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Utah's most popular hunt

From Utah Department of Wildlife Resources

-- Utah's most popular hunt — the rifle buck deer hunt — kicks off Oct. 20.  More than 52,000 hunters, along with their family and friends, are expected to be in Utah's backcountry that day.

Hunt early or late in the day. That's the advice DWR biologists are giving rifle buck deer hunters if the weather stays hot.

Anis Aoude, big game coordinator, says with the exception of southern Utah, dry conditions have prevailed across the state this year.

"If it stays hot," Aoude says, "the deer will feed during the night. Then they'll move into heavy cover early in the morning. They won't come into the open again until evening nears. If you hunt during the middle of the day, you'll have to bust through heavy cover to find the deer."

Aoude says good numbers of bucks are found in many areas in Utah. Based on surveys they conducted after the deer hunts were over last fall, DWR biologists estimated the state's deer population at about 286,100 animals.

Because this past winter was so mild, most of the deer—including the fawns that were born in spring 2011—made it through the winter. And that means more young bucks should be available to hunt this fall.

Between now and Oct. 20, Aoude says colder temperatures would help hunters a bunch. Colder weather forces deer to feed more. "That need to feed gets the deer moving and puts them in places where hunters can see them," he says.

Deer have also grown their heavy winter coats. With their heavy coats on, deer are more comfortable moving in temperatures that are 40 degrees or less.

"I think a drop in temperature would really help the hunt," Aoude says.

Hunters riding an all-terrain vehicle during the hunt are reminded to ride it only on designated roads and trails. Hunters who take an ATV off a designated road or trail, and can lose the privilege and hunters have to use ATVs on public land in Utah.

DWR biologists have provided deer hunting reports for each of Utah's 30 general deer hunting units. Find the 2012 deer hunt preview online at

The reports are split into five groups based on where the units are located.

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