KALISPELL — Montana’s general deer and elk hunting season wrapped up last weekend and the harvest results at check stations in northwest Montana showed similar results to a year ago.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks tallied more than 10,000 hunters at its four regional check stations in northwest Montana. Hunters reported harvesting 761 white-tailed deer, including 567 bucks, and 97 mule deer. The number of mule deer harvested was slightly higher than last year’s tally of 69. There were also 44 elk reported this year, down from 61 a year ago. The total percentage of hunters with game was 9 percent compared to 9.7 percent last year.
Hunters still have opportunities into winter. Certain areas have continued elk hunting opportunities, and there is also Montana’s muzzleloader heritage hunting season for deer and elk, Dec. 9-17, 2023.
Trapping season is underway for furbearers. For more information on quotas and season dates, visit https://fwp.mt.gov/hunt/seasons.
Wolf trapping and snaring in FWP administrative regions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, and in Hill, Blaine, and Phillips counties won’t start until Jan. 1 and will run through Feb. 15, according to a federal court injunction issued recently. The wolf hunting season, separate from trapping and snaring, remains in place and is open through March 15 as described in the 2023 wolf regulations. Wolf harvest quotas are still in place for FWP regions and can be tracked via the Wolf Harvest Dashboard online at https://fwp.mt.gov.
As a reminder, to help prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease, all carcasses, including the head and spinal column, must be disposed of in a class II landfill after butchering and processing. Dumping carcasses is illegal, unethical and can spread diseases, including chronic wasting disease. This requirement applies to all deer, elk, and moose carcasses harvested by hunters or as vehicle-killed salvage.
As the season wraps up, Montana hunters can thank landowners for access and share stories through a new online portal. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is offering this opportunity to say thank you to landowners who have provided access and helped to make your hunting season great. FWP will collect these expressions of gratitude and share them with the specific landowners at the end of the season. Notes can be submitted online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/thank-a-landowner.
For a summary of the latest check station results in northwest Montana, click the link below.
Muzzleloader Heritage Hunting Season
- The Muzzleloader Heritage hunting season is Dec. 9-17, 2023.
- During the muzzleloader heritage season, a person may take a deer or elk with any unused license or permit that is valid on the last day of the general hunting season (i.e., Nov. 26, 2023).
- Hunters can use plain lead projectiles and a muzzleloading rifle that is charged with loose black powder, loose pyrodex, or an equivalent loose black powder substitute and ignited by a flintlock, wheel lock, matchlock or percussion mechanism using a percussion or musket cap.
- The muzzleloading rifle must be a minimum of .45 caliber and may not have more than two barrels.
- During the muzzleloader heritage season, hunters may not use a muzzleloading rifle that requires insertion of a cap or primer into the open breech of the barrel (inline), is capable of being loaded from the breech, or is mounted with an optical magnification device.
- Use of pre-prepared paper or metallic cartridges, sabots, gas checks or other similar power and range-enhancing manufactured loads that enclose the projectile from the rifling or bore of the firearm is also prohibited.
- Many of Montana’s Wildlife Management Areas have seasonal closures from Dec. 2 through May 14. Before heading to the field, hunters should review the regulations for each hunting district they plan to hunt. A list of WMAs and seasonal closure dates are available online at https://fwp.mt.gov/conservation/wildlife-management-areas.