Turkey Hunting in Montana




Wild Turkey Population

Merriam’s, some Easterns, hybrids

Turkey Subspecies

Not available

Number of Licenses Sold Annually


$10 base hunting license, $6.50 turkey tag

Cost of Resident License and Permit


$15 base hunting license, $115 turkey permit (or $57.50 for nonresident holders of an upland game-bird license)

Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

As a Western turkey hunting destination, Montana has it all: solid bird numbers (120,000 turkeys by NWTF estimates), exceptional access, and high hunter-success rates.

To top it off, Montana provides a spectacular backdrop when that turkey finally decides to strut into range. It’s a gorgeous place to go after the greatest game bird on the planet. 

But here’s something you might not know: Turkeys are not native to the state. When Montana decided to trap and transfer them in 1954, it selected the Merriam’s subspecies. Thirteen birds from Colorado were introduced into the Judith Mountains of central Montana. The next year, 18 more Wyoming Merriam’s were released into southeastern Montana. In ’56 and ’57, another 26 birds were placed in the Ashland area of southeastern Montana, which marked the last time turkeys were transplanted from another state.

It was obviously a success, as Big Sky Country is one of the strongest turkey regions in the West, though often overlooked.

Turkey populations are located on public and private ground throughout Montana.

Hunters continually find success in the Long Pines and Ashland areas of Custer National Forest in the southeastern part of the state (though wildfires moved through the upper third of this habitat several years ago), the Missouri River breaks and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in central Montana, and within the Intermountain Valley Region out west.

Montana also offers the Block Management Program in all seven wildlife regions, and more than 8 million acres are currently enrolled. It’s a cooperative effort between private landowners and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, which helps landowners manage hunting activities while providing the public with free hunting access to private land.

Turkey hunting in Montana. Image by John Hafner

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