MISSOULA – Montana’s general big game hunting season closed Sunday with deer and elk harvest totals recorded at west-central Montana’s two hunter check stations on par with recent years.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) reports that the numbers at the hunter check station near Darby were up slightly from last year, with 169 elk, 33 mule deer and 69 white-tailed deer tallied, compared to 159, 22 and 68, respectively last season.
At the hunter check station near Bonner, a busy final weekend brought hunter-trips to 5,800 for the season, down slightly from 6,062 last year. Those hunters harvested 74 elk, down from 95 elk checked last year, and 65 mule deer, up from 45 checked last year.
Whitetail harvest increased with the intensity of the rut in the last weekend of the season, raising the season total reported at Bonner to 388 white-tailed deer, which remained lower than the previous two seasons but only three under the total whitetails checked in 2015.
FWP operated a check station at the mouth of Fish Creek, in Mineral County, on the last weekend of the season, where 272 hunters checked 28 white-tailed deer, five mule deer and one elk.
All told, the region’s two hunter check stations saw 9,707 hunter trips, 243 elk, 98 mule deer, 457 white-tailed deer, six black bears, two moose, three bighorn sheep, and one wolf this season.
Hunter harvest telephone surveys, conducted over the upcoming winter months, will provide more harvest data and trends.