“The deer are wearing their winter coats right now. When the weather is warm, they don’t like to be out during the day,” says Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. “Instead, they move around at night. Then they bed down before the sun comes up.”
If the weather is warm, Aoude says to find success, you’ll need to push the deer out of the thick brush they’ll be bedded down in.
While you may have to work harder to find the deer, good numbers of deer should be available. With the exception of parts of northern and northeastern Utah, the number of buck deer in Utah should be about the same as it was last fall.
Aoude says DWR biologists manage Utah’s general-season units so there’s between 15 to 20 bucks per 100 does in the herds after the hunts are over in the fall. “Almost all of the state’s units are meeting that goal,” he says.
“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 before the season and find the places where the bucks are.”
Deer were lost in some parts of southeastern Utah after a severe winter last year.Most of the deer that died were fawns, so rifle hunters will probably see fewer young bucks when the hunt starts October 18.
“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 La Sal and Abajo mountains. We expect the number of deer taken 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.”
Bates says hunters who get out and scout should be able to find the deer. “Dry conditions have persisted through the archery and muzzleloader hunts, and that will make hunting more difficult,” he says. “Hunting is obviously best at dawn and dusk, when the deer are most likely to be active.
Bates also advises you to hunt near water. “Get to know the area you plan to hunt,” he says. “Identify springs, seeps and creeks in areas that have good forage and cover. 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. If stormy weather moves in, the deer could begin their fall migration to lower elevation winter ranges.