Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks offers three types of lion licenses for sale: a general mountain lion license, a limited special mountain lion license (application only by July 22, 2022), and an unlimited special mountain lion license. You may only purchase or apply for one license. The exception is that those who do not draw a limited special license may then purchase a general license.
In past years, hunters focusing their efforts on southeast Montana’s Lion Management Unit 700 have purchased an over-the-counter general lion license and been able to hunt the whole region during the archery-only, fall and winter seasons. However, the general license is no longer valid in LMU 700 during the winter (Dec. 1, 2022-April 14, 2023).
“I think the biggest confusion for hunters this year is that they are used to buying a ‘general lion license’ that used to let them hunt LMU 700 for all seasons, but now the general license is only valid to hunt during the archery and fall (Oct. 22-Nov. 27) seasons without dogs in LMU 700,” according to FWP Region 7 furbearer specialist Emily Mitchell.
If you only want to hunt lions during archery or fall season, a general license covers both seasons in all LMUs except 150, which has different dates. An LMU will close when 20 percent of the quota is reached. But if you want to hunt the winter season with dogs, the general license is now only valid in hunting districts where any license can be used (LMU 170, LMU 299, LMU 305 and LMU 309).
Those wishing to also hunt during the winter in LMU 700 are now advised to buy an unlimited special mountain lion license (700-05), which must be purchased before Feb. 28, 2023. You can hunt only in the LMU or group of LMUs for which the unlimited license is valid for the duration of the winter season or until the quotas for specific LMUs are met, whichever comes first. That includes LMU 700. The unlimited special license will also let you hunt in any open LMU during the archery and fall season without dogs. The quota for archery and fall seasons is 20 percent, but all closed LMUs will reopen to finish filling the quota Dec. 1 for winter season.
The third type of lion license, the limited special license, is only valid during the winter season in the specific LMU applied for. This license must have been applied for by July 22, 2022. There are none offered for LMU 700, but there is one offered in at least one hunting district in every other region. During archery and fall seasons, however, the limited special license will let you hunt in any open LMU without dogs. The limited special license is not subject to or regulated by quotas within the LMUs for which it is valid, so it is valid for the entire season even if the quota is met.
The limited special license will allow you to chase mountain lions in any unit during the training season, but you can only harvest a mountain lion in the unit designated on your license. If you apply for the limited mountain lion license, you will not be eligible to purchase the unlimited special mountain lion license, but if you don’t draw you can purchase a general license. Bonus points are available.
“Using Region 7 as the example, basically if a hunter wants to be sure to have a lion license every year and he or she is hunting in Region 7, he should buy an unlimited special license,” Mitchell explained. “This does, however, prevent them from hunting anywhere else in the state during the winter season, but not during the archery or fall season.”
“If someone wants to hunt a district not in Region 7 and doesn’t want to have to adhere to the quota for that district, but also doesn’t mind not being able to hunt the winter season if they don’t draw that year, they should apply for a limited special license for the specific hunting district they want to hunt in,” she said.
“However, if they do apply for a limited special license and do not successfully draw, they cannot purchase an unlimited special license that year, but they can purchase a general license that is only valid during the archery and fall without dogs seasons,” Mitchell explained.
Hunters should note that if they purchase the general license in error, they will not be allowed to exchange their general license or purchase the unlimited license.