The general rifle buck deer hunt is Utah’s most popular hunt. In addition to the more than 56,000 hunters who have a permit for the hunt, thousands of family and friends will be with them, enjoying time together in the outdoors.
“As with all types of hunting,” says Justin Shannon, big game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, “the hunt itself is one part of the overall experience. Being together with family and friends, making memories and enjoying the resource, is what it’s all about.”
The general rifle buck deer hunt starts Oct. 22.
Utah Hunt Planner
As you prepare for the hunt, Shannon encourages you to visit wildlife.utah.gov/huntplanner. That’s the url for the new Utah Hunt Planner website.
Once you arrive at the site, you’ll find notes from the biologist who manages the unit you’re going to hunt, general information about the unit, and safety and weather items. Information about the number of bucks on the unit, compared to the number of does, is also given. You’ll also find maps that show the unit’s boundaries, which land is public and which is private, and the various types of deer habitat found on the unit.
Shannon says DWR biologists want you to have a great experience during the hunt. “We want you to have a successful, enjoyable time,” he says. “The experience you have is important to us. We’re hoping the information on the site will help you plan your most successful hunt yet.”
As you plan your hunt, Shannon says there are many of reasons to be excited.
As the rifle hunt approaches, the number of deer in Utah is the highest it’s been since the 1980s. And the number of bucks, compared to the number of does, is impressive too.
Based on surveys conducted by DWR biologists, Utah has a total population of more than 384,000 mule deer. In just four years, the state’s mule deer population has grown by more than 100,000 deer.
The number of bucks in the herds is also impressive. After the hunts were over in 2014, the average ratio of bucks to does — on general season units in Utah — was 21 bucks per 100 does. After the 2015 hunts, the ratio had increased to 23 bucks per 100 does.
The number of rifle hunters who are taking a buck is increasing too. In 2013, 37 percent of those with a general rifle buck deer permit took a deer. By 2015 — just two years later — the success rate had increased to 43 percent.
“And not all of those deer were young animals,” Shannon says. “The number of mature bucks that hunters are taking keeps growing.”
Shannon expects this fall’s hunt to be similar to the hunt in 2015. “I think the success rate, and the number of bucks hunters see, will be similar to last year,” he says. “And last year was really good.”