2015 Region 5 Deer and Elk Harvest Numbers
By rowdyrob

Posted: November 24, 2015

Hunter numbers, harvest up in south central Montana

 

BILLINGS — The number of hunters who stopped at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park check stations in south central Montana over the past weekend was higher than last year, as was the percentage of hunters with harvested game.

FWP operated check stations in three south central Montana locations during the fifth weekend of the 2015 general big-game season. This year’s season runs through Nov. 29.

Here are summary reports from the three check stations:

 

COLUMBUS

The number of hunter checked at FWP’s Columbus check station over the weekend and the number of harvested animals of all species was better than during the same weekend in 2014.

FWP wildlife biologist Shawn Stewart checked 228 hunters over the weekend at Columbus, up from 200 last year. Hunters had harvested 36 white-tailed deer, up from 27 a year ago. They checked 37 mule deer, up from 27 last year. The elk harvest remained strong with eight animals checked at Columbus, up two from a year ago. Of those who stopped at the check station, 36 percent had game, up from 30 percent last year.

For the year to date, FWP has checked 1,036 hunters at Columbus, which was slightly higher than the number checked last year and just slightly above the long term average.  Stewart has checked only 123 white-tailed deer, the second lowest harvest since 200, 10 percent below the long term average and 35 percent below the peak harvest in 2008 .  While mule deer harvest is 11 percent more than last year it remains 34 percent below the long term average.  Elk continue to be the bright spot with harvest running nearly equal to last year’s record harvest and more than double the long-term average.

 

BIG TIMBER

The number of hunter checked at FWP’s Big Timber check station over the weekend was nearly identical to the same weekend in 2014, but the number of harvested animals was up and the percentage of hunters with game was substantially higher.

FWP wildlife biologist Justin Paugh checked 108 hunters over the weekend at Big Timber, up just one from last year. Hunters had harvested 19 white-tailed deer, up from 11 a year ago. They checked 41 mule deer, up from 23 last year. The elk harvest remained strong with 14 animals checked at Big Timber, up from eight a year ago. Of those who stopped at the check station, 68 percent had game, up from 39 percent last year.

For the year to date, FWP has checked 769 hunters at Big Timber, which is 45 higher than the number checked last year and just seven more than the long term average.  Paugh has checked 69 white-tailed deer, the second lowest harvest on record, ahead of the 51 check last year buy well below the long term average of 118.  Hunters have checked 154 mule deer at Big Timber so far this season, ahead of 125 at the same time last season, but behind the long-term average of 165. Elk continue to be the bright spot with a record 85 checked this season, nearly double the 44 checked last year and well ahead of the long-term average of 33.

 

LAVINA

The number of hunter checked at FWP’s Lavina check station over the weekend was 17 percent larger than the same weekend in 2014, but the number of harvested animals and the percentage of hunters with game was nearly identical.

FWP wildlife biologist Ashely Taylor checked 217 hunters over the weekend at Lavina, up from 185 on the same weekend last year. Hunters had harvested 16 white-tailed deer, the same as in 2014. They checked 26 mule deer, up two from a year ago. The elk harvest remained strong with 13 animals checked at Lavina, up from seven a year ago. Of those who stopped at the check station, 25 percent had game, the same as the fifth weekend of the 2014 season.

For the year to date, FWP has checked 1,468 hunters at Lavina, 43 higher than last year but well below the long-term average of 1,549.  Taylor has checked 52 white-tailed deer, seven better than a year ago but less than half of the long-term average of 127.  Hunters have checked 155 mule deer at Lavina so far this season, the most since 2006 and ahead of 103 at the same time last season, but behind the long-term average of 216. The elk harvest measured so far this year at Lavina is 83 animals, two less than 2014 but 37 percent above the long-term average of 60.

Of the deer checked at Lavina over the weekend, 77 percent of mule deer and 92 percent of white-tailed deer were mature bucks

 

Hunters are reminded that they must stop at any check station they pass while hunting, whether or not they have harvested game. Check stations primarily are intended for biologists to gather statistical information about animals and hunters.

 

Here are some of this past weekend’s details from each check station:
    WHITE-     %  
  NUMBER TAILED MULE   HUNTERS  
STATION HUNTERS DEER DEER ELK WITH GAME  
Lavina (185) 217 (16) 16 (24) 26 (7) 13 (25) 25  
Big Timber (107) 108 (11) 19 (23) 41 (8) 14 (39) 68  
Columbus (200) 228 (27) 36 (27) 37 (6) 8 (30) 36  
(numbers in parentheses are from the fifth weekend in 2014)