More Young Bucks in Utah
Rifle hunters should see more young buck deer this fall, but bagging one of those bucks could be a challenge.

Utah's 2005 general rifle buck deer hunt opens October 22. About 60,000 hunters are expected afield for Utah's most popular hunt.

"The number of deer in Utah is continuing a slow but steady climb," says Craig McLaughlin, big game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR).

Based on surveys conducted after Utah's 2004 rifle hunt ended, DWR biologists estimate 289,000 deer were in Utah at the start of last winter. That's 21,000 more animals than the 268,000 deer estimated in the state after the 2003 hunt ended.

"Heavy snow fell throughout much of the state right before the rifle hunt last year. The snow drove deer out of the higher elevations and right to the hunters. Those hunting in central and northeastern Utah took a lot of mature bucks," McLaughlin said.

Many of those mature bucks will be replaced by younger bucks this year. "After four years of decline, the number of fawns per 100 does rebounded in 2003 and 2004," McLaughlin said. "During surveys this past March and April, biologists found an average of 70 fawns per 100 does across the state, so I think hunters will see good numbers of young bucks this fall."

Actually seeing those bucks could be a challenge, however. McLaughlin
says the rain that fell this spring and early summer left plenty of watering holes for the deer and lots of vegetation.

"Unless snow falls between now and the start of the hunt, the deer will be scattered and they'll be at a variety of elevations. Those factors will make it more challenging for hunters to find them," he said. "Also, all of the vegetation that's in the backcountry this year will make it more difficult to spot deer."

To find success, McLaughlin encourages hunters to scout their hunting area before the season opens. "Scouting before the opener will pay off because you'll learn the travel routes deer are taking in the area you'll be hunting," he said. "Also, if there have been any changes in areas that are open to hunting, you'll know about those changes in advance.

"If the weather turns cold, look for deer on sunny, south-facing slopes, " McLaughlin said. "Unusually warm weather will keep deer in shaded areas with heavy cover."

As of October 5, more than 2,000 Northern Region permits were still available for the hunt. Permits may be purchased at the DWR's Website (, at DWR offices and from more than 200 hunting license agents in the state.

"Last year, permits for the Northern Region sold out on the Wednesday before the hunt," says Judi Tutorow, wildlife licensing coordinator for the DWR. "They're selling at a faster pace this year. I would encourage hunters to buy their permit as soon as possible."

Hunters who purchase a permit at the Website are reminded that it will take about a week for their permit to arrive in the mail. They need to buy their permit far enough in advance that it will arrive before they leave for their hunt.
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