FWP News: Muzzleloader season starts Saturday
By angelamontana

Posted: December 8, 2022

HELENA – Muzzleloader season opens on Saturday, Dec. 10, and runs through Dec. 18. This season is for muzzleloaders only; no other means of taking game, such as archery, is allowed. Note that some areas have elk shoulder seasons through Feb. 15, where firearms and archery equipment may be allowed.

Hunters should also note that many of Montana’s Block Management Areas (BMAs), even though they are open for upland bird or waterfowl through Jan. 1, are not allowing the harvest of deer or elk during the muzzleloader heritage season. Make sure to check BMA rules before you hunt.

  • Find Block Management Program information here

In addition, although all Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in Region 7 are open year-round, many other WMAs allowing hunting across the state are closed through May 14. If planning to hunt a WMA, see a list of WMAs and their seasonal closure dates here.

Hunters should check the hunting regulations to make sure they are compliant with all rules and regulations for this season. Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted the following regulations, most of which are based on language from the statute:

  • A person may take a deer or elk with a license or permit that is valid on the last day of the general hunting season.

  • Any unused license-permit valid on the last day of the general season (i.e., Nov. 27) is valid during the muzzleloader heritage season.

  • Any license that can still be purchased is valid. For example, if a person had not already purchased a general deer tag, they could purchase one for the muzzleloader heritage season.

  • Hunters can use plain lead projectiles and a muzzleloading rifle that is charged with loose black powder, loose pyrodex or an equivalent loose black powder substitute and ignited by a flintlock, wheel lock, matchlock or percussion mechanism using a percussion or musket cap.

  • The muzzleloading rifle must be a minimum of .45 caliber and may not have more than two barrels.

  • During the muzzleloader heritage season, hunters may not use a muzzleloading rifle that requires insertion of a cap or primer into the open breech of the barrel (inline), is capable of being loaded from the breech, or is mounted with an optical magnification device.

  • Use of pre-prepared paper or metallic cartridges, sabots, gas checks or other similar power and range-enhancing manufactured loads that enclose the projectile from the rifling or bore of the firearm is also prohibited.

The nine-day season muzzleloader heritage hunting season was established when House Bill 242 was signed into law by Gov. Greg Gianforte last year.

Keep vigilant with grizzly bear awareness 

With the mild weather, bears are still active. All bears are potentially dangerous. Hunters should be prepared to encounter a bear. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Stay alert and look for bear activity, especially where visibility or hearing is limited (woods, bushy areas, streams).

  • Travel in a group and keep members together (especially kids).

  • Make noise whenever possible to avoid surprising a bear, especially where visibility or hearing is limited.

  • Carry bear spray close at hand and know how to use it.

  • Avoid traveling at night, dawn or dusk.

  • Avoid carcass sites and scavenger concentrations.

For more information on hunting in Montana, visit fwp.mt.gov/hunt.

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