MISSOULA – State wildlife officials report that hunter harvests of elk and deer in west-central Montana kept pace with last year at the close of the fourth week of the general big game hunting season.
At the check station near Darby this season’s cumulative 3,346 hunter trips, 143 elk, 29 mule deer and 48 white-tailed deer mirror last year’s tally for this point in the season, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) reports.
The fifth weekend also shaped up with a normal pace of hunter activity and reported harvest at the check station near Bonner, following a slow start at the beginning of the season.
Although the deer harvest picked up with the beginning of the rut over the past few weeks, the Bonner station’s 281 white-tailed deer is the lowest since 2013 and is 28%t lower than last year. Mule deer harvest is on track with 2017. The elk tally at Bonner is down from last year but on par with the five-year average.
Colder weather and a bit of snow mid-season helped bump harvest over the past few weeks, but without significant weather changes, FWP expects harvest totals to remain steady and end on par with last year.
Montana’s general rifle season for deer and elk closes 30 minutes after sunset on Sunday, November 25.