Hunter success picked up over the fourth weekend of the general deer and elk hunting season in southwest Montana, with fresh snow that made tracking wildlife easier in some places.
Wildlife biologists with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks operated several check stations during all or part of the fourth weekend of the season — Nov. 14 and 15. In total, biologists met with 776 hunters (an increase of about 200 hunters from the previous weekend) at check stations in Cameron, Gallatin, Divide and the lower Blacktail Deer Creek watershed.
Biologists use check stations to collect data on hunters’ participation, success and wildlife observations, as well as the species, sex and age class of the animals harvested. This supplements data collected through hunter harvest phone surveys.
This was the busiest weekend at the Cameron station this season, with 313 hunters, but hunter numbers here remained below the long-term average. Hunter success at the Cameron check station was 11.8 percent. The Gallatin check station saw 103 hunters, and hunter success there more than doubled from the previous week to 14.6 percent. The Divide check station saw 224 hunters, with a hunter success rate of 8.5 percent. Nine percent of the 136 hunters that came through the check station on lower Blacktail Deer Creek were successful.
Over the weekend, biologists checked 50 elk, 18 mule deer and 7 white-tailed deer, among other species.
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.