Hunter numbers and harvests down in south-central Montana

Photo credit: Dreamstime

The second week of rifle season brought fewer hunters to south-central Montana check stations. In fact, overall hunter numbers were at “near historic lows” except for Lavina, where the number of hunters and harvested deer and elk “were the highest in recent history,” according to the Billings Gazette.

Tallies for 2020 are not available because Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks closed check stations due to COVID-19. Comparable numbers are from 2019. 

Here’s the breakdown per the Billings Gazette:

  • 78 hunters checked in over the weekend (compared to 110 in 2019).
  • Out of the animals checked in, there were nine mule deer (same as 2019), nine whitetail deer (compared to 21 in 2019).
  • Only 25% of hunters had harvested an animal (compared to 32% in 2019).
Big Timber
  • 55 hunters checked in (down from 147 in 2019).
  • Out of those hunters, there were seven whitetail deer (compared to 22 in 2019), eight mule deer (compared to 27 in 2019) and six elk (compared to 10 in 2019).
  • Only 40% of the hunters harvested an animal (compared to 47% in 2019).
  • 291 hunters checked in on Sunday (an increase compared to 186 in 2019).
  • The animals checked in included six whitetail deer (compared to eight in 2019), 32 mule deer (up from 24 in 2019) and 25 elk (up from 10 in 2019).
  • 23% of the hunters who checked in harvested an animal.
  • 109 hunters checked in (compared to 204 in 2019).
  • Out of those, two whitetail deer (down from eight in 2019), 17 mule deer (down from 50 in 2019) and nine elk (down from 16 in 2019) were checked in.

The general deer and elk seasons end Nov. 28. 


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