MILES CITY – Montana’s big game hunting season arrived with bitter cold over the weekend of Oct. 24 and 25, likely prompting many hunters to stay home a bit longer. Traffic at big game check stations throughout southeastern Montana was down for the opener. Those who did get out enjoyed their time and some success in the field.

Ashland Check Station

“Hunting conditions were tough for opening weekend,” said wildlife biologist Ryan DeVore. “The weather felt more like the typical closing weekend of deer and elk season.”

“At the CWD check station on Saturday in Ashland, hunters were struggling to find animals as snow fell from early morning through the night, making visibility poor,” DeVore said. “Several hunters on Saturday were heading back home and didn’t stay for Sunday.”

Sunday was bitter, with a low temperature below zero.

Opening weekend was much slower in Ashland than in recent years, according to DeVore. Only 64 hunting parties came through Ashland on Sunday with a total of 126 hunters. Thirty-eight people were successful, for a harvest success of 30 percent.

“For the folks who decided to tough it out in the cold and snow, most had an enjoyable weekend,” he said. “Many of them had a chance at some animals even if they decided not to make a harvest.”

The harvest at Ashland included:

5 antelope (4 bucks, 1 doe)
23 mule deer (8 bucks, 15 does)
7 white-tailed deer (3 bucks, 4 does)
6 bull elk, and
8 birds, including turkeys and sharp-tailed grouse

Hysham Check Station

Wintry conditions also made for a slower day at Hysham’s check station.

“The abnormally cold weather deterred a lot of folks from traveling to Region 7 this past weekend,” said FWP Wildlife Biologist Steve Atwood. “The number of hunters that passed through the

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