Trail users brace for hordes of hunters
Searchers quickly found a man who became lost east of Kamas while elk hunting in the Uinta Mountains last week. But shooters entering the woods this month are warned to expect the unexpected.
"He was OK," Summit County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Alan Siddoway said, adding that the county’s search team received the call around 5:30 p.m.
Hunters, however, must be prepared with heavy clothing for extreme changes in the weather and provisions that allow for survival for at least 24 hours, Siddoway warned.
Though the 19-year-old Kamas Valley man who became lost in the Whitney area Oct. 7 was spotted from a helicopter within a few hours, it’s not uncommon for hikers, hunters or snowmobilers to spend nights lost in the Uintas.
"We beat this constantly," Siddoway said.
Avid outdoorsmen are encouraged to purchase relatively inexpensive global positioning systems and to learn how to use them, he added.
Meanwhile, Mountain Trails Foundation chief Carol Potter insists people should avoid trails in western Summit County as others hunt for a few weeks in October.
"It’s up to us to watch out for hunters," she said, adding that most trails in Park City and the Snyderville Basin are on private property. "I try not to go, especially in the Uintas."
But City Hall restricts hunters from open space owned by Park City in Round Valley, Potter said.
Deer hunting for rifleman in Utah begins Oct. 21. Elk hunters, archers and muzzleloaders, however, have hunted for days.
Scott McFarlane, a Division of Wildlife Resources biologist, warns hunters to stay off private property without permission.
Hunting conditions near Kamas, Chalk Creek and the North Slope of the Uintas are expected to be similar to last year, added DWR biologist Randy Wood.
"The Uinta Mountains had a relatively good forage year for deer during the spring and summer of 2006, especially when you compare the recent conditions to the drought years," said wildlife manager Boyde Blackwell in a DWR press release.
But hunters must tread lightly, insists U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Lorraine Januzelli.
"Our rangers estimate that 85 percent of the ATV damage on the forest occurs during the wet and muddy conditions of the fall hunt," Januzelli said. "Illegal routes crisscross through the forest and seriously damage wildlife habitat, soils and the watershed."
Hunters are urged to consult Forest Service travel maps before leaving designated trails, she added.
"If a road is not expressly signed as ‘open’ to ATVs, then it’s closed," Januzelli stressed. "Even if fresh ATV tracks are present."
All-terrain vehicles can never be used to retrieve game, she said, adding that hunters must also be cautious of their impact on the land when camping in remote areas of the forest.
"The Wasatch-Cache (National Forest) will conduct hunt patrols to enforce ATV rules and educate hunters and campers throughout the hunting season," Januzelli said. "After all, it’s in the hunter’s interest to protect the forest."
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