|A number more hunters were able to take home a buck this year over past seasons when the big male deer numbers were down.|
The general season deer hunt opened last Saturday, Oct. 23. In southeastern Utah, the season closes at the end of the day on Wednesday, Oct. 27. Although the opener has been cold and wet, conditions have facilitated good hunting.
Statewide an estimated 60,000 people took out their rifles to look for deer. During the general rifle season the first day is usually the heaviest for participation, and it is also the single biggest day for hunting in the state.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reported that the number of deer that have been harvested, based on checkpoints, is about the same as in recent years. However the number of two year old bucks and older that were harvested increased dramatically over recent opening years.
A lot of hunters lamented the prospect of snow, mud and cold brought about by near record statewide precipitation this past week. However, hearty sportsmen who braved the elements, were rewarded for their efforts.
Heavy snow in the high country moved many deer to lower elevations, concentrating them in various areas. Where deer stayed above the snowline, they became easier to see and track. The result has been a better-than-average harvest. Most hunters have been pleased at the numbers of bucks, does and fawns they have seen.
Although actual harvest statistics won't be available until March, it appears that hunter success is up considerably.
Many hunters who remember "the old days" can recall a time when there was no limit on the number of permits the state sold for deer hunting. But a number of years ago, the state had to cap the number of tags at under 100,000 as mule deer populations declined. Herd estimates in various areas now limit the number of permits that can be issued in any one area.
That has changed hunting habits of many who go out. Some people that have hunted with family, now must go different directions in the state, because of the tags they receive. All deer permits across the state are sold out for this season. Sportsmen, wishing to hunt next year, should apply for the 2005 deer hunt during the big game application period in January.