Hunting Season Hits Halfway Point

Smaller number of hunters are reporting a higher level of success; overall harvest expected to increase in coming weeks

By Micah Drew
White-tailed deer wander through the trees near Marion on March 7, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Despite fewer hunters, the number of mule deer and elk that have been harvested is up slightly this season, according to the latest check station results from Nov. 8, while the white-tailed buck harvest is down 16% from 2019’s numbers. 

A total of 4,529 hunters have checked 324 white-tailed deer, including 197 bucks, at four check stations in Northwest Montana, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. There have also been 47 mule deer and 34 elk reported by hunters. The hunter success rate this season is 13.3 percent, compared to 2019’s 10.4 percent. FWP did not operate game check stations on weekend’s during the 2020 season.

While mule deer numbers are about up 38% and elk numbers are up 14% as compared to 2019’s check station results at the same point in the season, the number of white-tailed deer checked are roughly the same. Hunter numbers are down 25%.

The start of the general deer and elk season in October produced the highest number of harvested white-tailed deer in Northwest Montana since 2017.

“We predicted a slight increase in white-tailed deer population due to high fawn recruitment after two years of mild winter,” said FWP Regional Wildlife Manager Neil Anderson, although mid-year numbers have leveled off.  

Hunters have taken 20 wolves in Region One. Statewide, hunters have taken 63 wolves as of Nov. 12.

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

Hunters are reminded that elk hunting is brow-tined bull only in Region 1. Spike elk are not legal game for any hunter in Region 1. Hunters should refer to the hunting regulations for the hunting district they plan to hunt.