DWR Press Release
Utah’s first major big game hunt starts Aug. 19
Except in a couple of areas in northern and northeastern Utah, plenty of buck deer will be available when the state’s general archery buck deer hunt starts Aug. 19.
Based on surveys, which includes tracking hundreds of deer that have radio collars on them, Division of Wildlife Resources biologists placed the state’s deer population at 375,000 animals in January 2017. That’s down 10,000 deer from the 385,000 biologists estimated in January 2016. But it’s still far above the state’s 25-year average.
“It’s been more than 25 years since we’ve seen this many deer in Utah,” says Justin Shannon, big game coordinator for the DWR. “Plenty of bucks will be available when the hunt starts Aug. 19.”
In two areas, however, there will be fewer younger bucks. This past winter, deep snow and bitter cold gripped parts of northern and northeastern Utah. The hardest hit areas were the Cache hunting unit in northern Utah and the South Slope unit in northeastern Utah.
To try to help deer in the areas, biologists started an emergency feeding program. Despite the supplemental feeding, between 70 and 90 percent of the fawns born during spring 2016 died. For that reason, members of the Utah Wildlife Board lowered the number of hunting permits available for those units this fall.
“Hunters probably won’t see many 1.5-year-old bucks on those units,” Shannon says. “Some older bucks should still be available, though.”
Across the rest of Utah, plenty of bucks are available. Shannon says the number of bucks per 100 does is at or above objective for every deer hunting unit in Utah. And good rainfall in the high country is providing bucks with the plants and nutrition they need to continue growing their antlers.
“Last year’s buck deer hunt was the best we’ve had in decades,” he says. “I think success will be down a bit this year, but I still expect a really good hunt.”
The 2016 success rate will be hard to beat. In 2016, a total of 87,000 hunters took a combined total of 32,000 bucks during the general archery, muzzleloader and rifle hunts. That’s the most deer taken since 1996, when 104,000 hunters took a combined total of 33,000 bucks during the three hunts.
During the 2016 hunt, though, 17,000 fewer hunters were in the field. “The success rate for 2016 was 37 percent,” Shannon says, “compared to 32 percent for the 1996 hunt.”
Utah Hunt Planner
As you prepare for the hunt, Shannon encourages you to click on www.wildlife.utah.gov/HuntPlanner or enter the address into your web browser. That’s the url for the new Utah Hunt Planner website.
Once you arrive at the site, you’ll find notes from the biologist who manages the unit you’re going to hunt, general information about the unit, and safety and weather items. Information about the number of bucks on the unit, compared to the number of does, is also given. You’ll also find maps that show the unit’s boundaries, which land is public and which is private, and the various types of deer habitat found on the unit.
Shannon says DWR biologists want you to have a great experience during the hunt. “We want you to have a successful, enjoyable time,” he says. “The experience you have is important to us. We’re hoping the information on the site will help you plan your hunt and be better prepared for success.”