Opening weekend hunter success above average in north-central Montana

Posted at 9:10 AM, Oct 30, 2023

(Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks news release)

Warm and dry weather greeted hunters for the opening weekend of Montana’s general hunting season last Saturday. But despite the less-than-ideal hunting weather, overall success rates for hunters stopping at the Augusta check station in Region 4 were slightly above average.

A total of 209 hunters stopped at the station on Saturday and Sunday, which is about 4% lower than the ten-year average of 217 hunters on opening weekend, but substantially higher than the 164 hunters who stopped on opening weekend of 2022.

Although hunter numbers may have been slightly lower, the overall harvest success rate for hunters on opening weekend this year was 19%, which is better than the ten-year average of 16%, and the 14% success rate seen in 2022.

Hunters checked 15 elk at the station, which was 30% above average for opening weekend, and substantially higher than 2022 when only four elk were checked. With the warm weather, the migratory Sun River elk herd did not yet seem to be making any significant movements towards their winter range on the Sun River WMA, although the cold and snow which moved into the area this week is expected to spur more movement of those elk towards the game range, and also increase movement of other game animals.

Mule deer and white-tailed deer harvest were 15% and 8% below recent average, but more than double the number checked in 2022. The total number of deer checked on opening weekend this year was 23, which included some brought into the check station by youth hunters during the two-day youth deer season on Thursday and Friday prior to the general rifle season opener.

The general deer and elk seasons run through Nov. 26. The check station operated by FWP along Main Street in Augusta is the only biological check station in Region 4 and operates seven days a week from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends. Biological check stations like the station in Augusta are intended primarily for biologists to gather trends and statistical information about animals and hunters. Hunters are reminded that they must stop at any check station they pass while hunting, whether or not they have harvested game.