The Rut Kicks In as Hunting Season Enters Final Week

The general rifle hunting season for elk and deer runs through Nov. 29

By Beacon Staff

Hunting season is down to the final week in Montana.

Biologists say 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.

The general rifle hunting season for elk and deer runs through Nov. 29.

So far the deer harvest in Northwest Montana has been slightly ahead of last year, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks check station results.

A total of 15,130 hunters have checked 953 whitetail deer, including 779 bucks, compared to a total of 879 a year ago Hunters have also reported 114 mule deer and 76 elk. The overall success rate is 7.6 percent, compared to 7.4 percent a year ago.

The check station at U.S. Highway 2 west of Kalispell has led the way in whitetail counts, followed by the Olney check station and the Swan check station.

The number of wolves killed this season is roughly the same as a year ago. Hunters had taken 24 wolves in Region One through Nov. 23. Statewide, hunters have taken 82 wolves. The wolf hunt continues through March 15. The trapping season begins Dec. 15 and ends Feb. 29.

The counts at the check stations represent a sampling of the harvest and do not represent the complete number of animals taken.

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 10- and 11-year olds).  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.

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