General rifle buck deer hunt begins Saturday
One of the state’s most popular and anticipated hunts, the general rifle buck deer hunt, begins Saturday, Oct. 17 and several thousand hunters are expected to participate.
In anticipation of opening weekend, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and law enforcement officials are reminding everyone to use extra caution while outdoors because several trails throughout the county may intersect with huntable areas.
According to Phil Douglass, Division of Wildlife Resources conservation outreach manager for northern Utah, there are about 90,000 licensed hunters in Utah.
"Hunting is a tradition in Utah that is a great family tradition," said. "But we are pleading with people to please be safe and make sure it is a pleasant and enjoyable tradition that doesn’t have any negative or tragic outcomes."
Orange isn’t just for Halloween
Hunting is prohibited within Park City limits and on the properties owned by the ski resorts. All Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land is open to hunting if it is conducted within DWR’s defined hunting units. Maps outlining areas where hunting is permitted are available on DWR’s website.
According to Kathy Jo Pollock, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest spokeswoman, most of the areas east and north of Kamas up into the High Uintas are locations where deer hunters commonly frequent. Pollock said most hunters won’t stay in designated campgrounds, choosing instead to disperse throughout the area.
"If other individuals are out camping they really need to make sure they know this is the general deer hunt," Pollock said. "If they are out hiking make sure they are wearing orange and they are aware hunters are in the area.
"And hunters need to make sure they are paying attention and are making sure they are following the rules and regulations such as not shooting across the road or near a campground."
Charlie Sturgis, executive director of the Mountain Trails Foundation, advised those who plan on being outdoors this weekend to wear hunter’s orange and avoid beige or neutral colors similar to deer. Sturgis also recommended staying within city limits and avoiding heavily wooded areas where recreaters may not be as visible to hunters.
"People should be aware of how visible they might be out there," Sturgis said. "In Round Valley you are really pretty visible, but if you get into the dark woods on the Glenwild Trail or along Bench Creek, all bets are off and I’m sure people will see plenty of orange vests in that area. People may also be surprised to see hunters on the ridge and on the crest, near Mill Creek. Those are high use and huntable areas.
"I would avoid a lot of those areas. We have beautiful riding in town and this is a great time to stay close to home."
Hunter requirements and safety
For the last few years, Utah has managed the deer hunt on a unit-by-unit basis. A general license or a combination big game license and a permit specific to that area is required. Hunter education is also required for anyone born after Dec. 31, 1965.
Sheriff Justin Martinez stressed one of his office’s main concerns is: safety.
"We can’t over emphasize safety enough," Martinez said. "We just encourage everyone to follow all the rules of gun safety, such as keeping a finger off the trigger and the safety always on, and not consuming alcohol while hunting. I know people go up into the mountains and like to get together and some like to drink alcohol, but don’t do it while using firearms."
During the hunting season, Martinez said dispatch tends to experience an increase in calls. He said the reports usually concern missing hunters or hunter conflicts.
"We deal with a variety of issues with regard to hunting," Martinez said. "People report on hunters who hunt on private property and people should know they can be arrested for that so make sure to stay within prescribed boundaries of the hunting area."
Extra law enforcement officials will be deployed this weekend in the Uinta Mountains, Martinez said.
A wildlife checkpoint will also be conducted by DWR Sunday, Oct. 18, between noon and 8 p.m. at 136 North 500 East, in Coalville.
Dominick Barratt, a DWR conservation officer, said the purpose of the checkpoint is to ensure all wildlife is properly tagged and the hunter is licensed.
"Every hunter should be licensed and so they received a tag in the mail or they pick it up at a place that sells them," Barratt said. "The majority of hunters are very familiar with it, but we just want to make sure all wildlife laws are being followed."
For more information about the general rifle buck deer hunt, go to http://wildlife.utah.gov/hunting-in-utah/hunting-information.html . Anyone who suspects poaching is encouraged to call 911.
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.