Hunting - Region 6
Mon Dec 05 08:55:12 MST 2016
The final results are in at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Havre check station for the 2016 hunting season. The check station was open from Oct. 8 (the open of general antelope) through Nov. 27 (the end of the deer/elk general season). Overall, both hunter numbers and big-game harvest increased from last year, with mule deer numbers being the highest in several years.
Hunter numbers (1,810) were up 17% from 2015, and were the highest seen since 2010. Some of this was likely due to doe tags being available again this year, but also may have had something to do with the mild weather.
“Weather conditions this year were quite unusual,” said Havre-area biologist Scott Hemmer, who manages the check station. “Early in the season was very wet and rainy, making access difficult. Later in the year was unseasonably warm and dry. I don’t remember a year like this where we didn’t have at least some cold weather.”
Despite the mild conditions, which can sometimes lead to difficult hunting, hunter success was very good, especially for mule deer. “The most noteworthy change this year was a significant increase in deer harvest,” said Hemmer.
Mule deer harvest of 507 for the year was up 49% from last year, and 7% above the long-term average. The total mule deer harvest numbers were the highest since 2010, and the mule deer buck harvest was the highest since 2007. Understandably, Hemmer said most hunters reported seeing considerably more deer than in recent years, and also with available B-tags for does, more harvest occurred.
For the year, 101 white-tails were brought by the check station, which is 80% higher than 2015, but still 39% below the long-term average.
“Hunters reported seeing increasing white-tailed deer numbers this year, but numbers did not appear to be back to pre-EHD (epizootic hemorrhagic disease) levels in most areas,” said Hemmer. “However, hunters enjoyed the opportunity to harvest a white-tailed doe, as single-region B tags were once again available this year.”
Antelope, whose general season ended on Nov. 13, showed numbers that were 27% above 2015, but were still 68% below the long-term average. 98 antelope were brought by the check station this year.
For the year, 35 elk were brought by the check station, which is the same as last year but still slightly below the long-term average.
For the five weeks that the check station was open, the pheasant harvest of 738 birds is below last year (-2%) and the long-term average (-14%). Sharp-tailed grouse (85 birds) harvest is down from last year, and down from the long-term average. Hungarian partridge harvest (104 birds) is below last year’s numbers, but still largely above the long-term average.
“Overall, it appeared to be a good season for hunters this year,” said Hemmer. “We sure appreciate and enjoy visiting with the hunters that come by the check station, and it’s great to see the smile on their face after a successful hunt.”