By Robert Lucke
"This was a good hunting season," said Havre area wildlife biologist, Al Rosgaard with the Montana FWP. "Hunter success was better. The antelope harvest is a function of how many tags we give out, but mule deer and whitetail numbers is more a function of animal availability except for antlerless B tags."
"The size of antlers and number of bucks that people saw was better than most years, particularly with mule deer east of here," continued Rosgaard. "Mule deer numbers had been down since the bad winter of 1996. That has changed now. I would say that over all, there were no unhappy hunters that came through our check station (just east of Havre.) Even hunters who were unsuccessful had their opportunities or were looking for something bigger and didn't see it."
In mule deer numbers, in 1999 502 hunters got 204 mule deer bucks and 46 mule deer does and fawns. In 2000 514 hunters got 252 mule deer bucks and 53 mule deer does and fawns.
"The number of mule deer checked in 2000 was 22 percent higher than in 1999, while the hunters numbers were essentially the same. Hunter success increased to 60 percent," said Rosgaard. "Overall, buck hunters were more successful and most reported seeing more total mule deer as well as more and larger bucks throughout most of Region 6 and especially the Missouri River Breaks hunting districts."
Whitetail deer numbers at the Havre check station were 281 hunters got 78 bucks and 73 does and fawns in 1999, while in 2000, 325 hunters got 110 bucks and 157 does and fawns.
"Whitetailed deer hunters increased by 17 percent but the total number of whitetails checked increased by 77 percent, probably because of the availability of multiple antlerless licenses," said Rosgaard. "The antlerless harvest more than doubled. Again most hunters reported observing large numbers of whitetails and good numbers of large bucks."
Antelope number for 1999 were 438 hunters bagged 288 bucks and 45 does or fawns. In 2000 508 hunters harvested 295 bucks and 97 fawns and does.
"Antelope hunters increased by 16 percent due to increased permits, but harvest increased by only 8 percent," added Rosgaard. "The antelope doe harvest was the highest since 1996. The overall success rate was excellent at 77 percent."