Everything You Need to Know About the Archery Hunt in Each Region in Utah

archery hunt in utah
Utah's general archery buck deer hunt starts Aug. 20. | Photo by Scott Root, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Archery elk and deer hunts start Aug. 20

If you don’t have a permit to hunt during Utah’s general archery elk hunt, you’re in luck — there’s no limit on the number of general archery elk permits the Division of Wildlife Resources can offer.  So there’s no problem getting one.

You can buy a general archery elk permit at www.wildlife.utah.gov, at DWR offices and from more than 300 hunting license agents across Utah.

What can hunters expect?

Utah’s general archery elk hunt and general archery deer hunt start on Aug. 20.  The two hunts are the first general hunts to be held in the state this fall.

Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the DWR, provides the following preview for each hunt:

Archery elk

The number of elk in Utah is up.  Based on surveys conducted after the fall 2010 elk hunt was over, biologists estimate the total number of elk in Utah at more than 72,500 animals.

That’s almost 4,000 more elk than the statewide objective of 68,825.

“Utah’s elk herds are doing great,” Aoude says.

If you buy a general archery elk permit, you can take a bull elk or a cow elk on any general season area except the Monroe unit in southwestern Utah.

On the Monroe unit, general archery elk hunters may not take a cow elk.

Plenty of bull and cow elk will be available, but taking one with a bow and arrow can be a challenge — in 2010, only seven percent of the general archery elk hunters took an animal.

To increase your chance for success, Vance Mumford, a DWR biologist in southern Utah, encourages you to remember that elk are very mobile.

“Once the hunt starts,” Mumford says, “the animals seem to know they’re the focus of interest, and they seek areas where they will not be disturbed.”

To take an elk, Mumford says you should get away from roads and main trails.

“During the archery hunt,” he says, “the elk will seek out thick and out-of-the-way conifers and aspen stands where they feel secure and where they can escape the summer heat.”

Archery deer

The number of buck deer compared to the number of doe deer in Utah is good across most of the state.  Aoude says this past winter was a good one for deer across most of Utah.

“Even though the state received a lot of snow,” Aoude says, “temperatures across most of Utah were mild enough that the snow melted quick on the lower elevation areas where the deer spend the winter.

“Most of the fawns that were born in 2010 made it through the winter,” he says.  “These deer will be available to hunters as yearling bucks this fall.”

Aoude says there are some exceptions, though — portions of the Cache unit in northern Utah, and units along the south slope of the Uinta Mountains in Northeastern Utah, were hit with cold temperatures at the start of winter.  The cold temperatures remained through most of the season.

“The snow in these areas crusted over and stayed that way through most of the winter,” Aoude says.  “Quite a few fawns died.”

Another area of concern is southern Utah, where a severe drought several years ago has kept the overall number of deer down.  “The number of fawns born in the southern part of the state has been fairly low over the past few years,” Aoude says.  “Hopefully, the wet winter and spring this year will help the vegetation.  If the vegetation improves, so will the overall number of deer.”

Bucks per 100 does

Every fall — after the archery, muzzleloader and rifle hunts are over and while the deer are grouped together during their breeding period — DWR biologists conduct deer surveys.

During the surveys, the biologists compare the number of bucks they see to the number of does they see.

Reports from each region

The following are deer reports for each of the DWR’s five general season regions:

Northern Region

Randy Wood, wildlife manager in the Northern Region, provides the following report:

Hunters, please remember the following:

1.  The Northern Region is comprised of a lot of private land.   You must get written permission before hunting on private property.

2.  Pre-season scouting will increase your success.

3.  Keep you campsite clean and don’t leave food out where a bear can get the food.   More bear safety tips are available at http://go.usa.gov/WDW.

Box Elder, Ogden, Cache

Fawn production was good last year, but winter losses were heavy during the winter of 2010 – 2011 on the eastern portion of the Cache unit. Because of the heavy losses, yearling bucks will be scarce on the eastern part of the Cache unit this fall.  Adult survival was good on all three units, however, so older age class bucks will be available to hunters.  With good summer moisture, expect to find deer dispersed across the country.   Animals will be found at the edge of timber and
open meadows in the mornings and evenings.

Morgan, South Rich, East Canyon

Fewer yearling bucks should be available due to a loss of fawns from late winter and spring storms.  However, both units do have good buck-to-doe ratios, and good numbers of mature bucks are available.

Vegetation is dense and water is plentiful this year, and deer should be widely distributed.  Both units are primarily comprised of private property, so written permission must be obtained before hunting most of the areas in these units.

Chalk Creek, Kamas, Summit portion of the North Slope

The Chalk Creek, Kamas and the western portion of the North Slope deer herd units experienced a very long winter with snow pack totals not seen in many years.  As a result, winter mortality of both fawns and adults was somewhat higher than normal.  Range conditions are excellent throughout these areas due to the heavy snow pack and late summer rains.  Archery hunters should expect to find deer at higher elevations.  To find success, it’s very important that hunters do some pre-season scouting.

