Opening weekend for general rifle season got off to a slow start in western Montana. Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 2 Public Information Officer Vivaca Crowser blamed the low harvest on the 60 degree weather.

"It was a slow weekend and I suppose that makes sense, given how nice the weather was, it was great to be out there, but really too warm to have the harvest that sometimes we get on opening weekend, so it was kind of slow all-in-all. You know, the hunter traffic was also a little slower than normal too, I think a lot of people were waiting to see a change in weather.

Snowfall helps hunters track and find game and pushes animals down from higher elevations, but there was little to be found this past weekend, Elk harvest was down by almost a third at the Darby check station as a result.

"If we look at the Bitterroot check station which is down near Darby, we had 50 elk come through compared to 70, that's substantially lower for an opening weekend. the deer harvest was more on-par through the Darby check station which usually has a slow start, Mule deer harvest is always slow at the beginning of the season before the rut begins.

The Bonner check-station East of Missoula reported 25 elk, which is above the average of just 20, but it had only 39 white-tailed deer, which is far below the five-year average of 62. One big change this year is that the third hunter check station typically located in Anaconda has been closed altogether.


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