Temperatures are too high and the snow level is too low. The deer and elk hunting season has brought in some numbers lower than the five-year average in west-central Montana, according to the weekly report from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Vivaca Crowser reported the number of hunters is higher than last year, but lower than the three previous years at this time. So far, 6,296 hunters have gone through the check stations at Darby, Bonner and Anaconda. There were over 7,000 hunters in both 2017 and 2019.

At the individual check stations:

  • Darby - 92 Elk, 37 Mule Deer, 36 White-tailed Deer, one bear and one wolf.
  • Anaconda - 25 Elk, 12 Mule Deer and 12 White-tailed Deer.
  • Bonner - 23 Elk, 19 Mule Deer and 177 White-tailed Deer, which is still well below the over-200 white-tailed deer brought in by this time in each year from 2017 to 2019.
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Wildlife biologist Rebecca Mowry said that the number of elk so far in the Bitterroot was the lowest since the Darby station began operating only on the weekends in 2014. Elk and white-tailed deer numbers at Bonner are the lowest since 2009. Mule deer numbers at Darby, however, are the highest in the past five years. We're reaching the end of the general big game hunting season in Montana. Hunters are reminded to stop the game check stations, whether you were successful or not.

Wildlife manager Mike Thompson said, "It's been one of those seasons, so far, when it comes down to harvest totals anyway, and of course, a big contributor to a slow season is weather. It's been a nice fall for a walk in the woods, but not the kind of fall that moves elk and deer, at least so far."

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