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Montana Hunting

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Written by:  Devn Schumacher 

May, 10 2021

Montana hunting mainly consists of big game like bison, bears, elks, antelopes and mountain lions. It is one of the best locations for non-residents that want to take part in big games in the state.

Montana also offers various programs to help with hunting in the state. One of them is the Block Management Program that instigates private landowners to allow access to public hunting in their properties. This program has seen about 7.8 million acres of land offered for hunting, but they are only available in the fall season, and cannot be used for hunting game like turkeys, bears in the spring.

Montana Hunting Regulation

Montana has hunting regulations to ensure that hunting culture in the state is well preserved and recent activities do not affect future hunting. The state also implores hunters and residents, in general, to report any form of violation to the Montana Fish, wildlife and park department.

Some of Montana’s Hunting Regulation and laws you should know as a hunter in the state includes the following:

Wildlife Attractions and Luring

It is unlawful to lure games and wildlife with any attractant, scent, or deer urine. The state also prohibits the capture or hunting of big games with the use of any form of edible product. But exceptions are made for salt, water, or the mixture of salt with trace minerals that are originally designed for livestock.

Hunting Without a License

Before you can hunt or capture games and wildlife in the state, it is compulsory that you own a valid license issued for either fishing or hunting. You must also be in possession of the license every time you go hunting. If a tag is necessary for hunting, you must possess one too. The license and tags must also be signed prior to any hunting activity in the state.

Possession of Games and Wildlife that are Illegally Taken

If you take any game or wildlife unlawfully, then according to hunting laws in Montana, the possession of such an animal is illegal. It does not matter if you were part of the hunting or capturing of the wildlife, as long as it was not lawfully taken, its possession is unlawful.

Wildlife Possession and Bag Limits

Montana Fish, wildlife and park department has possession restrictions and bag limits for various types of species. The hunting of wildlife must be according to the quantity and limits defined by the commission. So it is important that you do research before taking wildlife.

Big Game Tagging

It is compulsory to tag all big games captured in Montana. The tags usually carry instructions on the tagging procedure at their back. You must follow the instructions to the letter, as well as other tagging rules provided by the Montana Game and Fish Commission.

Hunting Wildlife in Closed Seasons, Artificial Lights, and in Legal Hours

In Montana, you can only hunt wildlife and games in periods that the hunting commission prescribes. The commission is also responsible for stopping hunting periods, and during the close season, you may not hunt wildlife.

If you are a hunter specialized in a particular species, make sure that you get information about the regulations provided by the commission before embarking on a hunting journey.

Montana hunting laws prohibit the use of artificial light during coyote hunting season in the state. This also means that you are not allowed to make use of vehicle headlights or spotlights while hunting. However, exceptions are made for theft reasons but ensure that the firearm in the vehicle is not able to discharge when making use of the spotlight. The best way to go about this is to leave all firearms, ammunition, bows, and arrows outside the vehicle or in the camp.

The state also prohibits the use of artificial lights to prolong hunting shooting hours.

Hunting from Vehicles

It is illegal to take games and wildlife from vehicles such as motor, watercraft, or aircraft. An exception is made for those that obtain permission from the Montana Fish and Game Commission. In the context of this regulation, the word “Take” refers to the hunting, killing, capturing, pursuing, and shooting of wildlife.

Furthermore, this regulation explains that you may not deliberately drive or hover around in a vehicle to search for wildlife before taking it. The purview of this law does not only stop at shooting the animal from a vehicle, you may not also transport wildlife with a vehicle. And it is a prohibition to get off the main road and move closer to wildlife with a vehicle.

Hunting with Devices

You are only permitted to hunt games and wildlife with devices approved by the Montana fish and game commission. Making use of any other device is a prohibition.

Discharging Firearms Near a Residential Building

It is unlawful to discharge firearms while hunting near a residential building unless you seek the permission of those living in the building. This regulation also includes the use of bow and arrow, inflated weapons that have a .35 caliber, and hybrid weapons. Buildings in this regulation also refer to constructions like cabins, huts, barns, and sheds.

