Down to the final week of the big game hunting season, the deer harvest in Northwest Montana is slightly ahead of last year while hunters chasing elk are having a difficult time so far this season, according to regional check station results.
At the six Northwest Montana check stations through Nov. 20, a total of 14,192 hunters checked 1,141 white-tailed deer, including 813 bucks. Last year at this time, hunters had checked 953 whitetails.
Hunters have also reported 129 mule deer and 64 elk. This year’s harvest success rate is 9.4 percent compared to 7.5 percent a year ago. Hunter participation, with 14,192 hunters reported, is down 6 percent compared to last year, according to check station results.
The general big game season ends one half hour after sunset on Sunday, Nov. 27.
“Overall success rates continue to be above 2015 levels,” stated Neil Anderson, wildlife program manager for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “We are seeing a higher percentage of 3-year old and older bucks at check stations now, which is expected with the onset of the rut.”
Anderson noted that elk hunting continues to be a challenge. Hunters are reporting seeing cows and spikes, but legal bulls have been hard to come by, Anderson said. The lack of snow makes elk hunting difficult and allows bulls to stay at higher elevations and in thicker cover, he noted.
Hunters are reminded that it will be legal to harvest antlerless white-tailed deer on private property during the last week of the season with a general deer license. This does not include corporate timberlands.
Hunters should refer to the hunting regulations for the hunting district they plan to hunt.
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