The Refuge hunt area will be open for the special youth only waterfowl and pheasant hunt on September 26th and 27th and will open for waterfowl, sharptails, and huns on October 3rd and pheasants on October 10th. All Refuge hunting will close on November 30th.
Benton Lake NWR began pumping water from the Muddy Creek pump station on July 29, 2015 in anticipation of an early shutdown by the Greenfields Irrigation District. All Refuge units were dry prior to the initiation of pumping. The three pumps at the pump station ran until August 24th when water levels began to drop in Muddy Creek. The two 350 HP pumps shut down on August 24th and 26th. The small 250 HP pump was shut down on September 14th. We anticipate water conditions similar to last year during the Refuge hunting season.
Unit 4C will be open for waterfowl hunting and upland bird hunting in 2015. Units 5 and 6 will be open for upland bird hunting with access from designated parking areas. Hunters can access Unit 4C by foot from the Lower Marsh Road as they did in 2014 or from the designated parking areas. The habitat quality in 4C should be high but hunters should understand that the area open to waterfowl hunting will be limited to one management unit (4C) for the 2015 season. Please respect other hunters using the marsh and leave sufficient space to allow for a safe and quality hunt. Unit 2 also has water and will be closed to hunting. The Refuge will open for hunting on October 3rd and close on Novermber 30. Upland birds including sharp-tailed grouse, gray partridge (Huns) and ring-necked pheasants as well as ducks, geese, coots, and swans (state permit needed) may be hunted on the Refuge during state established seasons. All other species are protected.
Refuge visitors may notice a new water control structure installed on the Unit 2 dike to allow more flexible water management in the lower wetland units. This was a cooperative project between the Service, Ducks Unlimited, and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and will allow for reconnection of the historic Lake Creek channel through management units 1, 2, and 3.
Hunting regulations and maps are available in the Refuge office from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday and at the Refuge kiosk on the entrance road.
For more information contact Bob Johnson, Deputy Refuge Manager at 406-727-7400x226
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Sharp-tailed Grouse mating season occurs from late March to late May. More than 50 birds have been seen on the refuge participating in their mating dance.