Hunters must assume that the structures are occupied before hunting close to them. Violations to this regulation are common during bird hunting seasons like doves and quails.

Clean Up After Hunting

It is compulsory for hunters to clean up when they are done with activities. There should be no litter in the camp, and all debris or castings should be moved out of camp. This also extends to the cleaning of animals’ carcasses. There are usually regulations in hunting jurisdictions for the disposal of carcasses and hunters must clean up according to these regulations.

Shooting Across a Road

It is a prohibition for hunters to discharge firearms from across the road or a railway while trying to take wildlife. These regulations also affect the shooting of bow and arrow. Hunters are advised to beware of this regulation since it is mostly violated during dove hunting seasons.

Open Carry While Under the Influence of Firearms.

Section forty-five of Montana statutes state that it is illegal for anybody to handle firearms while under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substance.

Open Carry While Hunting in Montana.

Montana allows open carry while hunting or engaging in similar activities such as fishing, hiking, trapping, or any other recreational activity in the state.

Note that you can also possess a firearm while bow hunting in the state, but you cannot make use of it.

Montana has hunter harassment laws to protect activities related to hunting in the state.

They include the following:

  • Nobody shall deliberately interfere with any hunting activity that has to do with animals in the wild or fishing, as long as the state licenses it.
  • Nobody shall affect animal behavior or disturb the hunting of games by using an object to change wildlife behavior.
  • Nobody shall harass or disturb any individual that is taking part in legal hunting activity.

Montana Hunting License Permits and Tags

The Montana fish and game department issues a number of licenses, tags, and permits to hunters. They include the following:

Big Game Locking Tags

This hunting tag is especially for nonresidents hunters in Montana that wish to hunt big game. Montana has a lot of hunting tags and non-resident hunters must purchase the specific ones for the games they are trying to hunt. As soon as the hunter takes down the animal, the tag will be attached to the animal and will remain on it through the processing and exportation of the animal from the state. To take certain games, some resident hunters may also need a hunting tag in addition to an Alabama hunting license issued in the state. Some big games that resident hunters need tags for include brown bears and muskox.

Waterfowl Stamps

To hunt waterfowls in Montana, hunters need both a duck stamp issued at the federal level and another issued in Montana. Hunters will also be required to complete a harvest information program, and they must have proof to show for this. Also, certain parts of the state require you to have a permit before capturing or hunting waterfowls in their territory.

Drawing Permits

You can apply for drawing hunting permits from November to December every year. The permit is available for residents of the state, while non-residents can get it through a lottery organized by the Montana Board of games.

Registration Permits

To take part in registration hunts, you need a registration permit. It is available for residents’ and is also a Montana nonresident hunting license.

Tier Permits

Tier permits in Montana are required for subsistence hunting. There are Tier I and Tier II permits, and only residents of the state can apply for these permits. The age requirement to apply is a minimum of 10 years.

Small Game Permits

Although hunting small games in most regions of the state does not require a permit, there are still some parts of Montana that issue a permit to hunt small games within the jurisdiction.

General Season Tickets

In the general seasons, hunters will be required to purchase tickets, tags, licenses, and permits to hunt and purchase big game in the state. All hunters will be required to adhere to the specific dates of the season and the bag limits required for the games.

Target Hunting Permits

Target hunting in the state limits situations of animals and vehicle accidents. Here, residents of the state will be able to hunt and capture animals that are a threat to the general public, or the ones that are expected to die from wounds and injuries.

Auction Permits

The fish and game department for hunting in Montana started auctioning permits for big games in 1997. They make use of a raffle system, and only lucky applicants will get this auction permit.

Montana Fishing License Permit and Tags

Fishing Licenses in Montana are categorized under the following

Sport Fishing License

Montana residents that are 18 years old or more and residents from other states that are 16 years old or more are required to own a Montana sport fishing license before they can take part in fishing sports or other fishery use in the state. This license is the same regardless of whether the sporting activity is in fresh or marine water. You can buy your sport fishing license online via the state department for fishing and game, or purchase them from fish and good stores.

