Wisconsin Hunting Regulations

Some basic hunting regulations in Montana include:

  • Private land cannot be hunted upon, nor game is taken from it, without permission from the landowner.
  • Evidence of a successful harvest’s sex should be left intact until the carcass is properly reported to the legal authorities.
  • A hunter should make sure he or she has a proper permit for the species being hunted, and these permits should only be used in accordance with the rules set forth for each.  Moreover, a particular permit’s registrant is the only person authorized to use it.
  • Hunters, whether they successfully secured a harvest or not, must stop at all check stations when they are going to and from the field.
  • It is illegal to hunt from a vehicle unless you have a Person with Disabilities Opportunity License.
  • Hunter orange, visible from all directions, must be worn on a minimum of 400 square inches of a hunter’s upper body when he or she is hunting big game.
  • In addition to the above, the State of Montana has also released a series of PDF documents based on detailed rules regarding hunting the following species:
    • Antelope
    • Bighorn Sheep
    • Bison
    • Black Bear
    • Deer & Elk
    • Furbearers (& Trapping)
    • Migratory Birds
    • Moose
    • Mountain Goat
    • Mountain Lion
    • Turkey
    • Upland Game Birds
    • Wolf

For regulations on other game animals such as antelope, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, moose, and mountain goat, please refer to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website as each of these species has more than one document attached to them based on different regions, etc.

Reporting Harvests in Montana

The State of Montana has certain protocols for reporting the harvest of different species.  Below is a summation of some species, but interested parties are encouraged to visit the specific documentation for each as highlighted in the “Wisconsin Hunting Regulations” section of this document.

Bison Harvests

Bison harvests are to be reported within 48 hours by contacting the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department at telephone number 877‑397‑9453 or 406‑444‑0356.

Black Bear Harvests

Bear harvests must be presented to a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks official within 10 days, complete with the hide, skull, and proof of sex.  Black bear harvests can also be reported by calling the above telephone numbers or visiting the FWP website.

Furbearer Harvests

When reporting a furbearer harvest the hunter must include specific information like his or her name, telephone number, the date of harvest, trapping district, county, sex of the critter, etc.  There are also specific stipulations for certain species.  For instance bobcat, otter and swift fox harvests must be reported with the lower jaw intact.  For more specific information concerning harvesting species under this classification please consult the FWP’s 2018 Furbearers and Trapping Regulations.

Migratory Birds’ Harvests

Migratory bird harvests must be reported to the National Harvest Survey Program.  In addition, swans procured in the Pacific Flyway must be reported within 72 hours.

Mountain Lion Harvests

Mountain lion kills in Wisconsin are to be reported within 12 hours using the telephone numbers above.  In addition, the skull and hide, including proof of sex, must be presented to an FWP official within 10 days.

Wolf Harvests

Wolf harvests are to be reported within 24 hours.  Wolves have a harvest quota, and information regarding this can be obtained by calling 800-385-7826 or 406-444-1989.

In summation, the most effective way to begin the procedure of reporting the successful harvesting of any species in the State of Montana is to call the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department at 877-FWP-WILD (877-397-9453) or 406-444-0356 after the kill as soon as reasonably possible.

Wisconsin Hunting Seasons

Below is a general listing of hunting seasons in the State of Wisconsin. Interested parties are advised to visit the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website for more-precise information.

Antelope Hunting Seasons

  • 900 Series: Dates in August through November.
  • Archery: Dates in September through October.
  • General: Dates in October through November.

Beaver Hunting Seasons

  • Western & Southwestern Districts 1-3: Dates in November through April.
  • Central & Eastern Districts 4-7: Dates in September through May.

Bighorn Sheep Hunting Seasons

  • General: Dates in September through November.
  • Archery: Dates in September.

Bison Hunting Season

  • Dates in November through February.

Black Bear Hunting Seasons

  • Spring: Dates in April through June.
  • Fall: Dates in September through November.
  • Archery: Dates in September.

