Montana’s general hunting season ended with lower hunter numbers and varied success rates in southwest Montana during the season’s sixth and final weekend.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks operated four check stations in Region 3 during the fifth weekend of the general deer and elk hunt, and seven check stations during the sixth and final weekend. Overall, hunter numbers were lower this year than in 2018, and relatively mild weather conditions made it difficult for hunters to find game in some areas.

Weekend 5 saw fewer hunters this year than the same weekend in 2018 at the Cameron and Divide check stations. Success rates were lower than 2018 at the Cameron, Divide and Mill Creek check stations, but higher at the Gallatin check station.

Weekend 6 of this year’s season brought fewer hunters than in 2018 at the Alder, Cameron, Canyon Ferry, Gallatin and Silver City check stations. Hunter success for that weekend, however, was higher this year at the Alder, Cameron, Canyon Ferry, Divide, Gallatin and Mill Creek check stations.

Overall, hunter numbers were lower in 2019 than the year before, but success rates in many areas were within long-term averages. Weather always plays a significant role in hunter participation and success. This year, strong winter storms kept many hunters home during opening weekend. But frequent freeze-thaw cycles made it difficult for hunters to find game in some areas throughout the remainder of the season.

Weather in the Butte area during the final weekend was much more conducive to hunting, with lower temperatures and some snowfall. However, hunters reported little or no sign of elk movement, indicating that the elk have not yet come out of the Pintler Range to begin their migration toward the Fleecer or High Rye winter ranges.