A tour of duty at Malmstrom can be a memorable experience if you are an outdoor enthusiast.
Elk hunting is found in the mountainous part of the state and Missouri River Breaks country. Early morning and late evening searches of open parks, slides, burned, logged and blown-down places are a good system of hunting. Logging roads traverse much of the timber country, but snow can choke many of them off early in the season.
Mule deer and whitetail deer can be found throughout the entire state. Most of the foothill and slope areas along the mountains offer good mule deer hunting. Antelope are also found in much of the state, but competition for permits can be high. Licenses for hunting antelope are awarded through drawings.
Since goats live in more precipitous terrain, the goat hunter should expect to do some climbing during the hunt. Bighorn sheep are scattered and hunter success has been quite low. Hunting is usually limited to rams with three-fourths curl horn.
Grizzlies can be found in the western part of the state; however, it is illegal to hunt them. Black bear, however, have spring and fall hunting seasons. Black bear typically make their home in western and southern Montana.
Hunting seasons for mountain, sage and sharp-tailed grouse are usually open concurrently in September. Mountain grouse hunting is found in most mountainous country. Many hunters use roads in the higher ridges and then work stream bottoms and ridges. Pheasant season usually begins in October. In general, the pheasant is found in greatest numbers along the stream bottoms and throughout irrigated valleys and bench lands below.
Turkeys are not native to Montana but have become a fixture of Montana wildlife. Montana has a spring gobbler season and an either-sex fall season for Turkey.
Two species of doves are legal to hunt in Montana: the mourning dove and the Eurasian collared-dove. Mourning doves are most common in the eastern two-thirds of the state where there are crop fields, scattered trees and a water source nearby. Mourning dove season opens Sept. 1. The Eurasian collared-dove is found throughout nearly all of Montana, but not many are shot by hunters as they tend to stay in towns. This dove may be hunted year-round.
Duck and coot seasons typically begin in late September or early October. Montana is a significant duck “production state,” so there are a number of species of ducks present when the season opens. More common species include mallard, gadwall, pintail, wigeon, shoveler, and in some areas along creeks and rivers, wood duck. Blue-winged teal are common but are not typically in the state by the time the season opens. However, green-winged teal are available mid-season and some diving ducks (such as lesser scaup and redheads) may be found as well. At the season’s end, mallards and common goldeneyes are present. Duck hunting is allowed on portions of several national wildlife refuges and a few state wildlife areas.
Canadian geese dominate Montana’s wild geese population and hunting opportunities are available just about anywhere in the state. Snow goose hunting, on the other hand, is mainly limited to Freezeout Lake Wildlife Management Area near Fairfield and other important wetlands along the East Front of the Rocky Mountains.
Montana’s vast and beautiful outdoors provides fishing in abundance, not only in numbers, but also in variety. Miles of streams and rivers and thousands of lakes, ponds and reservoirs provide a wide variety of fishing. Brook, brown and rainbow trout are all found in the crystal-clear waters, along with northern pikeminnow, mountain whitefish and kokanee salmon, among others. All bull trout must be released immediately in Montana unless authorized. Cutthroat trout must be released immediately in many Montana waters; check district regulations and exceptions.
For more hunting tips, regulations and licensing information, visit the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website at http://fwp.mt.gov.