Bitterroot elk harvest below average
Are the elk getting harder to find? As Montana’s big game season hits its stride, the actual number of elk being checked in across the Bitterroot is the lowest the state has seen in the past five years. In fact, over the first three weekends only 79 elk were checked in at the Darby check station. The average over the past four years was 107, the Ravalli Republic reports.
“We’re below average, but it’s not been terrible,” said Rebecca Mowry, a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (Montana FWP) Bitterroot-based biologist. “There just hasn’t been enough weather to make the elk move much.”
Mowry credits the bulk of checked-in elk at the Darby station to be from backcountry hunters.
“I think we did have a lot of road hunters that came through this last week,” said Mowry. “The elk that came through were packed out a way. There are elk around, but people are having to work for them.”
However, mule deer hunters are doing pretty well this season. Overall deer harvest numbers are up across west-central Montana and the number of hunters out there is also up from 2020.
“We had a lot of the (HD) 270 mule deer come through this weekend,” said Mowry. “They were all pretty nice bucks, which are cool to see.”
For hunters with special mule deer permits for HD 240 and 204, this weekend will be the last weekend those permits are valid, according to Mowry. General big game season ends Sunday, Nov. 28.