You might bust out a big grin this fall when you bag that buck, fill your elk tag or find hunting success in the wide-open reaches of Montana.

But it's not even close to the expression kids can have when they enjoy their first taste of hunting success.

And this weekend a whole new crop of young hunters will have that opportunity, as they literally have the "first shot" during Montana's 2023 Youth and Pheasant Waterfowl weekend. It's a chance at a life-changing experience, and experiencing a way of life in Montana for generations on their own.

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Two days of up-and-coming Montana hunters

Saturday and Sunday, legally licensed 12 to 15-year-olds who have finished their hunter education classes can hunt for a LOT of birds statewide. That includes pheasants, ducks, mergansers, geese, and coots. Young hunters have to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult who is at least 18.

Additionally, apprentice hunters who are properly certified and licensed between 10 and 15 can hunt if they're with a non-hunting adult "mentor" who is 21 or older.

Montana FWP photo
Montana FWP photo

Pheasants are the real prize

While it's fun to bag any of the birds, the real prizes are the pheasants. Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks will be releasing pheasants raised on the Montana Correctional Enterprises ranch in Deer Lodge at several locations this year. That includes the North Shore WMA at Foys Lake in the Flathead, Canyon Ferry WMA, and the Freezeout Lake WMA, Aron Lakes, and Bullhead Ranch in Region 4 along the Rocky Mountain Front.

RELATED: University of Montana to offer virtual hunting classes

In Central and Eastern Montana, pheasant release locations this year include the Yellowstone WMA, Clark's Fork of the Yellowstone Fishing Access Site, Lost River WMA, Dodson Dam WMA, and the Isaac Homestead WMA, among others.

For more information, go to

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