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Al’s Weekly Hunting Report- End Of Season

If you’re looking for a place to find out how successful hunters have been in Montana I’ve got one for you. Thanks to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks I’ll be posting weekly results right here. I’ll have info from Region 1 (NW Montana), Region 2 (W Central Montana) and Region 4 (The Rocky Mountain Front).  As the season progresses I’ll add in more info as it become available. If you want to send some pictures of your success or hunting  adventures have it. Who knows you might see yourself on our webpage.

Region 1:


Whitetail deer harvest picked up during the last two weekends of the deer and elk hunting season but still finished behind last year’s totals.

According to FWP Wildlife Manager Jim Williams, the number of whitetail deer, mule deer, and elk checked were down from last year.  “The results at our check stations are an indication that deer and elk populations are still down throughout northwest Montana.  We’ll know the details of total harvest for each hunting district after the telephone hunter surveys are completed this spring.”

At the six northwest Montana check stations through Sunday, November 27, a total of 18,611 hunters checked 911 white-tailed deer (753 of these were bucks), 103 mule deer, and 121 elk for a 6.1 percent rate of hunters with game. The counts at the six northwest Montana check stations represent a sampling of the harvest and do not represent the complete number of animals taken.

Hunters checked 15 percent fewer whitetail bucks, 35 percent fewer mule deer, and 23 percent fewer elk as compared to last year.

Wolf harvest: Hunters in northwest Montana have taken 44 wolves, 62 percent of the total quota of 71.  No individual wolf hunting district has yet closed.  The wolf hunting season continues until December 31, with a proposed extension to January 31.  Hunters can still purchase a wolf hunting license, but there is a 5-day waiting period before it is valid.

Region 2:

Deer Harvest Picks up in Final Days

            Deer harvest picked up pace in the final week of big game season in west-central Montana, bumping check station reported harvests closer to 2010 than they were mid-season.  

            At the Darby hunter check station, more hunters brought home more deer than they had in the fifth and final week of the season since 2007.  And at the Anaconda and Bonner check stations, deer harvest was comparable to the final weekend of the season in recent years.

            “It was a busy final week of big game season this year, both in hunter numbers and harvest,” says Mike Thompson, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 2 Wildlife Manager. “We had a really slow mid season, but in the end, a lot of hunters decided to give it one more go last week, and the deer rut made conditions just right for upping the deer harvest during the final days of the season.”

            For the season, region-wide check stations totals show a reported harvest 12 percent under 2010 totals for mule deer and 14 percent below for whitetails, and even further below the long-term average.

            Thompson says that he expected deer harvest to be lower than the long-term average, due to low deer numbers in some parts of the region and corresponding limitations in antlerless hunting opportunity to help those numbers bounce back.

            No place feels the tightening of the regulations more than the Bonner hunter check station where mule deer and whitetail harvest this year was half of what it was just three years ago.

                        Region-wide, elk harvest finished slightly below 2010 and 25 percent under the five-year average.  Elk hunters did not see the same bump in harvest during the final week.

            “Reports from hunters indicated that there was snow up high, but not enough to move the elk down to areas where they were more accessible,” says Thompson, “And those hunters that did make it to those areas found crunchy snow that made hunting really tough.”  

            The Anaconda hunter check station had the best season-end harvest numbers for elk.  Ninety elk passed through the station this year—the highest reported since 2000 when the station tallied 98 elk.  The station’s average over the past 30 years is 72 elk.

            Overall, nearly 8 percent of hunters that passed through one of the three hunter check stations harvested deer or elk this season, up from 7 percent last year.

            Hunter success was higher still on FWP’s Fish Creek Wildlife Management Area and surrounding public lands during the final weekend, where 14 percent of hunters passing through a new experimental game check station at the mouth of Fish Creek in Mineral County had a deer or elk in tow.  FWP wildlife biologist Vickie Edwards tallied 420 hunters with 52 white-tailed deer, 6 mule deer and two elk on the last weekend.

  Region 2 Cumulative 2011 Season Totals (Oct. 22-Nov.27)              
              White-                       % Snow
    No. of   Mule tailed Black               Total Hunters deptha
Station Year Hunters Elk deer deer bear Moose Sheep Goat   Wolf animals w/ game (in)
Darby 2011 8,256   345 74   209   1   0   4   1   10 644   7.8   23
(includes HD 2010 9,033   386 90   216   3   2   3   1   n/a 701   7.8   29
321 & 334)  2009 11,045   370 120   172   3   3   16   3   16 703   6.4   19
Open all  2008 13,283   396 219   205   5   1   11   2   n/a 839   6.3   16.7
season 2007 15,571   700 252   281   2   2   4   0   n/a 1,241   8.0   22
Anaconda 2011 1,766   90 34   16   0   0   0   0   1 141   8.0   11
(open 2010 1,595   63 14   15   1   0   0   0   n/a 93   5.8   10
weekends) 2009 1,667   71 25   10   0   0   5   0   0 111   6.7   13
  2008 1,737   53 24   13   0   0   5   0   n/a 95   5.5   9.2
  2007 1,945   56 43   19   0   1   7   1   n/a 127   6.5   9.6
Bonner 2011 6,660   107 65   329   5   2   0   1   1 510   7.7   43
(open 2010 7,262   116 93   412   5   0   0   0   n/a 626   8.6   36
weekends) 2009^ 7,683   145 109   314   4   0   1   1   0 574   7.5   16
  2008 8,989   166 120   687   5   0   3   0   n/a 982   10.9   3.2
  2007 7,539   146 174   756   0   0   1   0   n/a 1,077   14.3   19.3
All 2011 16,682   542 173   554   6   2   4   2   12 1,295   7.8    
Stations 2010 17,890   565 197   643   9   2   3   1   n/a 1,420   7.9    
through 2009 20,395   586 254   496   7   3   22   4   0 1,388   6.8    
5th week 2008 24,009   615 363   905   10   1   19   2   n/a 1,916   8.0    
  2007 25,055   902 469   1,056   2   3   12   1   n/a 2,445   9.8    


Region 4:

The hunting season on the Rocky Mountain Front came out pretty normal, except for mule deer.

The numbers were collected at Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ check station in Augusta, says Brent Lonner, FWP wildlife biologist.

“The elk harvest ended at two percent above the 10-year average,” Lonner says. “And the white-tailed deer harvest was 17 percent above the 10-year average.”

But, the mule deer numbers came in at 28 percent below the 10-year average.

Lonner said that was puzzling because he saw good numbers of mule deer in his spring surveys: “I’m assuming it’s at least in part weather related as well as difficulty gaining access to areas that have good numbers of deer.”

While the numbers at the Augusta check station – FWP Region 4’s sole biological check station – apply only to a handful of hunting districts on the Rocky Mountain Front, they often mirror conditions elsewhere in north central Montana.

Elk hunters brought in 274 animals (144 bulls, 100 cows and 30 calves) compared to the 10-year average of 269 elk.

Mule deer at the check station numbered 268 (220 bucks, 43 does and five fawns). The 10-year average is 375 animals.

            With whitetails, this year’s count in Augusta was 342 (211 bucks, 117 does and 14 fawns), while the 10-year average is 283.

            Hunter numbers were up slightly at 3,808, which is 12 percent above the 10-year average.

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