Montana –-(Ammoland.com)- Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Havre hunter check station was fairly active over the weekend of general deer and elk opener, with most big game species seeing an increase in harvest from the past few years. This is the third weekend that the check station has been open.
Weather conditions over the opening weekend were fairly rainy on Saturday morning, and warmer and dry on Sunday. There were 238 hunters in 117 parties checked, which was up 8% from 2015. Hunter numbers were lower on Saturday, but activity picked up on Sunday when the majority (69%) of hunters were checked.
“Overall, big game harvest was up from last year, but for most species, harvest was still below the long-term average,” said Havre-area biologist Scott Hemmer.
Mule deer harvest during the weekend increased from last year, with 50 bucks and four does brought through. The long term average is 55 mule deer. Mule deer populations have rebounded in most areas, which was reflected in the increased harvest, and hunters have consistently indicated they are seeing more deer. Mule deer harvest to date is up 54% from last year and only 5% below the long-term average.
White-tailed deer harvest over the weekend was up from last year, with five males and 9 females brought in, but still slightly below the long-term average of 15. For the year, 18 white-tails have been brought by the check station, which is up from 2015, and about the same as the long-term average.
“The single region antlerless whitetail deer license, which became available again this year, may contribute to more harvest than last year,” said Hemmer.
Antelope harvest was up from last year, with 20 bucks checked in, and 79 antelope have been checked in since general antelope season opened. This has been a 14% increase from 2015, but still 70% below long-term average. Antelope hunters have reported seeing a slight increase in antelope numbers compared to the last few years.
Elk harvest during the weekend was down from last year, as three cow elk and one bull were brought by the check station. This was below the long-term average of eight elk.
“Poor road conditions, due to the large amount of rain recently, may have contributed to lower levels of elk harvest so far this year,” said Hemmer
“Upland bird harvest has been a bit down from last year,” said Hemmer. For the first three weeks that the check station has been open, the pheasant harvest of 473 birds is below last year (-15%) and the long-term average (-16%). Sharp-tailed grouse harvest is down from last year, and down from the long-term average. Hungarian partridge harvest is below last year’s numbers, but still largely above the long-term average.
Remember that all hunters are required by law to stop as directed at all designated check stations on their way to and from hunting, even if they have no game to be checked.