2022 big game hunting forecast
News from FWP
HELENA — Are you ready for hunting season? FWP can help. In addition to the following hunting forecast, FWP provides online information about hunting access, including our popular Block Management Program. Through the program, we coordinate with landowners to provide hunting access to more than 7 million acres of private land.
The interactive Hunt Planner map allows users to look at information for various species, including hunting districts and regulations. The hunt planner interactive map is a great way to access our block management information, so if you’re planning a hunt in a certain area, you can see if there are Block Management Areas available to expand your opportunity.
As a reminder, many hunting districts have changed. Don’t assume the HD you have hunted for the last several years is the same as it used to be. Double check the regulations to be sure.
Destination: NORTHWEST MONTANA
Much of Northwest Montana experienced its third consecutive mild winter last year, benefiting white-tailed deer. Region 1 wildlife biologists generally observed good fawn recruitment this spring, ranging from 32 to 53 fawns per 100 adults during springs surveys. Overall whitetail numbers should be stable to increasing across the region.
Overall, mule deer numbers should be similar to last year with a continued influx of yearling bucks. Visit: https://fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/deer for more information.
A moose study has revealed that the Cabinet-Salish moose population is relatively stable. Visit: https://fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/moose for more information.
Big game check stations will be open in Region 1 on weekends during the general season — Highway 2 west of Kalispell; Highway 83 north of Swan Lake; Highway 200 on the west end of Thompson Falls; and Highway 93 near Olney. The Canoe Gulch check station near Libby is no longer in operation.
In recent years, FWP has detected CWD in white-tailed deer, mule deer and moose in the Libby area. Hunters need to be aware of the Libby CWD Management Zone (MZ) and its boundaries, which includes portions of HDs 100, 103 and 104. Region 1 is not a priority surveillance area for CWD this year. Testing for CWD is voluntary. Visit fwp.mt.gov/cwd for more information.
— Only seven mountain goat tags are available within Region 1.
— Overall, black bear numbers appear to be steady in northwest Montana. For more information, visit: fwp.mt.gov.
— Northwest Montana has abundant wolf numbers and recent population estimates indicate a relatively stable wolf population. Hunters are encouraged to closely check regulations and the FWP website for updates. Visit: https://fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management/wolf for more information.
— Northwest Montana has abundant mountain lion numbers. For the 2022 season, changes to the 2022 mountain lion regulations allow for purchase of a general lion license or an unlimited lion license until February 28, 2023.
If your hunting destination is in another area of Montana go to: fwp.mt.gov for more information.
2022 upland game bird forecast
Destination: NORTHWEST MONTANA
Pheasants: Pheasant hunting on the Ninepipe Wildlife Management Area near Ronan and surrounding area could be challenging this year. Despite good grain production and some opportunistic moisture in the spring, brood survival appears to be relatively poor.
Mountain grouse dusky, ruffed and Franklin’s: Bird numbers should be similar to last year. Much of Northwest Montana experienced a cool, wet spring which can negatively affect brood survival. Despite the spring conditions, overall numbers should be similar to last year and hunting should be good for all three species of mountain grouse.
Hunters must expect to see bears
Grizzly bears have the potential to be found anywhere in the western two-thirds of Montana (west of Billings), and their distribution is denser and more widespread than in previous years. Keep these precautions in mind:
— Carry and know how to use bear spray.
— Travel and hunt in groups whenever possible.
— Follow all food storage regulations.
— Avoid carcass sites and concentrations of ravens and other scavengers.
— Carry equipment you need to process a carcass and get it out of the field quickly as possible.
— If you harvest an animal, remove it from the field as quickly as possible.
For more tips on staying safe in bear country, visit: FWP’s Bear Aware web page.
Montana’s archery hunting season for deer and elk began Sept. 3, and just like in every other form of hunting, being successful while hunting with a bow requires careful planning and preparation.
If you plan to hunt during the archery season, here are five tips for being safe, responsible and successful: practice-practice-practice, know the rules, plan an efficient harvest, be sure before you shoot and be bear aware.
To purchase a Montana bow and arrow license, a hunter must provide a certificate of completing the National Bowhunter Education Foundation course, or provide any prior year’s bowhunting/archery stamp, tag, permit, or license from any state or province. To become certified, visit: fwp.mt.gov/education/hunter.
Responsible hunters are critical to the future of hunting. Although most hunters respect the land, property, and wildlife they are hunting, a minority do not. Yet these few bad actors lead to frustration from private landowners and hunters looking to do things right.
A few of the things that hunters and all outdoor enthusiasts should be aware of when enjoying our resources: avoid standing crops, don’t litter, leave gates as you find them, know your target and beyond, prevent fires, don’t spread weeds and weed seeds, avoid driving on muddy roads unless it is well-graveled, avoid ridge driving and driving to overlooks, do not park on roads or gateways, no driving off-road, ask for permission to hunt on private land, completely fill out BMA slips, know your location, get permission to access public lands through private land, camping is allowed on most public lands (see agency regulations), know the rules, report violations to 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847-6668).
FWP also offers a free online program called The Montana Hunter-Landowner Stewardship Project. This project is an information program for anyone interested in promoting responsible hunter behavior and good hunter-landowner relations in Montana. Go to: fwp.mt.gov/education/hunter/hunterLandowner to learn more and complete the program.
2022 Big game hunting seasons
Pronghorn: 900 Aug. 15–Nov. 13; Archery Sept. 3–Oct. 7; General 8–Nov. 13
Bighorn Sheep: Archery Sept. 3–Sept. 14; General Sept. 15–Nov. 27
Bison: General Nov. 15–Feb. 15, 2023
Black Bear: Archery. Sept. 3-14; Fall 15–Nov. 27
Deer & Elk: Archery Sept. 3–Oct. 16; Youth-Deer Only Oct. 20–21; General Dec. 22-Nov. 27; Backcountry - HDs 150, 280, 316* (*no archery-only season in 316); Archery Sept. 3–Sept. 14; General Sept. 15–Nov. 27
Moose: General Sept. 15–Nov. 27; Mountain goat; General 15–Nov. 27
Mountain Lion: Archery Sept. 3–Oct. 16; Fall Oct. 22–Nov. 27; Winter Dec. 1–April 14, 2023
Wolf: Archery Sept. 3–Sept. 14; General Sept. 15–March 15, 2023; Trapping Nov. 30–March 15, 2023
2022 Upland game bird seasons
Mountain grouse: Sept. 1:–Jan. 1, 2023;
Partridge: Sept. 1–Jan. 1, 2023;
Pheasant: Oct. 8:–Jan. 1, 2023;
Sage Grouse: Sept. 1-30
Sharp-tailed grouse: Sept. 1-Jan. 1, 2023
Youth pheasant: Sept. 24-25
Fall turkey: Sept. 1–Jan. 1, 2023