The general rifle season opened on Saturday, October 26, and although hunters went into the hills in droves, game was scarce for the first weekend.

Communications and Education Specialist for Montana Fish,Wildlife and Parks, Vivaca Crowser said on Tuesday, October 29 that game coming into the check stations was shy of the totals from last year's opening weekend.

"In the deer world, we saw fewer mule deer and whitetail deer checked in as compared to last year," Crowser said. "We had 18 mule deer and 55 whitetails come through our three hunter check stations here in west central Montana. We saw 98 elk harvested, which was also below last year and the five-year average."

Crowser said the mild fall weather, while pleasant to look at, does not help to drive the wild game down to where hunters are waiting.

"Without any significant weather event, there's nothing to move the game down from the mountains," Crowser said. "Otherwise, what we're really waiting on is the deer rut to kick in and for us to get a significant snowfall to push the elk down into the lower elevations."

Crowser said for safety's sake, always let someone know where you're going, so that if something happens, searchers will know where to look.

"Plan where you're going, and let somebody know those plans, so that if you don't come back, or check in by a certain time, then someone can help you out," Crowser said. "Also, this time of year, with the weather changing from day to day, remember to bring extra layers of clothing, and throw that survival kit in your pack in case you get stuck out there."

Crowser said there were no injuries reported by hunters in the first weekend of the season.

Vivaca Crowser with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks: