The state of Montana has recently decided to open a muzzleloader season for this coming December. The season is set to begin on the second Saturday of the month following the general hunting season and run for nine days. The season was established when House Bill 242 was passed in the 2021 Legislation Session and signed into law by Governor Greg Gianforte. Montana FWP clarified last Friday, October 29, some confusion that had arisen over the fall. The rules read as follows, courtesy of Montana FWP:
- 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.
- 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 heritage season was met with some concern and opposition, but the general consensus saw benefits to opening the season.
Ken McDonald, FWP’s Wildlife Division Administrator, said, “The hunt by nature has some mechanisms that will limit harvests, such as the short-range firearms used and its relatively short season length. But he does expect a learning curve as FWP does not know how much interest the hunt will generate.”