Bird Hunting Seasons and Conditions

Frequently Asked Hunting Questions

Hunting is allowed on designated areas of Medicine Lake NWR and on all Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs). The most common game species hunted are ducks, geese, ring-necked pheasant, sharp-tailed grouse, and white-tailed deer. The hunting of swans and sandhill cranes is prohibited on Medicine Lake NWR. Hunting is permitted in accordance with State seasons and bag limits.

Hunting season for white-tailed deer and upland game birds opens every year on November 15 for the Homestead and Lake Creek areas of the refuge. These areas are closed before November 15 to protect populations of birds resting and feeding during fall migration. By November 15th, these units are usually frozen, and migratory birds have continued on their migration, so other hunting can take place. Certain areas are closed to hunting to protect refuge facilities and to provide resting and feeding habitat for migratory birds. Areas closed to hunting are clearly posted with signs.

For state hunting regulations visit: Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks.

Refuge Hunting Regulations
Wetland Production Areas map
PDF version of hunting regulations and map

Medicine Lake NWR encompasses 31,702 acres and consists of two separate tracts. The 28,438-acre north tract includes the 8,218-acre Medicine Lake as well as 17 smaller water units. The 3,264-acre south tract includes the 1,280-acre Homestead Lake . Hunting Areas 1 and 2 are in the north tract, while Hunting Area 3 is located in the south tract (see map).

All hunting on the Refuge is in accordance with Federal and State laws and regulations. Hunters can enjoy a quality hunting experience for upland game birds, most waterfowl, mourning doves, some big game, and mammalian predators. Medicine Lake , its islands, and the adjacent Sandhills Unit are included in the 11,360-acre Medicine Lake Wilderness Area, part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. The use of mechanical or motorized equipment is prohibited within the Wilderness Area boundary.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service cooperates with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to survey and manage wildlife populations on the Refuge and to enforce Federal and State hunting regulations. Your support and compliance with these regulations is greatly appreciated.

•  The Refuge is open from dawn until dusk. Overnight camping and open fires are prohibited.
•  The use of non-toxic shot is required for all shotgun hunting on the Refuge.
•  Field possession or use of lead shot is illegal.
•  Vehicle traffic is restricted to graveled roads, parking areas, and trails marked for vehicle travel. Driving off-road for any purpose is prohibited.
•  Vehicles must be parked at designated parking areas, road approaches, or off the road far enough to avoid obstructing traffic.
•  The road heading east from the Refuge headquarters is closed to vehicles from September 30 through January 1.
•  Marked retrieval roads (see map) are open to vehicles from 11:00 amto dusk the first 2 days of big game season and from dawn to dusk for the remainder of the season. Vehicles can be used on retrieval roads only to recover big game.
•  The use of dogs during regular game bird seasons for hunting and retrieving is allowed and encouraged.
•  Public hunting areas are identified by public hunting area boundary signs.
•  All areas outside these boundaries are closed to hunting.
•  Shooting into or retrieval of game from areas closed to hunting is prohibited.
•  The islands in Medicine Lake are closed to all uses, and it is unlawful to trespass on them.
•  Predator hunting (coyote, badger, fox, skunk, and raccoon) may be conducted after obtaining a free permit, map, and regulations from Refuge headquarters.

Hunting in Area 2

•  Upland game birds, mourning doves, ducks, geese, coots, jackrabbits, deer, and pronghorn may be hunted on the Refuge in Area 2 in accordance with State seasons and bag limits.
•  The hunting of swans, sandhill cranes, elk, and all other animals not listed above is prohibited.
•Refuge waters in Area 2 are open to non-mechanical boats (canoes, kayaks, rowboats) used for hunting with the exception of Medicine Lake , which is closed to all boating after September 15.
•  Hunting is allowed in Area 2 along the shoreline of Medicine Lake . Decoys must be placed no further than 50 yards from shore. All of the Medicine Lake shoreline outside of Area 2 is closed to hunting.

Hunting in Areas 1 and 3
A late season hunt for upland game birds, deer, and pronghorn in Areas 1 and 3 begins each year on November 15 and continues through the regular State seasons.

Hunting on Waterfowl Production Areas

Equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from programs and activities of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is available to all individuals regardless of physical or mental ability. Dial 7-1-1 for a free connection to the State transfer relay service for TTY and voice calls to and from the speech and hearing impaired. For more information or to address accessibility needs, please contact the Refuge staff at 406/789 2305


Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge
223 North Shore Road
Medicine Lake , MT 59247


Office Hours
Monday Friday 7:00 am to 3:30 pm
Mountain Standard Time

406/789-2305 PHONE
406789-2350 FAX EMAI

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