BOZEMAN – Montana’s general hunting season has reached the midpoint this week with steady hunter numbers and mixed success rates as recorded at game check stations in southwestern Montana.
Wildlife biologists with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks use check stations to collect data on hunter participation and success, as well as the species, sex and age class of the animals harvested. This supplements data collected through hunter harvest phone surveys each year.
On Nov. 4 and 5, biologists operated four check stations in the region and met with 995 hunters. Those hunters collectively harvested five white-tailed deer, 26 mule deer and 36 elk, among other species. Most areas had relatively mild weather over the weekend.
The Alder check station saw 235 hunters and a success rate of 11.4 percent. The long-term averages for the third weekend at this check station are 234 hunters and a success rate of 14 percent.
The Cameron check station saw 377 hunters, 5.3 percent of whom were successful. The long-term averages for the third weekend at this check station are 344 hunters and a success rate of 8.4 percent.
The Divide check station saw 165 hunters, 11.5 percent of whom were successful. The long-term averages for the third weekend at this check station are 214 hunters and a success rate of 6.9 percent.
The Mill Creek check station saw 218 hunters and a success rate of 2.2 percent. The long-term averages for the third weekend at this check station are 197 hunters and a success rate of 4.2 percent.
These figures do not account for different hunting season regulations over the years, which have varied from liberal to restrictive for elk and mule deer, depending on population status.
Be bear aware
FWP reminds hunters that bears will remain active throughout the general season, and hunters should be prepared for bear encounters. Montana is bear country. Grizzly bear populations continue to become denser and more widespread in Montana, increasing the likelihood that residents and recreationists will encounter them in more places each year.
People who hunt in places that have or may have grizzly bears—which includes areas of Montana west of Billings—should take special precautions:
- Carry bear spray and practice to be prepared to use it immediately.
- Look for bear sign and be cautious around creeks and areas with limited visibility.
- Hunt with a group of people. Making localized noise can help alert bears to your presence.
- Be aware that elk calls and cover scents can attract bears.
- Bring the equipment and people needed to help field dress game and remove the meat from the kill site as soon as possible.
- If you need to leave part of the meat in the field during retrieval, hang it at least 10 feet off the ground and at least 150 yards from the gut pile. Leave it where it can be observed from a distance of at least 200 yards.
- Upon your return, observe the meat with binoculars. If it has been disturbed or if a bear is in the area, leave and call FWP.
For more information and resources on bear safety, visit fwp.mt.gov/bear-aware.