MISSOULA - White-tailed deer harvest continues to be the highlight in west-central Montana through the first three weekends of the big game hunting season. The harvest of 236 whitetails tallied at the Anaconda, Bonner and Darby check stations through Sunday is the highest at this point in the season since 2008.
“We’ve seen whitetails coming back on private agricultural lands for quite a few years, and now it’s good to see this steady growth in whitetail harvest through the check stations, which reflects population growth primarily on public lands and publicly accessible private lands,” said Mike Thompson, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) Region 2 Wildlife Manager.
The elk harvest of 203 through the check stations reflects good weather conditions for elk hunters. The Darby check station sees more of the elk harvest than other check stations in west-central Montana, and the tally at Darby of 112 elk through Sunday was the second highest since 2014, when the station began operating on weekends only. Prior to 2014, Darby harvest totals reflected a daily check station report during hunting season.
The three FWP check stations have accounted for 5,782 contacts with hunters so far this season, the lowest in the comparable four-year period, while hours of check station operation have held consistent across the region. With a total harvest of 482 animals checked, including seven black bears, two bighorn sheep and two wolves, fewer hunters are enjoying a higher harvest percentage (8.3%) so far than in any season since 2007.