Hunters took to the field Saturday and Sunday across northwest Montana for the opening weekend of the general deer and elk season. At the six northwest Montana check stations, a total of 3,361 hunters checked 350 white-tailed deer (159 of these were bucks), 27 mule deer, and 31 elk for a 12.1 percent rate of hunters with big game. This harvest rate was double the rate from last year’s opening weekend.
Total numbers of hunters through R1 check stations was the highest it’s been since 2010. According to FWP Region One Wildlife Manager Neil Anderson, white-tailed deer harvest was up largely due to the ability of hunters to harvest an antlerless white-tail on a general hunting license. Nearly one-half of the hunters harvesting a white-tailed deer harvested an antlerless deer, and of those harvesting an antlerless deer most used their general license. White-tail buck harvest was also up this year, being the highest since 2010 for an opening weekend. Elk and mule deer harvest was also up compared to the last two years.
“Overall it was a great opening weekend,” said Anderson. “We had a lot of hunters in the field and a high percentage of them were filling tags. White-tail numbers are up across the region and hunters are taking advantage of the option to harvest an antlerless deer.”
Anderson reminds hunters that the ability to harvest an antlerless white-tail deer on a general A-tag ends after this Friday. Starting Saturday, October 29th, only antlered white-tailed deer may be harvested on a general license in most hunting districts. Youth hunters 15 years of age and younger, and people with disabilities permitted to hunt from a vehicle, can take antlerless white-tailed deer through the end of the season.
Hunters are reminded that elk hunting is brow-tined bull only and spike elk are not legal game. These regulations apply in most Region One hunting districts. Hunters are encouraged to check the Montana hunting regulations for the district you plan to hunt before heading out to the field.
Hunters are also reminded to be bear-aware and properly store food and manage carcasses properly both in the field and at home.