Older residents of Montana that are aged 60 or more and disabled veterans who live in the state are allowed to take part in fish sports even without a license. But it is important that they own a valid Montana identification card

To harvest king salmon fishes, you need a king salmon stamp. But exemptions are made for residents under the age of 18 years old that own a state identification card, and non-residents under 16 years old.

Subsistence and Personal Use Fishing License

This permit is only valid for Montana residents that want to take part in personal or subsistence fishing. There are different regulations for Montana subsistence and personal fishing. A resident that already owns a sport fishing license can use it for personal use fishing in the state. But sport fishing licenses are not valid for Montana subsistence fisheries.

Some of the things you should know about subsistence and personal use license in the state includes the following:

  • Some types of subsistence and personal use fisheries require permits issued by the Montana department of fish and games.
  • Some water bodies in Montana are restricted for personal use and subsistence fishing.
  • Subsistence fishery for Halibut fishes is under the management and care of the federal government.
  • Some species of fishes have their seasons, fishing gear, and a harvesting bag limit.
  • For subsistence or personal use fishing for shellfish or fish harvesting, reach out to the nearest Montana department of fish and game’s office.

Montana Hunting Seasons 2020/2021

Contrary to many opinions that Montana is a deserted state, the ecosystem is well suited for the various types of games and wildlife.

Montana provides unique hunting opportunities for wildlife such as turkey, quail, and deer. But for big games, the state will only offer animals such as bison, bears, and the bighorn sheep.

The Montana Fish and Game Department regulates hunting seasons in the state based on regions, and you can get access to hunting permits via lottery. As a hunter in the state, it is advisable that you obtain all the necessary information you need before hunting in the state.

The 2020/21 hunting season for various wildlife in Alaska includes the following:

Montana Deer Hunting Season

  • General Season (23rd of October to 31st of December)
  • General Youth-Only Season (9th of October to 29th of November)
  • Challenged Hunter Access Mobility (18th of September to 24th of September and 23rd of October to 29th of October)
  • Muzzleloader Season (23rd of October to 31st of December)
  • Muzzleloader for youths Season (2nd of October to 11th of October and 20th of November to 29th of November)
  • Archery Season (21st of August to 10th of September and 11th of December to 31st of December)

Montana Bighorn Sheep Hunting Season

  • General Seasons (1st of October to 31st of December)

Also, a lot of bighorn sheep are almost inaccessible, so you should only prepare to hunt them down in backcountry regions that are isolated.

Montana Bison Hunting Season

  • General Season (4th of December to 6th of December and 13th of December to 15th of December)
  • General Season with Limited Opportunity (25th of September to 31st of December)
  • Muzzleloader season with Limited Opportunity (11th of September to 23rd of September)
  • Archery Limited Opportunity Season (21st of August to 9th of September)

Montana Turkey Hunting Season

  • General Season (2nd of October to 8th of October)
  • Youth Hunt Season (2nd of October to 8th of October)
  • Archery Season (21st of August to 10th of September)

Montana turkey hunting is only possible with a valid license and tag. Also, there is a hunting limit of just one turkey per annum.

Montana Black Bear Hunting Season

  • General Season (7th of August to 31st if December)

Montana bear hunting is legal for all black bears, but exceptions are made for little cubs and sows.

Montana Mountain Lion Hunting Season

  • General Seasons with Daylight Shooting Periods (21st of August to 31st of May)
  • Archery Season (21st of August to 31st of May)
  • Pursuit Season (21st of August to 31st of May)

In Montana, mountain lion hunting is limited to just one animal per annum. There are 2 shooting hours for mountain lions, daylight, and daylong periods. For daylight hunts, it must be during the daytime, while daylong includes daytime and midnight.

