Harvest numbers stayed strong for the first week of big game season in west-central Montana. Cumulative totals for the region’s three check stations showed white-tailed deer harvest up 58 percent from last year. Mule deer harvest was reported 38 percent above last year’s week one totals while elk harvest was up just slightly.
Hunter numbers were also up with over 8,000 hunters passing through the region’s check stations during the first eight days of the season.
“The number of hunters passing through the Bonner station has been increasing for the past six years,” says Bob Henderson, FWP wildlife biologist responsible for the Bonner check station. “We had a steady flow of traffic at the station this week and checked 3,780 hunters with 624 animals.”
The Bonner station saw 519 white-tailed deer during week one compared to 329 last year while Darby recorded 71—up from 35 recorded during opening week in 2005.
Darby saw the most elk during week one with a total of 141. Regional elk harvests are up three percent from last year at this time and on track with the five-year average.
Snowfall recorded at three high elevation SNOTEL weather information sites used by area wildlife biologists to track snow depth during hunting season showed little to no snow accumulation during week one.
“We hung on to warm, dry conditions for the first week, but the colder, snowy conditions that moved into the area Sunday night may get the wildlife moving around a bit more during week two,” Henderson says.
The three west-central Montana check stations reported an opening week total of 8,087 hunters that checked 263 elk, 519 white-tailed deer, 160 mule deer, four black bears, two moose, and five bighorn sheep for 11.8 percent of hunters with game.-fwp-