The rifle hunt on the unit doesn’t start until October 21.
The hunt on the units has been shortened to reduce the number of buck deer hunters take. Instead of a nine-day season, the season will run for only five days -- October 21 to October 25.
“The three-year buck to doe ratio is below the minimum objective of 15 bucks per 100 does,” says Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.
“Our data shows that shortening the hunt to only five days – by itself -- doesn’t reduce the number of bucks hunters take,” Aoude says. “Most buck deer hunters in Utah hunt an average of only three days anyway.”
Aoude says delaying when the season opens on the five units is the key to reducing the number of bucks hunters take.
“Our data shows that most buck deer are taken during the opening weekend of the hunt,” he says. “When the hunt on these units opens on Oct. 21, many hunters will have already taken their deer. And that means fewer hunters should be hunting on these areas during the five-day hunt.”
For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR’s Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.
You might see a few more deer when Utah’s rifle buck deer hunt starts October 17. The weather this past spring and winter was almost ideal for mule deer.
More than 70,000 hunters, plus their family and friends, are expected afield for Utah’s most popular hunt.
“The weather this past spring and winter was excellent for mule deer,” says Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.
“Last winter was really mild -- the snow stayed up high, and the valleys and the winter ranges were warm,” Aoude says. “It’s difficult to determine exactly how many deer die each winter. But because this past winter was so mild, we think far fewer deer were lost than would have been lost during a normal winter.”
Aoude says the mild winter was followed by a long, wet spring. “The state received plenty of rain clear into June,” he says. “That rain provided doe deer with a lot of good, nutritious vegetation. And that helped the does provide plenty of milk to the fawns they gave birth to earlier this summer.”
Aoude says nutritious vegetation also helps bucks grow bigger antlers. “When bucks have good vegetation to eat, even two- to three-year-old bucks can grow some nice antlers.”
The overall number of deer in southeastern Utah is still below the population objective for the region. But the number of bucks compared to the number of does is improving.
“Buck-to-doe ratios are improving across the region,” says Brent Stettler, regional conservation outreach manager. “For example, on the Central Mountains-Manti unit and the La Sal Mountain unit, the ratio is 17 bucks per 100 does. On the Abajo Mountains unit, the ratio is 20 bucks per 100 does.”
While the number of bucks compared to does is improving, the overall number of deer in the region continues to hover below the region’s population objective. “On the Central Mountains-Manti unit, our biologists estimate the deer population at 20,000 animals. That number should be closer to 40,000 deer.
“The La Sal Mountains unit, with an estimated herd size of 7,400 deer, stands at only 57 percent of its herd size objective of nearly 13,000 animals,” Stettler says. “However, the Abajo unit has rebounded to 95 percent of its herd objective with a current population of about 12,800 deer.”
Lots of rain fell in the region this past spring and early summer. That precipitation provided good forage for deer across southeastern Utah, and gave new fawns a good start. The deer appear healthy. They’re also widely dispersed.
In July, the rain turned off and the heat turned on. Dry conditions moved deer into drainages near water and onto cooler north-facing exposures. Most deer in the region will be found at medium or high elevations.
Stettler encourages hunters to do some pre-season scouting. “Once you’ve selected an area to hunt, learn where the springs, seeps and creeks are in the area,” he says. “Get to know the game trails, the bedding areas and the routes deer might use to escape hunters once the hunt starts.”
How hunting pressure might affect the deer is another important factor to consider. “Make sure you consider that factor as you put your overall strategy together,” he says.
Stettler reminds you that the hunt on the La Sal (La Sal Mountains) unit doesn’t open until Oct. 21. A delayed five-day hunt is being held on the unit to try and increase the number of bucks on the unit compared to the number of does.
A boundary description for the La Sal (La Sal Mountains) unit is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/maps/2009_biggame. Once you reach that part of the site, click on the “General season buck deer units with shorter season dates” selection.