bird hunting in Montana

Bird Hunting in Montana

Bird hunting in Montana is a beautiful challenge. 

Montana is famous for its wide expanses of sky and wilderness—as well as mountains in the western parts of the state which make for some pretty difficult hunting treks. Those looking for a challenge can certainly find them bird hunting in the state. Of course, Montana doesn’t just have hard-to-hunt forests full of mountain grouse— it also has diversity. Montana, as the fourth largest state, offers prairies, ranges, plateaus, valleys, lakes and great plains. Some 33 million acres of that land belongs to the public, which means a great deal of it is open for hunting. 

Residents pay an annual license fee of $17.50. Nonresidents can expect to pay $125 for an annual license. A 3-day license costs $50. 

Sharp-Tailed Grouse 

The sharp-tailed grouse is currently considered a species of concern in Montana due to declining populations. Nevertheless, its range covers most of Montana. The exceptions to this are the counties lying on the Montana-Idaho border. Sharp-tailed grouse offer a different challenge for bird hunting in Montana. 

The season for sharp-tailed grouse begins September 1 and ends January 1 with a daily bag limit of 4. 

Ring-Necked Pheasant

Ring-necked pheasant have been a national favorite of upland hunters for a long time. Look for them in grain crops or open grasslands with brushy cover.

The season for ring-necked pheasant begins October 7 and ends January 1 with a daily bag limit of 3. 

The Grouse Species

Montana has three species of grouse: ruffed, dusky (blue) and spruce. Most other states call these forest grouse. In Montana’s case, the ruffed grouse is really only found in the mountainous regions of the western half. This range extends into parts of west central Montana as well. The dusky grouse has a similar range to the ruffed grouse that extends up north into Havre. 

The season for mountain grouse begins September 1 and ends January 1. There is a daily bag limit of 3 for each species. 

Greater Sage Grouse 

The greater sage grouse, like its name implies, usually inhabits the same landscapes as sagebrush. The Montana Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program seeks to preserve these natural habitats for this upland species. Central Montana and counties east of the Continental Divide account for much of their range. This does not include far northeast Montana—and some southwestern counties have sage grouse habitat. 

The season begins September 1 and ends September 30 with a daily bag limit of 2. 

sage grouse hunting in montana

A bird hunter shows the wingspan of a “Bomber” (male Sage Grouse).

Other Species for Bird Hunting in Montana 

There are other species for bird hunting in the state. Montana is one of the best states for hunting Hungarian partridge, a bird often considered along with chukar. The season for Hungarian partridge opens September 1 and ends January 1 with a daily bag limit of 8. Mourning dove season opens September 1 and ends October 30. There is a daily bag limit of 15. If you are going to hunt snipe in Montana, you must be certified to hunt migratory birds and fill out an HIP survey. Snipe season opens September 1 and ends December 16 with a daily bag limit of 8.  

Related Conservation and Non-Profit Organizations for Montana Bird Hunting

Pheasants Forever

Quail Forever

Ruffed Grouse Society

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association

Montana Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program 

The Hunter Safety Course and Dog Training for Bird Hunting in Montana

If you were born after January 1, 1985, you must complete a certified course in hunter education before applying for a license. For more information, check out the hunter course. In 2015, Montana created the Apprentice Hunter Program which allows anyone between the ages of 10 and 17 to hunt without completing a hunter education course. You will have to fill out a certificate form which costs $5 and follow the requirements concerning mentors. 

You may not train your dog for bird hunting in Montana within one mile of any designated game preserve, bird nesting, or management area.

The bird hunting season dates, game bird species available, and other information is subject to change. The article may not reflect this. Please visit Montana, Fish, Wildlife & Parks for the most up to date information on bird hunting in Montana.

Last modified: October 6, 2018

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