KALISPELL — Montana’s general hunting season starts this week with a deer-only, two-day youth hunt followed by the five-week deer and elk rifle season.
The youth hunt for deer is limited to ages 10 to 15 and runs on Oct. 21 and Oct. 22. The general deer and elk season runs from Oct. 23 until Nov. 28.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) will operate game check stations at specific locations on weekends from 10 a.m. to approximately 1½ hours past sunset.
The regional game check stations will be located at U.S. Highway 2 West of Kalispell, Montana Highway 83 north of Swan Lake, Montana Highway 200 west of Thompson Falls, and on US Highway 93 near Olney.
FWP notes that hunters must stop at any check station they encounter whether they harvested an animal or not.
Northwest Montana Reminders
- Hunters should review the regulations for each hunting district they plan to hunt.
- Elk hunting is brow-tined bull only in northwest Montana. Spike elk are not legal game in this region.
- Hunters who purchased the 199-20 either-sex white-tailed deer B license can only use that license within the Libby CWD Management Zone.
- Mule deer buck hunting in the North Fisher portion of Hunting District 103 near Libby is permit-only.
- Many private lands that were historically owned by corporate timber companies have changed ownership, and hunters should review the Block Management Program for Region 1 to view available public access opportunities and restrictions on private lands.
- The first week of both archery and general deer and elk season are open to youth-only (ages 12-15) hunting on Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge. A non-hunting adult at least 18 years of age must accompany the youth hunter in the field. Adults may not cross refuge property for the purpose of hunting non-refuge property during the youth-only hunting season.
- Hunters should “Be Bear Aware” and properly store food and carcasses. Hunters should avoid hanging carcasses near houses or garages. Carcasses should be suspended at least 10 feet above the ground and 4 feet out from any upright support. Hunters are encouraged to carry bear spray and know how to use it.
Contact a Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks regional office for more information. In northwest Montana, call (406) 752-5501.
Chronic Wasting Disease
This year, FWP will continue surveillance for chronic wasting disease in specific areas known as Priority Surveillance Areas. In northwestern Montana, those areas include Hunting Districts 100, 103, 104, 120, 121, 122 and 170. In those specific areas, hunters are asked to voluntarily submit a sample from their animal. Click here for instructions on how or where to submit a sample.
Testing for CWD is voluntary throughout the state. FWP will assist hunters with sample collection and submission. In northwest Montana, hunters can bring their animal to the FWP office in Kalispell, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. FWP staff will also assist with CWD sample collection at game check stations when possible and safety allows, based on traffic at the station. Stopping at game check stations remains mandatory. FWP will cover the cost of testing hunter-harvested animals for CWD.
A CWD sampling station in Libby will operate Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays, 10 a.m. to 1.5 hours past sunset at the Montana Department of Transportation shop on U.S. Highway 2 south of town. Hunters are not required to stop at the Libby CWD sampling station.
Hunters who want their animal sampled should leave 2" to 4" of the neck below the low jawbone and base of the skull to ensure lymph nodes are present and not inadvertently left with the carcass. Samples cannot be collected from frozen heads.
To help prevent the spread of CWD, all carcasses, including the head and spinal column, must be disposed of in a class II landfill after butchering and processing. Dumping carcasses is illegal, unethical and can spread diseases, including chronic wasting disease. This requirement applies to all deer, elk, and moose carcasses harvested by hunters or as vehicle-killed salvage.
Game Check Stations in Northwest Montana - (All hunters must stop at open check stations they encounter)
- US Highway 2 west of Kalispell: Saturdays & Sundays, 10 a.m. – 1.5 hours after sunset.
- Swan: Highway 83 north of Swan Lake: Saturdays & Sundays, 10 a.m. – 1.5 hours after sunset.
- Thompson Falls: Highway 200 on the west end of Thompson Falls: Saturdays, Sundays, 10 a.m. – 1.5 hours after sunset.
- Olney: Highway 93: Saturdays & Sundays, 10 a.m. – 1.5 hours after sunset.
2021 CWD Sampling Stations in Northwest Montana
- For questions, call (406) 752-5501 or click here.
- FWP Region 1 Office, Kalispell: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Libby: Montana Department of Transportation shop on US Hwy 2: Saturdays, Sundays & Mondays, 10 a.m. – 1.5 hours after sunset.