Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks game check stations have reported in on the latest weekend of general rifle season and the numbers are down from last year.

Spokesman Dillon Tabish said the weather has been the biggest factor in the lower numbers of game animals harvested so far this season.

“Up in northwest Montana we’ve had a slower than average start to the hunting season,” said Tabish. “Mother Nature has been back and forth between sunny, warm days and then last weekend it was pretty rainy.”

Tabish has the numbers of game animals harvested that have been reported to the northwest Montana check stations.

“After the first two weeks of the general hunting season, we’ve had a total of 4,788 hunters stop at one of our five check stations up here in Region One,” he said. “Of those hunters, we’ve had 241 whitetail deer, including 114 bucks. We’ve had 23 mule deer and 28 elk. Those elk numbers are actually identical to this time last year right about at the 10 year average. The mule deer harvest is actually a little higher than last year, but still a little lower than that 10 year average. The whitetail average is a little bit below average right now, but that’s expected to pick up in the next couple of weeks. We’re entering what’s known as the rut, and hopefully we’ll have some snow in the forecast which will make conditions a little easier for hunters and get the game moving around out there.”

Tabish said hunters support wildlife management when they pay their licenses and when they purchase hunting rifles, ammunition and other products.