Hunters hit the Rocky Mountain Front for the opening weekend of Montana’s general big game season and took home fewer elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer this year compared to the past four 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. Likely major contributing factors this year were the mild and windy weather and fewer antlerless deer and elk licenses available in the southern Rocky Mountain Front area. ”
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 six animals (four bulls and two cows) compared to the last four years’ average (2010 through 2013) when 22 elk (12 bulls, nine cows and one calf) were checked in.
Mule deer numbers this year at the check station came to two bucks; for the past four years hunters averaged 15 mulies (nine bucks, five does and one fawn).
With whitetails, this year’s opening weekend count in Augusta was two (one buck and one doe) while the past four years average was 13 whitetails (seven bucks, five does and one fawn).
Overall hunter participation was slightly below the four-year opening weekend average: 247 hunters checked through Augusta this year compared to an average of 258 hunters from 2010 through 2013. Before 2010, opening weekend of the general big game season was only Sunday.
The general deer and elk season runs through Nov. 30.
(Report by Montana FWP; Feature photo via helenair.com)