R4: WARM DRY WEATHER CONTINUES TO IMPACT HUNTER SUCCESS IN NORTH-CENTRAL MT
By angelamontana

Posted: November 17, 2021

GREAT FALLS – Fewer hunters passing through the check station along with lower numbers of game harvested continues to be the theme for this year’s general rifle season in the Augusta area of FWP Region 4. To date the total deer and elk harvest is 33% below the recent average and is the lowest number of big game animals checked since at least 1994.

A total of 301 big game animals have been checked so far this season, most of which are deer and elk, although 10 antelope, one mountain goat, two bighorn sheep and one mountain lion have been checked.

Warm and windy weather with a lack of snow cover appears to be keeping some hunters at home, as the total number of successful and unsuccessful hunters checked currently is 22% below average. Those who are going afield are seeing some success however, and actual hunter success (total deer & elk checked compared to total number of hunters checked) is currently at just 3% below average.

So far this season, deer (mule and white-tail) harvest continues to dominate the harvest tally, amounting to approximately two-thirds of the total big game checked. However, mule and white-tail harvest still remain below recent average at 16% and 28%, respectively. Deer harvest continues to be generally well distributed throughout the greater Augusta area. Hunters report that rutting activity among deer has noticeably increased and should be peaking in the next ten days, which will make bucks less wary and more visible to hunters.

Elk harvest is currently lagging the farthest behind at nearly half of recent average. For elk, minimal harvest continues to occur on the ‘Sun River’ herd given the mild weather and lack of movement of these elk towards winter range. They remain largely in backcountry areas making access to them more difficult. The HD 442 elk quota remains open to antlerless elk harvest, however, the HD 424 quota has been met and only brow-tined bull hunting will remain valid within HD 424 until the end of the general rifle hunting season. When the HD 442 quota is met for antlerless elk, the season in that HD will also remain open to brow-tined bull harvest until the end of the general rifle hunting season.

Another week with little or no moisture 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 4th 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

79

51

130

76

31

107

76

62

138

375

1913

19.6%

2012

72

173

245

94

19

113

74

63

137

495

2179

22.7%

2013

73

125

198

148

18

166

70

40

110

474

2471

19.2%

2014

86

95

181

109

0

109

88

50

138

428

2096

20.4%

2015

80

122

202

120

0

120

85

54

139

461

2261

20.4%

2016

74

54

128

114

7

121

94

45

139

388

1912

20.3%

2017

131

94

225

125

11

136

92

59

151

512

2078

21.0%

2018

54

72

126

81

9

90

59

81

140

356

1787

19.9%

2019

64

84

148

89

10

99

68

90

158

405

1817

22.3%

2020

64

87

151

77

12

89

73

114

187

427

1652

25.8%

10-yr. avg.

77.7

95.7

173.4

103.3

11.7

115

77.9

65.8

143.7

432.1

2016.6

21.1%

2021

54

33

87

90

7

97

53

51

104

288

1590

18.1%

-fwp-