As we approach the end of the general rifle hunting season, Western Montana hunters are having success with an above-average harvest of white-tailed deer - the highest total since 2008. However, that success rate does not include the Bitterroot Valley.

Most of the white-tailed deer numbers have been through the Bonner check station, according to a news release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Scott Eggeman said the Bonner station checked through 405 white-tailed deer, 60 more than last year at this time. However, there were 8 less than last year at the Darby check station and 6 less than last year at the Anaconda check station. Bonner also had high mule deer numbers, while numbers were slightly lower in Darby and Anaconda.

Eggeman said, "The deer rut is in full swing, and this was a really good whitetail weekend."

Elk numbers so far are about a third less than last year with 200 checked through the stations, compared to 294 last year. Darby checked through 121, 77 below last year at this time. the possibility of cooler temperatures and snow will be the deciding factor in those numbers as the general hunting season wraps up Sunday.