Deer harvest in northwest Montana is slightly ahead of last year at the same point in the season, according to check station results around Region One.
At the six northwest Montana check stations through Sunday, November 22, a total of 15, 130 hunters checked 953 white-tailed deer (779 of these were bucks) as compared to 879 whitetails last year. Also in the count were 114 mule deer, and 76 elk for an overall 7.6 percent rate of hunters with game. Harvest was up slightly as compared to last year when 7.4 percent of hunters checked game. Hunter numbers are up about seven percent as compared to last year.
The Highway 2 Check Station west of Kalispell has led the way in whitetail counts, followed by the Olney Check Station, and then the Swan Check Station. The counts at the six northwest Montana check stations represent a sampling of the harvest and do not represent the complete number of animals taken.
Hunters are reminded that it is buck-only for whitetails in northwest Montana. Antlerless whitetails remain legal game for youth 12-15 years of age (and some qualifying 10- and 11-year olds). Mule deer are buck-only for the entire season. Elk are brow-tine bull only. Spike bull elk are not legal game for any hunter in Region One. Hunters should refer to the hunting regulations for the hunting district they plan to hunt.
Biologists report that the whitetail rut is now in full swing, which should aid hunters as they take to the field during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. This past weekend, hunters brought a good number of older bucks through the check stations.
The general big game season ends one half hour after sunset on Sunday November 29.
Wolf Harvest: The wolf take is about the same as last year at this same point in the season. Hunters have taken 24 wolves in Region One to date; statewide, hunters have taken 82 wolves.