Montana Big Game Harvest Reports Regions 1-5
By Toby Trigger

Posted: November 7, 2015
The Montana FWP Released Hunter data on Thursday – Find out how your favorite Montana region is doing –
Hunting – Region 1

Mon Nov 02 14:48:13 MST 2015

At the six northwest Montana check stations through Sunday, November 1, a total of 5,599 hunters checked 328 white-tailed deer (243 of these were bucks), 38 mule deer, and 35 elk for a 7.2 percent rate of hunters with game. This compares to a 6.3 percent rate of hunters with game last year (see attached table). The counts at the six northwest Montana check stations represent a sampling of the harvest and do not represent the complete number of animals taken. FWP Wildlife Manager Neil Anderson notes that the number of white-tail deer brought through the check stations is up about 42% from last year, the number of elk is almost double, but the number of mule deer is down about 30%.

Hunters are reminded that it is buck-only for white-tails in northwest Montana. Antlerless white-tails remain legal game for youth 12-15 years of age (and some qualifying 10 and 11-year- olds, see regulations). Mule deer are buck-only for the entire season. Elk are brow-tine bull only, unless you have an antlerless elk license. Spike bull elk are not legal game for any hunter in Region One. Hunters should refer to the hunting regulations for the hunting district they plan to hunt.

Wolf harvest: Hunters are required to report a wolf harvest to FWP within 24 hours. As of November 2, a total of 16 wolves have been taken by hunters in northwest Montana Region One compared to 13 at this time last year. A total of 50 wolves have been harvested statewide compared to 48 this time last year. The quota in wolf district 110 has been reached and that district is now closed. Wolf hunters should check the current wolf hunting regulations before heading out to the field.



Hunting – Region 2

Mon Nov 02 11:24:23 MST 2015

White-tailed deer harvest continued to rebound from recent years through the second weekend of the big game general hunting season, with the highest harvest levels in west-central Montana since 2008.

FWP biologists and student volunteers from the University of Montana checked 155 white-tailed deer through the Bonner, Darby and Anaconda hunter check stations in the first two weekends of the season, up 15 percent from the five-year average, and 13 percent above last year’s tally of 137 white-tailed deer.

As usual, the Bonner Check Station accounted for almost 75 percent of the white-tailed deer harvest that was sampled at the three check stations, where hunter numbers were up slightly from last year, despite rain showers throughout the weekend.

The weekend’s precipitation produced traces of snow at the highest elevations, but not enough to move elk yet.  At the three check stations combined, the elk harvest reached 139 over the weekend, compared to 129 last year. The elk harvest of 92 at Darby was the highest in the region, and five percent higher than last year but well below the five-year average.

At the check station near Anaconda, hunters reported 23 elk in the first two weekends combined, on par with 24 last year. White-tailed deer harvest reported at Anaconda was 11, compared to four at this point in the 2014 season.

FWP operated a check station at the mouth of Fish Creek for the third year in the past four, and reached a total of 347 hunters in the first and second weekends of the season.  The 10 white-tailed deer checked at Fish Creek so far this season is up from only five in 2013 and six in 2012.  No elk have been checked at Fish Creek so far.

In total, the region’s four hunter check stations are reporting 4,863 hunter trips, 139 elk, 46 mule deer, 165 whitetails, five black bears, two moose and one bighorn sheep. The general rifle season for deer and elk runs through Sunday, Nov. 29.


Hunting – Region 3

Thu Nov 05 13:08:18 MST 2015

Marked by unseasonably mild weather, the second weekend of the general deer and elk season was mostly quieter than opening weekend across southwestern Montana with fewer hunters afield and fewer deer and elk harvested.

Hunters and harvest at the Cameron and Gallatin Canyon check stations charted numbers below the five-year average. At some stations, harvest numbers remained close to or above average.

