Hunting on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: October 26, 2019

HELENA, Mont. (October 22, 2019) – Montana’s general big game hunting season will open soon, which will bring more visitors to public lands such as the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. Public land managers with the USDA Forest Service would like to provide hunters and other outdoor recreationists reminders for how to have a safe and enjoyable visit to the forest during this popular time of year.

The USDA Forest Service encourages anyone hunting on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest to check with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to ensure they understand and are compliant with all licensing, regulations, and other requirements for hunting in the state of Montana. Visit for more information.

Off-highway vehicle users on National Forest System lands must comply with designated travel routes. Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) are available for FREE at Forest Service offices and online at These maps designate open motorized access routes on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. Motorized use is only allowed on designated routes. If the route is not shown as a designated route on an MVUM, it is closed to all wheeled motorized vehicles (including ATVs, UTVs, and full-size vehicles), even if the trail is visible “on–the–ground.” Generally, hunters may not travel off–route for game retrieval purposes.

Campsites across the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, including in wilderness areas, are available on a first–come, first–served basis with a 16 consecutive–day stay limit. After reaching the stay limit, those staying for longer than 16 days in the forest must relocate their campsites to a new site at least five air miles from the previous campsite. Visitors cannot return to their original camping spot for seven days after reaching the stay limit.

National Forests are bear habitat, and the entire Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest has adopted food storage orders to help provide for public safety. Food storage orders decrease the potential for human-wildlife encounters and help keep our forests clean. When visiting the forest, human, pet and livestock food, and garbage must be stored in a bear–resistant manner. Wildlife carcasses that are within one–half–mile of any camp or sleeping area must be stored in a bear–resistant manner during nighttime hours. Bear attractants must not be buried, discarded, or burned in an open campfire. Learn more at or contact your local ranger station.

Weakened trees and snags are numerous in places that have recently been impacted by wildland fire or insects and disease. These pose a safety concern as they can fall swiftly and without warning. Falling rocks, stumps, and other debris are also common in these areas. Stay alert in areas with these conditions.

Most forest visitors follow appropriate rules and regulations set in place to provide for public safety and sustainable use of natural resources. Unfortunately, some visitors do not. To report a hunting violation or potential poaching, please call 1-800-TIP-MONT. For other concerns, please contact your local Forest Service office. When calling, provide the location of the activity as well as a description of what took place and the people and/or vehicle(s) (license plate number) associated with the potential violation.

If you have questions about access, area conditions, camping, or more while planning a hunting trip on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, please contact your local Forest Service office. Locations and contact information for our offices is available online at

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