Hunters hit the Rocky Mountain Front for the opening weekend of Montana’s general big game season, taking home fewer elk and mule deer compared to the past five years, 2010 through 2014.
The white-tailed deer harvest was above the five-year average.
The numbers were collected at Fish, Wildlife and Parks check station in Augusta, which has been in operation for decades; however starting in 2010 the opener for the general deer and elk season was moved from Sunday to Saturday.
“Similar to other recent opening weekends,” says Brent Lonner, FWP wildlife biologist, “mild weather conditions no doubt played some role in reduced hunting success.”
FWP’s Augusta check station is Region 4’s sole biological check station, and the results apply only to a handful of hunting districts on the Rocky Mountain Front.
Elk hunters this year brought in 15 animals (nine bulls and six cows) compared to the five-year average of 19 elk (10 bulls, eight cows and one calf).
Mule deer numbers over the weekend at the check station came to five bucks; for the past five years hunters averaged 13 mulies (eight bucks, four does and one fawn).
With whitetails, this year’s opening weekend count in Augusta was 19 (five bucks, nine does and five fawns) while the five-year average was 11 whitetails (six bucks, four does and one fawn).
Overall hunter participation was slightly above the five-year opening weekend average: 273 hunters checked through Augusta this year compared to an average of 255 hunters.
The general deer and elk season runs through Nov. 29.