Hunters took to the field Saturday and Sunday across northwest Montana for the opening weekend of the general deer and elk season. At the six northwest Montana check stations, a total of 3,210 hunters checked 158 white-tailed deer (102 of these were bucks), 18 mule deer, and 23 elk for a 6.2 percent rate of hunters with big game. The harvest rate was the same as last year for opening weekend.
According to FWP Wildlife Manager Neil Anderson, the opener was solid, reflecting the good fawn recruitment over the past four years and an increasing white-tail population. “We’ve had very good survival of young deer for several years running,” Anderson said. “Although overall buck harvest was down slightly from opening weekend last year, hunters reported seeing a lot of deer. What was really encouraging was to see the number of young hunters out with family members at the Highway 2 check station. We saw a lot of smiles on kid’s faces.”
The Olney check station had the highest harvest rate with 11 percent of the hunters harvesting deer. The Highway 2 check station had the record for number of elk harvested at 16.
Hunters are reminded that the general license regulations for whitetails and mule deer for Region one in all areas except hunting district 170 and parts of 132 are buck-only through the end of the hunting season. Youths 15 years of age and younger can take antlerless whitetail deer.
Elk hunting is brow-tined bull only. Spike elk are not legal game. These regulations apply in most Region One hunting districts. Hunters are encouraged to check the Montana hunting regulations for the district you plan to hunt before hitting the field.
Hunters are reminded to be bear-aware and properly store food and manage carcasses properly both in the field and at home.