KALISPELL — The general hunting season concluded on Sunday in Montana.
Montana Fish Wildlife and Raks (FWP) reports despite unseasonably warmer conditions preliminary check station results show the overall big game harvest remained higher than in recent years in northwest Montana.
The four stations in northwest Montana recorded 9,624 hunters, 940 white-tailed deer, including 711 bucks, as well as 90 mule deer and 44 elk. The percentage of hunters with game at the four check stations was 11.2%, compared to 8.5% in 2019.
“Our check stations saw a lot of 2-to-3-year-old bucks this year and that was to be expected following back-to-back mild winters,” FWP Regional Wildlife Manager Neil Anderson said. “We also saw an increase in the number of mule deer bucks harvested overall.”
Check stations were open on weekends during general hunting season and only sampled a small portion of hunter participation and harvests across the region.
Hunters who harvested deer, elk or moose this season have until 5 p.m., Dec. 3 to bring the animal’s head to the FWP office in Kalispell for chronic wasting disease (CWD) sampling.
Testing for CWD is voluntary throughout the state. FWP is assisting hunters with sample collection and submission at the Region 1 office in Kalispell, weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. FWP will cover the cost of testing hunter-harvested animals for CWD.
Hunters who want their animal sampled should leave 2" to 4" of the neck below the low jawbone and base of the skull to ensure lymph nodes are present and not inadvertently left with the carcass. Samples cannot be collected from frozen heads.