Montana's general hunting season opens October 20. We' ve been slowly building up to it with general and youth archery season and early rifle season for youth. The Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks wardens have been out in the field and are reminding hunters to be extra careful with bears this year. Grizzly bears are being sighted in more areas throughout western Montana this fall and hunters should have bear spray with them, and more importantly, know how to use it. Be aware of any bear tracks or scat. Also, if you notice scavanging birds such as magpies, ravens or crows gathering in an area, it might be a fresh bear or mountain lion kill. If you do come across a bear at a fresh kill, never try to chase the bear away. If you are successful in your hunt, try to get the carcass out of the woods as soon as possible.

Follow the usual hunting season rules - hunt with a partner, let people know where you'll be and when you are expected back. Check that weather forecast before you head out. Be aware of district boundaries. If you're hunting on private land, make sure you have permission and thank the landowner for the opportunity. Always stop at any FWP check station, even if you're not successful. There are areas that are being monitored for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Only a few "high priority" hunting districts are in western Montana. Most are on the northern border with Canada and south of Billings at the Wyoming border. CWD affects elk, moose and deer.

If you see a game violation use the 1-800-TIP-MONT to report it to FWP. You could get a reward for information that leads to a conviction of a hunting violation in Montana. Those violations include: taking game from the wrong hunting district, using someone else's tag on a harvested game animal, failure to leave evidence of the animals' sex attached, wasting any part of a game animal suitable for food.

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