The 2019 big-game rifle season ended Sunday.
Hunter numbers held steady, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
And now final results are in from the FWP Havre check station, which was open for eight weekends, from Oct. 12 (the open of general antelope) through Dec. 1.
Hunter numbers — 1,739 — were down 10 percent from 2018, but 3 percent above the long-term average.
“Weather conditions this year were not a major obstacle to hunter participation or success, but there were some stretches of time where muddy roads affected hunter access,” said Scott Hemmer, FWP’s Havre area biologist.
The mule deer harvest was higher than normal, while other big game and bird harvests were below normal.
“There were additional mule deer B tags issued this year, which may have helped contribute to the high mule deer numbers,” Hemmer said.
Although hunters have reported seeing more white-tailed deer over the last few years, it hasn’t been reflected in harvest numbers.
For the 2019 season, 109 whitetails were harvested and brought by the check station, 23 percent lower than in 2018 and 21 percent below the long-term average.
Elk harvest numbers were half of what they were last year. Twenty-two elk were brought by the station this year.
“Reports from elk hunters this year were less favorable,” Hemmer said. “Muddy roads limited hunter access in some areas and other hunters reported difficulty in finding elk on publicly accessible property.”
Although slightly better than last year, upland bird numbers were still down, 37 percent below the long-term average. FWP believes the 2017-2018 drought affected this season’s upland bird numbers.
FWP also sent samples to check for Chronic Wasting Diseasel, free of charge. FWP appreciates all hunters’ cooperation in the effort.
“Overall, it appeared to be a good season for hunters this year,” Hemmer said. “We sure appreciate and enjoy visiting with the hunters that come by the check station, and it’s great to see the smile on their face after a successful hunt.”
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