Area Biologist Julie Cunningham reported a hunter-harvest for deer and elk of 6.7 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively. An above average mule deer harvest continued in the Madison area, with 10 mule deer checked.

The Townsend station recorded the highest number of hunters on opening weekend among Region 3 check stations, but logged the lowest number during the second weekend, at just 55 hunters checked. One cow elk was checked, resulting in 1.8 percent of hunters with game.

The Divide station was on par with the five-year average; 8.8 percent of hunters checked with game. Staff at Mill Creek station reported hunter success of 5.1 percent, significantly higher than the five-year average of 3.4 percent. Combined, the two stations checked 21 elk, five mule deer, and two white-tailed deer.

Silver City and Alder check stations will not run again until the closing weekend of the general season.

FWP reminds hunters to stop at all check encountered—even if they have not harvested any animals. The general rifle season for deer and elk runs through Sunday, Nov. 29.


Hunting – Region 4

Thu Nov 05 13:05:41 MST 2015

Elk and mule deer taken by hunters remain below average on the Rocky Mountain Front, but the white-tailed deer harvest is up at the end of the second weekend of the 2015 general big game season.

The numbers were collected at Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ check station in Augusta, says Brent Lonner, FWP wildlife biologist.

“Elk harvest remains 25 percent below the 10-year average,” Lonner says, “but slightly above last year at this time.”

Concerning the mule deer numbers, Lonner says: “Total mule deer harvest remains 46 percent below the 10-year average. But remember this is the second year there has been no antlerless mule deer hunting. That’s a contributing factor to the harvest reduction.”

The numbers at the Augusta check station – FWP Region 4’s sole biological check station – apply only to a handful of hunting districts on the Rocky Mountain Front.

Elk hunters so far have brought in 49 elk (23 bulls, 23 cows and three calves) compared to the long-term average of 65 elk.

Mule deer at the check station have numbered 29 bucks. The long-term average is 52 animals.

With whitetails, this year’s count in Augusta stands at 49 (26 bucks, 16 does and seven fawns), while the 10-year average is 44.

So far 771 hunters have stopped at the Augusta station, which is about four percent above average.

The general deer and elk season runs through Nov. 29.


Hunting – Region 5

Mon Nov 02 14:29:18 MST 2015


BILLINGS — Weekend hunter numbers were relatively flat from last year at south central Montana check stations. But Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists noted an increase in the number of harvested animals, particularly deer.

FWP operated four check stations in south central Montana and checked 581 hunters during the second weekend of the state’s general rifle hunting season. They checked 31 white-tailed deer and 92 mule deer, both increases from the same weekend in 2014. The elk harvest cooled some with 28 animals checked – down six from a year ago.

Here are some details from the check stations:


The number of hunters who stopped at FWP’s Big Timber check station Sunday was identical to the same day last year, but the number of deer and elk checked was up sharply over 2014. Of the hunters who stopped, 60 percent had harvested game, up from 28 percent on the same date in 2014 and ahead of the long-term average of 51.

FWP wildlife biologist Justin Paugh checked nine white-tailed deer, up from four in 2014 but well off of the average of 19. Hunters checked 27 mule deer, up sharply from 11 last year and similar to a long-term average of 26. The elk harvest remained strong for the second weekend of the general big game season with 11 animals checked – up from eight last year, which also is the long-term average. Hunters continue to bring antelope to the Big Timber check station with 15 checked Sunday – up from six during the same weekend in 2014, but below the long-term average of 21.

For the year to date, 386 hunters have stopped at Big Timber, up from 357 last year and the long-term average of 347. Though the white-tailed deer harvest of 26 animals year-to-date was 10 better than 2014, it remained well below the average of 38. So far this year hunters have checked 60 mule deer, up from 46 during the same day in 2014 and ahead of the long-term average of 53. The elk harvest remains strong with 33 animals checked at Big Timber, up from 18 last year and double the long-term average.



