Deer, Elk Season Ends Slightly up from Last Year in West-Central Montana
The big game general hunting season closed on Sunday evening with higher numbers than last season of hunter trips, harvested animals and percentages of hunters with game in west-central Montana. Elk and mule deer harvests were higher than last year, but white-tailed deer harvest tapered off in the last weekend to dip slightly below last year’s tally through the three hunter check stations in west-central Montana.
Season totals at Bonner were slightly higher than last year’s final numbers, with 6,628 hunter-trips, 53 elk, 63 mule deer and 391 white-tailed deer checked at the station. The white-tailed deer harvest was the highest at Bonner since 2010, when harvest surged in the last two weekends of the hunting season, outpacing the last two weeks of this season. The mule deer harvest at Bonner was three percent below the five year average while the elk harvest was 35 percent below the five year average.
At the Anaconda check station, FWP biologist, Ray Vinkey, and student volunteers sampled 1,359 hunter-trips, 60 elk, 24 mule deer, and 23 white-tailed deer this season. The harvest of all three species was up from last year, even though hunter-trips were down. Elk and mule deer harvest fell almost squarely upon the five year averages, while white-tailed deer harvest was 35 percent higher than the norm.
Hunter-trips and elk harvest were up from last year at Darby, and deer harvest was down. FWP biologist, Rebecca Mowry, and students checked 4,715 hunter-trips this season, with 241 elk, 28 mule deer and 86 white-tailed deer. The elk harvest was 50 percent higher than last year, while the mule deer harvest was down 20 percent and the whitetail harvest was down 22 percent.
FWP biologist, Liz Bradley and student volunteers operated the Fish Creek Check Station this season after a one-year hiatus, checking 1,290 hunter-trips, 26 mule deer, 76 white-tailed deer and no elk. Four elk were checked in each of the 2012 and 2013 seasons at Fish Creek. Deer harvests, especially white-tailed deer, were higher at Fish Creek this year than in previous years, even though fewer hunter-trips were sampled this year.
In all this season, the region’s four hunter check stations reported 13,992 hunter trips, 354 elk, 141 mule deer, 576 whitetails, seven black bears, two moose, three bighorn sheep and six wolves.