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Drought is impacting southeast Montana hunters as season gets underway

Jim Handcock

Some hunters in southeast Montana are experiencing the effect of drought in the first weekend of the season.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks says southeast Montana’s general season opened to average numbers and low counts of mule deer and birds in some areas.

Biologist Ryan DeVore in Broadus says mule deer are sparse in the Broadus and Ashland area, where severe drought has deprived the animals of food over the last couple of years.

“You could see their ribs just didn’t have good muscling, had very little fat," he says.

DeVore says a low pregnancy rate is a driver of diminished mule deer numbers.

Similarly in the Glendive region, biologist Melissa Foster says hunters reported fewer young birds — and fewer birds in general — as a result of drought.

The general season runs from Oct. 23 through Nov. 28.

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