R7: Check stations steady during antelope rifle opener in southeastern MT
By angelamontana

Posted: October 28, 2019

Hunters brought 350 antelope through check stations in FWP Region 7 on Oct. 13 during opening weekend for antelope rifle season. Check stations were set up at Hysham, Broadus and Mosby. An early-season snow storm had some impact on the weekend, but overall harvest rates and hunter satisfaction were strong.

“Due to some residual snow cover from a storm earlier in the week, conditions made it difficult to observe antelope until the snow mostly melted by midday on Saturday,” said Ryan DeVore, wildlife biologist at the Broadus station. “The number of hunters coming through the check station was steady, with the majority seeing plenty of antelope, as well as other hunters.”

“Most hunters had an opportunity to harvest an antelope (82 percent) and were satisfied with their hunt (90 percent),” DeVore said. “A total of 66 parties, or 136 hunters, came through the station. Seventy-seven of these hunters were successful in harvesting an antelope (57 percent). Harvest included 19 doe antelope, 67 buck antelope, and one white-tailed buck.”

The Mosby station also was steady most of the day, and it seemed busier than years past, according to Wildlife Biologist Emily Mitchell.

“We had more parties with more hunters than last year, but roughly the same percentage of hunter success,” Mitchell said. “Most hunters came in pretty happy. We had a fairly high hunter success rate at 70 percent this year.”

Mosby saw 132 hunters, bringing 68 bucks and 36 does, along with one bull elk. The station was manned by Mitchell and fellow biologist Melissa Foster.

“Hunter reports were mixed, with some seeing quite a few animals and others having trouble finding animals,” Mitchell said. “Which is no surprise to biologists; we have pockets where numbers are fairly good, but largely numbers are still fairly low. It was a beautiful weekend and most hunters, whether successful or not, were happy to have been out and about. Some hunters who were empty handed but excited to try again were advised to try their luck in the Broadus and Alzada area, where numbers are higher.”

Elk hunters reported a bit more challenging season.

“The archery elk hunters came in mostly happy but said it was a hard hunting year,” Mitchell said. “They were seeing elk, but they are more spaced out and harder to hunt this year due to the wet spring. Hunters reported the elk being fairly quiet all season.”

The Hysham check station had the most hunters with 260 people coming through in 85 parties. It also had the highest harvest success rate at 72 percent. Hunters took 125 antelope bucks and 32 does. The station also checked one cow elk, one mule deer doe and one whitetail doe on Sunday. Biologist Steve Atwood coordinated the Hysham check station.