Despite mild temperatures and a lack of early season snow, harvest numbers appear to be up slightly over last year in southwest Montana after opening weekend. This data comes from five game check stations run by Region 3 biologists, staff, and volunteers. Check stations were operating in the Gallatin, near Cameron, in Divide, Mill Creek and Silver City.
Overall 7.3% of hunters harvested game compared to 6.5% at the same check stations last year. The highest number of hunters was checked in the Silver City area with 908 hunters; 6.6% of those hunters successfully harvested game (mostly antlerless elk). The best success rate was found in the Madison at the Cameron check station with 12.3% of hunters harvesting game (not including 11 antelope taken). Last year the success rate on opening weekend in Cameron was 8.2%.
The number of hunters in the Gallatin was down from 317 to 242. The success rate was also down from 6.6% to 4.5%. The Mill Creek saw an increase in hunters (from 300 to 331), and about the same harvest numbers as last year (3.7% in 2011 versus 3.3% in 2012).
The same check stations saw more elk taken this year with 129 elk harvested compared with 105. Deer harvest was down slightly as last year these stations checked in 34 deer, and this year that number was 28 total.
Hunters with or without game are required to stop at game check stations. The information gathered at check stations helps not only with hunting statistics, but in determining future season setting, and in augmenting species population data.