A rebound has brought the area's hunting numbers up to average, according to the latest information from the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks. Vivaca Crowser reported the west-central total hunter numbers as of Monday were similar to last season.

The rut picked up over the past week and hunters had more success in hunting deer. At the Darby Check Station 27 mule deer were checked through and 44 white-tailed deer. For all three check stations in Bonner, Anaconda and Darby the white-tailed deer total was 242, double the 131 on the weekend before. Elk at the Darby stop totaled 133, compared to 135 last year at this time.

Hunter success was almost 9 percent, according to the weekly FWP report, which is better than previous years. And there was a black bear checked through the station, too.

Again, hunters are reminded to stop by the check stations in any area you're hunting in the state, whether you are successful or not.

Wardens are still investigating a poaching incident near Conner. The Montana FWP reported the poaching of a mule deer buck that was shot and left for dead in the southern Bitterroot Valley. Wardens say the carcass was found near Conner and they've determined that the 4x4 buck was shot Tuesday, November 10th, in the afternoon, between noon and just after sunset. The deer was a small buck, about three years old. It was found 30 feet from the Robbins Gulch road. The area is south of Darby, near Conner, in Hunting District 270.

You can be eligible for a reward up to $1,000 for information leading to the conviction and there's an additional $500 reward from the Ravalli County Fish and Wildlife Association. The TIP-MONT phone number is 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847-6668).