Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Hunter success rate way up over 2019

| November 10, 2021 7:10 AM

Montana’s general hunting season is hitting the midway point and the overall harvest is expected to increase with the onset of the deer breeding season in the coming weeks.

So far in 2021, there have been fewer hunters reported, but a higher percentage of success among those coming through the regional check stations in northwest Montana. A total of 4,529 hunters have been reported at the four weekend stations this year, compared to 6,020 two years ago. The overall game harvest this year was 602 animals checked compared to 625 in 2019. The white-tailed buck harvest is lagging behind the 2019 pace, while the mule deer and elk harvests are slightly higher. The overall white-tailed deer harvest was almost identical to 2019 figures through the same period of time.

But the hunter success rate is up substantially. At the Highway 2 check station, 13.6% of hunters had game, while in 2019, just 5.8%. In Olney, hunters had almost a 17% success rate.

FWP did not operate game check stations on weekends during the 2020 season. The counts at the stations represent a sampling of the harvest and do not represent the complete number of animals taken.

Check stations are open on weekends during hunting season from 10 a.m. to approximately 1.5 hours past sunset. The regional game check stations are located at U.S. Highway 2 West of Kalispell, Montana Highway 83 north of Swan Lake, Highway 200 west of Thompson Falls, and Highway 93 near Olney.

Hunters must stop at all check stations that they pass, even if they have not harvested any animals.

The deer breeding season, known as the “rut,” typically begins in early-to-mid November. The arrival of winter weather would also bode well for hunters as snow cover improves the ability to track animals.

The general deer and elk season runs through Nov. 28.