Highlights/ Reminders

  • Hunting and fishing licenses are accessible through a secure and convenient mobile app. The Montana MyFWP app provides a digitalwallet to store and display licenses and digital carcass tags, known as E-Tags, that can validate your harvest in the field.

Fish & Wildlife Commission Regulations and Non-Discrimination Policy

  • Regulations Enactment

    • Season dates, structures, and limits set by F&W Commission on February 4, 2022.
    • Governed by MCA 87-1-301; effective March 1, 2023, to February 29, 2024.
    • Commission may revise as needed for wildlife management.
    • For changes, check the FWP website.
  • Authority Reservation

    • Commission holds the right to adjust seasons, limits, and regulations.
    • Provided statutes and agency restrictions are informational and not under commission authority.
  • Prohibition on Discrimination

    • Federal and state laws outlaw discrimination based on race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, or disability.
    • For discrimination concerns regarding FWP programs or facilities, contact:
      • FWP Human Resources, Helena, MT.
      • Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Civil Rights, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, DC.
  • FWP Leadership

    • Directed by Henry “Hank” Worsech.

Definitions of Hunting Terms and Game Species in Montana

  • Upland Game Birds

    • Includes:
      • Sharp-tailed grouse
      • Blue grouse
      • Spruce (Franklin) grouse
      • Prairie chicken
      • Sage hen or sage grouse
      • Ruffed grouse
      • Ring-necked pheasant
      • Hungarian partridge
      • Ptarmigan
      • Wild turkey
      • Chukar partridge
  • Hunt

    • Encompasses actions such as:
      • Pursuing
      • Shooting
      • Wounding
      • Taking
      • Harvesting
      • Killing
      • Chasing
      • Luring
      • Possessing
      • Capturing wildlife
    • Applies to possession of a weapon (MCA 45-2-101) or use of a dog/bird of prey for legally defined purposes.
    • Includes attempts to take or harvest wildlife in locations wildlife may inhabit.
  • Site of the Kill

    • The place where a game animal/bird dies and the responsible person takes possession of the carcass.

Montana Licensing for Turkey Hunting and Other Game

  • License Acquisition

    • Obtainable at FWP offices, local license providers, or online at ols.fwp.mt.gov.
    • Validity: March 1 to February 29 of the following year.
  • Turkey License Limits

    • Annual maximum: 11 wild turkey licenses.
      • 1 General Turkey License (statewide: male in spring, either-sex in some regions during fall).
      • Regional Turkey Licenses for specified regions (male in spring, either-sex in fall).
      • Female or Beardless Turkey Licenses in select counties.
  • Resident and Nonresident License Fees

    • Base Hunting License

      • Resident: $10
      • Nonresident: $15
      • Required to hunt or apply for permits.
    • Conservation License

      • Resident Youth/Senior: $4 (ages 12-17, 62+)
      • Resident Adults: $8 (ages 18-61)
      • Nonresident: $10
      • Prerequisite license.
    • Upland Game Bird License

      • Resident Adults: $7.50 (ages 18-61)
      • Resident Reduced: $3.75 (youth 12-17*, senior 62+, disabled)
      • Nonresident Adults: $110 (ages 18 and over)
      • Nonresident Youth: $55 (ages 12-17*)
    • Turkey License

      • Resident: $6.50 (requires Upland Game Bird License)
      • Nonresident: $57.50 (with Upland Game Bird License) or $115 (without)
    • Nonresident Short-Term Licenses

      • 3-day Upland Game Bird: $50 (excludes sage grouse; not valid first week of pheasant season)
      • 3-day Shooting Preserve: $20 (for hunting only on shooting preserves)
  • Resident Flathead Reservation Use Permit

    • Recognized by the state in alignment with Flathead Reservation laws for bird hunting.
  • Additional Information

    • For detailed regional restrictions, consult local FWP offices.
    • *Youth hunting details on the FWP website under Youth Hunting Opportunities.

Wild Turkey Hunting by Area

Montana Turkey Hunting Laws and Regulations
  • Legal Means of Taking Turkey

    • Spring and Fall Seasons:
      • Shotgun up to 10 gauge.
      • Longbow, recurve or compound bow.
      • Crossbows and air rifles (with specifications) during fall except in restricted areas.
      • Rifles and handguns during fall unless area restrictions apply.
    • Fall Season Specifics for Air Rifles:
      • .177 caliber with alloy pellets, minimum 1250 fps, or
      • .22 caliber with alloy pellets, minimum 950 fps.
  • Prohibited Methods

    • All other means not listed above.
  • Wild Turkey Licenses and Season Information

    • General Turkey License
      • Over-the-Counter; valid in general hunting areas.
      • Per hunter: 1 license.
      • Spring: April 15 - May 31 (Male Wild Turkey; Shotgun/Archery).
      • Fall: September 1 - January 1 (Either-sex Wild Turkey; not valid in Region 4).
    • Regional Turkey Licenses
      • Over-the-Counter; specific to regions.

