The general big game hunting season concluded last weekend across Montana, and hunters took more deer than they did last year. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks tallied more than 14,000 hunters at its five check stations across Region 1 this season. Hunters reported 1,022 white-tailed deer, including 816 bucks, as well as 105 mule deer and 56 elk.
Despite fewer hunters than years’ past, the overall number of harvested deer was up over last year in the region. The percentage of hunters with harvested game increased over last year at U.S. Highway 2, Swan, Olney and Canoe Gulch (Libby) check stations.
Check stations are open on weekends during hunting season and only sample a small portion of hunter participation and harvests across the region. They help biologists track monitoring trends and record information on wildlife age, health and other observations from the field. Hunter-harvest telephone surveys, conducted over the upcoming winter months, will provide more harvest data and information.
Hunting season structures and hunting district boundaries are adopted for most game species every other year between December and final adoptions in February. The biennial season setting process is underway this year, and the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will review tentative proposals and vote whether to open those proposals for public comment at its Dec. 5 meeting in Helena.
In Region 1, FWP is proposing hunting district boundary changes in the Flathead and Swan Valleys (Hunting Districts 130, 132, 140 and 170) and the Bob Marshall (combine Hunting Districts 150 and 151), adding an over-the-counter 199-00 either-sex whitetail B license for the Libby Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone (portions of Hunting Districts 100, 103, and 104) to reduce deer densities, and changing the mountain lion special licenses.
With Commission approval, FWP Region 1 will hold public meetings to seek input on the proposed changes in January. The meetings are scheduled for Jan. 3 in Kalispell (FWP Region 1 Headquarters), Jan. 8 in Trout Creek (Lakeside Resort), Jan. 10 in Libby (K.W. Maki Theater), and Jan. 16 in Eureka (Lincoln Electric Cooperative). All meetings will start at 6 p.m. except Eureka, which will start at 7 p.m.