R4: HARVEST REMAINS LOW AFTER SECOND WEEKEND OF BIG GAME SEASON
By angelamontana

Posted: November 1, 2021

GREAT FALLS – Overall hunting and harvest remained low through the first full week of the general rifle season in the Augusta area, which is the location of the only biological check station in FWP Region 4. Workers at the check station on Sunday October 31 reported one of the slowest days in recent memory with respect to hunter numbers.

At the end of the day on Sunday, a total of 103 elk and deer had been brought through the check station this season, resulting in a 15% harvest success, which is roughly 25% below recent average. So far this season elk harvest is just under half of what biologists expect to see in a normal year. Little harvest is occurring on ‘Sun River’ migratory elk given the mild weather and lack of movement of these elk towards winter range, which would make them more accessible to front country hunters.

The low harvest is largely influenced by the warm and dry conditions making hunting more difficult thus far this season.  The relatively small weather system that moved through the area over the weekend provided cooler temps, but generally little moisture.

Both the HD 424 and 442 elk quotas remain open to antlerless elk harvest. When these antlerless quotas are met, antlerless elk harvest will close, but the brow-tined bull season remains open through Thanksgiving weekend (HD 442 antlerless elk would remain valid, but only off National Forest Service Lands).

Mule and white-tailed deer harvest are 8% and 21% below normal, respectively. Deer harvest has been generally well distributed throughout the greater Augusta area. In addition to the deer and elk harvest, 7 antelope, 1 mountain goat and a variety of game birds (upland and waterfowl) have been checked though the station.

Biologists report that swans and white geese started making an initial push through Freezout as the weather system over the weekend was enough to push some of these birds down from the north. Typically, swan numbers and subsequent harvest for those with permits is best now through the next week or two, pending weather. Those interested in tracking waterfowl numbers can find up to date information at the Freezout Lake WMA story map: https://mtfwp.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=24465f5b7a17488da29b447fa2811107

FWP Game Wardens have reported contacting an average number of hunters thus far during the season.  The two most common complaints they have responded to are hunting without landowner permission and shooting from a roadway. They remind hunters to be aware of their location at all times, and to secure landowner permission in advance of hunting.

The lack of moisture in recent weeks means that fire conditions are still extremely high, especially along the Rocky Mountain Front. Hunters and other recreationists should be extra cautious and follow all fire restrictions, and check for the most up-to-date information at  www.mtfireinfo.org before leaving home.

The general deer and elk seasons runs through Nov. 28. The check station operated by FWP along Main Street in Augusta is the only biological check station in Region 4 and operates seven days a week from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends. Hunters are reminded that they must stop at any check station they pass while hunting, whether or not they have harvested game. Biological check stations are intended primarily for biologists to gather statistical information and trends about animals and hunters.

 

2021 Augusta Check Station Harvest – through 2nd Sunday of the general rifle season

Elk

Mule Deer

White-tailed Deer

Antlered

Antlerless

Total

Antlered

Antlerless

Total

Antlered

Antlerless

Total

Grand Total

No. of Hunters

Hunter Success

2011

24

15

39

23

19

42

16

19

35

116

691

16.8%

2012

38

79

117

36

13

49

35

40

75

241

737

32.7%

2013

25

32

57

50

7

57

15

15

30

144

894

16.1%

2014

27

17

44

17

0

17

11

9

20

81

708

11.4%

2015

23

26

49

29

0

29

26

23

49

127

771

16.5%

2016

37

19

56

53

5

58

29

20

49

160

771

20.8%

2017

42

23

65

46

7

53

22

21

43

161

732

22.0%

2018

17

21

38

24

3

27

14

41

55

120

628

19.1%

2019

30

27

57

25

3

28

12

36

48

133

624

21.3%

2020

38

46

84

21

6

27

34

44

78

189

699

27.0%

10-yr. avg.

30.1

30.5

60.6

32.4

6.3

38.7

21.4

21.8

48.2

147.2

725.5

20.3%

2021

16

12

28

35

2

37

17

21

38

103

672

15.3%

 

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