Rules and Regulations for Coyote Hunting in Montana

Montana! You can’t even say the word without images of Bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and elk filling your mind. If you hunt, you can just imagine the pages and pages of regulations waiting for you. Unfortunately, the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks website has almost nothing about coyote hunting. So what is a predator hunter to do? Well, read this brief review—but check for updates before you start your hunt.

Coyote hunting in Montana
Photo Credit: Josh Campbel

Montana classifies coyotes as predators. Therefore, you may hunt them year-round without a license. There are no bag limits. Residents and nonresidents do not need a license to hunt coyotes on private property they have permission to shoot on.

A Conservation License, or a state school trust lands recreational use license, is required to shoot predators on state school trust lands. Likewise, permission must be obtained to shoot predators on private land.

Purchase a Montana hunting license online here.

Related: Want to know the best place to shoot a coyote, check out this article.

Is night coyote hunting allowed in Montana?

Yes, for predators like the coyote, on private land.

Can lights be used for hunting coyotes in Montana? Yes.

Is baiting allowed? On private land, yes.

Use of night-vision or IR scopes allowed? Yes, on private land.

Thermal scopes? Yes, thermal riflescopes are permitted.

Hunting coyotes in Montana
Photo Credit: Josh Campbel

Are decoys legal in Montana? Yes

What firearms are approved/disapproved for coyotes in Montana? No special State regulations.

Are suppressors allowed in Montana? In Montana, you can use your silencer for target shooting, home defense, hunting, or other legal use.

Possession? Coyotes are predators and can be possessed. 

Electronic callers?  Hunting coyotes in Montana using manual or electronic predator calls is legal

Can you hunt coyotes with dogs? Yes.

Related: Need help tracking a wounded coyote? Read this guide, right from your phone.

Can you hunt from a vehicle in Montana? No.

Are calling contests and bounties? Contests are legal. The state of Montana does not pay rewards. 

Can you use archery equipment to hunt coyotes? Yes.

How to get into trouble while coyote hunting in Montana.

Trespassing is easy to do if you are not careful. Private landowners are not required to post their property. It is your responsibility to stay off their land. The use of an App is strongly encouraged. 

Montana’s FWP offers you these tips: 


A few things to keep in mind will greatly improve results when attempting to secure hunting access to private land.

  • Show courtesy to the landowner and make hunting arrangements by calling or visiting at times convenient to the landowner.
  • Whenever possible, plan and secure permission well before the actual hunting date.
  • Provide complete information about yourself and your hunting companions, including vehicle descriptions and license numbers.
  • Explain what type of hunting you wish to do, and be sure to ask any questions that can help clarify access conditions.
  • Follow the landowners’ instructions, and bring with you only the companions you obtained landowner permission.
  • Be sure to thank the landowner after your hunt, and consider sending a subsequent note to show your appreciation for being granted the privilege of hunting on private land.

It’s your responsibility to understand the regulations specific to the land you hunt on. Montana has tribal lands, national forests, BLM lands, and they are all governed by different state and federal regulations. For example, even though coyotes are considered predators in Montana, some refuge areas have a coyote season. 

If you decide to hunt these areas, make sure you know exactly where you are at all times. A Montana game warden stumbled into a disputed area back in 2014 and detained tribal officers. If the game warden can get his location mixed up, what are your chances as a nonresident?

A Conservation License, or a state school trust lands recreational use license, is required to shoot predators on state school trust lands. 

Related: Want more tips on securing permission to hunt private property? Read this article.

Coyote hunting in Montana
Photo Credit: Josh Campbel

Wolf hunting and coyote hunting in Montana!

The following section briefly sets forth some of Montana’s rules regarding wolf hunting. While you can get a non-resident permit to hunt wolves, this section is to help the coyote hunter understand more of the state laws regarding public property regulations.

You can hunt wolves in Montana, but you need a license. Make sure you identify your target to avoid mistaking a wolf for a coyote. Licenses are available for residents and nonresidents.

Persons can take up to 20 wolves with no more than ten via hunting and no more than ten via trapping (maximum harvest of 20 wolves per person). For hunting, a separate license is required for each wolf. For trapping, only a Trapping License is required.

Annual fee charged at the time the hunter purchases their first hunting license.

Must be purchased by February 28, 2022. A wolf-hunting license purchased after August 31 may not be used until 24 hours after the license is issued. Maximum of 10 per person.