Chalk Creek

The estimated wintering population on the Chalk Creek unit is 8,500 animals with a population objective of 10,500.  Data collected last fall indicates the herd went into the winter doing very good.  Nearly 35 bucks per 100 does and 70 fawns per 100 does were counted.  Deer on this unit are scattered as water is not a limiting factor and forage is abundant.  The unit is mostly private property.   Hunters are reminded
that they must have written permission before accessing posted property.

Kamas

The estimated wintering population on the Kamas unit is 5,950 animals with a population objective of 8,000.  Data collected last fall suggests the herd is stable, as 76 fawns per 100 does and 21 bucks per 100 does were counted.  Winter mortality was only slightly higher than expected.  Hunters should expect deer numbers to be about the same as last year.

Range conditions are excellent on this unit, and deer are scattered throughout the higher elevations.  Archery hunters are encouraged to do pre-season scouting as tall, lush vegetation has made it difficult to spot the deer.  Deer numbers are higher in the backs of remote drainages, which are farther from roads and ATV trails.

North Slope

The North Slope has an estimated winter population of 6,200 animals, which is very near the population objective for this unit.  Deer on this unit went into the winter doing very well, and winter mortality seems to be less here than in other areas.  Hunters will find deer at higher elevations.  In the higher elevations, deer will be in remote areas away from roads and trails.

Central Region

Scott Root, Central Region conservation outreach manager, provides the following report:

Archers in the Central Region should experience a hunt similar to last year’s hunt, if not a little better.  If they hunt in the right habitat, archers should see fair numbers of deer.

Much of the region has good deer habitat, consisting of stands of aspen, sagebrush and scrub oak.  Areas that have water nearby also provide a mix of grasses and forbs (leafy plants).

Many Central Region archers prefer to hunt in the pines, especially in an open meadow within the pine forest.  A meadow with a spring of water is a prime location for attracting deer.  Most of the canyons in the Central Region east of Interstate 15 provide this type of habitat and hold the most deer.

Many of the region’s bucks were able to grow a year older because of the difficult weather that lasted through much of the rifle hunt last fall.  Rain and snow made access to many areas difficult during the rifle hunt, and that allowed more bucks to survive the hunt.  Many of those bucks will be available to hunters this fall.

Although deer numbers in general are still below the management objective, biologists report seeing decent numbers of buck deer.  During their counts this summer, biologists have reported seeing a good number of younger bucks.  After the deer hunts ended last fall, biologists counted 16 bucks per 100 does on the public land units in the region. That number just exceeds the 15-bucks-per-100-does management objective.

More than 41 percent of the bucks were 3-point or better in antler size.

Plentiful water sources in the region, including in the desert portions west of I-15, have been a big benefit to the deer herd this year.  Even though plentiful water means deer will be a little more scattered, water is still considered a great place to start looking for deer.

Mineral blocks are legal to use and are a big advantage to archers. Deer crave minerals and are drawn to mineral (salt) blocks this time of the year.

Archers should be scouting for well-used game trails or spending their time glassing the hillsides looking for deer and studying their habits. Some hunters learn the habits of deer by using trail cameras along game trails or other locations that deer frequent.

A few reminders for Central Region archers include checking with the correct public land agency to learn about any fire restrictions.  The region also has extended archery units that provide a longer archery hunt for archers.  You must complete the mandatory ethics course at http://go.usa.gov/Kg7  before hunting the extended archery hunting units.

Parts of Tooele and Juab counties in the West Desert portion of the region fall within the Vernon limited-entry hunting unit.  Only those with a Vernon limited-entry buck deer permit can hunt this unit.

Northeastern Region

Ron Stewart, Northeastern Region conservation outreach manager, provides the following report:

The hunt in the Northeastern Region will be a bit more challenging this year.  The wet spring and summer has resulted in abundant green vegetation and plenty of water in pools, ponds, springs and rivers.  As a result, deer are spread out — the weather has not forced them to find a few green spaces or cluster around water.

The deer are in good physical condition, another positive result of the increased green vegetation.  But — because of winterkill — the number of deer is down along the South Slope of the Uinta Mountains, from Strawberry Reservoir to the Colorado border.

Stewart says hunters who get out and scout before the hunt are the hunters who will find success.   “The deer are in great shape,” Stewart says, “but they can be anywhere along the face because there’s so much water.   A lack of water isn’t holding them to only a few spots.”

“The hunt on the North Slope of the Uinta Mountains will be comparable to last year,” says Charlie Greenwood, DWR regional wildlife manager. “On the south slope, expect fewer bucks, especially spikes, because of the winterkill.  Also, check the guidebook carefully as some units, such as the South Slope-Vernal unit, have shorter seasons because their buck-to-doe ratios are below the management objective of 15 bucks per 100 does.

“The rest of the region’s general season subunits have ratios ranging from 19 to 25 bucks per 100 does.”