Bobcat Hunting Seasons

  • Western & Southwestern Districts 1-3: Dates in December through February.
  • Central & Eastern Districts 4-7: Dates in December through March.

Common Snipe Hunting Season

  • Central & Pacific Flyway: Dates in September through December.

Deer & Elk Hunting Seasons

  • General: Dates in October through November.
  • Archery: Dates in September through October.
  • Two Day Youth Hunt (Deer Only): Dates in October.
  • General (Backcountry HD’s 150, 151, 280, 316): Dates in September through November.
  • Archery (Backcountry HD’s 150, 151, 280, 316): Dates in September.

Duck & Coot (Includes Falconry) Hunting Seasons

Central Flyway

  • Duck & Coot (Zone 1): September through January
  • Duck & Coot (Zone 2): September through October
  • Duck & Coot (Zone 2): October through January
  • Falconry – Zone 1: September through January
  • Falconry – Zone: 2 September through October
  • Falconry – Zone: 2 October through January
  • Youth Weekend: Dates in September

Pacific Flyway

  • Falconry and Duck & Coot: September through January
  • Falconry and Duck & Coot: Dates in January
  • Scaup: September through December
  • Youth Weekend: Dates in September

 Fisher Hunting Seasons

  • Districts 1&2: Dates in December through February.

Goose (Includes Falconry) Hunting Seasons

Central Flyway

  • Geese & Falconry for Zone 1: September through January
  • Geese & Falconry for Zone 1: Dates in January
  • Geese & Falconry for Zone 2: September through October
  • Geese & Falconry for Zone 2: October through January
  • Youth Weekend: Dates in September

Pacific Flyway

  • Geese & Falconry: September through January
  • Geese & Falconry: Dates in January
  • Youth Weekend: Dates in September

Grouse Hunting Seasons

  • Mountain Grouse: Dates in September through January.
  • Sage Grouse: Dates in September.
  • Sharp-tailed Grouse: Dates in September through January.

Marten Hunting Seasons

  • Districts 1 to 5: Dates from December through February.

Moose Hunting Seasons

  • Dates in September through November.

Mourning Dove Hunting Seasons

  • Central Flyway: Dates in September through October.
  • Pacific Flyway: Dates in September through October.

Mountain Goat Hunting Seasons

  • Dates in September through November.

Mountain Lion Hunting Seasons

  • Fall (without Hounds): Dates in October through November.
  • Winter (with Hounds): Dates in December through April.
  • Late Winter (with Hounds): Dates in February through April.
  • Archery (without Hounds): Dates in September through October.
  • Hound Training Season (Residents Only): Dates in December through April.

Otter, Mink & Muskrat Hunting Seasons

  • Statewide: Dates in November through April.

Partridge Hunting Seasons

  • Dates in September through January.

Pheasant Hunting Seasons

  • General: Dates in October through January.
  • Youth: Dates in September.

Sandhill Crane Hunting Seasons

  • Mid-Continent Sandhill Crane Populations (Over-the-Counter): Dates in September through November.
  • Rocky Mountain Populations (Special Permit): Dates in September through October.

Swan Hunting Seasons

  • Central Flyway (Tundra Swan, Permit Only): Dates in September through January.
  • Pacific Flyway (Permit Only): Dates in October through December.

Swift Fox Hunting Seasons

  • District 6: Dates in November through March.

Turkey Hunting Seasons

  • Spring: Dates in April through May.
  • Fall: Dates in September through January.

Wolf Hunting Seasons

  • General Rifle: Dates in September through March.
  • Archery: Dates in September.
  • Trapping: Dates in December through February.

TOP 10 MONTANA HUNTING LODGES

This section of the post provides are some of the top hunting lodges you can find in the State of Montana. This list was compiled by our team of experts and should prove useful to hunters planning multi-day expeditions in Montana. It’s important to mention that some of the hunting accommodation establishments posted below not only offer comfortable accommodation and lodging to hunters but they also offer guiding and outfitting services to their customers.

