Elk and white-tailed deer harvest is up and mule deer harvest is lower than last year after the first two weeks of the general big game hunting season in west-central Montana.
The harvest of 218 elk through the Anaconda, Bonner and Darby check stations compares to 155 at this point last year. The harvest of 211 white-tailed deer is the highest week two tally since 2008, while the mule deer harvest is lower than in any season since before 1997.
At the Bonner Check Station, hunter trips reached 3,310, which is higher than any season since 2011. The elk harvest of 36 is higher than last year, but below the five-year average. White-tailed deer harvest through Bonner totaled 157, which was 19 percent higher than last year and 30 percent higher than the five-year average. While mule deer harvest was down across the three check stations combined, the harvest of 26 mule deer at Bonner was slightly higher than at this time in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
At the Darby hunter check station, elk harvest surged during the second week to reach a season total so far of 144, up 52 percent from last year. The white-tailed deer harvest of 40 was down 29 percent from last year, while the mule deer harvest of 17 equaled last year’s tally.
The Anaconda Check Station reached 922 hunter trips at the end of the weekend, nearly equal to the hunter trips checked at this time last year. Elk harvest of 38 through Anaconda was 31 percent higher than last year and equaled the five-year average.
FWP checked 558 hunters through a relatively new check station at Fish Creek through the second week of the season. The Fish Creek station hasn’t seen any elk so far, but the harvest of 22 white-tailed deer is higher than harvests of 16 and seven whitetails in previous years. The tally of 11 mule deer so far surpassed previous counts of nine and four.
In total, the region’s four hunter check stations are reporting 6,694 hunter trips, 218 elk, 53 mule deer, 211 whitetails, five black bears, two moose, one bighorn sheep and one wolf. The general rifle season for deer and elk runs through Sunday, Nov. 29.