10 Best Places to Hunt in Montana

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10 Best Places to Hunt in Montana

Montana is the 4th largest state in the USA and is considered by many to be a hunter’s paradise.

Spanning over 147,000 square miles, Montana is split into eastern and western regions by the Continental Divide.

Huntable species in the state include:

  • Black bears
  • Mule deer
  • White-tailed deer
  • Pronghorn antelope
  • Rocky Mountain elk
  • Shiras moose
  • Mountain goats
  • Mountain lions
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Turkeys
  • Wolves
  • Bison
  • Upland bird game

You’ll need the following to hunt in Montana:

  • General big-game or species license
  • In some cases, a permit entitling you to hunt in a specific area or type of animal
  • A Conservation License

Hunting in Big Sky Country

Montana, or Big Sky Country as it is often referred, offers some of the best hunting you can experience anywhere in the United States.

Read through this article to discover the best places to hunt in Montana, which landscape, climate, and game animals you can expect, and who to contact for guided hunts in the area.

1. Bitterroot Valley: Elk, Antelope, Deer, and More

BItterroot Valley Game Hunting Montana

Bitterroot Valley is located in southwestern Montana.

Spanning approximately 95 miles, the valley extends from the Lost Trail Pass in Idaho to somewhere near the city of Missoula, along Interstate 90.

The valley is called “The Banana Belt of Montana” because of its gentler weather compared to most other areas in the state. Summers usually have warm days and cool crisp nights while winters are cold and snowy, but not as severe as most other parts of the state.

When it comes to game animals, Bitterroot Valley is home to elk, antelope, mule deer, black bear, mountain lion, bobcat, wolves, and coyotes. Western Hunt Company, a full-service guide and outfitting company, offers guided hunts for all the species mentioned above.

2. Gallatin National Forest: Elk, Deer, Black Bear, and More

woman hunting elk in Gallatin National Forest Montana

Gallatin National Forest is located in south-central Montana. Founded in 1899, the forest covers about 1.8 million acres and includes portions of the Absaroka-Beartooth and Lee Metcalf Wilderness areas within its boundaries.

The forest has an average annual temperature of 54 degrees (F). May is the driest month of the year while July is the wettest.

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For accommodation and guided hunts in the area, contact Montana Guide Service. This company offers rifle and bow hunts for elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, black bear, and antelope. They’ll also help you with special permit drawings for moose, goat, bighorn sheep, and mountain lion.

3. Yaak Valley: Deer, Elk, Mountain Lion, and More

Yaak Valley Montana hunting mountain lion

Yaak Valley is located along Yaak River within Kootenai National Forest. “The Yaak” as it’s called, is Montana’s only rainforest and is one of the state’s most biologically diverse areas.

Summer temperature in the valley is usually around 84 degrees (F) with winters lowering to around 21 degrees. The valley gets around 22 inches of rain per year.

If you’re looking for a guide in the area, you can contact Yaak River Outfitters. This company offers accommodation and transportation together with their guide service that lets you hunt for elk, whitetail deer, mule deer, wolf, bear, mountain lion, and upland game such as spruce and dusky grouse.

4. Flathead National Forest: Elk, Deer, Bear, and Mountain Lion

Hunting a brown bear in Flathead National Forest Montana

The Flathead National Forest is located in the northern Rocky Mountains of northwestern Montana. The forest covers over 2.4 million acres of land and was named after the Flathead Native Americans living in the area.

The forest isn’t rainy or snowy, even during the wettest months. August is the hottest month in the forest with temperatures reaching as high as 76 degrees (F). February is the coldest month with temperatures usually ranging from 10 to 25 degrees (F).

For guided or unguided hunts in the forest, you can contact Swan Mountain Outfitters. This full-service horseback-based outfitting service offers hunts for elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, bear, and mountain lion.

