Montana Hunting Seasons: Key Dates Every Hunter Should Know

Montana’s rolling prairies, secluded forests, and rugged mountain ranges are not only a haven for nature enthusiasts but also a rich playground for hunting aficionados. Whether you are a resident or an out-of-state visitor, the state welcomes all hunters to partake in its robust hunting heritage.

With over 7.8 million acres of accessible public and private land and more than 16 species with hunting seasons open each year, Montana boasts one of the most diverse game-hunting seasons in the country with the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department as stewards of this natural bounty.

This article is a must-read for hunting enthusiasts planning their next expedition or those simply curious about the sport. It will guide you through the hunting seasons for various game species in Montana, outlining essential details such as the opening and closing dates, and other season-specific information.

By delving into this guide, you’ll not only learn hunt dates but gain a deeper understanding of the variety and responsibility that hunting in Montana entails. Whether you hunt for sport, conservation, or spiritual connection, Montana offers an experience that’s truly second to none.

7 Key Takeaways on Montana Hunting Seasons

  1. Most game species in Montana, such as antelope and bighorn sheep, have different season dates for archery and general seasons.
  2. The shoulder seasons for deer and elk have varying dates before and/or after the archery and general seasons.
  3. The Montana furbearer trapping season dates vary by trapping district and furbearer species.
  4. The season dates for the different migratory birds in Montana differ by flyways, specifically the Pacific and Central Flyways.
  5. Montana Sandhill Crane hunting season dates start in September but the ending date is to be adopted in April 2024 per federal frameworks.
  6. Some game species in Montana, such as bear and turkey, offer different season dates for spring and fall.
  7. There is a season for wolf hunting in Montana as well as wolf trapping.

2024 Montana Hunting Season

A hunter scans a designated hunting area in Montana during hunting season, searching for potential game.

Hunting isn’t just a sport in Montana — it’s a time-honored way of life that connects people with nature. Just remember that the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department is committed to preserving Montana’s hunting legacy through sustainability and wildlife conservation.

For detailed information on combo licenses including license fees, application process, and where to purchase licenses, be sure to check the Montana FWP website.

With the state’s different game hunting seasons — whether it’s elk and deer, ducks and geese, you’ll find ample harvest dates throughout the year. If you’re an avid hunter or you’re looking to try your hand at it, these dates are the ones to circle on your calendar. 

1. Montana Antelope Hunting Season Dates

A lone antelope spotted in the middle of dry grassy field during antelope hunting season in Montana

Montana antelope hunting offers enthusiasts a thrilling outdoor experience with its diverse landscapes and challenging terrain. The state boasts well-defined game seasons that allow hunters to pursue antelope during specific times, ensuring sustainable conservation practices.

Securing antelope licenses and knowing the season dates is a crucial step in participating, with the state’s regulations designed to maintain a healthy antelope population. Here are the 2024 season dates for Montana antelope hunting:

Antelope SeasonSeason Dates
900 seriesAug. 15 – Nov. 10
ArcherySept. 7 – Oct. 11
GeneralOct. 12 – Nov. 10

Montana’s antelope hunt provides an opportunity for hunters to immerse themselves in the beauty of the state’s wilderness while testing their marksmanship and tracking abilities.

2. Montana Bighorn Sheep Hunting Season Dates

A bighorn sheep scrambles across a rocky path in an attempt to flee from a hunter during bighorn sheep hunting season in Montana

Montana bighorn sheep hunting is a thrilling adventure for those seeking a challenge. License holders get the chance to go on this exciting experience, exploring Montana’s tough terrain to find these amazing creatures.

Here are the 2024 Montana bighorn sheep hunting season dates to watch out for:

Bighorn Sheep SeasonSeason Dates
ArcherySept. 7 – Sept. 14
GeneralSept. 15 – Dec. 1

The state’s commitment to conservation is evident in the careful management of licenses, ensuring sustainable practices to preserve the bighorn sheep population. The hunt itself is a test of both physical endurance and strategic prowess, as these elusive creatures inhabit remote and demanding terrains.

