R7: More hunters, mild weather for final big game weekend
By angelamontana

Posted: December 2, 2020

Very pleasant weather for the final weekend of the big game hunting season drew lots of hunters out to try to punch their tags in southeastern Montana. Hunter traffic was above average at two of the three biological check stations set up Sunday.

Hysham Check Station

People were getting out enjoying the pleasant weather over the weekend. This was evident by an above-average number of hunting parties passing through the Hysham check station on Sunday, according to Wildlife Biologist Steve Atwood.

“From a harvest perspective, one thing that stood out to me was the healthy age stratification of harvested deer,” Atwood said. “Thirty-three percent of the deer observed were estimated to be 3.5 years old, 20 percent were 4.5 years old and 13 percent were 5.5 years old.”

“In terms of hunter attitudes, it was one of the more enjoyable check stations,” he said. “Overall, hunters seemed content with their experiences in Region 7. We didn’t observe anything that was extraordinarily large in terms of antlers, but we saw a lot of really nice deer that are solid examples of the kind of deer produced in eastern Montana.”

The Hysham crew saw 168 hunters in 60 parties, which is well above the 10-year average, based on the last Sunday of the general big game season. The 68 percent harvest success rate was just above long-term average.

Workers checked 76 mule deer (54 bucks, 22 does), 40 white-tailed deer (29 bucks, 11 does) and six elk (1 bull, 5 cows).

Ashland Check Station

“The weather this past weekend was very pleasant, with high temperatures in the 40s and 50s,” said Wildlife Biologist Ryan DeVore. “It made for great conditions for hunters to enjoy their time afield to close out their big game season.”

Similar to previous check stations in Ashland this season, Sunday was again slower than the same weekend in recent years. Seventy hunting parties came through on Sunday with a total of 129 hunters. Fifty-six people were successful, for a harvest success rate of 43 percent, which is similar to the last few years.

The harvest at Ashland included:

– 47 mule deer (32 bucks, 15 does)

– 18 white-tailed deer (12 bucks, 6 does), and

– 4 elk (2 bulls, 2 cows)

Glendive Check Station

Glendive was busier than normal, probably a result of the mild, sunny weather. Workers there saw 29 parties and 47 hunters.

Wildlife Biologist Melissa Foster said workers checked quite a few deer: 17 mule deer bucks, seven mule deer does, five whitetail bucks and two whitetail does.

Similar to Hysham, 89 percent of bucks were 3.5 years or older, indicating good numbers of mature bucks on the landscape.

“We had quite a few hunters who had already filled one or more licenses and were casually hunting, but really mostly interested in spending time afield with friends and family,” Foster said.

“We had very few bird hunters, and those parties reported that numbers were about average but the pheasants were wild, often flushing over 100 yards out,” she said. “We only checked 11 upland game birds all day.”

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