R3: 2019 general hunting season wraps up in southwest Montana
By angelamontana

Posted: December 5, 2019
Bozeman, MT — Montana’s general hunting season ended Sunday evening with lower hunter numbers and varied success rates in southwest Montana during the season’s sixth and final weekend.Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks operated four check stations in Region 3 during the fifth weekend of the general deer and elk hunt, and seven check stations during the sixth and final weekend. Overall, hunter numbers were lower this year than in 2018, and relatively mild weather conditions made it difficult for hunters to find game in some areas.

Weekend 5 saw fewer hunters this year than the same weekend in 2018 at the Cameron and Divide check stations. Success rates were lower than 2018 at the Cameron, Divide and Mill Creek check stations, but higher at the Gallatin check station (see Figure 1).

Weekend 6 of this year’s season brought fewer hunters than in 2018 at the Alder, Cameron, Canyon Ferry, Gallatin and Silver City check stations. Hunter success for that weekend, however, was higher this year at the Alder, Cameron, Canyon Ferry, Divide, Gallatin and Mill Creek check stations (see Figure 2).

Overall, hunter numbers were lower in 2019 than the year before, but success rates in many areas were within long-term averages. Weather always plays a significant role in hunter participation and success. This year, strong winter storms kept many hunters home during opening weekend. But frequent freeze-thaw cycles made it difficult for hunters to find game in some areas throughout the remainder of the season.

Weather in the Butte area during the final weekend was much more conducive to hunting, with lower temperatures and some snowfall. However, hunters reported little or no sign of elk movement, indicating that the elk have not yet come out of the Pintler Range to begin their migration toward the Fleecer or High Rye winter ranges.

Season setting

FWP is beginning its biennial season setting process and will be seeking public input. Meetings have been scheduled throughout Region 3 where members of the public are invited to attend and provide feedback on proposals for hunting seasons over the next two years. Meeting locations are still being finalized, and more information about these meetings and FWP’s proposals will be provided as it becomes available. Meetings will be held at 6 p.m. in the following cities:

  • Helena – Jan. 7
  • Whitehall – Jan. 8
  • Dillon – Jan. 9
  • Butte – Jan. 14
  • Bozeman – Jan. 15
  • Livingston – Jan. 16

 

Figure 1: Weekend 5 check station summary

2018 & 2019 Region 3 Check Station Summary – Weekend 5
Check Station  

Hunters

Hunters w/ deer & elk White-tailed deer  

Mule deer

 

Elk

2019 2018 2019 2018 2019 2018 2019 2018 2019 2018
Cameron 397 446 9.8% 12.3% 1 3 8 7 30 45
Divide 175 200 4.1% 6% 1 0 6 6 3 6
Gallatin 94 93 7.4% 6.5% 0 2 2 1 5 3
Mill Creek* 150 61 4.7% 9.8% 0 0 2 5 4 1
TOTALS 816 800 2 5 18 19 42 55

 * Mill Creek check station open for one day only in Weekend 5 of 2018.


Figure 2: Weekend 6 check station summary

2018 & 2019 Region 3 Check Station Summary – Weekend 6
Check Station  

Hunters

Hunters w/ deer & elk White-tailed deer  

Mule deer

 

Elk

2019 2018 2019 2018 2019 2018 2019 2018 2019 2018
Alder 163 183 17% 16% 5 17 6 8 15 10
Cameron 345 430 12.8% 11.9% 4 5 13 11 27 35
Canyon Ferry 176 301 14.8% 6.6% 4 1 15 14 9 5
Divide 234 229 10.7% 8.7% 1 3 8 5 16 13
Gallatin 72 75 5.5% 4% 0 0 2 1 2 2
Mill Creek* 63 104 7.9% 3.8% 0 0 0 1 5 3
Silver City 154 223 5.8% 7.6% 1 7 3 7 5 3
TOTALS 1,207 1,545 15 33 47 47 79 71

  * Mill Creek check station open for one day only in Weekend 6 of 2019.