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Montana

Hunting

Turkey Hunting Regulations

Regulations Adopted by Fish & Wildlife Commission

Regulations for season dates, structures, and restrictions were adopted by the Fish & Wildlife Commission on February 4, 2021, under the authority granted in MCA 87-1-301 and are valid March 1, 2021, through February 28, 2022. The F&W Commission reserves the authority to amend the seasons, limits and regulations herein if deemed necessary for wildlife management purposes. Statutes and other information, including other agencies’ restrictions, are provided as a courtesy and do not fall under commission authority. Henry “Hank” Worsech, Director.

Obtain a License

The following licenses are available at all FWP offices, FWP website, and FWP license providers throughout the state. Exception: special licenses may only be applied for online or at an FWP office.

License

Cost

Requirements

Conservation

$4 Resident 10-17, 62+$8 Resident 18-61 $10 Nonresident

Required prerequisite

Base Hunting

License

$10 Resident $15 Nonresident

Required prerequisite for hunting.

Turkey

$6.50 Resident each $115 Nonresident each OR $57.50 each to Nonresident holders of an Upland Game Bird license.

Upland Game

Bird

$3.75 youth (12-17), Resident senior (62+) & disabled$7.50 Resident$110 Nonresident$55 nonresident youth (*12-17)

Special License

  • Drawing Only

$5 Resident/

Nonresident non-refundable drawing fee.

Must apply online or over-the-counter at an FWP office on or before March 12 for spring licenses.

  • some 10 and 11 year olds, certified as an apprentice are also eligible.


Limit

A turkey hunter may hold up to 12 wild turkey licenses per year. This may include:

  • 1 General Turkey License valid statewide (except for a portion of Region 4) for male turkey in the spring and either-sex turkey in the fall;
  • 1 Regional Turkey License in each of Regions 1, 2, 5 & 7 valid for male turkey in the spring and either-sex turkey in the fall (Region 5 license only valid in the spring);
  • 1 Female or Beardless Turkey License in Region 1;
  • 4 Female or Beardless Turkey Licenses valid in Missoula and Ravalli counties;
  • 1 Female or Beardless Turkey License valid in Missoula, Ravalli and Mineral counties;
  • 1 Spring Special Drawing Turkey License in Region 4.

    Hunter Education – All persons born after January 1, 1985, are required to provide proof of completion of a Montana hunter safety and education course or an approved hunter education course from any other state or province prior to applying for or purchasing a Montana hunting license.

Youth Hunter

An Apprentice Hunter is a resident or nonresident certified at an FWP office. This allows the apprentice to hunt some species, while accompanied by a mentor, without first completing a hunter education course. The Apprentice Hunter may not purchase a mountain lion, black bear or wolf license, or apply for a bighorn sheep license or a hunting license or permit with a limited quota. The Apprentice Hunter may not purchase an elk license if he/she is under 15 years of age. Other restrictions apply. See our website for details at: fwp.mt.gov/hunt/education/apprentice-hunter

A resident or nonresident youth 12 years of age or older may hunt any game species for which their license is valid. Those who will reach 12 years of age by January 16, 2022, may hunt any game species, for which their license is valid, after August 15 of the 2021 license year. Proof of hunter education must be presented at the time of purchase.

Laws and Rules

Aircraft Unlawful Use (MCA 87-6-208)

  • A person may not kill, take, or shoot at any game bird from an aircraft, including a helicopter.
  • A person may not use an aircraft, including a helicopter for the purpose of concentrating, pursuing, driving, rallying, or stirring up any game bird.

    Artificial Light (MCA 87-6-401) – It is unlawful for anyone to take or attempt to take any game bird with the aid of projected artificial light. Use of rifle scopes that project an artificial light to illuminate the target or project infra-red light visible only with specialized optics to illuminate the target are unlawful for the taking of game birds.

Baiting (MCA 87-6-401, CR)

It is unlawful for anyone to hunt or attempt to hunt by the aid of or with the use of any bait, salt lick, trap, snare or set gun. Baiting shall mean 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.

Evidence of Sex (MCA 87-6-406, CR)

No person shall transport within the state any turkey taken during the spring (male) season unless one leg and foot are left naturally attached for evidence of sex. The leg and foot shall remain attached at all times while being transported from the place where taken until they have arrived at the permanent residence of the possessor.

Hunting Hours (CR)

Authorized hunting hours for the taking of game birds begin one-half hour before sunrise and end one-half hour after sunset each day of the hunting season. See the official Sunrise-Sunset Tables listed on page 4.

