Hunter numbers lower but success rates good in north-central Montana

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From the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP)

GREAT FALLS – Although the number of hunters stopping at FWP’s Region 4 check station in Augusta this season is lower than average, success rates for those hunters have been good, and substantially better than the success rates at this point of the season last year.

Through the second weekend of the general rifle season, 551 hunters passed through the station which is approximately 20% below the ten-year average. Almost 28% of those hunters had success harvesting game, compared to the ten-year average of 20% hunter success.

While opening weekend saw warm, dry weather, a significant winter storm during the middle of last week brought areas of heavy snow and sustained temperatures well below freezing. Hunters who braved the weather and took advantage of the cold and snow enjoyed good success, and as of Sunday evening Oct. 29, a total of 145 deer and elk had been checked at the station, which is about 10% above the ten-year average, and a 50% increase over the number of animals checked at this time last year.

Mule and white-tailed deer harvest numbers are both very near recent average, but also well above the harvest numbers of last year. 35 antlered and 31 antlerless elk have been brought to the station this season, which is approximately 27% above recent average, and 65% higher than last year. Most elk checked have come from the Sun River herd, largely due to weather conditions causing an increase in their movement toward winter range.

Elk quotas tied to hunting districts 424 and 442 remain open to antlerless harvest. If those quotas are reached, antlerless harvest will close, but the brow-tined bull season will remain open through Thanksgiving weekend for those hunting districts. Hunters can check the status of the hunting district quotas by calling the check station at 406-562-3467.

The general deer and elk seasons run through Nov. 26. The check station along Main Street in Augusta is the only biological check station operated by FWP in Region 4 and operates seven days a week from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends. Biological check stations like the station in Augusta are intended primarily for biologists to gather trends and statistical information about animals and hunters. Hunters are reminded that they must stop at any check station they pass while hunting, regardless of if they have harvested game.

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