3. Montana Bison Hunting Season Dates

A lone bison is spotted grazing on a grassy Montana hillside during Bison hunting season

Montana bison hunting promises an exhilarating experience for outdoor enthusiasts. With the proper licenses, hunters can embark on an exciting adventure through the rugged landscapes of the state in pursuit of these iconic creatures.

The Montana Bison Hunting Season for 2024 spans from November 15 to February 15, 2024, offering a prolonged window to bag that perfect trophy. Whether you’re a seasoned local or an out-of-state visitor with your sights set on the bison, this timeframe is your sweet spot.

The hunt offers a unique blend of challenge and reward, as bison roam the vast and diverse terrains of Montana. Conservation efforts and responsible management of licenses contribute to maintaining a healthy bison population.

4. Montana Black Bear Hunting Season Dates

A solitary black bear is sighted in a meadow during spring bear hunting season in Montana.

If you’re dreaming about tracking a black bear in Montana’s wilderness, your calendar is about to become your new best friend. Montana offers various hunting dates throughout the year, giving everyone a shot at the great black bear hunt.

Here are the 2024 Montana Black Bear Hunting season dates:

Bear Hunting SeasonSeason Dates
SpringApr. 15 – May 31 or June 15
Spring Hound TrainingMay 26 – June 15
ArcherySept. 7 – Sept. 14
FallSept. 15 – Dec. 1

Remember, respecting both the animal and your fellow hunters is crucial. Snag those dates, mark your calendar for the bear season, and plan your perfect black bear hunt in the treasure trove of Montana’s vast outdoors. Just don’t forget: bagging game is cool, but wild experiences are even more rewarding.

5. Montana Deer and Elk Hunting Season Dates

A bull elk spotted in a grassy field during elk hunting season in Montana

In Montana, if you want to hunt deer and elk, you need permission and a license for the specific animals you’re going after, along with any tags required. You can get these hunting licenses by applying for a drawing or buying them from authorized license providers. 

The Montana Deer and Elk Hunting Seasons thoughtfully span the year, giving everyone a fair shot. Here’s a quick rundown of the key dates to mark on your calendar for 2024:

Deer and Elk Hunting SeasonSeason Dates
ArcherySept. 7 – Oct. 20
Youth (Deer Only)Oct. 17 – Oct. 18
GeneralOct. 26 – Dec. 1
Shoulder SeasonsAug. 15 – Feb. 15
MuzzleloaderDec. 14 – 22
Backcountry Archery (HD’s 150, 280, 316)Sept. 7 – Sept. 14
Backcountry General (HD’s 150, 280, 316)Sept. 15 – Dec. 1

Make sure to check out the season for deer hunting and get familiar with hunting district maps to know where you can go. It’s important to follow the rules and get the right permits to enjoy a successful and responsible deer and elk hunting experience in Montana.

6. Montana Furbearer Trapping Season Dates

A beaver is spotted near the riverbank starting to construct a dam during furbearer trapping season in Montana.

In Montana, furbearer trapping is a cool outdoor activity where people catch animals for their fur. To do this, you need to get the right permits and follow the rules. 

For those intrigued by the ways of the furbearer, Montana offers a unique trapping season. Each district comes with its calendar, so you’ll want to keep a close ear to the ground. Here’s a breakdown of the furbearer trapping season dates:

Trapping District/Furbearer SpeciesSeason Dates
Trapping Districts 1, 2 & 3: BeaverNov. 1 – Apr. 15, 2024
Trapping Districts 1, 2 & 3: BobcatDec. 1 – Feb. 15, 2024
Trapping Districts 4, 5, 6 & 7: BeaverSept. 1 – May 31, 2024
Trapping Districts 4, 5, 6 & 7: BobcatDec. 1 – Mar. 1, 2024
A portion of Trapping District 6: Swift FoxNov. 1 – Jan. 15, 2024
Fisher, MartenDec. 1 – Feb. 15, 2024
Mink, Muskrat, OtterNov. 1 – Apr. 15, 2024

Remember to respect private properties and make sure to access lands that are legal for trapping. These trapping seasons are a vital part of managing wildlife numbers and ecosystems. Always keep up to date with the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to ensure legal and ethical trapping.

