Great Falls – Despite weather that’s windy and warm one day, then cold and snowy the next, hunters on the Rocky Mountain Front west of Augusta are taking home elk and white-tailed deer this hunting season at numbers above the long-term averages, a state wildlife biologist said.
“The unsettled weather the first two weeks of the season appears to both hinder and help hunter effort and harvest success,” said Brent Lonner, Fish, Wildlife & Parks wildlife biologist. “The overall number of hunters continues to be below the 10-year average. But the elk harvest is 5 percent above the long-term average and the white-tailed harvest is 52 percent above the 10-year average.”
Mule deer numbers, however, are lagging.
“The mule deer harvest is 46 percent below the 10-year average,” Lonner said. “Antlered buck harvest is the primary factor driving low harvest thus far.”
The numbers were collected in Augusta at FWP Region 4’s sole biological check station and apply only to a handful of hunting districts on the Rocky Mountain Front. The station was closed Sunday because of the weekend’s blizzard that led to area power outages and poor driving conditions.
Elk hunters this season have brought in 117 animals (49 bulls, 55 cows and 13 calves) compared to the 10-year average of 111 elk.
Mule deer at the check station have numbered 42 (34 bucks and eight does). The 10-year average is 79 animals.
White-tailed deer numbers this year in Augusta stand at 118 (48 bucks, 63 does and seven fawns), while the 10-year average is 77.
The big game general season ends Nov. 29.