Montana’s general deer and elk season got underway Saturday with warm conditions greeting most hunters and some seeing their first day hampered by dense fog. On Sunday, hunters met colder conditions and freezing rain and snow at higher elevations.
FWP biologists, staff and volunteers manned eight check stations to account for hunter harvest rates in the south Tobacco Roots and Upper Ruby (Alder), the Madison (Cameron), the Pioneers and Upper Big Hole including Fleecer and Mount Haggin (Divide and Mill Creek), the Gallatin, Park County (Clyde Park and Livingston), and the Helena area (Silver City).
In terms of harvest success, overall the region got off to a relatively slow start. Success rates ranged from under 2 percent of hunters harvesting game at the Mill Creek check station to over 20 percent of hunters harvesting game at the Livingston check station. The latter statistic should be considered along with the anecdotal reports from the check station that numerous unsuccessful hunters likely bypassed this station. And it also should be noted that Clyde Park was open Saturday only and Livingston was only open Sunday.
At the Silver City Check station – typically one of the busiest – Area Biologist Jenny Sika reported fewer hunters coming through, but noted, “Hunters were seeing elk or fresh sign scattered throughout the area, both high and low, and some were successful. However, no large herds were reported in the immediate area. That – coupled with weather – certainly played a part in our numbers.”
Meanwhile, at the Cameron check station, numbers were up against the 10-year average with hunters seeing an 11.4 percent success rate.
Hunters with or without game are required to stop at game check stations. The information gathered at check stations helps not only with hunting statistics, but in determining future season setting, and in augmenting species population data.
(Report by Montana FWP; Feature photo via madisoniannews.com)