Wednesday, January 26, 2022

State's first muzzleloader season for deer, elk kicks off Dec. 11

by Daily Inter Lake
| December 2, 2021 12:00 AM

While the general rifle season is now closed, traditional muzzleloader enthusiasts will have a season of their own starting in less than two weeks.

The nine-day season muzzleloader heritage hunting season was established when House Bill 242 was signed into law by Gov. Greg Gianforte earlier this year. The season begins on Saturday, Dec. 11 and ends Sunday, Dec. 19.

Hunters should note that many of Montana’s Wildlife Management Areas will be closed from Dec. 2 through May 14.

Before heading to the field, hunters need to check the online hunting regulations to make sure they are compliant. A list of WMAs and their seasonal closure dates (PDF) is also available online.

The 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. 28, 2021) is valid during 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.

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

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