      • Region 1

        • Includes Lincoln, Flathead, Sanders, Lake counties (Private land; seek permission).
        • Spring: Male Wild Turkey (Shotgun/Archery).
        • Fall: Either-sex and Female or Beardless Wild Turkey.
      • Region 2

        • Operative in Missoula and Ravalli counties.
        • Spring: Male Wild Turkey (Shotgun/Archery; rifles prohibited in HD 260).
        • Fall: Either-sex; up to 4 Female or Beardless Wild Turkey.
      • Region 5

        • Pertains to Wheatland, Sweet Grass, Stillwater, Carbon, Golden Valley, Musselshell, Yellowstone, and Bighorn counties.
        • Spring: Male Wild Turkey (Shotgun/Archery).
      • Region 7

        • Applicable to designated counties and areas within.
        • Spring: Male Wild Turkey (Shotgun/Archery).
        • Fall: Either-sex Wild Turkey.

Baiting (MCA 87-6-401, CR)

  • It is unlawful for anyone to hunt or attempt to hunt any game animal or game bird by the aid of or with the use of any bait, salt lick, trap, snare, or set gun.
  • Baiting means the placing, exposing, depositing, distributing, or scattering of food sources or salt so as to constitute a lure or attraction.

Check Stations (MCA 87-6-218) - All hunters are required by law to stop as directed at all designated check stations on their way to and from hunting areas, even if they have no game to be checked.

Hunter Orange - Shooting another hunter while swinging the gun on an upland bird is the leading cause of hunting-related accidents in Montana. Although not required, it is strongly recommended that all bird hunters wear at least a hunter orange hat or cap to reducethe chance of an accident.

Hunting Hours (CR) - Authorized hunting hours for the taking of upland game birds begin one-half hour before sunrise and end one-half hour after sunset each day of the hunting season. See official sunrise-sunset tables in these regulations.

Indian Reservations (CR) - The F&W Commission has, by rule, closed all lands within the exterior boundaries of Montana’s Indian Reservations to the hunting of upland game birds with the use of state licenses unless provided for in a cooperative agreement between the Tribal Government and the State of Montana. The State of Montana and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribeshave entered into a cooperative management agreement on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Please check for upland game bird regulations specific to the Flathead Reservation. For information call the Kalispell FWP office at 406-752-5501 or the Tribes in Pabloat 406-883-2888 ext. 7200. Exception: State upland game bird regulations apply to deeded “fee” land within the exterior boundary of the Crow Indian Reservation.

Waste of Game (MCA 87-6-205)

It is unlawful to waste any part of any game animal, game bird, or game fish suitable for food.

  • The following are upland game bird parts “suitable for food:”
    • all birds that fall into the size category of the partridge or smaller, only the breasts must be retained;
    • all birds larger than a partridge and up to the size category of, and including, pheasants and sage grouse, the breasts and the thighs must be retained;
    • all turkeys: the breasts, thighs and wings must be retained.
  • For migratory birds, “suitable for food” means the breast meat.

Montana Hunting Regulations for Upland Game Bird, Falconry, and Turkey

  • Bad Rock Canyon WMA

    • Limited access permit required.
    • Archery/general season open Thursday to Sunday or Monday holidays.
    • Archery: Limited to two individuals/week by lottery.
    • General/spring turkey: Open to youth ages 10–15 and PTHFV hunters, one party/day by lottery.
    • Closed to spring black bear hunting.
    • Access permit application available at FWP-R1 HQ (406-752-5501).
  • Gates of the Mountains Game Preserve

    • Closed to all hunting.
    • Boundaries described, encompassing Gates of the Mountains area, Lewis and Clark County.
  • Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir (Lewis and Clark County)

    • Open to upland game bird hunting until the waterfowl season's opening day, thereafter closed to all hunting.
  • Freezout Lake Wildlife Management Area (Teton County)

    • Upland game bird hunting open until general waterfowl season begins.
    • Specific areas closed then reopen on November 20.
  • Turkey Hunting Safety Reminder

    • Avoid wearing turkey colors (white, red, black, blue).
    • Choose open, safe calling positions.
    • Don’t move or use calls to signal other hunters; verbally announce presence.
    • Observe wildlife for signs of approaching hunters.
    • Consider wearing hunter orange when transporting harvested turkey.
  • Turkey Hunting Methods and Seasons

    • Legal equipment: shotgun (up to 10 gauge), bow, rifle, handgun, and crossbow in fall (except restricted areas).
    • Valid licenses: General Turkey, Regional, and Female or Beardless Turkey.
    • Season Dates vary; Spring: April 15 - May 31, Fall: September 1 - January 1.
  • Tom Roster’s 2016 Nontoxic Shot Lethality Table

    • Provides guidance on selecting nontoxic shotshell load based on activity and effective range.
    • Shot-size selection, lethal pellet hits, and effective choke options listed.
    • Best performance: Steel #BBB and HEVI-Shot #2 for geese, #3 for ducks, #2 and HEVI-Shot #4 for pheasants, and #7 for doves.
    • Contact Tom Roster for inquiries about the lethality table: tomroster@charter.net

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.