  • Collared wolves can be lawfully taken, but they provide important information for monitoring populations and managing livestock depredations.
  • A wolf harvest must be reported within 24 hours.
Hunting coyotes in Montana
Photo Credit: Josh Campbell


  • Electronic calls can be used for wolf hunting.
  • Baiting is now legal for the hunting of wolves. Baiting restrictions apply within Lynx Protection Zones. 
  • Wolves can be hunted on private lands outside of daylight hours using artificial lights, thermal imaging technology, or night vision scopes. Night hunting on public lands is prohibited.

As a species in need of management, wolves may only be taken by hunting (firearms or archery) or trapping during the designated seasons.

Archery Equipment (CR)

• The following criteria define Archery Equipment: It is unlawful to use, while hunting game during any Archery Only Season and in Archery Equipment Only areas, archery equipment that does not meet the following criteria:

Hunting Bow: A hunting bow for wolves shall be a longbow, flatbow, recurve bow, compound bow, or any combination of these designs.

– The bow must be a device for launching an arrow, which derives its propulsive energy solely from the bending and recovery of two limbs (includes bows with split limbs).

– The bow must be hand-drawn by a single and direct uninterrupted pulling action of the shooter. The bowstring must be moved from brace height to the full draw position by the muscle power of the shooter’s body. The energy used to propel the arrow shall not be derived from any other source such as hydraulic, pneumatic, mechanical, or similar devices. These limitations shall not exclude the mechanical leverage advantage provided by eccentric wheels or cams, so long as the available energy stored in the bent limbs of the bow is the sole result of a single, continuous, and direct pulling effort by the shooter.

– The bow must be hand-held. One hand shall hold the bow, and the other hand draws the bowstring. The bowstring must be moved and/or held at all points in the draw cycle entirely by the muscle power of the shooter until release. The bowstring must be released as

a direct and conscious action of the shooter, either relaxing the tension of the fingers or triggering the release action of a hand-held release aid.

Exception: Physically disabled bowhunters certified by FWP with the Permit To Modify Archery Equipment (PTMAE) are exempted from the requirement of holding or shooting the bow with their hands.

> A bow is considered legal if it is at least 28 inches in total length.

> The nominal percent of let-off for hunting bows shall be a maximum of 80 percent as advertised by the manufacturer.

Arrow: An arrow is a projectile at least 20 inches in overall length.

The length of the arrow is measured from the rearward point of the nock to the tip of the broadhead.

– A broadhead is mounted on the fore-end.

• The arrow shall weigh no less than 300 grains with the broadhead


– Arrows must have broadheads with at least two cutting edges and be at least 7/8 inch at the widest point. Expandable broadheads are legal as long as, when expanded, they are at least 7/8 inch at the widest point and weigh no less than 70 grains.

– Arrows equipped with lighted nocks are allowed.

The following are not considered a hunting bow or legal archery

equipment during the Archery Only Season or in an Archery

Equipment Only area or hunting district:

– Crossbow

• Any device with a gun-type stock or incorporating any device or mechanism that holds the bowstring at partial or full draw without the shooter’s muscle power.

– Any bow for which a portion of the bow’s riser (handle) or any track, trough, channel, or other devices that attach directly to the bow’s riser contacts support and/or guides the arrow from a point rearward of the bow’s brace height. This is not intended to restrict the use of standard overdraw systems.

– Electronic or battery-powered devices attached to a hunting bow or arrow. Exception: Camera devices attached to bows for the sole purpose of filming is allowed.

A bow sight or arrow that uses artificial light, luminous chemicals such as tritium, or electronics. Exception: an arrow may have a lighted nock.

Check Stations (MCA 87-6-218) – All hunters are required by law to stop as directed at all designated check stations on their way to and from hunting areas, even if they have nothing to be checked.

Excess Take Resulting in an Unlawfully Harvested Animal.

Excess take is defined as the taking of a legally harvestable species

after the season is closed or an individual’s possession limit has been met.

• Hunters: If you or a member of your hunting party shoots a wolf that results in an unlawfully taken animal, you should notify an FWP game warden or 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847-6668) immediately and follow their instructions. DO NOT transport the animal until you’ve received instructions.

• Trappers: If a wolf trapper catches a wolf beyond the legal limit, the wolf must be released. FWP requests to be contacted to assess the potential to fit the wolf with a radio collar for management purposes.

