House Bill 242 was recently signed into law in Montana, which creates a nine-day muzzleloader season for deer and elk. What does this mean for Montana hunters? With the adoption of HB 242, a newly established muzzleloader season will begin the second Saturday following the end of the regular season. And right now, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission is figuring out rules for the new season for that will be held this coming fall.
According to the agency, the current plan is to allow anyone with unused license-permits that were valid during the general season for deer and elk in a specific hunting district to use those same unfilled tags for the muzzleloader season “in accordance with the authorizations and restrictions associated with that license-permit.” The hope is to limit the amount of confusion and also relieve some of the administrative burden that comes with creating this new muzzleloader season.
However, the new season does come with some conditions, which include the following, per Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks:
While HB 242 makes the new muzzleloader season a requirement, the commission is seeking public comment through July 26 to “craft alternative approaches for consideration.” You can comment HERE.
Where existing approved seasons are in place that overlap the traditional muzzleloader season, such as elk shoulder seasons, late whitetail deer seasons and mountain lion seasons, the regulations associated with those approved seasons remain in place. Therefore, there can be overlap between the existing approved season and muzzleloader season (e.g., cow elk only in a shoulder season hunting district using rifles, but bull elk could be taken with traditional muzzleloader in that same hunting district with valid license and permit).
Department staff may initiate game damage and management hunts following established policies and using modern firearms, during the traditional muzzleloader season.
Many Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) close on Dec. 1 to protect wintering wildlife. Traditional muzzleloader hunting on those WMAs will not be allowed.
Motorized access on many federal lands is closed as of Dec. 1. Hunters must comply with land management agency travel plans.
Muzzleloader hunters must 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.
You may not use a muzzleloading rifle that requires insertion of a cap or primer into the open breech of the barrel, 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.