Mild weather contributes to slower-than-average hunting season

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Mild weather conditions continue to hamper hunter success across northwest Montana.

Through the third weekend of Montana’s general big-game hunting season, a total of 6,748 hunters have stopped at five check stations across Region 1. That is nearly 850 fewer hunters than a year ago. This year’s hunters have checked 320 whitetail deer, including 171 bucks, as well as 39 mule deer and 33 elk. The overall success rate for the region is 5.8 percent, down from last year’s 7.1 percent.

Mild weather and rainy conditions have plagued the region in recent weeks.

“Hunters are reporting that they are seeing a lot of does but the bucks have been more elusive. Hopefully the arrival of colder weather will increase activity among the deer and elk and lead to increased success for hunters,” said Neil Anderson, FWP Region 1 wildlife manager.

The onset of the rut, which is expected to occur soon, should improve hunters’ odds of seeing older bucks.

The counts at the hunter check stations represent a sampling of the harvest and do not represent the complete number of animals taken.

Hunters are required to stop at game check stations they encounter, even if they have not harvested an animal.

Montana’s general big-game hunting season ends Nov. 25.

Hunters are reminded that mule deer buck hunting in the North Fisher portion of Hunting District 103 near Libby is permit-only.

Elk hunting is brow-tined bull only in Region 1. Spike elk are not legal game.

Hunters are also reminded to “Be Bear Aware” and properly store food and manage carcasses. More safety information is available on the Fish, Wildlife and Parks website, fwp.mt.gov. Residents can call Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks regional office for more information. In northwest Montana, call 406-752-5501.

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