Less hunters were out in the field on the first weekend of general hunting season in Montana, but quite a few successful hunts were reported. Vivaca Crowser reports the highest number of big game animals harvested since 2010.

The weekend Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Check Station report from three western Montana sites (Darby, Anaconda and Bonner) showed almost 300 less hunters than last year but more animals taken. 248 deer and elk were checked.

At the Darby station station, 918 hunters came through, but 70 elk were harvested, up from 57 last year. Six mule deer were checked, up four from last year at this time, and only seven white-tailed deer, a drop of six from last year.

All checks station combined showed 2,307 hunters with 117 elk, 15 deer and 111 white-tailed deer. The white-tailed numbers were the highest since 2006. Most of those white-tailed deer were reported at the Bonner check station.

The biggest change for the Bitterroot Valley hunters this year was snow level. Last year there was about an inch of snow. This year, hunters reported a foot of snow in many locations.

All hunters, whether they are successful or not, are required to stop at the Montana check stations. The general rifle season for deer and elk will run through Sunday, November 26.