Hunter numbers and harvest rebounded in the fourth weekend of the general big game hunting season in west-central Montana, bringing harvest totals in line with average for this point in the season.
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) reports the biggest bump came from deer harvest. The rut picked up over the past week, and accordingly the cumulative deer harvest reported at the FWP check stations near Bonner, Darby and Anaconda doubled from where it was in just one weekend.
The whitetail harvest reported at the three check stations now sits at 242, compared to 113 before the weekend harvest reports. Meanwhile, hunters checked 21 mule deer over the weekend, bringing the cumulative check station total to 50 for the season so far.
Overall hunter success jumped from 6.8% in the first three weekends to 8.0% with the addition of the fourth weekend’s data.
For elk hunters, the four-weekend total of 186 elk for the three check stations is on track with recent years overall, but reflected a slightly better-than-average tally at the Darby check station, average at Anaconda, and below-average at Bonner.
At the Fish Creek Check Station in Mineral County, FWP checked 300 hunters with 25 white-tailed deer, two mule deer and one elk over the fourth weekend of the season.
FWP notes that check stations are running at slightly reduced staffing levels and hours as a safety precaution due to the virus pandemic, which has affected the number of hunters checked.
“Given the circumstances, the check stations are telling us that hunting participation and harvest are tracking as we would expect for this point in the season,” said Mike Thompson, FWP Missoula-based wildlife manager.
The general hunting season for deer and elk continues through, Sunday, Nov. 29.