Better hunting conditions and about the same number of buck deer as last year on most of the state's units await hunters when Utah's 2002 general rifle buck deer hunt kicks off Oct. 19.
About 70,000 hunters are expected afield for Utah's most popular big game hunt.
"The rain that fell in September has really helped hunting conditions," stated Steve Cranney, big game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. "It may still be drier than hunters are used to, but it won't be as dry as last year. The wetter conditions will make it easier for hunters to move around quietly, which will help them as they stalk animals.
"Another storm or two between now and the opener would further improve conditions," stated Cranney. "Also, the leaves are just starting to fall off the trees in the higher elevations, which will make it easier for hunters to spot deer. The leaves that are still on the aspen trees are a bright yellow right now, and are as pretty as can be."
In addition to improved hunting conditions, Cranney says hunters will find about the same number of deer in Utah this season as last.
Taking into account the number of deer lost this past winter, the DWR estimated the total number of deer in Utah at 300,000 before this year's archery hunt in August. That's about 20,000 animals under the estimated 320,000 that were in Utah before last year's archery hunt.
"The number of bucks per 100 does is good, with most of our general season units over the objective of 15 bucks per 100 does," Cranney explained.
"Depending on the area they hunt, hunters should see good numbers of bucks this year."
To give themselves the best chance of taking a buck, Cranney encourages hunters to be patient. "There are a lot of hunters afield during the rifle buck deer hunt and that can work to their advantage," he said. "The key is to find an area where the hunter knows deer are, and then to sit down and be patient. With all of the other hunters afield, there's a good chance they'll push deer to the hunters location, if they'll just be patient and wait."
Cranney encourages hunters to be sure of their target before shooting and reminds them that written permission must be obtained from landowners before hunting on private land that is posted.
Hunters with all-terrain vehicles are also encouraged to obtain travel maps from an agency such as the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management that manages the public land they'll be hunting.
"There are two important reasons that hunters obtain these maps," Cranney stated. "First, they'll know the areas where they can and can't take their ATV's and other vehicles. Second, they'll know when other people are in areas they shouldn't be, and they can report them to the proper authorities.
"It's very important that hunters know and obey travel restrictions," Cranney continued. "When people violate off-road rules, they often damage wildlife habitat and ruin the hunting experience of those who have hiked into an area where these vehicles aren't allowed."
It's not too late to get involved in this year's hunt, as northern region permits remain available. Resident and nonresident hunters may purchase them at and DWR office.
Hunter may purchase permits until Oct. 11 at 7 a.m. Permits will not be available on the Internet after this deadline because there won't be enough time to mail permits to hunters who purchase them in this way.
The following report has been compiled regarding the southeastern region.
Compared to last year, general rifle hunters in the southeastern region will find slightly lower deer populations when the season opens Oct. 19.
"Each unit is well below objective in terms of total population numbers," explained Brad Crompton, wildlife biologist in the southeastern region.
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.
Bill Bates, southeastern region wildlife manager, says hunters will find deer in deep, rugged canyons, and closer to permanent water than usual.
"Although recent rains have allowed deer to disperse somewhat, because of the drought vegetative production this summer was very poor, except in the wetter areas near riparian areas and in high elevations and aspen groves," he explained. "These are the areas in the region where hunters will probably find deer.
"Also, in areas where there were forest fires, recent rains have caused them to green-up. Deer may use these areas because of the succulent feed."
Crompton encourages hunters to do some pre-season scouting to locate water sources and to evaluate how frequently they're visited. He also suggests looking for deer under cover this year, rather than in openings.
"Locate green, succulent forage in the vicinity of a water source, and that's probably where deer will be found." Crompton concluded.
For more information, call the DWR's southeastern region office at 636-0260.