Good Buck Numbers Await Hunters

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Good numbers of buck deer and dry conditions will await hunters when Utah's 2002 general archery buck deer hunt kicks off Aug. 17.

"We estimate that we're only down about 10,000 deer from where we were at this time last year," said Steve Cranney, big game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.

The DWR estimates the total deer population in Utah at about 310,000 animals, which is 115,000 animals under a statewide objective of 425,000. "We're not where we'd like to be at far as total numbers of deer, but the number of bucks per 100 does is very good, with most of our general seasons units at or over the objective of 15 bucks per 100 does," he said. "Depending on the area they hunt, hunters should see good numbers of bucks this year."

Cranney has two items of advice for archery hunters this year: hunt an area you're familiar with and scout so you know which water sources have water in them.

"The statewide general archery permit gives hunters a chance to try different areas of the state, which is great for learning different areas and finding a place you like," he said. "If you've hunted archery for a few years, though, I would advise you to stay in an area you're familiar with.

"The more you know about an area the better your success will be, no matter how the deer populations in it are doing," he said. "This is especially important for a guy with a bow. In archery hunting, the best success comes to hunters who know the habits of animals in the area they're hunting, and where the water sources are."

Cranney says some of those water sources will be dry this year and he strongly encourages hunters to get out and scout. "Unless we get some more rain between now and the hunt, hunters might be surprised to find that some areas that have historically held water don't have any this year," he said. "It's very important to scout your hunting area and find water sources that have water, because the animals will really be focused on them this year."

Because of the dry conditions, Cranney also says deer may be found higher in elevation than they would normally be this time of year.

Cranney reminds hunters to bring a propane or gas stove to cook on. "In outdoor areas, campfires or the use of charcoal briquets is not allowed anywhere in the state right now," he said.

He also encourages hunters to know and obey off-road vehicle regulations, and to report those who don't obey the regulations to the appropriate land managing agency. "Don't get into a confrontation with people, but do try and get a license plate number, an OHV registration number, anything that can be used to identify violators," he said. "When people violate OHV rules, they often damage wildlife habitat and ruin the hunting experience of those who have hiked into an area where OHVs aren't supposed to be."

There is still a chance to participate in the statewide general archery hunt, with more than 4,400 permits still available as of July 27. Permits can be purchased from DWR offices or the DWR's Internet Web site (www.wildlife.utah.gov).

Utah's 2002 statewide general archery buck deer hunt runs Aug. 17 - Sept. 13. General archery hunters are reminded that they can hunt any open hunting unit in the state except limited entry units, which may be hunted only by those who drew a limited entry permit earlier this year.

The following is a look at archery deer hunting prospects in each of the Division of Wildlife Resources' five regions:

Northern Region

Cranney says deer herds in the Northern Region are in fairly good shape despite heavy snowfall that resulted in some fawn loss in parts of Cache and Box Elder counties this past winter.

"There should be fair numbers of older bucks in the Cache and Box Elder units and we're expecting a decent hunt in the region," Cranney said. "The Cache and Box Elder are the two big public land units in the region."

Snowfall was lighter in areas of the region that are mostly private property. "Summit and Morgan counties weren't hit hard at all this past winter, and hunters who can secure permission from private landowners to hunt those areas should find lots of deer," he said.

Cranney reminds hunters that the Northern Region has a lot of private property and many Cooperative Wildlife Management Units. "Hunters need to respect these areas and must obtain written permission from landowners, before going onto their property."

For more information, call the Northern Region office at (801) 476-2740.

Central Region

Drought and a two to three week period of colder than normal temperatures this past winter have had slight to moderate impacts on deer herds in the Central Region, says Scott Root, Central Region conservation outreach manager.

"Fawn production was down approximately 30 percent this last year throughout the region," Root said. "Though fewer young deer may be seen by hunters, older age classes of bucks and does don't seem to have been impacted as much by the weather conditions."

Root says buck to doe ratios are still at management objectives in most of the region's deer units. "With the exception of the western portion of the Central Region (west of I-15) which is very dry, the region's range conditions have fared better than some of the other regions in the state," he said.

Central Region Wildlife Manager Steve Flinders advises archery hunters to concentrate on higher elevation areas with water sources. "These areas often receive more precipitation than lower elevations," he said.

Archery hunters are reminded that many deer in lower elevations stay near agricultural areas that have cover and water. These deer are often inaccessible because they're on private property. "Obtain written permission well in advance if you plan to hunt on private property, and keep that written permission with you while you hunt," Flinders said.

"Expect to see fair numbers of deer this year, with a higher percentage of older age class bucks," he said.

For more information, call the Central Region office at (801) 491-5678.

Northeastern Region

Deer populations in the Northeastern Region are stable and archery hunters should find good numbers of deer awaiting them.

"The drought hasn't changed the number of adult deer in the region," said Boyde Blackwell, Northeastern Region wildlife manager. "Numbers are about as high as they are allowed to get as herds through most of the region are at or slightly below the population numbers identified in unit management plans. In most areas, buck to doe ratios are also at or slightly below the statewide objective of 15 bucks per 100 does."

Blackwell says hunting will be done in dry conditions that will be similar to those archery hunters have hunted in the last couple years. "The dry vegetation will crackle as hunters move around," he said.

He advises hunters to set up early and then hold still as it gets light. "By getting up earlier, hunters can take advantage of the night and the little bit of dew that may help dampen the sounds they make moving around," he said.

Blackwell also provides advice for hunting near water, which will be at a premium in the drought- stricken region this year. "I recommend hunting the water, but don't camp on it," he said. "The animals need access to the available watering holes and this is much more difficult when someone camps right on it, especially if the person owns dogs."

Blackwell also says hunters should be extremely careful with fire this year.

For more information, call the Northeastern Region office at (435) 781-WILD (9453).

Southeastern Region

Compared to last year, archery hunters in the Southeastern Region will find slightly lower deer populations when the season opens Aug. 17. "Each unit is well below objective in terms of total population numbers," said Brad Crompton, wildlife biologist in the Southeastern Region. "They've been that way the past several years."

The number of bucks per 100 does is good, however, with buck to doe ratios stable throughout the region and near the management objective of 15 bucks per 100 does.

Crompton encourages hunters to do some pre-season scouting to locate water sources and to evaluate how frequently they're visited. "In general, conditions will be dry, which will impede successful stalking and still-hunting," he said.

He suggests looking for deer under cover this year, rather than in openings. "Locate green, succulent forage in the vicinity of a water source, and you'll probably find deer," Crompton said.

In addition to locating water and hunting in its vicinity, Crompton suggests using a blind or tree stand to avoid alarming the deer with noisy walking. "Select closed rather than open canopy locations, which will be greener and will offer cooler conditions and greater protection from the sun," he advises.

For more information, call the Southeastern Region office at (435) 636-0260.

Southern Region

Deer numbers are down slightly in the Southern Region but buck to doe ratios are good and hunters should see good numbers of bucks through most of the region, says Lynn Chamberlain, Southern Region conservation outreach manager.

"Deer will be scattered at all elevations, with many deer hanging out in agricultural areas," Chamberlain said.

Chamberlain says hunters need to be prepared for extremely dry conditions. "Because of the dry conditions, archery hunters should focus their hunting efforts around water sources," he said. "That's where the greatest success will be found."

Chamberlain reminds hunters that campfires are not allowed. To avoid problems with black bears, he also encourages hunters to keep a clean camp.

For more information, call the Southern Region office at (435) 865-6100.