Indian Reservations (CR)

  • The FWP Commission has, by rule, closed all lands within the exterior boundaries of Montana’s Indian Reservations to the hunting of turkeys with the use of state licenses unless provided for in a cooperative agreement between the Tribal Government and the State of Montana.
  • Deeded “fee” land within the exterior boundary of the Crow Reservation is open to hunting with a State of Montana Turkey license.

    Landowner Permission (MCA 87-6-415)- A resident or nonresident shall obtain permission of the landowner, the lessee, or their agents before taking or attempting to take furbearing animals, game animals, migratory game birds, nongame wildlife, predatory animals, upland game birds, or wolves while hunting on private property.

  • Even if the land is not posted, hunters must have permission from the landowner, lessee, or their agent before hunting on private property, regardless of whether the land is posted or not.

Turkey Hunting Areas

  • Access to public land through private land requires permission of the private landowner, lessee, or their agent.
  • Retrieval of all wildlife through private land requires permission of the private landowner, lessee, or their agent.

    License Validation/Tagging (MCA 87-6-412)

  • A hunter must cut out the proper month and day of the kill from the appropriate license and attach it to the animal before the carcass is removed from the site of the kill, or before the hunter leaves the site of the kill.
  • To properly validate a license (sometimes referred to as a tag):
  • The triangles denoting the month and day the animal was killed must be completely cut out and removed.
  • The properly validated license must remain with the meat (including cold storage) until consumed.

Motorized Vehicles (MCA 87-6-405)

It is unlawful for anyone to hunt or attempt to hunt any game bird from any self propelled (motorized) or drawn vehicle. To be lawful, a hunter must have two feet on the ground and his/her body outside of the vehicle. Holders of the Permit To Hunt From A Vehicle are the exception to this.

Public Roadways (MCA 87-6-403)

It is unlawful for anyone to hunt or attempt to hunt any game bird: on, from, or across any public highway or the shoulder, berm, barrow pit or right-of-way of any public highway (the entire width between the boundary lines of every publicly maintained way when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.)

Recorded Animal Sounds (MCA 87-6-401)

It is unlawful to use any recorded or electrically amplified bird or animal calls or sounds or imitations of bird or animal calls or sounds to assist in the hunting, taking, killing or capturing of any wildlife except predatory animals, wolves, and those birds not protected by State or Federal law.

Waste of Gamebird (MCA 87-6-205)

It is unlawful to waste any part of a game bird suitable for food. Following are turkey parts suitable for food: breasts, thighs and wings.

Wild turkey Specific Regulations (MCA 87-6-401, CR)

Wild Turkey may be taken with:

  • a shotgun not larger than a ten gauge;
  • a long, recurve or compound bow and arrow;
  • A rifle, handgun or crossbow may be used during the fall season except in areas with weapons restrictions limiting their use.

Private Land Access

Montana law requires permission for all hunting on private land.

Hunter Land Access

Railroad Access

Railroads and railroad right-of-ways are private property and may not be hunted without permission, nor should they be used as access to other lands (private or public) without explicit permission from the railroad. State School Trust Lands

Additional information, including closures and restrictions, is available from the DNRC at 406-444-2074

  • A Conservation License provides hunters, anglers and trappers access to lawfully accessible State School Trust lands for related activities during applicable seasons. Additional permitting is required through the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) for trapping on trust lands.
  • Overnight use must not exceed the following limits: two consecutive days on leased land, 16 consecutive days within designated campgrounds or on unleased land.
  • Motorized travel is only allowed on public roads or on roads designated as open. This restriction applies to all activity including game retrieval.
  • Firearms may not be discharged upon trust lands within one-quarter mile of inhabited dwellings or outbuildings on state trust lands without permission of the inhabitant.
  • Open fires are prohibited outside of fire pits within designated campgrounds.

    Indian Reservation Trust Lands– Contact the appropriate Tribal Government for information.

Stay Safe When Hunting Turkeys

Turkey hunters routinely sit camouflaged and motionless near a turkey decoy while calling with a mouth or hand call. Other hunters may not recognize you as a fellow hunter and could accidently fire their weapon at you or in your direction. To avoid this circumstance:

  • Don’t wear turkey colors; avoid white, red, black and blue.
  • Select a calling position in relatively open cover. Never move, wave or use a turkey call to alert another hunter; remain still and verbally announce yourself.
  • Pay attention to the wildlife behavior; they may help you detect an approaching hunter.
  • It’s a good idea to wear hunter orange when carrying a turkey out of the field.
  • Montana Turkey Hunting Map