Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is reporting an above-average harvest of white-tailed deer so far this season in west-central Montana, while the mule deer tally is on par, and elk hunting remains slow but steady without the help of substantial snow and colder temperatures to bump success rates.
At the close of week four, FWP’s hunter check stations are reporting 482 whitetails, the highest number since 2008. Hunters checked the majority of those whitetails through the Bonner check station, where crews tallied 150 white-tailed deer this past weekend but only 10 elk.
“The deer rut is in full swing, and this was a really good whitetail weekend,” said FWP’s Scott Eggeman, as the Bonner check station closed for the evening on Sunday. “Unfortunately, the unseasonably warm weather and lack of snow isn’t helping out elk hunters much.”
So far, hunters have checked 200 elk, compared to 294 in 2015. The Darby hunter check station is reporting 121 of those elk, compared to 198 at this point last season.
“The best hope for elk hunters will be for the cooler, snowy weather that is predicted for the close of the season to materialize,” says Mike Thompson, FWP Region 2 Wildlife Manager.
At the region’s Fish Creek check station west of Missoula, hunter traffic and harvest totals are on track, with three elk reported, 23 mule deer and 40 whitetails. FWP began running a check station in Fish Creek in 2012.
The general rifle season for deer and elk runs through this Sunday, Nov. 27.