Northwest Montana Hunting Opener

By Beacon Staff

Hunters took to the field yesterday across northwest Montana for the opener of the general deer and elk season. At the six northwest Montana check stations, a total of 2,566 hunters checked 83 white-tailed deer, 12 mule deer, and 19 elk for a 4.4 percent rate of hunters with game. This compares to a 4.0 percent rate of hunters with game last year. Of the whitetails checked, 34 were bucks and 49 were antlerless. Fewer B-tags were available this year, and could be part of the reason for relatively low harvest of antlerless whitetails.

The Swan Valley check station had the largest number of deer taken, while the Highway 2 check station had the largest number of elk taken. Similar to last year, hunter numbers at most check stations were well below average as compared to average over the past decade.

There was no shortage of hunting stories at the check stations around the region. At the Swan Valley check station on Highway 83 south of Bigfork, hunters checked in steadily all day, bringing in 33 whitetails, 4 elk, and 28 grouse. Several nice 6-point bull elk were taken. Jeremy Nelson of Kalispell, hunting a few miles up a ridge early in the morning with a companion, was surprised by a nice bull elk coming down the ridge. He was able to drop the elk and spent most of the rest of the day dragging it out. Zach Kriskovich, 14, of Bigfork decided to go hunting with his mom, Lorri, who was celebrating her birthday. They ran into a small group of elk and Zach was able to take a large, 4-1/2 year-old cow elk. Then their adventure really began, as they had to haul the elk ½ mile to their truck.

John Vore, the biologist who is in charge of the Swan check station, noted that people seemed to be enjoying the sunshine and nice weather. “This has been a pretty good opener here in the Swan, with quite a few younger deer taken,” said Vore. “That’s a good sign. And it looks to be a good grouse year.”

At the Olney Check station northwest of Kalispell, a hunter checked through the first general season wolf in Region One. The hunter was happy to have the opportunity to harvest a wolf.
Hunters are reminded that either-sex whitetails are legal game through Sunday, November 8. After that, the regulation is buck-only for whitetails for the rest of the season. Mule deer hunting is buck-only all season long; elk is brow-tined bull only. These regulations apply in most Region One hunting districts. Young hunters age 12-15 may take antlerless white-tailed deer and antlerless elk all season long in most Region One hunting districts. Check the Montana hunting regulations for the district you plan to hunt.

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