Montana -(Ammoland.com)-The final results are in at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Havre check station for the 2014 hunting season. Overall, hunter numbers and big-game harvest were down.
“In general, big game harvest was slower this year,” said Havre-area wildlife biologist Scott Hemmer. “This is likely due in part to the elimination of all Region 6 deer B licenses and buck-only harvest on the A-tag for mule deer. The weather this year also may have affected harvest. It was unseasonably warm at the beginning of the season, which may have reduced game sightings, and then was extremely cold at the end of the year, which reduced hunter numbers.”
Hunter numbers were down only 4 percent from 2013, but are still down 26 percent from long-term average. “Another factor why hunter numbers and harvest were down when compared to long-term averages is that deer and antelope numbers are still below normal,” Hemmer noted.
The hard winter of 2010-2011, which reduced antelope and mule deer populations in the region, is still showing its effect. In addition, epizootic hemmorhagic disease outbreaks in 2011-2013 impacted white-tailed deer numbers. “While game numbers for these species are recovering, they are still below the long-term average in many areas,” Hemmer said.
The antelope harvest more than doubled from 2013, but is still 81 percent below the long-term average. The mule deer harvest was 59 percent below average and white-tailed deer was 77 percent below. Elk harvest was down 28 percent from the long-term average.
On a positive note, upland bird and waterfowl numbers appeared to be up based on results from the Havre check station. “Pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse, and Hungarian partridge harvest were all up from last year, and all but pheasant were above the long-term average,” Hemmer said. “Hunter reports for these species were consistently positive.”