Hunters took to the field Saturday and Sunday across northwest Montana for the opening weekend of the general deer and elk season. At the six northwest Montana check stations, a total of 2,879 hunters checked 129 white-tailed deer (105 of these were bucks), 11 mule deer, and 18 elk for a 5.5 percent rate of hunters with game. This compares with a 4.7% percent rate of hunters with game last year at the check stations.
According to FWP Wildlife Manager Jim Williams, young bucks were well represented in the harvest. “Biologist surveys this past spring showed good numbers of young whitetails in the population,” said Williams. “This opening day harvest at the check stations reflects an increasing number of young bucks.” Williams added that more whtitetail bucks were checked this year, even though hunter numbers at the check stations were down about 10 percent as compared to last year.
At most check stations, the number of checked deer and elk were up compared to last year, while the number of hunters was down slightly. However, at the North Fork check station, no animals were checked.
FWP Wildlife Manager Jim Williams noted that deer and elk seasons in northwest Montana remain conservative, with adult hunters limited to buck-only for whitetail and mule deer, with very few B-tags for antlerless deer. Region-wide, a number of youngsters came through with their first deer, all whitetail does and young bucks.
Hunters are reminded that regulations for whitetails and mule deer in Region One are buck-only through the end of the hunting season. Youth 12-15 (and some qualifying 11-year- olds, see the regulations) can take antlerless whitetail deer.
Elk hunting is brow-tined bull only. Spike elk are not legal game. These regulations apply in most Region One hunting districts. Check the Montana hunting regulations for the district you plan to hunt.