HELENA – The 2017 general hunting season has closed in the state and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks say hunters passing through rocky mountain front were right on par with the 10 year average for elk.

The Region 4 check station near Augusta saw 315 elk over the entire general big game season. That number is around 5 percent below the 10-year average. The mule deer harvest was 15 percent below the 10-year average while white-tailed deer numbers were 14 percent above.

The check station in Augusta is FWP’s only biological check station in Region 4. Region 4 makes up the rocky mountain front and stretches into central Montana.

For those that didn’t find their elk during the general hunting season, there is still chance at fill a tag through FWP’s antlerless elk shoulder season.

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A shoulder season is a firearms season that occurs outside the five-week general firearms and archery seasons with the primary purpose being to reduce elk populations in areas that are overpopulated.

There are 43 hunting districts open to 6 Fish, Wildlife and Parks regions but hunters should know that regulations differ from the general season and will change among the districts.

For the shoulder season in FWP Region 4, hunting is only allowed on private lands, Montana Department of Natural Resources lands and Conservation and federal Bureau of Land Management lands. No hunting will be allowed during the elk shoulder seasons on federal Forest Service lands, the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge or any FWP wildlife management areas.

FWP wants hunters to do their research before heading out especially since the season will be primarily on private lands and districts may have different opening and closing dates. It is also the hunter’s responsibility to find a place to hunt and obtain landowner permission on private property.

FWP Region 4 supervisor Gary Bertellotti says that prospective hunters need to be aware that the hunts may not be easy either.

“People should not have unrealistic expectations,” says Bertellotti, “This is not a game damage hunt. At times this will be an arduous hunt.”

This is the second year Montana has held an antlerless elk shoulder season.

For more information on Montana’s elk shoulder season including regulations for each district click here.