The start of the general deer and elk hunting season produced the highest number of harvested white-tailed deer at game check stations in northwest Montana since 2017.
Overall, hunters in northwest Montana (Region 1) reported harvesting 209 white-tailed deer, including 102 bucks, as well as 12 mule deer and 21 elk at four check stations. The overall number of hunters reported at check stations was down, possibly due to hunters being confused about whether stopping was required. Last year, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks replaced the mandatory regional check stations with voluntary chronic wasting disease sample stations. This year, FWP is back operating mandatory game check stations at specific locations on weekends from 10 a.m. to approximately 1.5 hours past sunset. The regional game check stations are located at U.S. Highway 2 West of Kalispell, Montana Highway 83 north of Swan Lake, Highway 200 west of Thompson Falls, and Highway 93 near Olney.
Hunters must stop at any check station they encounter whether they harvested an animal or not.
“The white-tailed deer harvest in the region was the highest to start the season since 2017,” said Neil Anderson, FWP Regional Wildlife Manager. “We predicted a slight increase in white-tailed deer population due to high fawn recruitment after two years of mild winter.”
The counts at the stations represent a sampling of the harvest and do not represent the complete number of animals taken. A table below summarizes the results from the first weekend of the season at four check stations. Past summaries included results from five check stations, but the Canoe Gulch station in Libby has been replaced with a voluntary chronic wasting disease sampling station on Highway 2 south of Libby.
This year, FWP will continue surveillance for chronic wasting disease in specific areas known as Priority Surveillance Areas. In northwestern Montana, those areas include Hunting Districts 100, 103, 104, 120, 121, 122 and 170. In those specific areas, hunters are asked to voluntarily submit a sample from their animal. For instructions on how or where to submit a sample, visit fwp.mt.gov/cwd.
Contact a Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks regional office for more information. In northwest Montana, call (406) 752-5500