2016 is over and hunters in Montana are hoping that 2017 will bring a more successful big game season. Fish, Wildlife and Parks Administrator Ron Aasheim says last season was somewhat unprecedented.

“The day it is over we get hit with this unbelievably strong blast of winter weather,” said Aasheim. “Certainly deer and elk harvest was down somewhat, but the good news is those populations are still in good shape. Certainly deer are coming back, antelope are coming back in the east following that bout they had with the disease and that winter we had here 4 or 5 years ago.”

According to Aasheim, weather can help move elk into places where they are more available.

“We are still way over objective with elk here in Montana,” Aasheim said. “We have shoulder seasons ongoing now in over 40 hunting districts and some of them will open at the start of January. Obviously opportunities with this snow and cold are going to be better. I haven’t heard a lot, but gosh in some cases you can hunt those elk until the middle of February. The idea is to harvest some cow elk to get population numbers down.”

Aasheim says about 150 wolves have been taken so far as well, but the population is still very healthy. FWP will know final numbers in the next couple month.