Hunting season ends with harvest up in west-central Montana - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Hunting season ends with harvest up in west-central Montana

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(MTN News file photo) (MTN News file photo)

MISSOULA - Montana’s general big game hunting season closed on Sunday with state wildlife officials reporting that area check stations are reporting the highest harvest in four years -- and the highest hunter success rate since 2007.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reports that the 607 white-tailed deer inspected through the Anaconda, Bonner and Darby hunter check stations is 3% higher than last year’s total, and the highest since 2008.  With 507 whitetails checked, the Bonner Check Station accounted for 84% of the harvest, which was the highest at Bonner since the check station began operating on weekends-only in 2009.

“We’ve seen a steady climb in whitetail harvest since 2014, which correlates with our sense of a growing population,” said Mike Thompson, FWP Region 2 Wildlife Manager.  “This information is a good check on our thoughts of restoring some antlerless harvest opportunities for the 2018 hunting season.”

The 95 elk checked at Bonner this season is 64% higher than last season and higher at Bonner than any season since 2011.  The Darby check station traditionally accounts for the most elk harvest of the three check stations in west-central Montana, and the harvest of 159 elk at Darby is 14% higher than last year. The 46 elk checked at Anaconda also is 59% higher than last year.

Mule deer harvest through the Anaconda, Bonner and Darby check stations totaled 77, which is 35% lower than last season and the lowest in the last four years when the check stations were operated for a consistent number of days, according to FWP numbers.  A special permit is required to hunt mule deer across much of FWP Region 2, which limits the numbers of hunters coming through the check stations who are licensed to hunt mule deer.

FWP tallied 11,115 hunter trips at the three stations in west-central Montana’s Region 2, which was down 8% from last year.  The lower hunter effort contrasted with a higher harvest of 999 animals checked at the three stations -- up 6% from last season and the highest in the past four years, according to FWP.

All told, the Anaconda, Bonner and Darby check stations reported a season total of 300 elk, 77 mule deer, 607 white-tailed deer, nine black bears, one moose, three bighorn sheep and two wolves.

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