Big Lake Wildlife Management Area

Big Lake
Big Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) lies in the Hailstone Basin and is the terminal lake in a series of lakes which include Hailstone and Halfbreed National Wildlife Refuges. The WMA encompasses 4,409 acres of land owned by FWP plus an additional 354 acres of State and BLM land. Primary hunting opportunities include waterfowl, upland birds, antelope and mule deer. No fishing opportunites exist at Big Lake. The elevation of the lake is approximately 3,940 ft. The highest elevation on the WMA is approximatly 4,100 ft. Open to recreational use yearlong. All motorized vehicles must stay on authorized roads and parking areas. Motorized watercraft allowed for lawful hunting purposes only. Camping allowed only in designated camping area. No target shooting or clay bird shooting allowed. Trapping allowed by written permission only. Contact the Billings FWP office for permission. No Fireworks. No Campfires. No littering. Pack in. Pack out. Open to all FWP Commission established hunting seasons unless specifically closed or restricted as noted in Hunting Regulations.
  1. Open yearlong. Motorized use restricted to designated open routes. Camping allowed only in designated camping area. Big Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA) lies in the Hailstone Basin and is the terminal lake in a series of lakes which include Hailstone and Halfbreed National Wildlife Refuges. Big Lake is filled with runoff which enters from the south by Stickley Creek and from the northwest by Cedar Creek. Both Stickley and Cedar Creek are ephemeral streams, and Big Lake is dependent on precipitation events in order to fill. At full pool the lake covers approximately 2800 acres. The primary purpose for acquiring the WMA was to provide quality waterfowl nesting and migration staging habitat to help mitigate waterfowl losses due to power line collisions with a 500 KV power line near Lake Broadview. Between 1985 and 1987 3 large islands were created with funds provided by Ducks Unlimited. The first island was created by excavating a 300-foot wide channel which cut off the peninsula in the NW1/4 of Section 25. Spoils from the 300-foot excavation were piled on a second island, which was further enhanced by excavating a 100-foot channel on its north side. A third island was constructed in the northwest corner of Big Lake using spoils from the 100-foot excavation. When Big Lake is at full pool the three islands measure 13.8, 10.5 and .8 acres in size, respectively. Big Lake WMA provides recreation opportunities for waterfowl, upland bird, and big game hunting, bird watching, wildlife viewing, hiking, and photography. Hunter access and other forms of recreation are acceptable on the WMA as long as they do not compromise the purposes for which the WMA was purchased.
Region 5
Latitude/Longitude: 45.8819559453787 -109.076924760665
Size:  acres
Elevation:  ft
Open: Jan 1 to Dec 31
From Billings, travel 15 miles northwest to Molt on Molt Rd. Continue northwest on Molt-Rapelje Rd 4.5 miles to Wheat Basin Rd. One access point is located on Molt-Rapelje Rd. Two more access points on the west side of WMA are located on Wheat Basin Rd. Access points are signed.

 Location Map

Title Description Fee
Conservation License - MT Resident $8.00
Conservation License - MT Resident Senior 62+ $4.00
Conservation License - MT Resident Youth 12-17 $4.00
Conservation License - Nonresident $10.00
Pack in/Pack out
Horseback Riding
Wildlife Viewing
Gray Partridge (Hungarian Partridge)
Mourning Dove
Mule Deer
Sharp-tailed Grouse
  1. Justin Paugh
  2. Mailing Address:
  3. PO Box 642
  5. 59011