Hunters hit the Rocky Mountain Front for the opening weekend of Montana’s general big game season and took home slightly fewer elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer this year compared to the past three years.
The numbers were collected at Fish, Wildlife and Parks check station in Augusta.
“Opening weekend varies every year,” says Brent Lonner, FWP wildlife biologist “some years more game is taken than other years with weather at times playing a key role early in the season. Mild weather likely caused lower hunter participation for this year’s opener along the Front.”
While the numbers at the Augusta check station – FWP Region 4’s sole biological check station – apply only to a handful of hunting districts on the Rocky Mountain Front, they often mirror conditions elsewhere in north central Montana.
Elk hunters this year brought in 17 animals (11 bulls, five cows and one calf) compared to the last three years’ average (2010 through 2012) when 23 elk (12 bulls, 10 cows and one calf) were checked in.
Mule deer numbers this year at the check station came to 14 animals (11 bucks and three does); for the past three years hunters averaged 15 mulies (eight bucks, six does and one fawn).
With whitetails, this year’s opening weekend count in Augusta was 10 (five bucks, three does and two fawns) while the past three years average was 14 whitetails (eight bucks, five does and one fawn).
Overall hunter participation was slightly below the three-year average: 236 hunters checked through Augusta this year compared to an annual average of 265 hunters in 2010 through 2012. Before 2010, opening day of the general big game season was Sunday and opening weekend consisted of a single day.
Whitetail hunters need to remember that FWP Region 4 antlerless whitetail licenses purchased after Oct. 18 are only valid for antlerless whitetails south and east of the Missouri River. The same antlerless whitetail licenses bought before Oct. 18 are good throughout Region 4, except for hunting district. 455.
The general deer and elk season runs through Dec. 1.
(Report by Montana FWP)