7. Montana Migratory Bird Hunting Season Dates

A trio of ducks seen in the water, with one about to make a landing.

For the lovers of Migratory Bird hunting, Montana offers a variety of hunting slots across different flyways. These hunting season dates showcase a mix of opportunities, so whether you’re into Common Snipes or Merganser ducks, there’s something for everyone.

The Montana migratory bird hunting season dates are as follows:

Migratory Bird SpeciesPortion Season Dates
Common (Wilson’s) SnipeStatewideSept. 1 – Dec. 16
Mourning DoveStatewideSept. 1 – Oct. 30
Youth WaterfowlStatewideSept. 23-24
Ducks (Including Mergansers)Pacific FlywaySept. 30 – Jan. 12
CootsPacific FlywaySept. 30 – Jan. 12
GeesePacific FlywaySept. 30 – Jan. 12
Falconry: Ducks (Including Mergansers), Coots, and GeesePacific FlywaySept. 30 – Jan. 12

Moving to the Central Flyway, there’s a distinction between Zone 1 and Zone 2: 

Migratory Bird SpeciesZone 1 DatesZone 2 Dates
Ducks (including Mergansers)Sept. 30 – Jan. 4Sept. 30 – Oct. 8 & Oct. 21 – Jan. 16
CootsSept. 30 – Jan. 4Sept. 30 – Oct. 8 & Oct. 21 – Jan. 16
GeeseSept. 30 – Jan. 12Sept. 30 – Oct. 8 & Oct. 21 – Jan. 24
Falconry: Ducks and CootsSept. 20 – Jan. 4Sept. 20 – Oct. 8 & Oct. 21 – Jan. 16
Falconry: GeeseSept. 30 – Jan. 12Sept. 30 – Oct. 8 & Oct. 21 – Jan. 24

Whether you’re keen to hunt across the entire state or want to track the migratory paths of specific birds, these season dates serve as your navigational beacon.

8. Montana Moose Hunting Season Dates

Two moose calves spotted in a snow-covered grassy field during moose hunting season in Montana

For those keen on bagging a moose on their list, Montana offers a generous hunting season from September 15 to December 1. To maximize your chance of a successful hunt, consider the following hunt research tools:

  • Plotting Moose Movement – With the advent of advanced GPS tracking and wildlife maps, hunters can now predict moose movement patterns more accurately.
  • Locate Moose Habitats – Consider using satellite imagery and online resources to identify moose habitats, such as swamplands and boreal forests.
  • Weather Forecast – Apps and websites can provide valuable weather insights that may affect moose behavior.

Remember, every hunt is a unique story that unfolds in nature’s diverse and exciting dance. So, pack your patience along with your gear, and get ready for a memorable Montana moose hunting season.

9. Montana Mountain Goat Hunting Season Dates

A mountain goat in the Montana mountains is observed walking assertively towards a perceived threat in an attempt to deter it.

Montana mountain goat hunting is an exciting adventure for those who enjoy being outdoors. The hunt happens in the mountains, where these tough and sure-footed animals live. If you’ve ever dreamed of scaling rugged mountain slopes, this experience is like no other.

September 15 to December 1 is prime time for the thrilling Mountain goat hunt in Montana. Consider this your window of opportunity, as the dates are locked in while the goats roam freely on the mountains.

Just remember, mountain goat hunting is a challenging and highly regulated pursuit. By being prepared, respectful of nature, and appreciative of the unique privilege it offers, you can make the most of this hunting season.

10. Montana Mountain Lion Hunting Season Dates

A mountain lion lounges leisurely on a grassy patch near a large rock during Montana's mountain lion hunting season.

Montana Mountain Lion Hunting is a popular pastime that allows enthusiasts to experience the thrill of hunting these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. There are various hunt types available, such as guided hunts or do-it-yourself hunts, depending on preference and experience level.

