MISSOULA — West-central Montana hunter check stations are reporting a harvest a bit behind last season going into the final week of the general season.
Overall, the four Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) hunter check stations in west-central Montana are reporting 8,500 hunter trips, 167 elk, 94 mule deer and 381 white-tailed deer compared to 8,789 hunter trips, 211 elk, 88 mule deer and 399 white-tailed deer at this point in the 2020 season.
Hunter numbers and harvests of elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer reflect a steady downward trend over the past five years at the hunter check station just outside of Bonner. However, FWP notes the percentage of hunters that report harvest success through the Bonner station has held steady over the past five years. So far, 8.5% of hunters have checked game in 2021, compared with the five-year average of 8.8%.
While the Bonner trend shows an overall steady decline over the past five years in all categories, the hunter and harvest trends at the check station near Darby are a mixed bag. The 3,212 hunters checked at Darby so far this season is on par with the five-year average of 3,276. Elk harvest of 115 is down 18% from the five-year average of 140, while white-tailed deer harvest of 65 is up 15% from the five-year average of 57. The mule deer harvest of 45 is up 44% this year from the five-year average of 31.2%.
The 819 hunters checked at the Anaconda station so far this year is down slightly from 851 checked in 2019, the last time the check station was operated on all five weekends. The elk harvest of 27 is on par with 2019, although mule deer and white-tailed deer harvests of 13 and 15 are down markedly from 19 and 33, respectively, in 2019.
Hunter numbers and white-tailed deer harvest are down slightly from last year at the check station in Fish Creek in Mineral County. Elk and mule deer harvests reported through this station are typically low, and this year has been the same.
The general deer and elk hunting season continues through Sunday, Nov. 28.