Montana Public Land Pheasant Hunting
South Dakota gets all of the accolades for being a pheasant hunting mecca. But Montana may be the best place for a quality public land pheasant hunt. Sure, SoDak is always at the top of the list for total pheasant harvest. However, when it comes to pheasant hunting acreage available per licensed hunter Montana is easily at the top of the list.
Montana has around 30 million acres of public land, much of it provides excellent hunting opportunities. In addition to traditional public hunting lands, Montana has over 8.5 million acres of private land open to public hunting through their Block Management Program. There is no charge to hunt Block Management properties but many require check-in and permission. A Block Management Program map is just as important to a Montana pheasant hunter as a gun. The state publishes regional guides every year and maps are also available online.
Pheasants can be found throughout the state but the eastern two thirds of Montana are the best. For those looking for premiere pheasant hunting without the crowds, many believe Northeast Montana (Upland Bird Region 6) is as good as it gets. Pondera County in North Central Montana (Upland Bird Region 4) is also a pheasant hunting hotspot.
When it comes to looking for good habitat, CRP land is king just about everywhere including in Montana. The past few winters in Montana have been harsh and good wintering cover is essential for pheasant survival. There were several reports of pheasants being found frozen to death during the 2010-2011 winter. Hunters focused on agricultural areas may be left out in the cold during seasons after particularly tough winters. River basins are also great places to hunt. The Yellowstone, Bighorn, Powder, and Tongue River bottoms offer excellent hunting. Along the Yellowstone River, the Glendive area is a favorite. There are plenty of choices for lodging and eating in Glendive as well.
If you’re looking to escape the crowds and shoot some pheasants, Montana is the place for you. A mixed bag is also a strong possibility. Montana upland hunters have a good shot at sage and sharptail grouse as well as some huns. The sharpies are often hanging out with the sage grouse but you won’t find sage grouse without sage. Huns and sharpies can be found along with pheasants in CRP and river bottoms.