Exposed Carcass or Baiting (CR) – Baiting is allowed for the hunting of wolves. No trap or snare may be set within 30 feet of an exposed carcass or bait that is visible from above. Restrictions apply within Lynx Protection Zones.

Firearms (CR)

• Firearms, including rifles, handguns, muzzleloaders, and shotguns with 0, 00, or slugs; archery equipment; and crossbows are lawful for taking wolves. All other methods of taking are prohibited.

• There is no rifle or handgun caliber limitation or magazine/round capacity restrictions for the taking of wolves.

• Riflescopes with illuminated reticles, built-in range-finding capabilities, and “red dot” scopes are lawful for the taking of wolves.

Hunter Harassment (MCA 87-6-215)

It is unlawful to:

• intentionally interfere with the lawful taking of a wild animal.

• disturb an individual engaged in the lawful taking of a wild animal with intent to prevent the taking of the animal.

Hunting Hours (CR) – Authorized hunting hours for the taking of wolves on public lands begin one-half hour before sunrise and end one-half hour after sunset each day of the hunting season. See the

official Sunrise-Sunset Tables are listed on page 15.

Hunter Orange Requirement (MCA 87-6-414) – A person may not hunt any game animals in this state or accompany any hunter as an outfitter or guide under any of the provisions of the laws of this state without wearing as exterior garments, above the waist, a total of not less than 400 square inches of hunter orange (fluorescent) material visible at all times while hunting. This section does not apply to a person hunting with a bow and arrow during the special archery season or hunting wolves outside the general deer and elk season as authorized by commission rules. However, bowhunters hunting wolf during any portion of the general (firearm) seasons for deer, elk, antelope, moose, sheep, mountain goat, black bear, mountain lion must meet the hunter orange requirement while hunting.

Indian Reservations

• The F&W Commission has by rule closed all lands within the exterior boundaries of Montana’s Indian Reservations to the hunting of wolves with the use of state licenses unless provided for in a cooperative agreement between the Tribal Government and the State of Montana.

• Currently, there are no cooperative agreements between FWP and any of the Tribal Governments in Montana, and as such, the season for the hunting of wolves, by nonmembers, with a state

license is closed. Please contact FWP for further information.

Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC) – Montana is a member of the IWVC. Under the compact, member states recognize suspensions of hunting, fishing, or trapping privileges. 

Kill Site Verification (ARM 12.6.1005) – At the request of a department Game Warden, it is required to return to the kill site of any game animal, game bird, wolf, or furbearer that has been hunted or trapped.

Landowner Permission (MCA 87-6-415) – A person may not hunt or attempt to hunt furbearers, game animals, migratory game birds, nongame wildlife, predatory animals, upland game birds, or wolves while hunting on private property without first obtaining permission of the landowner, the lessee, or their agents. Regardless of whether the land is posted or not, hunters must have permission from the landowner, lessee, or their agent before hunting on private property.

For the purposes of this section, the term “hunt” has the same meaning as provided in 87-6-101 and includes entering private land to (a) retrieve wildlife; or (b) access public land to hunt.

License and Permit Possession and Use MCA 87-6-301-314

It is unlawful to:

• Hunt or attempt to hunt for any wolf unless the person is carrying the required license or permit at the time.

• Refuse to produce a license or permit and the identification

• There is no rifle or handgun caliber limitation or magazine/round capacity restrictions for the taking of wolves.

 > A bow is considered legal if it is at least 28 inches in total length. > The nominal percent of let-off for hunting bows shall be a maximum of 80 percent as advertised by the manufacturer.

• Riflescopes with illuminated reticles, built-in range-finding capabilities, and “red dot” scopes are lawful for the taking of wolves.

Arrow: An arrow is a projectile at least 20 inches in overall length. The length of the arrow is measured from the rearward point of the nock to the tip of the broadhead.

Hunter Harassment (MCA 87-6-215)

It is unlawful to:

• intentionally interfere with the lawful taking of a wild animal.

• disturb an individual engaged in the lawful taking of a wild animal

• Alter or change a license in any material manner. 

• Loan or transfer any license to another person.

Use a license issued to another person.

• Attach the person’s license to a wolf killed by another person. 

