Hunting in Western Montana is more than just a pastime; it’s a reflection of our deep-rooted heritage, echoing the fundamental necessities and traditions of former days. Today, hunting in Western Montana’s Glacier Country serves as both an homage to our history and a crucial tool for wildlife management, ensuring nature’s delicate balance. With a wealth of wildlife—from elk, moose and deer to mountain lions, bighorn sheep, upland birds and waterfowl—and expansive hunting terrain on both public and private lands, there’s an adventure here for every hunter. Our recommendation? Go with a guide. Hunting outfitters and guides can help you experience a world-class hunting expedition, making sure you’re abiding by district regulations and laws and taking care of all the necessary details so you can focus on the hunt.
Western Montana is home to more than 19 large mammal species, 10 of which are legal to hunt. Elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer are among the most prevalent big game species hunters pursue here. If you’re determined and prepared for challenging terrains, you can find massive bull elk, high-country mule deer and impressive white-tailed deer on public lands. Bighorn sheep, mountain goats, moose and some predators can be harvested in our region, many of which require a special draw tag—a tag that is limited in number by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Special draw tags must be applied for and are drawn at random.
UPLAND + WATERFOWL
The untouched beauty of Western Montana offers a haven for diverse birdlife. Mountain grouse, Hungarian and chukar partridge and ring-necked pheasants are some of the upland game birds you’ll find here. Turkeys flourish here too, and with hunting seasons perfectly timed for both spring and fall, one might just make its way to your Thanksgiving table. Remember, turkeys require an additional license, and in some areas it’s a draw tag.
Each year, Western Montana plays host to a captivating avian migration. It’s not unusual to see trumpeter and tundra swans and sandhill cranes, and our lakes and rivers are flush with waterfowl. Notably, Montana is one of a handful of states where you can hunt sandhill cranes and swans. However, many of these licenses are through draw tags and are quite coveted. For those seeking more common avian adventures, geese, coots and a diverse mix of ducks—including mallards, pintails, redheads, canvasbacks and scaup—populate our pristine waters and are usually huntable with a general permit.
With more than 35 million acres of national forest and public lands to manage, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has segmented Western Montana into hunting regions. The regions are divided into districts, and each district has its own regulations on what species/sex can be harvested—this helps manage and preserve each wildlife herd within an area. An easy way to make sure you’re in accordance with all of Montana’s laws is to hire a guide or go with an outfitter.
Butcher Creek Outfitters: Based in Trego, they combine rugged luxury “glamping” with hunts for pheasant, mountain grouse or turkey.
Cheff Legacy Outfitters: Nestled in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, they offer guided hunting trips with two base camp options to match your hunting style.
Cody Carr’s Hunting Adventures: A versatile guide ideal for those with special tags for Lolo, Superior or Kootenai national forests.
East Fork Outfitters: Traverse the high terrain of the Bitterroot Range and Anaconda Pintler Wilderness during fall archery or rifle big game hunts.
Hole in the Wall Outfitters: Guiding in the Clearwater National Forest and Lolo National Forest, they specialize in predator or turkey hunts, as well as elk, moose and deer hunts in both Idaho and Montana.
Linehan Outfitting Company: They offer big game hunts in Montana’s northwest corridor, Kootenai National Forest, plus upland bird hunting in the Yaak Valley, where you can bring your own dog or use their trained retrievers.
Mills Wilderness Adventures: Immerse yourself in the breathtaking Bob Marshall Wilderness or climb to the Continental Divide for on-foot and horse-assisted elk hunts.
Morning Star Outfitters: Embark on an upland bird hunt on the Blackfeet Nation, or secure one of the coveted big game tags. Keep in mind a specific Blackfeet Tribal license is required, and their availability and procurement is separate from the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks system.
Montana Wilderness Lodge & Outfitters: Whether it’s elk along the Continental Divide, mule deer in the South Fork of the Flathead, or specialty hunts for mountain lion or black bear, they’ve got you covered.
Rich’s Montana Guest Ranch: Choose a lodge-based hunt in the Lolo National Forest targeting mule deer, white-tailed deer or elk. Or opt for a tent camp in the Bob Marshall wilderness for elk and mule deer.
Silver Bow Outfitters & Guides: Trek Montana’s northwest corner and the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness hunting big game, some requiring special licenses, with Silver Bow Outfitters.
Snowy Springs Outfitters: Their spring black bear hunt provides full services, including cabins, homemade meals and an on-site shooting range. In the fall, they offer big game hunting in the Great Bear Wilderness.
Swan Mountain Outfitters: Enjoy access to thousands of acres in Flathead National Forest and Bob Marshall wilderness for big game hunts.
Yaak River Outfitters: Rest your head at the Overdale Lodge after a day of hunting deer, elk, upland birds or predators in the Yaak. Notably, they offer a first-time hunter program.
Look into regulations, and make sure you have the proper licenses and permits required before you arrive. Be a respectful hunter, leave no trace, know your target and the rules of the district, be considerate to other hunters and make sure you have permission to hunt on private land or are hunting on public land. Learn more here.
A handy way to recreate responsibly is with the onX HUNT app. The app provides real-time GPS positioning even in areas without cell service, so you can know where you stand, pinpoint your vehicle, have a compassed trail where you’ve walked, see public/private land boundaries, and have a topographic map of the area.
Please note: We ask that all our visitors and residents Recreate Responsibly by being mindful of the following: practice physical distancing; know before you go; plan ahead; play it safe; leave no trace; tread lightly; and help build an inclusive outdoors.
October 23, 2023