Montana Small Games Hunting Seasons

  • Chukar Partridge Season (1st of September to 7th of February)
  • Dusky Blue Grouse Season (1st of September to 8th of November)
  • Cottontail Rabbit Season (July 1st to June 30th)
  • Pheasant: Shotgun Season (1st of September to 15th of September), Archery Season (16tth of October to 7th of February)
  • Tree Squirrel Season (1st of July to 30th of June)
  • Quail: General Season (16th of October to 7th of February)

The date for each season may vary according to zones for all games and wildlife in the state.

Montana Wildlife Game and Fish

Some of the wildlife games available for hunting in the state include the following:

Montana Black Bear Hunting

Black bears are big games widely dispersed in the Northern part of America. They can be found in every forest in North America and even Mexico. They inhabit woodland areas in Montana such as oak woodland, chaparral, and coniferous forests.

Montana Bison Hunting

The Montana Game and Fish Department manages the 2 bison herds in the state. They are the Raymond herd and the House Rock herd.

Montana Bighorn Sheep Hunting

Bighorns in Montana consist of the Rocky Mountains and deserts, and the Department of Fish and Game estimates that there are about 6000 of them.

Montana Elk Hunting

At a point in time Elks were one of the populated deer species in North America, and you could find them almost everywhere. But a reduction in their figure came about due to agriculture activities and unregulated elk hunting in Montana and other states. The population of Elks in Montana today is just around 35,000.

Montana Turkey Hunting

Turkeys are one of the most common big game in Montana, and they are available in 3 different species, namely Rio Grande, Merriam, and Gould. Hunting of turkey in Montana is highly regulated with permits and tags.

Montana Mountain Lion Hunting

Mountain lions are widely dispersed in various regions of Montana, and they can be found in most places where herds are located since they prey on deer.

Montana Deer Hunting

The 2 most common deer species available as big game hunting in Montana are Mule deer and white-tailed deer.

Montana Grouse Hunting

Dusky grouse in Montana inhabit aspen forests and mixed conifer parts of the state.

Montana Rabbit Hunting

There are 3 species of cottontail rabbits in Montana and they are available for small game hunting. They include mountain cottontail, desert cottontail, and eastern cottontail.

Montana Dove Hunting

There are quite a lot of dove species that occur in Montana, and the most common of them is the Mourning Dove.

Montana Pheasant Hunting

Pheasants inhabit regions of Montana with very high humidity that are used for agricultural purposes. Pheasant hunting in Montana is quite common.

Montana Squirrel Hunting

Tree squirrels are one of the most popular small game birds hunted in Montana. There are about 4 various species of another 8 subspecies of them and they inhabit forested regions of the state.

Montana Waterfowl Species

Waterfowl hunters in Montana can get to hunt from about the 15 species available in the state.

Montana Fox Hunting

For fox hunting in the state, there are 3 various species, namely, gray fox, red fox, and kit fox.

Montana Shooting Range

Montana Fish and Game Department approve the following ranges in the state:

  • Ben Avery Clay Target Center
  • Casa Grande Trap & Skeet Club
  • Cowtown Range
  • Double Adobe Trap & Sporting Clays Range
  • Joe Foss Shooting Complex
  • Lake Havasu City Sportsman Club
  • Mohave Sportsman Club
  • White Mountain Trap and Skeet Club
  • Tonto Rim Sports Club
  • Sprague's Sports
  • Rio Salado Sportsman's Club

Montana Hunting and Lands for Sale and Lease

Hunting land for sale in Montana include the following:

  • Stanford, Montana (Judith Basin County) 11,044 acres.
  • Sumatra, Montana (Rosebud County) 29,480 acres.
  • Lincoln, Montana (Lewis and Clark County) 392 acres.
  • Roy, Montana (Fergus County) 9,200 acres.
  • Belfry, Montana (Carbon County) 20 acres.

Hunting lands for lease in Montana include the following:

  • Boyd Ranch in Madison County, 4,000 acres.
  • Single hunt or multiyear Large hunting leases in Lincoln County, 10,000 acres.
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