Elk, Whitetail Harvest Up, Mule Deer Below Average on Rocky Mountain Front

By BRUCE AUCHLY for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks 

Elk and white-tailed deer harvest numbers continue above average, while the mule deer harvest is down on the Rocky Mountain Front at the close of the second weekend of  Montana’ s general big game season.

The numbers were collected at Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ check station in Augusta, says Brent Lonner, FWP wildlife biologist.

“Overall the elk harvest is up 46 percent over average,” Lonner says. “That’s in part due to a significant harvest on private land. Also, we had the first good push of elk out of the Sun River herd during last week’s colder and snowier weather.”

Elk hunters so far have brought in 117 elk (38 bulls, 70 cows and nine calves) compared to the long-term average of 64 elk.

With whitetails, this year’s count in Augusta stands at 75 (35 bucks, 35 does and five fawns), while the long-term average is 47.While the numbers at the Augusta check station – FWP Region 4’s sole biological check station – apply only to a handful of hunting districts on the Rocky Mountain Front, they often mirror conditions elsewhere in north central Montana.

“Plain and simple there are lots of whitetails around,” Lonner says, “with pretty good hunting opportunity in the area.”

Mule deer at the check station have numbered 49 (36 bucks and 13 does). The long-term average is 61 animals.

“We typically don’t start seeing more mule deer harvest until the second half of the season,” Lonner says, “once the rut starts.”

The general deer and elk season runs through Nov. 25.