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General Hunting Season Ends on a Good Note at Most Check Stations

Hunting - Region 1

Thu Nov 30 16:36:30 MST 2017

(KALISPELL, Mont.) -- The final weekend of the general hunting season brought an increase in harvest at several check stations in Region One. The overall percentage of hunters with game ended the season at 8.6%, up from 7.5% through the previous weekend.

The six game check stations across Northwest Montana reported a total of 16,269 hunters between October 21 and November 26. Overall, the white-tailed deer harvest was slightly down from last year’s high mark but ahead of 2015 and other previous years. The white-tailed buck harvest was down from the previous two years but near the eight-year average.

“The percentage of hunters with white-tailed deer varied greatly depending on where you were hunting,” said Neil Anderson, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region One Wildlife Manager. 

Elk harvest was up slightly over last year.

“Overall, hunters seemed to be enjoying themselves despite some challenging conditions,” Anderson said. “Most of the hunters I spoke to, including those who did not harvest an animal, stated they were having a good and enjoyable season.” 

Harvest in the Swan was up compared to previous years.

“The percentage of hunters with game (10.4%) was the highest since 2010 in the Swan,” said Jessica Coltrane, FWP Kalispell area biologist.

Bruce Sterling, FWP biologist in the Thompson Falls area, said the white-tailed buck harvest was down 39% from last year and down 28% compared to the 10-year average at the Thompson Falls check station.

The counts at the check stations represent a sampling of the harvest and do not represent the complete number of animals taken.

“We are still evaluating the numbers and won’t have final harvest information until harvest surveys are completed this winter, but harvest trends seem to track 2017 spring recruitment numbers,” said Anderson. “Fawn recruitment last spring was relatively good in the Kalispell area compared to Thompson Falls. The numbers could reflect differing winter loss due to the harsh winter last year.” 

The biggest decline was observed in the number of mule deer bucks checked at the regional stations. A total of 51 mule deer bucks were inspected in Region One this year, the lowest number since records were first kept in 1985.

“We don’t know why the numbers were so low,” Anderson said. “Fortunately, we are initiating a mule deer study in the Fisher River and Whitefish Range in Region One this winter. We hope to get valuable information on habitat use, nutrition, and some data on mortality rates.” 

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