R1: The Rut is On: White-tailed Deer Harvest Picking Up
By angelamontana

Posted: November 13, 2019

Kalispell, MT — The onset of rutting activity for white-tailed deer is already benefiting hunters across northwest Montana.

Last weekend a total of roughly 2,100 hunters were tallied at five big game check stations in northwest Montana, bringing the season total up to nearly 7,000 hunters. Harvest numbers have improved at each of the stations.

In the third weekend of the season, the number of white-tailed deer reported at the U.S. Highway 2 check station west of Kalispell nearly doubled the previous weekend’s overall tally, from 77 to 136. The number of white-tailed bucks at the US 2 station jumped from 44 to 99 in a week.

Overall, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 1 check stations have tallied 363 white-tailed deer, including 250 bucks, as well as 52 mule deer and 40 elk. The number of harvested mule deer so far is the highest in this region since 2016.

Check stations are open on weekends during hunting season. The counts at the stations represent a sampling of the harvest and do not represent the complete number of animals taken. Hunters must stop at all check stations that they pass, even if they have not harvested any animals.

“Hunter harvest is expected to keep improving with the onset of peak mating activity among deer,” FWP Regional Wildlife Manager Neil Anderson said.

The general big game season runs through Sunday, Dec. 1.

FWP reminds hunters to review the regulations for specific rules in each hunting district.

There is a change in the antlerless hunts in hunting districts 122 and 130 this year. General hunters can no longer harvest antlerless white-tailed deer the first week or the last week of the season in those hunting districts, regardless of land ownership. Youth 12-15 years old and those with a permit to hunt from the vehicle are still allowed to harvest an antlerless whitetail in those hunting districts. Only B license holders can harvest antlerless deer in those districts.

Hunters are reminded that mule deer buck hunting in the North Fisher portion of Hunting District 103 near Libby is permit-only. See legal description in regulations and legal district booklet.

Elk hunting is brow-tined bull only in Region 1. Spike elk are not legal game.

FWP has detected chronic wasting disease in white-tailed deer in the Libby area, and hunters need to be aware of the Libby CWD Management Zone, which includes portions of HDs 100, 103 and 104. All deer, elk and moose harvested within the Libby CWD Management Zone must be checked and sampled within three days of harvest.

During general big game season, the Libby Special CWD Hunt Sampling Station, located at the Montana Department of Transportation shop on US Hwy 2, mile marker 35, will be open every day from 11 a.m. – 1½ hours after sunset. Hunters are only required to stop at the Sampling Station if they harvested an animal.

FWP issued 600 antlerless white-tailed deer licenses that are only eligible within the Libby CWD Management Zone during the archery and general deer seasons.

For more information about CWD, visit fwp.mt.gov/cwd.

Hunters are reminded to “Be Bear Aware” and properly store food and carcasses. Hunters should avoid hanging carcasses near houses or garages. Carcasses must be suspended at least 10 feet above the ground and 4 feet out from any upright support. Hunters are encouraged to carry bear spray and know how to use it. More food storage and safety information are available on the FWP website, fwp.mt.gov.

Residents can call Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks regional office for more information. In northwest Montana, call (406) 752-5501.

FWP REGION ONE CHECK STATION SUMMARY

Through Third Weekend, November 10, 2019

 

STATION NUMBER

HUNTERS

WHITE-TAILED

DEER

 

WT

Bucks

MULE

DEER

ELK %

HUNTERS

WITH GAME

  2019 2018 2019 2018 2019 2018 2019 2018 2019 2018 2019 2018
 

Hwy 2

 

2,978 3,052 136 142 99 69 21 25 16 10 5.8 5.8
 

Swan

 

838 952 45 59 38 31 2 0 3 1 6.0 6.3
 

Thompson

Falls

928 812 32 21 24 13 4 7 8 13 4.7 5.0
 

Olney

 

1,276 1,133 113 83 74 51 7 3 3 4 9.6 7.9
 

Canoe Gulch

 

928 799 37 15 15 7 18 4 10 5 7.0 3.0
 

Totals

 

6,948 6,748 363 320 250 171 52 39 40 33 6.5 5.8

 

R-1 CHECK STATION TRENDS

Through Third Weekend, November 10, 2019

Year Hunter #s Total WTD WT Bucks Mule Deer Elk
2010 7690 260 200 56 63
2011 7995 265 204 29 49
2012 7617 337 286 40 46
2013 8117 328 282 69 36
2014 7488 414 352 73 27
2015 8110 421 321 60 55
2016 7642 539 286 75 49
2017 7597 470 268 19 50
2018 6748 320 171 39 33
2019 6948 363 250 52 40