Hunters are hoping the cool weather continues to boost their success during the second weekend of the General season, after a good opening last week.

Dry weather through much of September and October had limited the harvest for early-season specialty hunts, with many hunters seeing little if any game in the near-record warmth of the past few weeks.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks managers say the sudden turn to cold, wintery weather last week helped turn that around, with most hunters reporting more game than they had seen in recent years. 

Biologists reported the colder conditions prompted game animals to move around more and drop away from the snow at higher elevations. Most check stations were reporting slightly above-average returns. Much of that extra success came through white-tailed deer in the Lower Clark Fork and the Blackfoot management units, and through elk checked at the Darby check station in the southern Bitterroot. 

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Elk numbers at Darby check station more than twice 2021

FWP reports more than 2,000 hunters were checked at Anaconda, Bonner, Fish Creek, and Darby, recording a total of 90 white-tailed deer, 84 elk, 18 mule deer, three black bears, and one wolf. Only the mule deer count was smaller than last season. 

In fact, the 66 elk checked at Darby was more than double last year's take, with most coming out of the Big Hole Valley. 

“We had several youth and adult hunters come through with their very first elk and deer this weekend at the Darby station, which was great to see,” said FWP Bitterroot wildlife biologist, Rebecca Mowry.

FWP biologists also attribute some of the increase to "more liberal hunting regulations" for white-tails this season. 

This weekend's hunting forecast is for milder temperatures and generally dry conditions. 

The General Big Game Season continues through November 27th. 

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