Hunting Harvest Up in the Bitterroot, Down in the Blackfoot
Although only around 7 percent of the 12,730 hunting trips in West Central Montana have been successful, those odds are actually pretty good compared to the recent past.
"During the first four weeks of the season we're looking at a harvest of both deer and elk that is slightly above where we were at at this point of the season last year and the year before," said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokeswoman Vivica Crowser. "You do start to see some differences when you look at the Blackfoot vs. the Bitterroot vs. parts of the Clark Fork, but overall, through all of the hunter check stations, we're up compared to the last two seasons."
Despite the overall good news for hunters, hunters in the Blackfoot have seen a 31 percent decline in the number of animals harvested compared to the five-year average.
"The Blackfoot hasn't been great this year," Crowser said. "The elk and deer coming out of the Blackfoot have both been lower than the past couple years, and the long-term average. It's just not been very good conditions, so animals aren't moving around. But it's the opposite story down in the Bitterroot."
Things have been either on par or better at the Anaconda check station as well. According to biologist Ray Vinkey, a cow elk came through the Anaconda check station harvested by a 77 year old woman.