At the close of the fourth weekend of the 2017 big game rifle season, harvest totals at the three west-central Montana hunter check stations are up 7 percent from this point last year.
White-tailed deer harvest, which has been the highlight all season, is higher than any year since 2008. The Bonner check station sees most of the region’s white-tailed deer harvest and has tallied 271 so far, compared to 255 last season and 248 in 2015.
Elk harvest is higher than last year at this point, and is running a bit above average for the period of years since 2014, when the Darby Check Station moved to weekends-only operation.
At Darby, the elk harvest of 134 is up from 103 recorded last year at this time, but lower than the 168 elk checked through the fourth weekend in 2015. The Bonner hunter check station is reporting 76 elk harvested so far, higher than at this point in any season in the Blackfoot since 2009.
The three check stations have accounted for 7,584 contacts with hunters and a total harvest of 625 animals checked, including 320 white-tailed deer, 48 mule deer, 243 elk, nine black bears, three bighorn sheep and two wolves. Big game hunting season runs through Sunday, Nov. 26.