South central Montana – Hunter numbers and success on the low side
BILLINGS — Saturday was sunny and in the low 60’s with little or no wind. Sunday was mostly cloudy with temperatures in the high 50’s or low 60’s.
The Columbus check station reports hunter numbers being up 29% over the third weekend of the 2011 season. Overall only 28% of the hunters checked were successful in 2012. As of this weekend, there appeared to be minimal rut activity in either white-tail or mule deer.
At the Laurel check station hunter numbers were identical on each day, 86 on Saturday and 86 on Sunday. Hunter success was very low at just 20%.
The Big Timber check station had the lowest number of hunters ever recorded for week three, but remains slightly ahead of last year for the general season thus far. Whitetail, mule deer, and antelope harvest were all below last year for the weekend and below the long term average for the season. Only elk harvest continues to set new record highs for the check station. Numerous hunters mentioned that the rutting activity appears to be picking up for mule deer.
Through the third weekend of the season, 782 big game hunters have been checked through the Lavina check station. The number of hunters checked to date is 19% below the long-term average and the lowest number on record checked through the Lavina check station. The percentage of hunters with game was 24%, well below average (31%) for the third week of the season. Several hunters stated that rutting activity appears to be increasing in several areas.
Hunters are once again reminded to familiarize themselves with the regulations. Mule deer does are not legal on the general deer license across most of Region 5.