With one week left in big game hunting season, harvest remains steady across west-central Montana. Elk harvest reported at the area’s three hunter check stations continues to outpace last year’s, while white-tailed deer harvest fell slightly below last year over the past week.
Hunters checked a total of 122 white-tailed deer through the Bonner station last weekend, the highest weekend report this season, but not quite enough to keep the cumulative season tally above last year. Still, whitetail harvest remains above the five-year average.
“If whitetail harvest is leveling off at all this season it must be because fewer hunters are afield,” said Scott Eggeman, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife biologist in the Blackfoot. “On Saturday at Bonner we checked 83 animals (mostly white-tailed deer), which is one of the busiest days I’ve ever seen, with about 20% hunter success.”
Also at Bonner, the 91 elk checked this season is the highest since 2009. Elk harvests checked at Anaconda (43) and Darby (146) continued this year’s pattern—higher than last year, lower than 2015 and higher than 2014.
All told, the Anaconda, Bonner and Darby Check Stations have tallied 9,317 hunters, 280 elk, 63 mule deer, 461 white-tailed deer, 9 black bears, 3 bighorn sheep and 2 wolves through the first five weekends of the big game hunting season. Big game hunting season runs through Sunday, Nov. 26.