If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, you’d be eager to know the Montana Mountain Lion Hunting Season dates for 2024. Here’s the lowdown on the key times for different types of mountain lion hunts:

Mountain Lion SeasonSeason Dates
Archery (Without Dogs)Sept. 3 – Oct. 16
Fall (Without Dogs)Oct. 26 – Dec. 1
WinterDec. 1 – April 14
Resident Hound Training SeasonDec. 2 – April 14

During this designated time, hunters can embark on their adventure and test their skills in tracking and pursuing mountain lions. It is important to note that safety measures and regulations are in place to ensure the conservation and sustainability of these magnificent animals.

11. Montana Sandhill Crane Hunting Season Dates

A pair of sandhill cranes spotted amid thick vegetation in a Montana field

Sandhill Cranes are known for their distinctive appearance and unique mating calls, making them a prized trophy for many hunters. Montana offers a generous hunting season for these creatures to ensure that enthusiasts have ample opportunity to participate in this thrilling sport. 

If you’re a fan of crane hunting, Montana is your playground this year. Here’s the scoop:

Sandhill Crane SeasonSeason Dates
Special Drawing LicenseOpens September 1
Over the Counter (OTC) LicenseStarts September 28

A word to the wise, mark your calendars with these dates as they’re subject to federal framework approval in April 2024. Once greenlit, the birds are yours for the taking — legally, of course. 

12. Montana Swan Hunting Season Dates

A swan spotted swimming gracefully in a body of water in Montana during swan hunting season

Montana Swan Hunting offers a unique opportunity for hunters to experience the thrill of pursuing these majestic birds in a stunning natural environment. With an abundance of public land available, hunters have ample opportunities to plan their hunting trips and explore different areas.

For those interested in swan hunting, Montana offers specific opportunities on these dates:

Swan Hunting SeasonSeason Dates
Central Flyway Swan (Special License Only)September 30 – January 4
Pacific Flyway Swan (Special License Only)October 7 – December 1

Montana’s diverse landscapes, ranging from wetlands to open fields, offer prime habitat for swans, making it an ideal destination for hunters. Whether you are an experienced swan hunter or new to the sport, the state promises a memorable and rewarding experience.

13. Montana Turkey Hunting Season Dates

A large male turkey stands amid green grass in Montana during turkey hunting season.

I know for many of you – and I’m raising my hand here too, don’t worry, this is a non-judgmental space – the idea of spending long hours in a turkey blind inhaling the crisp Montana air feels like a spiritual calling. Well, for that divine appointment, here are your dates for Montana turkey hunting in 2024:

Turkey Hunting SeasonSeason Dates
Spring SeasonApril 15 to May 31
Fall SeasonSeptember 1 to January 1

Now, about licenses – you can’t snag a gobbler without one. The General Turkey License is your all-access pass, but we’ve got regional options that spread the turkey love across Montana. Here’s a quick breakdown of regions for your reference:

  • Region 1 Turkey License – Valid in Lincoln, Flathead, Sanders, and Lake counties, plus portions of Missoula and Sanders.
  • Region 2 Turkey License – Valid in Missoula, Ravalli, and Mineral counties.
  • Region 7 Turkey License – Valid in multiple counties across southern Montana.

Remember, the success of your turkey hunt isn’t just about where and when you aim, it’s about understanding the legal landscapes too. So get your licenses right and hunt with respect for the land and its critters.

14. Montana Upland Game Bird Hunting Season Dates

A sage grouse perched atop a mound of soil in a vegetated area during upland game bird hunting season in Montana.

Did you know that Montana is home to an impressive 9 game bird species? From the elegant Sage-Grouse to the spirited Chukar, these birds are a sight to behold, and for some, a legal hunt to participate in.

If you’re interested in upland game bird hunting, here are the key 2024 season dates you’ll want to mark in your calendar:

Upland Game Bird Hunting SeasonSeason Dates
Mountain GrouseSept. 1 – Jan. 1
PartridgeSept. 1 – Jan. 1 (except for a portion of Carbon County, where it is Sept. 1 – Jan. 10)
Ring-necked PheasantOct. 12 – Jan. 1
Youth HuntSept. 21 – Sept. 22
Sage GrouseSept. 1 – Sept. 30
Sharp-tailed GrouseSept. 1 – Jan. 1
FalconrySept. 1 – March 31

Each of these birds has its charm and challenge. For example, the Ring-necked Pheasant often requires hunters to navigate dense vegetation, while the elusive Mountain Grouse thrives in rocky, high-altitude terrains.

