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In: Shadow of the Rockies

Montana’s general hunting season for deer and elk began Saturday, with lower-than-average hunter participation in some areas of southwest Montana due to challenging weather and travel conditions, similar to 2019.

Wildlife biologists with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks operated five check stations over the weekend, observing a total of 1,039 hunters. Biologists use check stations to collect data on hunter participation and success, as well as the species, sex and age class of the animals harvested. This supplements data collected through hunter harvest phone surveys.

Three of the check stations — Cameron, Gallatin and Mill Creek — only operated on Oct. 25. The Alder and Divide check stations operated on both Oct. 24 and 25. Hunter success was below average at the Alder check station, about average at the Cameron check station, and above average at the Gallatin, Divide and Mill Creek check stations.

In total, biologists checked 10 white-tailed deer, 17 mule deer and 72 elk over the weekend.

These figures do not account for different hunting season regulations over the years, which have varied from liberal to restrictive for elk and mule deer, depending on population status.