5. Badger-Two Medicine Area: Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, & Upland Birds

Man hunting upland birds in the Badger Two Medicine Area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Montana USA

Badger-two Medicine National Forest is a roadless area sitting on National Forest land within the Rocky Mountain Front. It’s adjacent to the Blackfeet Reservation and consists of plains, mountains, and a conflux of two rivers.

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The climate in the area is usually cold and temperate with significant precipitation even during the driest months. Temperatures can dip to 14 degrees (F) in January and rise to 76 degrees in June.

Contact Blackfeet Outfitters for guided hunting in Badger-two Medicine. This service offers multi-day pack trips for fair chase as well as archery and rifle hunts for mule deer, whitetail deer, and upland bird game.

6. Lewis & Clark National Forest: Elk and Deer

Large buck seen while hunting in the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Montana

Lewis and Clark National Forest is located in west-central Montana. Spanning about 2,900 square miles, the forest is spread across 13 counties and seven mountain ranges.

Summers in the forest is warm with temperature going as high as 82 degrees (F) in July. Winters are cold and snowy with temperatures dropping to 14 degrees (F) in January.

The forest is best known for its mule deer and whitetail deer as well as Great Bull elk. You can contact Ford Creek Outfitters and Guest Ranch for 1st-class accommodations and guided rifle hunts for these animals.

7. Kootenai National Forest: Deer, Elk, Bear, and More

Moose running past hunters in Kootenai National Forest Montana

Bordering Canada, in mountainous northwest Montana, is Kootenai National Forest. Spanning 2.2 million acres, the forest encompasses varied landscapes such as spires, cliffs, river canyons, and mountain peaks.

Unlike most areas in Montana, the forest’s climate is more akin to that found along the Pacific coast. This means it gets mild, cool, and wet winters with warm dry summers, although it does experience extremely snowy -30 degree (F) winters occasionally.

For transportation, accommodations and guided hunts in the area, you can contact Montana Mountain West Outfitters. This company offers guided hunts for forest deer, whitetail deer, elk, and bear as well as mountain lion and moose (Special Drawing License required).

8. Bob Marshall Wilderness: Elk, Mule Deer, Black Bear, and Mountain Lion

Angry Black Bear in Bob Marshal Wilderness Montana

Extending 60 miles north to south along the Continental Divide in Western Montana is Bob Marshall Wilderness. This landscape includes the headwaters of the Flathead River and Sun River as well as valley floors and mountainous slopes.

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Being in Western Montana, The Bob’s climate is semiarid in the valleys and temperate rainforest in the higher mountains. Summers are warm while winters are cold, sometimes bitterly cold.

Hunting in The Bob mainly involves elk, mule deer, black bear, and mountain lion. For guided rifle and bow hunts for these game animals, you can contact Montana Safaris.

9. Centennial Valley: Elk and Antelope

Pronghorn Deer aka Pronghorn Antelope on a hill in Centennial Valley Montana

Centennial Valley is located just beyond the western border of Yellowstone National Park. It spans 400,000 acres and consists of rugged mountains, vast forests, grasslands, sagebrush steppe, and the most extensive wetlands complex in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

The valley has a hemiboreal climate with an average temperature of about 35 degrees (F). Temperature can go up to 69 degrees in July and as low as 6 degrees in January.

Hunters go to Centennial Valley for the elk and pronghorn antelope aka pronghorn deer. You can contact Centennial Outfitters for guided rifle and bow hunts for the above-mentioned animals.

10. Seeley-Swan Valley: Elk, Deer, Bear, and Mountain Lion

Hunting Seeley-Swan Valley in Montana USA

Seeley-Swan Valley consists of two gorgeous back-to-back valleys located east of Flathead Lake. The valley contains three lakes: Seeley Lake, Swan Lake, and Holland Lake.

The climate in the valley is typically cool and dry with snowfall varying between an average of 30 to 100 inches. Summers are short and warm while winters are freezing and snowy.

Swan Mountain Outfitters also offers guided and unguided hunts for elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, bear, and mountain lion in this area.

More Adventure Related Reading:

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To your next adventure!

-David

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>