The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says buck deer numbers in some regions are up this year, including hunting sections of southeastern Utah.
In southeast Utah, which includes hunting units 12/16B/16C, 13A, 14A and the southern part of Unit 11, Brad Crompton, DWR assistant wildlife manager for the region, said the amount of water and green vegetation he and other biologists found on Unit 12/16B/16C and the southern part of Unit 11 this summer surprised him.
“The area has received a lot of rain over the past few weeks,” said Crompton, “and forage for deer is in good condition. Some of the summer range has forage that’s up to your knees.”
Unit 12/16B/16C is the largest unit in southeastern Utah and one of the largest units in the state. Crompton said the does on the unit have produced about 70 fawns per 100 does each of the past two years. Mild winters have allowed most of the fawns to survive, he said.
“You can grow a lot of deer with fawn numbers that high,” he said.
Crompton credits extensive habitat work and prescribed burns for much of the increase. He said the vegetation on the unit is wet, which will make it easier for hunters to move around and stalk deer.
On units in the southern part of the region, the outlook isn’t quite as good, according to Crompton. The number of bucks per 100 does has stayed the same on Unit 13A and Unit 14A for the past two years, he said, and only about 50 fawns per 100 does have been born each of the past two years.
“I think the hunt on the two units will be similar to last year or maybe even a little slower,” he said.
Crompton said that while it is fun to hunt new areas and see new country, finding a good area to hunt, and then hunting it often, is the key to deer hunting success.
“As you get to know the country,” he says, “you’ll learn the patterns the deer follow and where you’ll likely find them based on conditions on the ground.”
DWR biologists also offered some tips to help hunters have a successful season.
The first tip is to hike into the backcountry. Dale Liechty, a DWR biologists who manages several units near Vernal, said he often visits with hunters who tell him they haven’t seen a deer. When he asks them where they’ve been hunting, they tell him they’ve been driving up and down the road.
“Typically,” he said, “that strategy isn’t going to work. There’s so much traffic on many of these roads that the deer have learned to avoid them, especially during the hunting season. My advice is to get off the roads and into the backcountry. If you do, you’ll find the deer.
Covy Jones, DWR wildlife manager in central Utah, says if a hunter sees a buck at the start of the hunt, but it isn’t a buck the hunter really wants to take, pass up the shot. He reminds hunters that the archery hunt runs for 28 days.
“If you have time to hunt past the opening weekend,” he says, “you’ll often be successful. Don’t rush yourself. Take your time. If you do, you’ll often find the buck you’re looking for.”
Biologists also encourage hunters to pass up shots at smaller bucks in order to have larger bucks in future years.
They also urge hunters to consider hunting the Walk-In Access Areas in the region. More information about the WIAs is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/walkinaccess.
Youth hunter permits available
Hunters who will be 18 years of age or younger on Aug. 17 can still purchase a youth hunting permit, DWR officials said. On Aug. 9, youth archery permits were still available for every general-season hunting unit in Utah.
Youth permits can be purchased online at www.wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/hunting/hunting-permits.html. Click on the ‘buy a permit online’ option in the paragraph at the bottom of the page.
For more information about hunting deer in southeastern Utah, call the DWR’s office in Price at 435-613-3700.