Mild weather on the Rocky Mountain Front for the opening weekend of Montana’s general big game season led to fewer than average hunters taking home fewer elk compared to the past eight years.
Mule deer numbers were about average, while the number of white-tailed deer taken was well above average.
The numbers were collected at Fish, Wildlife and Parks check station in Augusta, which has been in operation for decades; however, starting in 2010 the opener for the general deer and elk season was moved from Sunday to Saturday.
“Elk harvest was less than half of normal this year with only eight elk checked in,” said Brent Lonner, FWP wildlife biologist. “Very little harvest is occurring on the Sun River elk (HD 424, 425 and 442) due to lack of cold and snow.”
FWP’s Augusta check station is Region 4’s sole biological check station, and the results apply only to a handful of hunting districts on the Rocky Mountain Front.
Elk hunters this year brought in eight animals (four bulls and four cows) compared to the eight-year average of 10 bulls, seven cows and one calf.
Mule deer numbers over the weekend at the check station came to 14 (11 bucks, two does and one fawn); for the past eight years hunters averaged nine bucks, three does and one fawn.
With whitetails, this year’s opening weekend count in Augusta was 24 (five bucks, 14 does and five fawns) while the eight-year average was eight bucks, five does and two fawns.
“White-tailed deer harvest was well above average, especially for antlerless deer,” Lonner said, “with many folks using the re-established Region 4 over-the-counter antlerless whitetail B license.”
The general deer and elk season runs through Nov. 25.