Deer harvest in Northwest Montana is slightly ahead of last year at the same point in the season, according to check station results around Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region One.
At the six stations through Nov. 23, a total of 14, 194 hunters checked 879 white-tailed deer — 766 bucks — compared to 842 whitetails last year. Also in the count were 124 mule deer, and 43 elk for an overall 7.4 percent rate of hunters with game.
Harvest was up slightly as compared to last year when 6.7 percent of hunters checked game. Hunter numbers are down about 6 percent as compared to last year.
The Highway 2 Check Station west of Kalispell has led the way in whitetail counts, followed by the Olney Check Station, and then the Swan Check Station. The counts at the six stations represent a sampling of the harvest and do not represent the complete number of animals taken.
The wolf take is behind last year at this same point in the general deer and elk season. Hunters have taken 22 wolves in Region One to date, compared to 28 last year. Statewide, hunters have taken 75 wolves, compared to 87 last year.
Hunters are reminded that it is buck-only for whitetails in northwest Montana. Antlerless whitetails remain legal game for youth 12-15 years of age (and some qualifying 11-year olds, see regulations). Mule deer are buck-only for the entire season. Elk are brow-tine bull only. Spike bull elk are not legal game for any hunter in Region One. Hunters should refer to the hunting regulations for the hunting district they plan to hunt.
Biologists report that the whitetail rut is now in full swing, which should aid hunters as they take to the field during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. This past weekend, hunters brought a good number of older bucks through the check stations, according to FWP.
The general big game season ends one half hour after sunset on Nov. 30.
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