Big-game season down to final weeks
Northwest Montana hunters are finally beginning to find success in the field, just as the general rifle season starts to wind down.
According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, activity picked up at Region 1 check stations over the weekend. The number of mule deer harvested has significantly increased over last year with 64 bucks checked compared to 26 after the fourth weekend of last season. The number of reported white-tailed deer and elk remain below last year’s numbers, as well as the total number of hunters.
Overall, the hunter success rate in the region this year is 6 percent, compared to 6.8 percent a year ago. Hunters have checked 436 white-tailed deer, 64 mule deer and 46 elk.
“We are starting to get reports of bucks showing rutting behavior, and we a few large bucks came through the check stations” said Neil Anderson, FWP’s Region 1 wildlife manager. “The bucks are becoming more active and we had a few hunters reporting success with rattling antlers. It’s a great time of year to be out in the woods in Northwest Montana. Hopefully, sportsmen will have the opportunity to spend some time in the field.”
The Highway 2 check station has seen 3,952 hunters so far, with a 5.8 percent success rate. Olney has been the most fruitful check station this year, with an 8.7 percent success rate. The Thompson Falls check station has accounted for the most elk, with 17 so far.
Overall hunter participation remains at its lowest level in the last decade with 9,110 hunters stopping at Region 1 stations, compared to 10,060 hunters last season.
The counts at the hunter check stations represent a sampling of the harvest and do not represent the complete number of animals taken. Hunters are required to stop at game check stations they encounter, even if they have not harvested an animal.
Montana’s general big-game hunting season ends Nov. 25.