Plenty of bull elk will be available to hunters when Utah's 2004 general rifle season opens Oct. 9, but hunters need to put in some work to be successful.
"Elk are excellent at getting away from roads," said Jim Karpowitz, big game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. "You may see some bulls near roads during the first few hours of the hunt but once it starts, they head into backcountry areas and can be tough to find."
Success this season will take patience and hard work, Karpowitz indicated. Hunters will need to spend time in the backcountry looking for elk and finding the groups that have bulls in them. Some of the backcountry areas are remote and have no access roads, making a horse even more valuable, he commented.
Hunters who put in the time and effort have plenty of elk to look for. After last fall's hunting seasons were over, DWR biologists conducted surveys and estimated the state's elk population at just more than 58,000 animals. The count is about 10,000 less than the statewide goal of 68,400.
"We've had to reduce elk populations over the past few years because of poor range conditions brought on by the drought," Karpowitz said. "Now that conditions are improving, we're starting a gradual climb back to our statewide goal."
Karpowitz said elk should be spread out when the season starts Oct. 9.
"The rains that fell this spring and summer have provided a lot of green feed for the elk, and I expect them to be spread out," he stated. "They'll also be at higher elevations until forced lower by snow."
Karpowitz reminds elk hunters to obtain off-highway vehicle travel maps before heading afield. The maps show where OHVs can and can't be used. They may be obtained from the agency, usually the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management, that manages the land on which Carbon County outdoorsmen will be hunting.
Both any bull and spike bull permits are still available for the hunt. They may be purchased at DWR offices and from more than 170 hunting license agents in Utah.
Hunters may also purchase a permit at the DWR Web site. Permits purchased online are mailed to hunters. It takes about a week for a permit to arrive in the mail, so hunters who buy a permit online need to buy it far enough in advance that it will arrive before they leave for their hunt.
For more information, contact the Price DWR office.