Read This Overview Before Going Hunting in Montana
From majestic landscapes to an array of hunting possibilities, Montana has a lot to offer. Hunters can look forward to fowl, deer, and big game, including some opportunities for bear and mountain lions. Although most hunting is limited to the fall, there are certain opportunities that can be found throughout the year.
Whether you’re new to the game or an experienced hunter, Montana has something to offer any hunter, all while accompanied by breathtaking vistas.
If you’re planning to go hunting in nearby Idaho, you can also check out our quick guide to hunting in the Gem State.
Accommodation for Hunting Excursions
Before setting off on a hunting trip, it’s important to consider the accommodation you’re going to have for the duration of the trip. Especially considering Montana’s hunting season is primarily in the fall, it’s essential to invest in a canvas wall tent that withstands colder weather or harsh weather conditions.
Wall tents are the ideal companions for hunting. All wall tents from White Duck Outdoors, for example, are built from 100% army duck cotton canvas and come with a built-in stove jack. This makes them ideal for use in cooler temperatures, and good to sleep in come rain or shine.
A wall tent is versatile, spacious and durable, so whether you’re getting out for a weekend or staying somewhere for weeks on end, they’re designed to be a home away from home.
Types of Environments
As the fourth largest state in the country, Montana has a lot to offer in terms of types of environments and beautiful landscapes. Around two-thirds of Montana are the great planes, but there are also conifer forests and expansive mountain ranges to be found that are home to a diverse variety of species.
Although it is now often known as “The Big Sky Country” due to the vast prairies, Native Americans of the region originally knew it as the “Land of Shining Mountains”, referring to the snow glistening on the mountain tops as the sun reflected off it.
The variety of landscapes throughout Montana make home to a large variety of animals as well. Some of the most popular categories of game animals include the following:
- Black Bear
- Mountain Lion
- Upland Game Bird
As with most four-season areas, hunting seasons primarily take place in the fall, starting around September and going into the new year. There are, however, three animals that you can hunt year-round in Montana.
- Mountain lions can be hunted during three seasons throughout the year starting in September and going through April. Each season has different allowances and restrictions, such as the first being archery only and dogs only being allowed in the final season.
- Turkeys can have two separate seasons, one in the spring and the other in the fall. Each hunter is also restricted to two turkeys per year. It is legally required that at least the breast, thighs, and wings of the bird must be taken and used due to Montana law deeming turkeys a suitable food source.
- Black bears also have a spring and fall season. Only one bear is allowed per year, and the hunter must pass an online black bear identification test along with obtaining the proper licensing.
Other hunting opportunities include non-game animals as well as predators. Non-game animals have no hunting restrictions aside from when they are found on many national wildlife refuges. Non-game animals include:
- Ground squirrels
- Prairie dogs
- Tree squirrels
- Red fox
Predators can be hunted year-round and require no permits or licenses for both residents and non-residents. Montana state considers the following species to be predators:
- Skunk (striped)
- Civet cat (spotted skunk)
Where to Hunt in Montana
Montana boasts more than 30 million acres of public land, much of which is open to hunting. From National Forests to Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), there are places to hunt found throughout the entire state.
The Missouri River Country in northeastern Montana is a prime hunting region, particularly for those interested in hunting elk. Elk density generally increases as you head west, but elk can be found all along the river and its tributary creeks. Look for them along the ponderosa pines and junipers that provide the animals with shade and food.
Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in southwestern Montana is also known to host large numbers of deer each season with around 50% of Montana’s yearly Elk yield coming out of this area.
Mule and whitetail deer are also commonly found in the Missouri River region. Mule deer can generally be found in the Missouri Breaks and the surrounding prairies, though a sharp eye is required to spot them as they blend well into this environment.
Whitetail deer are sometimes found in the same environments as mule deer, although better opportunities are found along the Milk River. They are also commonly found in the Seely-Swan Valley due to the conifer forest found between the Swan and the Mission mountain ranges.
Wildlife Management Areas
Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) are managed by the Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks. These areas are found throughout the state and are open to the public. Always check ahead for any closures that may occur due to weather or breeding seasons.
Block Management Areas
Block Management Areas (BMA) are private lands that allow public access through the Montana FWP program. BMA’s are found in each of Montana’s seven regions and require permissions before being able to access them.