According to the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources, finding water will be critical to finding deer. Wet conditions this summer spread deer out during the archery hunt. But since then, conditions have changed—much of the state has dried out. The drier conditions mean less water and less food for the deer. Unless conditions change, deer will be concentrated in areas that have both.
Fortunately for hunters, there are plenty of deer to locate. Utah’s herds have plenty of bucks. And the overall number of deer in Utah is the highest it’s been since the 1990s.
Guy Wallace, DWR wildlife manager in southeastern Utah, says this past winter was mild, which allowed more fawns to make it through the winter. “There should be more yearling bucks on all of the units in the region this fall,” Wallace says. “Overall, hunting during the rifle hunt should be good or better than last year.”
Right now, Wallace says deer are in a transition mode. The forage that’s available to the deer is changing, and the diet preferences of deer are changing too. “These changes, along with changes in weather, including cooler temperatures, will influence where deer will be found during the rifle hunt,” he says.
Wallace says grasses are drying out, and trees at higher elevations are losing their leaves. “As a result, deer have started moving to lower elevations, into more brushy-type habitat,” he says.
Wallace says the Abajo Mountains unit is the unit where the number of deer is closest to the population objective. The number of deer is about 80 percent of the unit’s objective.
Elsewhere in the region, the total number of deer on the La Sal, La Sal Mountains unit is slightly above 50 percent of the unit’s objective.
In addition to more deer, buck deer make up a good percentage of the deer in the herds. For example, the buck-doe ratio on the Abajo unit is at the goal of 17 bucks per 100 does.
“The deer are healthy,” Wallace says. “They look really good this year.”
Another tradition will be held on Friday evening when the Monticello Lions Club hosts the annual Fall Feast at Monticello Elementary School, beginning at 5:30 p.m.