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2013 Antelope Hunting Outlook

Hunting

Friday, September 20, 2013

Even as populations begin a slow rebound, hunters in Montana will have to work hard to bag an antelope again this season in many areas.

Montana's antelope archery season will close Oct. 11 and the general rifle season for antelope will run Oct. 12-Nov. 10.

For more information on antelope hunting in Montana, visit FWP's website at fwp.mt.gov, click "Hunting" then click Hunting Guide.

Here's a regional rundown on what antelope hunters can expect this year.

Region 2—Western Montana

  • Pronghorn distribution is centered in the Deer Lodge area and few licenses are issued to conserve this island population.

Region 3—Southwestern Montana

  • Across the region the population is stable, so hunters should see antelope numbers about the same as, or a little below, those of last year. In some areas–like the Shields Valley–it looks as if numbers are down slightly and that's reflected in reduced doe licenses allotted this year.

Region 4—Central Montana

  • Antelope numbers are still mostly down and recovering from recent harsh winters. For hunters this has been reflected in FWP issuing fewer doe-fawn tags over the past couple of years.

Regions 5 — South Central Montana

  • Antelope continue to appear in historically low numbers throughout the region, including fewer fawns than in past years. Fertility and reproduction have been a concern since an outbreak of blue tongue virus decimated much of the herd in 2008. The disease, which is spread by biting midges, has surfaced again this fall in districts east of Billings. Population trends are reflected in fewer tags issued this year.

Region 6—Northeastern Montana

  • All hunting districts will again see low license numbers because of lingering impacts from the recent severe winters. Overall, populations are lower than long-term averages, and fawn production also remains below average in most areas. Decreased harvest quotas are expected to persist for at least several more years as pronghorn populations recover.

Region 7—Southeastern Montana

  • Antelope populations are recovering but remain well below long term averages. While there is a promising 21 percent increase from 2012, it's still 50 percent below long term average and 66 percent below the 10 year peak count that occurred in 2006. Populations are rebounding nicely in the southern portion of the region, but seem to be struggling in the northern portion. Hunter success rates measured at the Broadus Check Station have equaled 72 percent each of the past two years and similar rates are expected again this year. FWP recommends that hunters head to the southern portion of the region to hunt antelope this fall.