And it’s not just the challenge of the hunt that draws sportsmen and women to Montana; it’s also the breathtaking landscapes and the thrill of the chase in the wild, open spaces.

15. Montana Wolf Hunting Season Dates

A gray wolf takes a protective stance of top of a large rock during wolf hunting season in Montana

Montana’s gray wolf hunt is a regulated activity where people can hunt gray wolves under specific rules. This practice is managed carefully to maintain a balance in the wolf population and support wildlife management goals.

Here’s a snapshot of the Montana Wolf Hunting season dates:

Wolf Hunting SeasonSeason Dates
ArcherySept. 2 – Sept. 14
GeneralSept. 15 – March 15, 2024
TrappingNov. 27 – March 15, 2024

But wait, there’s a twist. In specific areas, like FWP administrative regions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, and in Hill, Blaine, and Phillips counties, wolf trapping and snaring won’t kick off until January 1 and will only run through February 15. It’s like having a prime-time and rerun season but for wolves.

Now, if you’re traveling in the eastern part of Montana – the rulebook changes a bit. Here, the wolf trapping and snaring season will start on November 27 and extend until March 15, following the guidelines outlined in last year’s wolf regulations (2023).

Hunters interested in participating in the gray wolf hunt should be mindful of these dates and regulations to ensure compliance and make the most of their hunting experiences in Montana.

Montana Hunting Seasons Final Thoughts

A hunter with his hunting dog traverse a dry grassy field in Montana, scouting for potential game during hunting season.

In the vast expanse of Montana’s rugged and captivating outdoors, the 2024 hunting season beckons, promising a rich tapestry of experiences that go far beyond the simple pursuit of game. 

Seasoned hunters know that respecting the land and creatures is paramount, and the diverse game options, from bison to mountain lions, offer different challenges and lifetime memories for those who are agile enough to seize them.

Whether you’re a local Montana hunter or a visitor eager to engage in this time-honored tradition, the hunt seasons of Montana are a treasure trove waiting to be explored. In this ever-evolving digital world, the call of the wild remains as enchanting as ever.

So, as the harvest dates call you to the Montana plains and mountains, remember to embrace the camaraderie, respect the ethereal landscapes, and above all, savor the wild experiences that define the heart of hunting in the Big Sky Country.

Montana Hunting Seasons FAQs

1. What Are Montana Hunting Season Dates?

Specific hunting season dates in Montana can vary depending on the species. It’s crucial to check the most recent hunting regulations for resident hunters and non-residents provided by the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks for the latest and accurate information on season dates.

2. What Animals Can You Shoot Year-round in Montana?

In Montana, predatory animals and nongame species can be hunted year-round without a license by both resident and non-resident hunters. This category typically includes animals like coyotes, skunks, raccoons, and other species not classified as big game or game birds.

3. How Long Is Elk Season in Montana?

Elk hunting seasons in Montana can vary based on the specific hunting district and the type of weapon used. Archery seasons often start in early September, while rifle seasons typically commence in late October or early November and can last until late November or early December.

Additionally, elk shoulder seasons are additional hunting opportunities designed to manage elk populations and address specific management goals. These seasons typically occur before or after the regular elk hunting seasons.

4. Can You Hunt Year-round in Montana?

While certain predatory animals and nongame species can be hunted year-round in Montana without a license, most big game and game bird hunting is restricted to specific seasons.

5. How Long Is Deer Season in Montana?

In Montana, deer hunting seasons often align with elk hunting seasons, with archery seasons typically starting in early September and rifle seasons beginning in late October or early November.

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Written by:

Elizabeth Hawley
Hey, fellow travelers! I'm Elizabeth Hawley, stepping into the world in the hues of fall. For me, Montana is more than just a state; it's a muse. The golden aspen trees and russet landscapes in the fall have always fueled my creativity. Co-founding was a no-brainer, blending my love for art, photography, and Montana's ever-changing palette.

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