Region 6 check station results after opening weekend of hunting season
November 4, 2020
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Havre hunter check station was active over the weekend of general deer and elk opener (Oct. 24-25), with the number of hunters checked a little below average. This was the third weekend that the check station has been open, as the station began collecting data Oct. 10-11, for the opening weekend of pheasant and general antelope.
“Hunter numbers were down slightly this weekend, likely due to the cold and snowy weather, and because of the youth deer hunt being a week earlier,” said Havre-area biologist Scott Hemmer, who manages the check station.
There were 131 hunters in 73 parties checked, which was down 35 percent from 2019 and 41 percent below the long-term average. During the three weeks the check station has been open, overall hunter numbers (550) are down 8 percent from last year and are 15 percent below the long-term average.
Mule deer harvest during the weekend was down from last year, with 31 bucks and 10 does brought through. The 41 deer were 30 percent below the long-term average during opening weekend. For the year, though, the 70 mule deer brought by the station is above the long-term average.
White-tailed deer harvest over the weekend (16) was up slightly from last year and about the same as the long-term average. However, for the year, whitetail harvest at the check station is 43 percent more than last year, and 68 percent more than the long-term average.
“Even though mule deer harvest was down this weekend, hunters reported they are seeing good numbers of both mule deer and white-tailed deer in most areas,” adds Hemmer. “The deer harvest numbers may just be a little lower because of the lower hunter numbers seen over the weekend.”
Antelope harvest is up from last year, with 149 antelope checked in since general antelope season opened. This is a large increase from 2019, but still 33 percent below long-term average.
“Antelope harvest is almost double from last year, and hunter reports have generally been better than in recent years,” says Hemmer. “This is likely due in part to recovering antelope populations and recent increases in antelope license quotas.”
There have been six elk brought by the check station this year, with two cows checked over the weekend. This is just below the long-term average of around seven elk.
For the first three weeks that the check station has been open, the pheasant harvest of 350 birds is below both last year and the long-term average. Sharp-tailed grouse (48 birds) was also below last year and the long-term average, and Hungarian partridge was slightly above last year but still well below the long-term average.
“Upland bird reports this year have been better than in recent years, and most hunters have reported seeing some birds around,” said Hemmer. “There have been good numbers of juvenile pheasants in the harvest, indicating good nest success and brood survival this year.
Please remember that all hunters are required by law to stop as directed at all designated check stations on their way to and from hunting, even if they have no game to be checked. Please follow all directions and signs from FWP staff as they work diligently to check game, answer questions and get you on your way. If social distancing is difficult, please be ready to wear a mask.
Biologists gather a lot of valuable information and biological data on game animals brought through check stations. FWP appreciates all hunters’ cooperation in this effort. Note that the harvest data described above includes only animals that were brought through the Havre check station and is only a partial representation of the region-wide harvest.