The Rocky Mountain Front

The Rocky Mountain Front rises above Heart Butte Road on the Blackfeet Reservation.

CASEY PAGE, Gazette Staff

Recent winter weather on the Rocky Mountain Front has led to an increased elk harvest, a state wildlife biologist said.

“Elk harvest is 17 percent above the 10-year average,” said Brent Lonner, Fish, Wildlife & Parks wildlife biologist. “Cold and snow are helping with increased hunter success in harvesting elk.”

The numbers were collected at FWP’s check station in Augusta.

“The significant change in weather bringing colder and snowier than normal conditions for this time of year is helping hunters out: tracking game, finding game, and pushing them down from more backcountry areas,” Lonner said.

The numbers at the Augusta check station — FWP Region 4’s sole biological check station — apply only to a handful of hunting districts on the Rocky Mountain Front.

Mule deer numbers are almost right on the long-term average, while the white-tailed deer harvest is 9 percent below the 10-year average.

“Deer hunting and harvest usually starts picking up the latter half of the season once the rut starts,” Lonner said

Elk hunters this season have brought in 140 animals (78 bulls, 51 cows and 11 calves) compared to the 10-year average of 116 elk.

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Mule deer at the check station have numbered 87 (76 bucks, nine does and two fawns). The 10-year average is 89 animals.

White-tailed deer numbers this year in Augusta stand at 71 (41 bucks, 23 does and seven fawns), while the 10-year average is 78.

The big game general season ends Nov. 26.

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