The First Few Hours
The weather was beautiful across the entire state. The skies were sunny and the temperatures were comfortable. You couldn’t ask for a more pleasant day to hunt deer.
The people the DWR officers and biologists talked with seemed to be having a good time. They were enjoying the weather and some of them were seeing some deer.
Some of the best hunting spots
Some of the best hunting reports received came from the Southern Region (southwestern and south-central Utah) where hunters were seeing good numbers of bucks in a lot of areas and were getting some shots.
(My thanks to Southern Region Conservation Outreach Manager Lynn Chamberlain for collecting this information.)
• Some of the Southern Region hotspots included Pine Valley Mountain, areas northeast of the Virgin River, areas near Monroe, areas northeast of Beaver, areas near Newcastle, the northern part of Iron County and areas near Antimony.
• Hunters were seeing good numbers of yearling bucks (i.e. 2-point bucks), but they were also seeing and taking mature bucks too.
• Another place that stood out was north of Vernal in northeastern Utah. At our check station just off U.S. Highway 191 north of Vernal, DWR biologists had checked 20 deer by 2 p.m. It usually takes all day for that many deer to come through that check station.
DWR Wildlife Biologist Randall Thacker says the higher elevations in the Northeastern Region (northeastern Utah) received a lot of snow two weeks ago. The snow has forced deer in many areas of the region to start moving to lower elevations. North of Vernal, those lower elevations included some open areas where hunters could see the deer.
• At the Northeastern Region check station just off U.S. Highway 40 by Strawberry Reservoir, Thacker said eight deer had been checked by 2 p.m. The eight deer included three yearlings, two 2½-year-old deer and three 3½-year-old deer.
The 12-year average for the Strawberry check station is 39 deer on opening day. Thacker thought a total of 16 to 20 deer might be checked by the time opening day was over this year.
He’s not surprised by the lower deer numbers, though. Last winter was a tough winter along the South Slope of the Uinta Mountains. Sixty to 70 percent of the fawns that were born on the South Slope of the Uintas in 2010 died this past winter. (These deer would have been available to hunters as 2-point bucks this fall.) Also, the number of mature deer that died on the South Slope of the Uintas this past winter was double what it usually is.
Fortunately, the deer Thacker checked at the station were in excellent condition—they had plenty of fat and good antler growth.
• Our officers checked many young hunters took their first deer today. One of those hunters was an 11-year-old who was one of the first hunters to check a deer at the DWR check station near Santaquin this morning.
DWR Wildlife Biologist Dennis Southerland said the young man was absolutely thrilled with the 2-point buck he took.
• A 71-year-old woman was also one of the first people to check a deer at the Santaquin check station this morning. The elderly woman hunted with her husband and her son on a Cooperative Wildlife Management Unit in the mountains near Mount Nebo unit in north-central Utah.
The deer she took was a beauty. It had 3 antler points on each of its antler beams (a 3x3). The distance between the two beams was 22 inches.
• A 60-year-old woman who’s battling breast cancer was one of the first hunters to take a deer and be checked by DWR field officers in an area northeast of the Virgin River in southwestern Utah.
Despite being in pain, DWR Conservation Outreach Manager Lynn Chamberlain said she wanted to participate in the deer hunt.
The examples Southeastern Region Conservation Outreach Manager Brent Stettler shared were probably also seen in other areas of the state: trespassing on private property; shooting deer on private property; hunting on the Southeastern Region with a permit for a different region; hunting the Southeastern Region with a permit for the region that expired last year; and a hunter shooting a doe instead of a buck.
Stettler also reported some problems with Utah hunters crossing the border into Colorado to hunt and Colorado hunters crossing the border and hunting in Utah this morning.
• Deer in many areas are starting to move towards their lower elevation winter ranges. But there are a lot of leaves on the trees right now, which is making it tougher for hunters to see the deer.
• On four units—the Oquirrh-Stansbury; Monroe; Plateau, Boulder/Karparowitz; and South Slope, Vernal units—the rifle hunt ends on Oct. 26.
• On the remaining units in the state, the rifle hunt runs until Oct. 30.
A cold front that’s expected to arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday could help the hunt a bunch. Once they’ve put their winter coats on, the deer don’t move much during the day unless the temperature drops to 40 degrees or less.