The winter-like weather on the Rocky Mountain Front for the opening weekend of Montana’s general big game season led to fewer hunters going out, but those who did took home deer and elk close to average compared to the past nine years.
“Elk and mule harvest were only slightly below the recent average,” said Brent Lonner, Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife biologist. “White-tailed deer harvest was well above average, especially for antlerless deer.”
The numbers were tallied at FWP’s Augusta check station, which has been in operation for decades; however, starting in 2010 the opener for the general deer and elk season was moved from Sunday to Saturday.
FWP’s Augusta check station is Region 4’s sole biological check station, and the results apply only to a handful of hunting districts on the Rocky Mountain Front.
Elk hunters this year brought in 15 animals (six bulls, seven cows and two calves) compared to the nine-year average of nine bulls and seven cows and one calf.
Mule deer numbers over the weekend at the check station came to 11 (10 bucks and one doe); for the past nine years hunters averaged nine bucks, three does and one fawn.
With whitetails, this year’s opening weekend count in Augusta was 21 (one buck, 16 does and four fawns) while the nine-year average was seven bucks, six does and two fawns.
“Most elk checked on opening weekend came out of hunting district 422,” Lonner said. “As is normal for this time of year, very little harvest is occurring on elk from Sun River elk, which is hunting districts 424, 425 and 442.”
The general deer and elk seasons run through Dec. 1.