About The Same Number of Bucks As Last Year In Utah

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This year’s archery deer hunt begins on August 16.

Abouth The Same Number of Bucks As Last Year In UtahWith the exception of parts of northern and northeastern Utah, the number of buck deer in Utah is about the same as it was last fall.

That means plenty of bucks should await you when Utah’s 2008 general archery deer hunt kicks off Aug. 16.

The state’s general archery elk hunt also begins Aug. 16. They’re Utah’s first hunts of the year.

“Heavy snowfall last winter took some fawns in parts of northern and northeastern Utah,” says Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.

Even though herds in parts of northern and northeastern Utah lost some deer, most of Utah’s deer herds are doing well.

“We manage the state’s general-season units so there’s between 15 to 20 bucks per 100 does in the herds,” Aoude says. “Almost all of the state’s units are meeting that goal.

“After last fall’s hunts, two of the state’s public land units were above 20 bucks per 100 does, and three of the units were below 15 bucks per 100 does. All of the remaining public land units had 15 to 20 bucks per 100 does in their herds.”

As far as advice, Aoude says if you’ve already scouted your hunting area, you’ve done the most important thing you can do to find success.

“The guys that are successful year in and year out do their homework,” he says. “They get out and find the places where the bucks are.

“During the archery hunt, the deer are usually still in their summer patterns. Doing some preseason scouting is the best thing you can do to increase your chance at harvesting an animal.”

The following is a look at deer hunting prospects in each of the DWR’s five regions:

Northern Region

Biologists say mule deer herds in the Northern Region probably have more adults in them than yearlings this year.

“The winter was hard on the fawns,” says Randy Wood, assistant wildlife manager in northern Utah.

Wood says most of the bucks hunters take each year are yearlings. Because of the number of yearling bucks that died this past winter, hunting in the region could be challenging.

“Moving from north to south in the region, our surveys suggest a general downward trend in fawn survival,” says Phil Douglass, Northern Region conservation outreach manager. “That probably reflects how severe the winter was last year.”

Because of heavy precipitation in northern Utah this past winter and spring, summer range conditions are very good in high elevations. “Food and water is very abundant this year,” Douglass says. “Because of that, the deer will probably be widely scattered. Hunters will have to do a lot of scouting and stalking.”

Douglass says good optics, including range finders, can be useful tools to help you locate the deer and determine their distance so you can make a clean and effective shot. “Because the deer will be scattered, hunters need to hone their skills so they can make the most of the opportunities they get,” he says.

The good news is the buck-to-doe ratio on most of the units in the Northern Region was above the minimum of 15 bucks per 100 does after last fall’s hunts:

Unit   Bucks per 100 does  
Box Elder 21
Cache 20
Crawford 13
Ogden 20
Morgan-South Rich 54
East Canyon 32
Chalk Creek 26
Kamas 16

“The lower elevation and transition habitats have been affected by the hot, dry summer. In these areas, you’ll likely see deer concentrated in places that have food and water,” says Justin Dolling, Northern Region wildlife manager.

Wood encourages you to pay close attention to the large tracts of private land in the Northern Region. Some units have a large number of Cooperative Wildlife Management Units on them. For example, the Box Elder unit has 21 CWMUs. If you plan on hunting in the Box Elder unit, you can pick up a land ownership map from the Box Elder County Surveyor’s Office.

Because of the hot weather, Sgt. Mitch Lane encourages you to cool your harvested deer meat quickly so it doesn’t spoil. “Wasting wildlife is a violation of the law,” Lane says. “Please be aware of that, and take the steps needed to avoid letting any of the meat spoil.”

Central Region

Initial observations by DWR biologists in the Central Region indicate decent numbers of bucks for archers to pursue.

The number of younger bucks that died this past winter won’t be known for sure until data is collected from the rifle deer hunt check stations and through hunter surveys, but biologists anticipate a good hunt.

“Mountain vegetation is very green, lush and abundant this year along the eastern half of the region,” says Scott Root, Central Region conservation outreach manager. “Despite the extra heat over the last while, there are many places in the mountains that look more like it’s June than late July. If archers are patient and concentrate on well-used game trails or water sources, they should have an excellent chance at seeing deer.”

If you don’t take a deer in August or September, Root encourages you to hold onto your tag. “The region has several extended archery hunt units that you can hunt through much of December,” he says. “These units provide great archery hunting opportunities.”

This year, both the archery buck deer hunt and the archery elk hunt start on Aug. 16. “Several of my friends didn’t get an archery deer tag because the archery deer permits sold out so early this year,” Root says. “But because the archery elk and deer opener begins on the same day this year, I’ll still be able to hunt with these friends!

“Archery elk tags are unlimited in number, so I plan on hunting with my friends in our favorite elk areas. If a nice buck deer comes along, I’ll have the added option of taking a deer because I also have an archery deer tag.”

Northeastern Region

Lots of moisture this past winter and spring brought an end to dry conditions in northeastern Utah. But the moisture also reduced the number of deer on the South Slope of the Uinta Mountains near Vernal.

“About 10 to 15 percent of the fawns that were born in that area in spring 2007 died this past winter,” says Ron Stewart, Northeastern Region conservation outreach manager.

“Overall, though, deer herds in northeastern Utah are in good shape,” Stewart says. “Depending on where you hunt, you can expect to see fair to good numbers of young bucks. And those young bucks will be mixed in with a good number of older bucks.”

In addition to improving the habitat, the moisture in the region this year is providing the deer with a lot of water sources. “The deer will be scattered during the archery hunt,” Stewart says.

Barring a tough winter this year, Stewart says the moisture received during the past few months should increase the number of deer you see in the region 2009. “The moisture has really improved the deer habitat,” Stewart says. “Our biologists saw good numbers of fawns this spring. Several of the does even had twins.”

Southeastern Region

Deer were lost in some parts of southeastern Utah after a severe winter last year.

Most of the deer that died were fawns, so hunters will probably see fewer young bucks in the region this fall.

“The losses were most pronounced in the northern part of the region. We expect the harvest to be down a little this year from last year because there will be fewer yearling bucks,” says Bill Bates, Southeastern Region supervisor. “Fawn survival was better on the LaSal and Abajo mountains. We expect deer harvest in those areas to be about the same as last year.”

Overall, though, Bates says hunting should be good region-wide. “Buck-to-doe ratios are at all-time highs,” he says. “Hunter success has been excellent during the past few years, and it should not drop much this year. Even though some fawns were lost, the number of older bucks that made it through the winter was about average this year.”

Bates says hunters who get out and scout should be able to find the deer. “With the dry summer, it will be important to hunt near water,” he says. “Get to know the area you plan to hunt. Identify springs, seeps and creeks. Familiarize yourself with game trails, bedding areas and escape routes.”

Bates reminds you that the presence of hunters, the phase of the moon and a change in the weather are all factors that can cause the behavior of deer to change.

Southern Region

Lynn Chamberlain says archery hunters should look forward to a fair hunt in the Southern Region. “The deer are holding at high altitudes, and I expect they’ll stay there into the fall,” says Chamberlain, Southern Region conservation outreach manager.

“Recent rains have encouraged growth in the forage plants, so the deer are in good condition,” Chamberlain says. “Biologists are reporting good winter survival, which translates into a good crop of young bucks.

“We’re also noticing a few mature bucks in most areas.”

Chamberlain says you should be prepared to hunt hard. “The deer have plenty of water, so they probably won’t be concentrated at watering holes.”