Eagle Nest Lodge & Outfitters 
Address: 879 Sawyer Loop, Hardin, MT 59304
Phone: 406-665-3711
Website: www.eaglenestlodge.com

Fetch Inn
Address: 206 Westside Rd, Hamilton, MT 59840
Phone: 406-363-5111
Website: www.pheasanthuntingmontana.com

Hunters Spring Cabin
Address 809 2ND STREET NW HARLOWTON, MT 59036
Phone: 406-632-4391
Website: www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/234416

Montana Bunkhouse
Address: 772 Beaver Creek Road  Lewistown, MT 59457
Phone: 406-366-0986
Website: www.montanabunkhouse.com

Broken Arrow Lodge & Outfitters
Address: Erwin Clark, Outfitter #5715 P.O. Box 177 Alder, MT 59710
Phone: 406-842-5437
Website: www.brokenarrowlodge.com

Upper Canyon Outfitters
Address: Alder, MT 59710
Phone: 406-842-5884
Website: www.ucomontana.com

Crevice Mountain Lodge
Address: Crevice Rd, Gardiner, MT 59030
Phone: 406-223-0148
Website: www.crevicemountainlodge.com

Montana Guest Cabins
Address: 9500 MT Highway 324, Dillon, Montana 59725
Phone: 406 681-3127
Website: www.montanaguest.com

Spotted Bear Ranch
Address: Hungry Horse, MT 59919,
Phone: 406-270-5235
Website: www.spottedbear.com

Nansel Ranch Hunting
Address: P.O. Box 1916   Colstrip, MT  59323
Phone: 406- 201-0084
Website: www.huntingnanselranch.net

Grey Cliffs Ranch
Address: 1915 Lakota Dr, Three Forks, MT 59752
Phone: 406-285-6512
Website: www.greycliffsranch.com

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hunting in the State of Montana

Here are the answers to the most common questions asked by hunters wanting to hunt in the State of Montana:

Q. Can a hunter hunt on public-owned land in the State of Montana?

A. Yes. You can hunt on both state and federal lands in Montana. With more than 30 million acres of public land, Montana gives hunters a great deal of public land hunting opportunities.

Q. How much does it cost a hunter to hunt in Montana?

A. A wide range of factors would largely determine how much it costs a hunter to hunt legally in Montana. For example, nonresidents of Montana pay more for hunting licenses and permits than residents. For a nonresident hunter, hunting in Montana can cost anywhere from a few tens of dollars to several hundreds of dollars.

Q. What types of huntable game animals can one find in Montana?

A. There are so many animals the laws of Montana allow you to hunt within the territories of the state. Some of these animals include the following: upland game bird, mountain lion, bison, deer, antelope, furbearer, turkey, moose, goat, black bear, elk, sheep and wolf.

Q. I shot an animal and it run off into someone’s property. Can I enter that property to retrieve it?

A. In order to retrieve it, you must first seek the permission of the property owner. If you fail to do this and enter into the private property, in the eyes of the laws of the state, you’d be trespassing.

Q. Do I always need to show evidence of the sex of my harvested animal?

A. Yes, you do. Always leave evidence of the sex of the animal you’ve killed attached to its carcass. This is to make it easy for game wardens to confirm the sex of the animal you’ve harvested.

Q. What are some of the illegal hunting activities in Montana?

A. The following are hunting activities that the laws of the State of Montana frown upon:

  • Shooting game animals from a roadway.
  • Using electronic game calls to trap animals.
  • Wasting the edible part of the animal’s meat after killing it. The edible part of game meat refers to all of the animal’s quarters as well as the meat above the animal’s hock.
  • Using artificial lights such as flashlights to hunt animals after shooting hours.
  • Using flying objects such as drones or airplanes to hunt.
  • Hunting game animals over bait.

Conclusion

We hope the information provided in this document has proven useful in assisting you to become a successful hunter in Montana! The material provided was intended to be brief and easy-to-read, so once again, for more-comprehensive data, anyone interested in hunting in the State of Montana is encouraged to visit their Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department website and/or offices.



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