Know the Rules for Hunting on State Trust Lands


Montana’s millions of acres of state trust lands offer prime opportunities for hunters across the state. With the 2015 hunting season now under way, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) asks that hunters and other recreationists get acquainted with the regulations for accessing trust lands before they take to the field.

Hunters and anglers 12 years of age and older must possess a valid Montana Conservation License to hunt or fish on trust lands. For other types of non-commercial or non-concentrated uses, a separate State Lands General Recreational Use License is required. These are available from any Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife & Parks office, as well as all ALS license agents. Proceeds from license sales provide financial support to Montana’s public schools.

Other important rules include: Know where state land boundaries lie. Maps showing state trust lands and the status of area roads are posted at DNRC, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and US Forest Service offices statewide. Topographic maps are usually available for purchase at sporting goods stores and BLM and USFS offices. Do not trespass. State trust lands are legally accessible if they can be reached from adjacent public lands, public roads, or public waterways. If you have to cross private property to reach state land, you must first get permission from the landowner.

Rules of the road: The only roads open for vehicle use on trust lands are public roads, such as county roads and state highways, as well as other roads DNRC has designated as open. Off-road use is strictly prohibited. Designated roads that are open for use will be shown on travel plan maps or will be clearly posted with signs from DNRC. If unsure about the status of a particular road, contact the nearest DNRC land office.

Disabled hunting access: Disabled hunters with a Permit to hunt from vehicle, issued by Montana FWP, are authorized to drive on any road on state trust lands, except those closed by sign or barrier.

Firearm safety: The discharge of firearms within a quarter-mile of an inhabited dwelling or outbuilding is prohibited without first gaining permission from the occupants.

Other recreational use: Camping is limited to two consecutive days; campers must stay within 200 feet of a customary access point or navigable waterway. Open fires are prohibited outside designated campgrounds. Pets must be kept on a leash or be under the owner’s control, especially around other recreationists and livestock.

More information on these and other regulations can be found in a brochure, “Guide to Recreational Use of State Land,” which is available from license agents or from a DNRC or FWP office. For additional information, contact DNRC Recreational Use Coordinator Dan Dobler at (406) 444-9726, or visit the DNRC web at


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