General rifle season in Western Montana is about halfway done and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has noticed what could be a significant drop in hunter participation. FWP Region 2 Public Information Officer Vivica Crowser explains.

"The biggest surprise just might be less activity in terms of number of hunters through the stations we are down, which means higher success rates for those people that have come through the check-stations, but not quite as many people out there so far, not sure what that is telling us ,but it is those hunter trips that we monitor through the check stations and we're down about 1,000 compared to the last handful of years.

The check stations don’t screen all hunters, so the count may not mean less people are hunting. Crowser says there is good news for hunters that do go out.

"Really the highlight so far in West-Central Montana is the whitetail harvest we've seen," Crowser said." We've got a harvest that is highest compared to this point of the season going back to 2008. Elk harvest has also been doing pretty well, especially with this snow we got the past week."

With less hunters and more game, the hunter success average is up to 8.3 percent, the best average since 2007. Total harvest so far is up to 482 animals including two black bears two bighorn sheep and two wolves.