Harvest numbers out after the second weekend of hunting season in western Montana show a slow a start to the season, but there are a few bright spots.
According to FWP statistics, 12,013 hunters went through western Montana check stations, and 748 of those hunters were successful, which works out to a 6.2% success rate.
That's down slightly from last year, except for in southwest Montana, where hunters at the well-traveled Cameron check station, south of Ennis, had a 13.2% success rate.
In Region 2, surrounding the Missoula area, the success rate was 7.2%, and in northwest Montana’s Region 1, hunters had only a 4.7% chance of bagging an animal.
Dale Manning, owner Missoula’s Custom Bird Works Taxidermy, says slow starts to the season have been normal the past few years.
He says hunters have had more success with elk early on, especially in the East Fork of the Bitterroot near Missoula, but the deer harvest is down significantly so far.
Manning says he’s still optimistic.
“It's something that we talk about here at the shop constantly,” said Manning. “It's like, what are we going to do for the next year? And then in the last two weeks, we get our year's worth of work."