R4: HUNTERS CONTINUE TO FIND DIFFICULT CONDITIONS IN REGION 4
By angelamontana

Posted: November 24, 2021

GREAT FALLS – As the final week of the general rifle season begins, hunter harvest success as well as the number of hunters venturing afield continues to be lower than average along the southern Rocky Mountain Front, continuing the trend from earlier weeks of the season.

Based on data collected at FWP’s game check station in Augusta through the 5th weekend of the season, the total number of hunters passing through the check station (successful and unsuccessful) is down approximately 28% from a typical year. Actual hunter success (total deer & elk checked compared to total number of hunters checked) is a little more positive at just 4% below the 10-year average.

In addition to the lower number of hunters, the continued mild weather conditions are also impacting hunting success this year. Almost no snow and above normal temperatures has made for difficult hunting conditions, and total deer and elk harvest has fallen to 40% below recent average and the lowest number of big game animals checked since at least 1994. A total of 390 animals have been checked, most of which are deer and elk, although 10 antelope, one mountain goat, five bighorn sheep and one mountain lion have also been checked.

Mule and white-tail deer harvest continues to dominant the harvest tally, amounting to nearly three-quarters of the total big game checked. However, mule and white-tail harvest remain below recent average at 24% and 34%, respectively.

Elk harvest is currently lagging the farthest behind at approximately 60% below the ten-year average. Minimal harvest continues to occur on the ‘Sun River’ elk herd given the mild weather and lack of movement of these elk towards winter range from their backcountry summer habitat.

The HD 442 elk quota remains open to antlerless elk harvest, however it may close before the Thanksgiving weekend given that just a handful of animals remains on the quota.  The quota for HD 424 has been met and brow-tined bull hunting will remain valid there until the end of the general rifle hunting season. If the HD 442 quota is met, the season in that district will also remain open to brow-tined bull harvest until the end of the general rifle hunting season.

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, regardless if they have harvested game. Biological check stations are intended primarily for biologists to gather statistical information and trends about animals and hunters.

-fwp-

 

2021 Augusta Check Station Harvest – through 5th 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

96

84

180

142

36

178

135

77

212

570

2775

20.5%

2012

101

270

371

170

22

192

113

97

210

773

3133

24.7%

2013

96

195

291

214

24

238

121

50

171

700

3432

20.4%

2014

120

162

282

149

0

149

143

63

206

637

2832

22.5%

2015

108

211

319

177

0

177

136

79

215

711

3115

22.8%

2016

92

82

174

174

8

182

160

62

222

578

2691

21.5%

2017

159

116

275

175

11

186

137

80

217

678

2707

25.0%

2018

70

115

185

143

14

157

110

111

221

563

2536

22.2%

2019

74

114

188

141

13

154

108

115

223

565

2354

24.0%

2020

72

91

163

115

16

131

126

142

268

562

2230

25.2%

10-yr. avg.

98.8

144

242.8

160

14.4

174.4

128.9

87.6

216.5

633.7

2780.5

22.8%

20-yr. avg.

106.15

121.95

232.45

197

27.55

224.55

118.65

84.7

203.35

629.2

2610.35

24.1%

2021

59

38

97

122

10

132

83

61

144

373

2003

18.6%

-fwp-