• Have physical control over a valid and unused hunting license or permit issued to another person while in any location that the species to be hunted may inhabit. This prohibition does not apply to a person who is carrying or has physical control over a license or permit issued to that person’s spouse or to any minor when the spouse or minor is hunting with that person.

 License Validation and Tagging

• A hunter must cut out the proper month and day of the kill from the appropriate license and attach it to the animal before the carcass/hide is removed from the site of the kill or before the hunter leaves the site of the kill.

• To properly validate a license (sometimes referred to as a tag): • The triangles denoting the month and day the animal was killed must be completely cut out and removed.

Littering (MCA 75-10-212) – A holder of a Montana resident or nonresident hunting license or camping permit convicted of littering campgrounds, public or private lands, streams, or lakes while hunting, fishing, or camping shall forfeit any current Montana hunting, fishing, or trapping license and the privilege to hunt, fish, camp, or trap in Montana for a period of one year.

Marked or Radio-Collared Animals (CR) – It is lawful to shoot wolves that have radio collars, neckbands, ear tags, and/or other markers, but markers and radio collars must be returned to FWP. Please report the killing of a marked animal to the local FWP office.

Motorized Vehicles (MCA 87-6-405)

It is unlawful for anyone to:

• Use a motor-driven vehicle off-road on state land.

• Use a motor-driven vehicle on the road or trail on state land if that road or trail is posted as closed by the land management agency. This restriction applies only to state land and not to federal land. For more information related to state school trust lands, see page 13.

• Use a motor-driven vehicle other than on a road or trail designated for travel by a landowner unless permission has been given by that landowner.

Off-Road – Federal lands (CR)

• Operate, on federal public lands, a motorized wheeled vehicle off legal routes (including game retrieval). All federally approved travel plans on public lands in Montana have been adopted by the F&W Commission. Contact the appropriate land management agencies for travel plan information.

Outfitters and Guides (MCA 37-47-301)

• A person may not act as an outfitter or guide or advertise or otherwise represent to the public that the person is an outfitter or guide without first securing a license.

• It is unlawful to engage in outfitting/guiding while not licensed. • It is unlawful to hire an outfitter or guide not licensed by the Department of Labor and Industry. For information, call 406-841-2300.

Predators and Nongame Hunting – Predators and nongame species are unprotected by federal and/or state law or regulation and can be hunted in Montana year-round without a license by both resident and nonresident hunters. The State Lands Recreational License is included in the Conservation License for the purpose of hunting, fishing, and trapping and is required to hunt predators and nongame species on state school trust lands. Permission must be obtained to hunt predators and nongame species on private land.

• Predators are classified as coyote, weasel, (striped) skunk, and civet cat (spotted skunk) legally classified by statute or regulation in Montana. Examples include badger, raccoon, red fox, hares, rabbits, ground squirrels, marmots, tree squirrels, porcupines, and prairie dogs.

Recorded Animal Sounds – It is lawful to use recorded or electrically amplified bird or animal calls or sounds or imitations of bird or animal calls or sounds to assist in the hunting, taking, killing, or capturing of wolves.

Transport of Wildlife

• An individual other than the license holder may transport lawfully taken, properly tagged wolves.

• It is unlawful to ship, possess, transport, or take out of state unlawfully killed wolves.

• It is a violation of the Federal Lacey Act to transport an unlawfully taken game animal across state boundaries.

• If you are transporting lawfully taken wildlife (including parts and/or products of live or dead animals) between the United States and any foreign country, you must complete a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declaration form. For further information, contact the USFWS Wildlife inspector at 406-335-4350 or

• Questions concerning carcass transport may be directed to FWP Enforcement at 406-444-2452 or to your home state’s Wildlife Division.

Two-way Communication (ARM 12.6.1010)

The use of two-way electronic communication is prohibited:

• While in the act of hunting game animals or wolves to aid in the taking or locating of live animals.

• While in the act of hunting mountain lions or bobcats with dogs, beginning when the dogs are placed or physically released on tracks or a scent trail.

• To avoid game check stations or FWP enforcement personnel.

• To facilitate unlawful hunting activity. The use of two-way electronic communication for the use of safety or other legitimate purposes is exempt.

Two-way electronic communication includes, but is not limited to, the following; radios (walkie-talkies/CB), cell phones, text messages, and the use of social media or other electronic platforms, applications, or programs.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (CR) – The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for the purposes of hunting wolves is prohibited.