The number of hunters who stopped at FWP’s Lavina check station Sunday was identical to the same day in 2014, but the number of deer checked was up sharply from last year. Of the 199 hunters who stopped, 17 percent had harvested game – up from 11 percent a year ago. The elk harvest dropped off to six animals checked, compared with nine last year.

FWP wildlife biologist Ashley Taylor said that, over the first two weekends of the 2015 general hunting season, 733 hunters have stopped at Lavina, up from 695 a year ago and well above the long-term average of 674. So far, hunters have checked just 13 white-tailed deer this year – just 25 percent of the long-term average of 52 for the first two weekends of the year.

The mule deer harvest has fared somewhat better so far this year with 64 animals checked compared with just 25 during the first two weekends of 2014, but blow the long-term average of 78. Of the mule deer checked, 61 were bucks – the most seen at Lavina since 2003.

After getting a fast start on opening weekend, the elk harvest measured at Lavina has settled in to near average at 27 animals, compared to 46 in 2014 and a long average of 25.



The number of hunter who stopped at FWP’s Columbus check station over the weekend was lower than during the same weekend last year. And they had fewer deer and elk than in 2014.

FWP wildlife biologist Shawn Stewart checked 157 hunters on Saturday and Sunday. That is down from 190 during the same weekend in 2014. Of those who stopped, 30 percent had harvested game compared to 33 percent last year. Hunters checked 11 white-tailed deer, down from 16 last year, and 26 mule deer, down just two from the same weekend in 2014. After starting strong on the opening weekend, the elk harvest dropped off with 9 animals checked compared with 16 a year ago.

For the year to date, 369 hunters have checked in at the Columbus station, down from 425 in 2014 and a long-term average of 386. Hunters have checked 23 white-tailed deer – the lowest number since 2005 – down from 33 in 2014 and just and just half of the long-term average. Stewart checked 54 mule deer – up from 49 last year but 36 percent below the long-term average of 85

The year-to-date elk harvest measured at Columbus remains strong this year with 27 animals checked, the same as last year and well above the long-term average of 11. Stewart said elk harvest success is largely attributable to liberal antlerless hunting opportunities, though most elk in the area remain on private land where access is difficult



The number of hunters who stopped at FWP’s Laurel check station over the weekend was 69 percent bigger than the same weekend in 2014. The number of deer and elk checked also was higher than a year ago as was the percentage of hunter who had harvested game.

FWP wildlife research specialist Jay Watson checked 121 hunters at Laurel during the second weekend of Montana’s general big game season. That compares to 84 during the same time in 2014. The hunters checked six white-tailed deer – up from four a year ago – and 20 mule deer – up from seven in 2014. Three elk came through the check station compared to one last year. Of those who stopped, 26 percent of hunters had game compared to 18 percent in 2014.

For both weekends of the 2015 season, 244 hunters stopped at Laurel – 27 more than the same two weekends last year. Those hunters checked 15 white-tailed deer – five more than 2014, but well below the long-term average of 39. They checked 38 mule deer – more than the 23 checked in 2014, but well below the average of 85. The elk harvest remained good with eight animals checked – two more than last year and the most seen in the opening two weekends at Laurel since 2005. The station averages six elk for the first two weekends of each year.


Hunters are reminded that they must stop at any check station they pass while hunting, whether or not they have harvested game. Check stations primarily are intended for biologists to gather statistical information about animals and hunters.


Here are some of this past weekend’s details from each check station:

    WHITE-       %
Laurel (84) 121 (4) 6 (7) 20 (2) 2 (1) 3 (18) 26
Lavina (199) 199 (3) 5 (9) 19 (0) 4 (9) 6 (11) 17
Big Timber (104) 104 (4) 9 (11) 27 (6) 15 (8) 11 (28) 60
Columbus (190) 157 (16) 11 (28) 26 (1) 1 (16) 9 (33) 30
(numbers in parentheses are from the second weekend in 2014)





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