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Season Date Setting Process

Montana's hunting season dates are a mix of "fixed" dates and "formulas." Fixed dates are where the start and end dates are the same date every year. For example, Montana's mountain grouse season starts every year on September 1st and ends January 1. The end result is a 122-day season starting and ending on the same numerical dates every year.

Formula dates are where the annual dates are intentionally set to start and end on weekend days. Consequently, the day of the week for the first and last day remains constant, while the actual numerical date moves with the progression of the calendar. Specifically, the deer and elk general rifle season ends every year on the Sunday immediately following Thanksgiving Thursday. The start date is determined by "backtracking" six Saturdays from this closing date. The end result is a 37-day season starting on a Saturday and ending on a Sunday every year.

There are some "hybrid" dates as well. These seasons combine fixed dates and formulas. An example is Montana's pheasant season. It starts annually on the Saturday of Columbus Day weekend, while the end date is fixed at January 1. The end result is a constant weekend opener with a fixed date ending and a season length varying slightly from year to year.

For a more complete presentation of Montana's season dates and their justifications, click on the calendar icon next to each species on the Season Dates page. Note that these represent most areas and seasons, but that some individual hunting districts may have different dates based upon local circumstances.