Waste of Game – Wolves are excluded from being considered as “suitable for food.” The remaining carcass may be taken in possession or be left in the field as per Montana law.

Procedures to Follow After Harvesting a Wolf

Reporting Requirements

•All successful wolf hunters and trappers must personally report their wolf kill within 24 hours regardless of their intent to retain possession of the hide and skull by calling the Wolf Reporting Number at one 877-FWP-WILD (1-877-397-9453) or 406-444-0356 so that FWP can monitor the harvest. Hunters and trappers are required to provide: name, telephone number, ALS number, species, date of harvest, WMU, specific location (legal description), and sex when reporting a wolf harvest. Hunters could also report their harvest online at through myfwp.

Wolf 24-hour Harvest Reporting

1-877-FWP-WILD (397-9453) or 406-444-0356 or at

– Successful hunters in backcountry areas will be allowed to report a wolf harvest within 24 hours of reaching a trailhead. 

• A hunter or trapper that lawfully harvests a wolf and wishes to retain possession of the hide and skull, or captures a wolf that must be dispatched, is required to present the hide and skull to a designated FWP employee within ten days after harvest for- Inspection and registration of kill.

– Tagging the hide. The hide tag must thereafter remain attached to the hide until tanned.

• Any hide or skull not presented or registered to FWP 10 days of harvest is subject to confiscation.

• A person licensed to hunt and authorized to possess a carcass of a wolf that requires mandatory department biological inspection may, after validating and attaching the license or tag in accordance with 87-6-411, transfer possession of all or part of that wolf to any person at any time after leaving the site of the kill, provided a statement of possession has been completed. The statement of possession must be on a form prescribed by the department and signed by the licensed person and the person or persons receiving possession and must accompany the carcass or portion of carcass presented for inspection.

REMINDER: The hunter must still personally report their harvest by phone as required, even if a transfer form is completed.

• It is unlawful for anyone to possess, ship, transport, sell, or purchase any wild wolf harvested in Montana, or part thereof, unless the animal has been tagged as prescribed.

• A hunter or trapper that lawfully harvests a wolf and does not wish to retain possession of the hide and skull is still required to call the wolf reporting number within 24 hours as described above and personally present (by direct communication in person or on the phone) the above harvest information to a designated FWP employee within ten days after harvest.

Harvest Monitoring and Closure

Harvest Monitoring:

Harvests will be updated on the MTFWP website between 11 am and 1 pm daily.

• A harvest of 450 wolves shall initiate a commission review.

• When reporting a wolf harvest, it is unlawful to subscribe to or make any statement that is materially false. With the potential for rapid in-season adjustments to hunting and trapping regulations. Thereafter the commission shall be similarly re-engaged at intervals of additional 50 wolves harvested if season adjustments allow for additional wolf harvest. The following harvests by any Region alone shall initiate a commission review:

• Region 1: 195 wolves, Region 2: 116 wolves, Region 3: 82 wolves, Region 4: 39 wolves, Region 5: 11 wolves, Region 6: 3 wolves, Region 7: 4 wolves

• A non-target capture of one lynx or one grizzly bear shall initiate a commission review with the potential for rapid in-season adjustments to trapping regulations. The commission shall be similarly re-engaged for any additional non-target capture of lynx or grizzly bear.

Wolf Hunting and Trapping Seasons

Resident and nonresident hunters and trappers may harvest any wolf in any open WMU statewide during the archery-only, general, and trapping seasons. A person can take up to 20 wolves with no more than ten via hunting and no more than ten via trapping (maximum harvest of 20 wolves per person). For hunting, a separate license is required for each wolf. For trapping, only a Trapping License is required.

Archery Only Season: September 4 – September 14, 2021

General Season: September 15 – March 15, 2022

Trapping Season: Season dates for trapping wolves will be the first Monday after Thanksgiving to March 15 for the entire state. For those districts in and near occupied grizzly bear habitats, as depicted on the map on page 14, the department will apply a floating open season date that could start the Monday after Thanksgiving (November 29, 2021) or any day thereafter as determined by the department based upon a real-time reading of conditions. If the department does not select a date prior to December 31, then the season will open on December 31 and close on March 15. For more information, see

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr. is a former Marine Sergeant and the author of several books, including two on night hunting coyotes and red and gray fox. He has written several hundred articles on predator hunting for

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