Mule deer buck

Heading into the final days of Montana’s big game season, the number of mule deer and elk taken by hunters on the Rocky Mountain Front near Augusta continue to remain below average, according to a state wildlife biologist.

“Elk harvest is 25% below the 10-year average,” said Brent Lonner, Fish, Wildlife & Parks wildlife biologist. “Mule deer harvest is at 20% below the 10-year average.”

Only the number of white-tailed deer taken by hunters to the FWP Augusta check station is on the plus side at 8% above the 10-year average, Lonner said, adding the antlerless harvest continues to be the main driver of this year’s increase.

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

Nearly three quarters of all elk checked in Augusta are from Hunting Districts 424, 442 and 425.

Hunters are reminded that quotas exist for HDs 424 and 442 — 10 antlerless or brow-tined elk in HD 424 and 100 antlerless or brow-tined elk in HD 442.

When those quotas are reached, the season will remain open on brow-tined bull elk only until Dec. 1, the end of the general rifle season, though antlerless elk would remain valid in HD 442 outside the national forest boundary. For details check the 2019 Deer and Elk Regulations. To find out the status of the quota, hunters can call the Augusta check station at 406-562-3467.

Elk hunters so far this year have brought in 188 animals (74 bulls, 102 cows and 12 calves) compared to the 10-year average of 251 elk.

Mule deer at the check station have numbered 154 (141 bucks, 12 does and one fawn). The 10-year average is 193 animals.

White-tailed deer numbers stand at 223 (108 bucks, 85 does and 30 fawns), while the 10-year average is 205.

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