Montana has some great areas for hunting these cats and is one of few states to allow hunting mountain lion (a.k.a. cougar, puma). We utilize experienced hounds men and dogs to “tree” cats. Since these hunts begin in December and run through winter months, you’ll be treated to accommodations in a luxurious lodge atmosphere instead of the wall tents utilized in our fall and spring seasons. This is a unique experience and we have great trophy cats.

What to Expect

Hunting mountain lions is totally different than hunting for elk, deer or bear. Your day begins as early as 3:00 am, you’ll have a light breakfast and join our houndsman who will instruct you on how to “cut” a track. Tracking a mountain lion involves driving or snowmobiling through a myriad of US Forest Service and private timber company roads, using spotlights mounted to the cat truck, and trying to eyeball a track from many yards away. Once a track is found, dogs are put on it to see if it carries a scent. If so, they’re off and the race is on!

It can take several hours for the dogs to find and tree the cat. Once the cat is treed, the hunter’s work begins – they must find the dogs and the treed cat in time before it escapes. If we haven’t treed a cat by 2:00 pm, we typically quit for the day as we don’t want to hunt in the dark. At this point, hunters have the remainder of the afternoon to relax, tour around the area or rest up.

The duration of your Montana mountain lion hunt is typically 7 days. However, we can extend a hunt up to 10 days using daily rates if we haven’t got a hunter his or her cat. While there are never guarantees in hunting, the success rate for our Montana mountain lion hunts has been nearly 100% in the past. The skill of our dogs, the quality of the area we have rights to hunt in, and the quality and skill of the houndsmen we employ all play a role in our success rates at Swan Mountain Outfitters.

Since mountain lion hunts in Montana take place during the winter months, hunters have access to a variety of exciting winter activities that can be added on to the front or back end of their hunt. These activities include but are not limited to: downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing and ice skating. Many of these activities can be enjoyed right from the front door of Swan Mountain Ranch, where our  mountain lion hunters stay during their hunt.

How to Prepare

The state of Montana converted to a draw permit system for lions for Regions 1 and 2, arguably the best regions in the state for lion/cougar hunting. Lion Hunts are run out of US Forest Service , Montana DNRC and private timber leased land in the Swan Valley as well as west of Kalispell.  It will be necessary to apply for a special permit in either Hunting District (HD) 102, 103, 120 and 130, or you can buy a winter license and hunt HD 132.

If you are an out-of-state resident, it may take several years for you to draw in a special permit district. That said, if you want a guarantee to go lion hunting in any given year, we have the permit for hunting district 132, which is still governed by a quota system.  Hunters making this choice have an outstanding chance at a great cat without having to draw a special permit. Hunting district 132 has not hit the quota in the last few years, but we only take a limited number of hunters each year, so book early for this one!

As with all of our hunts, mountain lion hunting in northwest Montana is characterized by difficult terrain: the forest is very thick and wild and the elements can be harsh. Though we use dogs to track and tree the cat, the hunters must be physically fit enough to get to the treed cat in a timely manner so that it doesn’t get away. It’s also important to note that the weather plays a key role in mountain lion hunting, as a lack of snow make it virtually impossible to cut tracks.

Swan Mountain Ranch


Swan Mountain Ranch is a unique guest ranch facility located in Northwest Montana on the western border of the Bob Marshall Wilderness about an hour south of Glacier National Park. Swan Mountain Ranch is operated in a custom basis. We house  lion hunting clients of Swan Mountain Outfitters. Occasionally, our cabin and lodge rooms are available for rent.

Located in the heart of the Swan Valley, Swan Mountain Ranch is a one-of-a-kind property. Bordered on all four sides by Swan River State Forest, the nearest year round neighbor is over 7 miles away. At Swan Mountain Ranch, you enjoy a serene setting away from it all taking in the beauty of the Swan Range that forms the western border of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. The ranch consists of a main lodge, guest cabin and stocked pond. The main lodge is a 6,000 square foot log home with a game room,  hot tub and plenty of Western ambiance. The cabin is 1100 square feet and offers a full kitchen, satellite TV, washer/dryer.

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