Southeastern Region

Brent Stettler, Southeastern Region conservation outreach manager, provides the following report for different parts of the Southeastern Region:

Northern part of region

Deer hunting in the northern part of the region should be slightly better than last year, due to increased fawn production last summer and higher fawn-to-doe ratios last fall.  Southeastern Utah experienced a relatively mild winter in 2010 – 2011, which promoted better than average fawn survival.  Last year’s fawns will be yearlings when the archery hunting season starts.   And yearling bucks make up the majority of the harvest in the northern part of the region.

Southern part of the region

Deer hunting on these units should be similar to that experienced by hunters last year.   However, last year’s deer hunting success was down from previous years, partly because of the hard winter of 2009 – 2010.   Fawn-to-doe ratios were below average last summer and fall on these units, which will result in fewer bucks for hunters this fall.

Across the region

Abundant summer rainfall may result in greater dispersion of deer. Hunters may have to cover more territory than they’ve had to cover in past years.  Sources of water will be more widespread, which might be challenging for those who prefer to hunt over water holes.  Archers are encouraged to do pre-season scouting to locate a shootable buck and to pattern his movements and behavior.

Southern Region

The region’s wildlife biologists provide the following reports for each general season unit in the Southern Region:

Dustin Schaible

Mount Dutton, Panguitch Lake

Fawn numbers were a little low last year, so fewer young bucks will be available to hunters.  Survival was good last winter — and habitat and water conditions are excellent this summer — so fawn production is expected to be up from last year.  Deer are scattered throughout these units due to the high availability of water and good forage, so hunters may have to plan on more scouting time.  Buck-to-doe ratios were about normal on Panguitch Lake last year, but following the long winter of 2009 -2010, the buck ratio on Mount Dutton was down.

The U.S. Forest Service is implementing its travel management plan. The plan will translate into deer having more areas they can go to escape ATV use.  Archery hunters have been the first to appreciate the road closure effort — they’re seeing more deer when hiking away from areas that have a high density of roads.  Hunters are reminded to abide by USFS road use rules.  They’re also encouraged to obtain a map for the area they’re going to hunt.

R. Blair Stringham

Fillmore

Deer numbers on the Fillmore unit have slowly increased since the hard winter of 2009 – 2010.  Spring and summer rains have provided excellent forage and water, which has distributed deer across the unit. Overall, buck numbers are lower than they were several years ago, and hunters should anticipate an average hunt in 2011. Hunters can expect to see more young bucks this year compared to what they saw last year.

Beaver

The Beaver unit is maintaining a buck-to-doe ratio of more than 18 bucks per 100 does.  The unit also has a population of about 10,000 deer. In 2010, the Twitchell Canyon Fire burned 45,000 acres, and deer numbers are low in that area. However, the rest of the unit looks great.
Water is plentiful on the unit, and it’s likely that deer will not be concentrated around water holes. Hunters can anticipate a good hunt on the Beaver unit.  They can also expect to see bucks with excellent antler growth.

Vance Mumford

Monroe, Fish Lake

The archery deer hunt is expected to be only fair this fall on the Fish Lake and Monroe units.  Poor reproduction over the last couple of years, coupled with a hard winter in 2009, has caused a decline in these two deer herds.  Both of these units are below the buck-to-doe ratio objectives.

There is good news, though!  Even though the unit received a lot of moisture this past winter, the deer came out very well.  Very little winter mortality of fawns or adults occurred.  This should result in a fair number of yearling bucks entering the population for this fall’s hunt.

Even though the populations are down on these two units, there is still ample opportunity for a fun and successful hunt.  Public land access is excellent on both of these units. This year, the spring and summer precipitation has resulted in very good vegetation growth, and the deer look very healthy.  It’s likely that deer will not be concentrated around water sources as ample water is spread across the units.

Remember the Monroe unit has a shorter archery season again this year. The last day of the general archery deer hunt is Sept. 4 on the Monroe. The statewide general archery deer runs through Sept. 16.

Jim Lamb

Boulder

Archery deer hunting should be fair on the Boulder unit.  It’s likely that deer will not be concentrated around water sources as ample water is spread across the unit.

The Boulder deer hunt is also shorter this year, and hunters need to remember the dates.  On the Boulder unit, the last day of the general archery deer hunt is Sept. 4.

Jason Nichols

Pine Valley, Zion, Southwest Desert

The archery hunt on the Pine Valley, Zion and Southwest Desert units should be fair this year.  Deer wintered well on all three units, and the population should have a good number of yearling bucks.  Lots of water is available this year, so hunting a water hole may not be the way
to go.  The overall number of deer on the Southwest Desert unit is still very low.  Populations on the Zion and Pine Valley units are at their objectives.

With the good water and feed, deer are spread out this year, which makes it appear that the populations are down in number.  The deer are there; people will just have to look for them in places where they haven’t found them in the past.

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