Dry conditions and about the same number of buck deer as last season will likely greet hunters when Utah's 2001 general archery deer hunt opens Aug. 18.
"We're up about 4,000 to 5,000 deer over last year so depending on the area they hunt, archery hunters could find a few more deer," says Steve Cranney, big game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.
The state's total deer population numbers about 320,000 animals. Cranney says the largest populations are found in higher elevations areas, with the Manti and Wasatch Mountains units in central Utah, and the South Slope unit in northeastern Utah, among the state's best.
Many of the deer herds on lower, drier units haven't reached buck to doe ratio and total population objectives called for in Utah's deer management plans.
Cranney says the dry weather will be a factor in this year's hunt. "People who like to hunt from trees stands that are close to water will probably have the most success, as the deer will really be focused on these water sources," he said. "Hunters who like to stalk animals will probably have a harder time. The dry vegetation will make it hard to walk without making noise.
"Hunters who like to track animals should try and hunt in high elevation areas," Cranney said. "Also, some rain before the hunt would really help as it would moisten the vegetation in lower elevation areas and make it easier to walk quietly."
As of July 31, permits for the archery hunt were still available from Division of Wildlife Resources offices. General archery buck deer permits are statewide permits this year. They allow hunters to 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.
Cranney says the statewide opportunity makes this season a great time for first-time archery hunters to pick up the sport.
"The statewide 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," Cranney said. "The more you know about an area the better your success will be, no matter how the deer populations in it are doing.
"This is especially important for a guy with a bow," Cranney said. "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."