Montana has two bison migration hunts. Unit 385-20 is on the northern border of Yellowstone National Park near the town of Gardiner, and unit 395-20 is located on the western side of the park near the town of West Yellowstone. Season dates for these hunts will be November 15, 2023-February 15, 2024, and 40 tags will again be issued for each hunt. Keep in mind that there will be a lot of Native American tribes from across several of the western states that have traditional hunting rights and will be hunting if bison are coming out of the park.
The other bison hunt is unit 385-21, and it is only valid in the Absaroka Beartooth portion of unit 385. Season dates will be September 15-November 14. The bison population is very small, and with a hunt quota of only five, it is not available to nonresidents. This is a very remote wilderness backcountry hunt that is loaded with grizzlies. Pack animals are a must if you harvest on this hunt. Only two of the hunters reported harvesting in 2022.
Montana’s non-resident bison hunts allow hunters the chance to harvest a bison as they migrate out of Yellowstone National Park. With a combination of mild weather and a lack of good snowfall, the herd will stay safely within the confines of the park’s boundaries for the entire hunting season. This had been the case since the 2017-2018 hunting season, and only 15 total bison were harvested between the 2018 and 2021 seasons by the 320 migration permit holders. With cold weather and heavy snow, the herd of almost 6,000 animals will move into the hunting districts along the northwestern boundary of the park in search of lower elevation and better access to forage. When this happens, hunters will have good success on their hunts. Rolling the dice on 2022-2023’s weather paid off for successful bison applicants as strong winter conditions beginning in early November set the stage in driving hundreds of migratory bison out of the park. In total, state hunters killed 73 bison between the two migration hunts. In district 385-20, 34 of the 40 tags issued in the draw were filled. Another 20 hunt roster tags were later activated on that hunt and 14 of those were also filled. In district 395-20, 25 of 40 tags were filled. Another 782 bison had been harvested by tribal hunters through the first week of March 2023.
There is no point system for Montana bison, so your odds are the same as all other applicants. These can be extremely frustrating hunts most years, but if you want to hunt Boone and Crockett eligible bison, Montana is one of only a handful of states that offers the opportunity to do so.
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The Montana Bison application deadline is May 1, 2023.
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|Base Hunting License
|Bonus Point (optional/per species)
|Bison Application Fee
|Bow and Arrow License (required for all archery hunts)
|*Fees do not include the additional 2.5% convenience fee.
MT Bison Hunting Articles from Huntin' Fool Magazine