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“Steady” seemed to be the word of week five of Montana’s general big game season in west central and northwest Montana.

In Region 2, which includes the Bonner, Darby and Anaconda game check stations, harvest numbers overall have been up slightly over last season at this time, according to Vivaca Crowser with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

In Region 1, which includes the Highway 2, Swan, Thompson Falls, Olney and Canoe Gulch check stations, overall harvest numbers are up for white-tailed and mule deer compared to last year, and the tally for elk is only two behind last year, according to Dillon Tabish with FWP.

Both regions called those results “steady” in news releases sent to the Missoulian.

The Bonner check station continued to have the fewest hunters pass through at this point compared to the previous five years, but the white-tailed deer harvest was better than last year. But black bear, elk and mule deer numbers continue to lag.

The number of hunters passing through the Darby check station continued to be strong, which is reflected in the elk and deer harvests. So far, hunters brought 149 elk through the check station, along with 71 white-tailed deer and 35 mulies. That the most mule deer in the past five years, and ties the white-tailed high in 2015.

“Harvest numbers have been up slightly region-wide all season long, although the pace of elk harvest slowed over the past few weeks,” Crowser wrote in a news release. “FWP says that fresh snow and colder weather this week could improve tracking conditions and wildlife movement, leading to a strong end to the season.”

Overall, the Region 2 check stations, which are only open on weekends during the hunting season, had 8,722 hunters pass through. The counts at the stations are a representative sampling of the harvest, but aren’t the total number of animals taken.

Region 1 checked 11,604 hunters through its five check stations, which is down from a high of upward of 14,000 hunters in 2013 and 2015.

The Highway 2 check station continues to take top honors with the numbers of white-tailed deer harvested at 348, which includes 287 bucks. The Olney station also was popular with white-tailed deer hunters, who harvested 228 including 183 bucks.

The Highway 2 station also saw the most hunters with elk come through in Region 1, which totaled 19. Thompson Falls and Canoe Gulch tied with a dozen each.

Only two mule deer were taken through the Swan check station, which was two more than last year.

Again, the Highway 2 check station saw 35 mule deer, which is one up from the number taken at this point last year. The biggest increase was at Canoe Gulch, which had 32 hunters with mule deer pass through, compared to 14 last year.

The general big game season ends Dec. 1, which is Sunday.

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