By Brandon Roberts for the Bigfork Eagle
Hunting success is a term relative to the season.
For some it was a season where some hunters bagged their first buck or antelope and others filled freezers with elk, moose or bear, while others caught only glimpses and shadows — that white flag waving goodbye through the trees.
The six check stations for Region 1 in Northwest Montana tallied 1,000 more hunters for the 2011 season, totaling 18,611.
Statistically, however, hunting success was down nearly two percent at 6.1 percent compared to 7.8 percent in 2010.
Region 1 numbers of white-tailed deer are 911 — of which 753 were bucks — 103 mule deer and 121 elk.
The numbers of whitetail deer, mule deer and elk checked were down from last year according to Jim Williams, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks wildlife manager. He said that more details would be available after the phone surveys in the spring of 2012.
While white-tailed deer harvest picked up the last two weekends of the season, overall hunters checked 15 percent fewer whitetail bucks, 35 percent fewer mule deer, and 23 percent fewer elk as compared to last year.
Hunters in northwest Montana have taken 44 wolves, 62 percent of the total quota of 71. No individual wolf-hunting district has yet closed.
Despite the low harvest numbers, chief of the MFWP wildlife bureau Ken McDonald said there are no plans to extend the big game season.
“If specific population or damage problems emerge, we’ll (MFWP) use management or game damage hunts to address them,” McDonald said.
MFWP officials associate the low hunting success to an overall decrease in big game populations.
For more information on game damage and management seasons visit www.fwp.mt.gov.