MILES CITY- Big Game rifle season opened Saturday, October 20. Check station numbers indicate a decline in harvest across the region; however, hunters report good game observation and opportunity.
At Hysham, 73 hunters stopped at the FWP check station and a total of 46 animals were checked¬; 20 mule deer, 15 white-tailed deer, 10 antelope and 1 elk.
“Opening weekend varies every year,” says Scott Denson, FWP Wildlife Manager,” but this year the Hysham check station was down to approximately one third of what we consider average.”
At Broadus, hunter numbers were stable relative to the past couple of years; however harvest was approximately 50% less. 222 hunters passed through the check station and harvested 24 mule deer, 10 white-tailed deer, 3 elk, and 1 antelope. Although none were checked at the check station, hunters reported seeing more turkeys than in the past couple of years.
Even though harvest appears to be down after opening weekend, “Deer numbers and observations remain similar to the past couple of years,” reported Dean Waltee, FWP Wildlife Biologist.
At Sidney, the number of bird hunters was similar to previous years but hunter success (59%) was lower than in previous years (80-100%). The number of big game hunters was down slightly. A total of 47 hunters stopped at the check station successfully harvesting 2 mule deer, 4 white-tailed deer, 1 antelope, 23 pheasant, 2 grey partridge, and 1 turkey.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks operate check stations throughout the antelope and general big game seasons to gather biological information. Game wardens also check hunters at the stations for compliance with state laws.
Hunters are reminded that the general deer and elk season runs through November 25, 2012 and they must stop at all check stations they pass either on the way to or from hunting, whether or not they have harvested game.