The Roundup -

2018 Montana Pheasant Hunting Outlook


October 3, 2018 | View PDF

Montana is experiencing a large decline in conservation reserve program acreage along the northern tier of the state, which may have an impact on hunting experiences in Regions 4 and 6. CRP is a program that pays landowners to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species which improve environmental health and quality of bird habitat.

In Region 5, pheasant crow counts this spring in the Clarks Fork valley indicated that over-winter survival was not too good. Pheasant harvest will likely be somewhat lower this fall than in past years.

Along the Yellowstone and Musselshell valleys, spring pheasant counts were similar to last year and hunting harvest will be decided by how well young-of-the-year survived spring storms.

In Region 6, pheasant adult numbers, according to spring crowing counts, show quite a bit of variability across the region. The west end of the region, including Hill, Blaine and a portion of Chouteau counties, indicate numbers at 40 to 50 percent below long-term average (LTA) in those areas. Phillips county is above LTA, while Valley and McCone counties are 10 to 24 percent below. The northeast corner, including Daniels, Sheridan, Roosevelt and portions of Richland and Dawson counties, indicate numbers at average to 10 percent below average. Pheasant distribution will vary across portions of each county, and most birds will be found in optimal habitat including river-bottoms, riparian areas and other moist areas that produce adequate cover.

Harsh winter conditions resulted in low overwinter survival. However, peak hatch for pheasants occurs around mid-June, which corresponded with regular, favorable moisture events in Southeast Montana. Overall, pheasant hunting in Region 7 should be fair to poor this fall depending on local conditions. The moisture levels this year have provided birds with vast areas of cover and have also made agricultural lands productive, which will aid birds throughout their lifecycle.


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