Montana is well-known for its vast mountains, foothills, and plains, making it the perfect environment for hunters. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you’ll want to know the ins and outs of the Montana squirrel hunting season before you head out to hunt.
Montana Squirrel Hunting Regulations
The Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department classifies squirrels as nongame animals. This means you can shoot them year-round without a permit as long as you’re on private land and have permission to hunt from a landowner.
Unlike other states, Montana does not have a regular squirrel hunting season.
Montana is the #3 state with the most registered hunters. So let’s take a closer look at the hunting regulations to consider.
Montana Squirrel Hunting Season
As mentioned, Montana does not have a regular small-game hunting season.
Instead, it classifies the following small game species as nongame animals.
- Red Fox
- Ground Squirrels
- Prairie Dogs
These animals can be shot and killed year-round without any bag limits. That said, it is illegal to shoot squirrels and other nongame animals if it is in a wildlife management area or other restricted area.
You can also trap and euthanize squirrels in Montana if the rodent is causing damage to your property.
Do You Need A License To Hunt Squirrels In Montana
All hunters must have a valid hunting license to hunt for squirrels and other animals. In addition, anyone born after January 1, 1985, must sign and pass the hunter and bowhunter education course.
Anyone under ten can sign up for the apprentice hunter program when accompanied by a certified mentor. This allows you to hunt for two years before completing a hunter education course.
A mentor must possess the following:
- Have a valid Montana hunting license.
- Be 21 years of age or older.
- Must agree to remain within voice and sight range of the apprentice hunter throughout the hunt.
- Have completed the hunter education course (if required)
- Fill out and complete an Apprentice Hunter Mentor Form.
- Must be related by blood, marriage, or adoption if the apprentice is under 18.
- A mentor can only accompany one apprentice at one time.
Shooting hours for squirrel hunting are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.
Legal hunting methods for hunting squirrels in Montana include archery equipment, slingshots, etc.
Additionally, cage-type traps are allowed as a hunting method. In addition, it is legal for homeowners to trap nuisance squirrels out of season without a permit.
Can You Use A Dog To Hunt Squirrels In Montana?
Using a hunting dog is allowed in the state. However, it’s best to use a dog with a strong nose that can physically run down a squirrel.
Best Squirrel Hunting Locations in Montana
Montana has millions of acres of private and public land with different hunting regulations and restrictions. Finding the best area to hunt can be challenging, especially if you’ve never hunted in the area.
Before choosing a hunting region, stop by the Montana Fish and Wildlife & Parks (FWP) office to pick up a Hunt Planner Map. The Hunt Planner is a great guide to help you understand the regulations and restrictions in the area you’re planning on hunting in.
It will also provide you with detailed information on:
- Weapons restrictions
- Species restrictions
- Open/Closed Roads
- Internal Exclusion Zones
Hunters are responsible for following the regulations in the hunting region. Failure to do so can result in fines and penalties.
Do You Have To Wear Orange Or Camouflage To Hunt Squirrels?
No, there are no specific laws regarding the type of clothing you must wear while squirrel hunting. However, you must wear 500 square inches of solid unbroken fluorescent orange when hunting deer or hogs.
Wearing hunter orange while squirrel hunting is a good safety precaution to make you more visible to other hunters.
In states with mandatory hunter orange requirements, a hunter must wear orange while hunting small game.
Camo or neutral clothing can improve your ability to blend into the environment and get closer to squirrels without being noticed.
Regardless of whether you choose hunter orange or camouflage, it’s essential to be aware that some hunting locations may have specific clothing requirements.
Always check the regulations of the area you plan to hunt to ensure you are following any safety guidelines.
Equipment and Gear
Equipping yourself with the right gear can make all the difference in your hunting experience. Here is some essential hunting gear:
- Hunting License and Permit: A valid hunting license and a small game permit is required to hunt squirrels.
- Boots: Sturdy and comfortable boots are essential for walking and hiking in the woods.
- Game Bag: A bag or backpack to carry hunting gear and harvested squirrels.
- Binoculars: for scouting squirrel activity from a distance.
- Knife: A sharp knife is necessary for field dressing and skinning squirrels.
- Hunting Clothing: Camouflage clothing that matches the environment can be helpful for blending in and staying hidden from squirrels.
- Ammunition: Depending on your weapon of choice or bow used, appropriate ammunition or bolts are necessary for hunting squirrels.
- Map and Compass: A map and compass can help you navigate in the woods and find your way back to camp or your vehicle.
Safety Tips and Considerations
Following safe hunting practices and being aware of squirrel conservation efforts is essential when hunting in Montana.
Since some squirrel species in the state are protected, understanding local regulations and conservation initiatives is crucial.
Frequently Asked Questions
What types of squirrels can you hunt in Montana?
It is legal to hunt all tree and ground squirrels. However, most people hunt the fox and gray squirrels because they are larger and have better-tasting meat.
Where should I look for squirrels when hunting in Montana?
Depending on the species, they live throughout the Rocky Mountains, the Northern Midwest, and the eastern part of the state. That said, these opportunistic feeders can be seen living almost anywhere.
Montana classifies tree and ground squirrels, prairie dogs, and chipmunks as nongame animals. Therefore, it is legal to shoot them on private property. That said, you will need a hunting license if you plan on hunting them.
Squirrel hunting is not as popular as big game hunting in Montana. However, you won’t have any issue finding public and private spots to hunt rodents.
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