At the close of the first week of hunting season in west-central Montana, the three hunter check stations near Bonner, Darby and Anaconda are reporting a deer harvest slightly above the five year average, while elk hunting has been slow in most spots.
The Bonner Check Station was relatively quiet on Saturday, but traffic and harvest picked up on Sunday. Hunter numbers (2,066) through Bonner are up five percent from last year, but the elk harvest of 17 is notably down from 2013, and 59% below the four year average. Weather was one factor, with no measurable tracking snow reported at the Copper Camp Snotel site in the headwaters of the Blackfoot over the weekend.
White-tailed deer harvest through the Bonner check station hit the benchmark of 91 for the third time in the past five years, up three percent from the four-year average of 89, and the mule deer harvest of 19 is one deer over the four-year average of 18.
The Darby check station is open on weekends only for the first time this year, where hunter numbers are up 18% compared to the first two weekends of last season. Elk harvest through Darby is on pace with last season’s first two weekends with 88 elk checked, compared to 87 last year. The Darby mule deer harvest totals are down slightly, while the whitetail harvest is up to 42, compared with 25 after last year’s first two weekends.
Traffic through the Anaconda Check Station is above the 2013 season, while the elk harvest of 24 is 30% below the four-year average of 35. Mule deer and white-tailed deer checked through the Anaconda station are on par with previous years.
Hunters are reminded that they must stop at all check stations that they pass on their way to or from hunting—even if they have not harvested any animals. The general rifle season for deer and elk runs through Sunday, Nov. 30.
(Report by Montana FWP)