Many Montanans begin thinking about upland game birds well before the upland bird season opener. Whether you are interested in increasing bird populations on private land, training hunting dogs, or raising upland game birds for food, your first stop should be Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to obtain a permit. These annual permits are available now and expire on Dec. 31.
In the spring, landowners wishing to increase upland game bird populations on their lands may obtain a permit to release captive-reared ring-necked pheasants. To qualify for this permit, a landowner must provide appropriate habitat, including sources of food, shelter, and water for the birds.
This FWP permit is available at no charge and allows for the release of up to 200 ring-necked pheasants a year on private land March 1 – Aug. 31. Once released, the birds are considered "wild" and can only be harvested according to the upland game bird license, season requirements, and bag limits. Only ring-necked pheasant releases are allowed. The release of chukars, Hungarian partridge, grouse, or other upland bird species is not allowed.
Upland game bird hunters wishing to use the "off season" to get their canine hunting partners into hunting form also need a permit to use live birds. FWP issues a dog-training permit to allow the purchase of live upland game birds from licensed game bird farms. The permit, available from FWP Regional offices free of charge, allows an individual to obtain and shoot captive-reared upland game birds in the process of training a hunting dog at any time of the year.
The birds must be marked before they are released in a training area where the individual has the authority to conduct training exercises. Only the person holding the permit may shoot these captive-reared birds.
Those interested in raising upland game birds for consumption may obtain a permit to possess upland game birds for non-commercial purposes. The permit allows an individual to purchase upland game birds from a game bird farm and raise the birds to eat. The applicant must have appropriate pens or enclosures to hold the birds because the permit does not authorize them to release these birds at any time.
Upland game bird permit applications for these various purposes are available from the FWP Regional office with authority over the area where the birds will be released or raised.Details on the permits may be obtained at any FWP Regional office, or by phoning Tim Feldner at: 406-444-4039.