Friday, October 29, 2010
SALT LAKE CITY, October 27, 2010 - It is that time again as Christmas is just around the corner. Families can have a unique recreational outing by cutting their own Christmas trees on Utah National Forests.
Always be prepared for winter weather. Always stay on designated roads and trails. Be prepared for slick, snow packed roads and have chains, a 4-wheel drive vehicle, or a snow machine available. Always let someone know where you are planning to go and approximate time you will return. Carry a cell phone, bring additional warm clothing, good warm gloves, boots, and a container of hot liquid, water, lunch or snack, as it may take longer than expected. Carry a flashlight, chains, shovel, first aid kit, matches, a hatchet, ax or handsaw, and rope to secure your tree.
Trees must always be cut close to the ground leaving the stump no higher than 6 inches. A shovel will come in handy to dig through the snow to reach the base of the tree. Make sure your permit is attached to the tree before leaving the cutting area. Tree topping is not allowed. No cutting within 200 feet of riparian areas (lakes and streams) roads, campgrounds, picnic areas, administrative sites, summer home areas, or within designated closed areas shown on the tree cutting area maps.
ASHLEY NATIONAL FOREST: (435) 789-1181 - www.fs.fed.us/r4/ashley
Flaming Gorge Ranger District: (435) 784-3445 - Permits go on sale Friday, November 19, 2010. Permits will be available at the Flaming Gorge Ranger District Office, intersection Highway 43 & 44, Manila, Utah and the Green River Office, 1450 Uinta Drive, Green River, Wyoming from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Also, permits will be available at Flaming Gorge Resort. Cost of the nonrefundable permit is $10.00 and there is a limit of one permit per household, one tree only. Any species of tree may be cut except Ponderosa Pine.
Duchesne and Roosevelt Ranger Districts: (435) 738-2482 or (435) 722-5018
Permits go on sale Friday, November 19, 2010 and are limited - Permits may be purchased at the Duchesne Ranger District Office, 85 West Main, Duchesne, Utah, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday or the Roosevelt Ranger District Office, 650 West Highway 40, Roosevelt, Utah 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday. Permits may also be purchased at the Hanna Country Store, State Route 35, Hanna, Utah (435) 848-5752 and at Stewart’s Market, 245 West Highway 40 in Roosevelt, (435) 722-5650. Permits are $10.00 each, one permit per household, one tree only.
Vernal Ranger District: (435) 789-1181 - Permits go on sale Friday, November 19, 2010. Permits may be purchased at the Vernal Office, located at 355 North Vernal Avenue in Vernal, Utah Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Permits may also be purchased at the following businesses 7 days a week; Davis Jubilee Store, 575 West Main, in Vernal, (435) 789-2001 and Shirley’s Country Corner, 6982 North 9500 East, Highway 12 in LaPoint, (435) 247-2690. Permits are $10.00, one permit per household, one tree only. Any species of tree can be cut except Ponderosa Pine. Individuals may purchase up to two additional permits on the Flaming Gorge and Vernal Ranger Districts and permits must be issued in the names and addresses of the person for whom the permits are purchased.
DIXIE NATIONAL FOREST: (435) 865-3700 – www.fs.fed.us/r4/dixie
Cedar City Ranger District: (435) 865-3700 - Permits go on sale Monday, November 8, 2010. Permits can be obtained at the Cedar City Ranger District, 1789 North Wedgewood Lane, Cedar City, Utah from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Permits are $10.00, one permit per household, one tree only. The only species of trees that can be cut are Sub-Alpine Fir, White Fir and Pinyon Pine. Please check with the Cedar City Ranger District office before traveling the Cedar Breaks Road to obtain the most current road condition information.
Escalante Ranger District: (435) 826-5400 - Permits go on sale Friday, November 5, 2010. Permits can be obtained at the Escalante Ranger District, 755 West Main, Escalante, Utah from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Permits may also be bought at Antimony Merc, Antimony, Utah (435) 624-3253,
7 days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Contact the Escalante Ranger District for a list of other vendors. Permits are $10.00, one permit per household, one tree only. All species of tree may be cut except Bristlecone Pine.
Powell Ranger District: (435) 676-9300 - Permits are now available and can be obtained at the Powell Ranger District, 225 East Center Street, Panguitch, Utah from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Permits are $10.00 for a tree up to 10 feet and $20.00 for a tree 11 foot to 20 foot. All species of trees can be cut except Bristlecone Pine.
St. George Interagency Visitor Center: (435) 688-3246 or (435) 652-3100 - Permits go on sale Monday, November 8, 2010. Permits can be purchased at the Visitor Center, 345 East Riverside Drive, St. George, Utah from 7:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Permits may also be purchased at Spanish Trail Supply Company, 21 South Main, Veyo, Utah (435)
574-0808 seven days a week and Veyo Mercantile, 13 North Main Street, Veyo, Utah (435) 574-2749, Monday through Thursday 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturdays.
Permits are $10.00; Pinyon Pine and Juniper are the only species of trees that may be cut. One person can purchase up to 5 tags.
FISHLAKE NATIONAL FOREST: (435) 896-9233 – www.fs.fed.us/r4/fishlake
Beaver Ranger District: (435) 438-2436 - Permits are now available and may be purchased at the Beaver Ranger District, 575 South Main, Beaver, Utah, Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Permits may also be purchased at the Paiute County Courthouse, in Junction, Utah, (435) 577-2988, Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Beaver Sport and Pawn, 85 North Main, Beaver, Utah (435) 438-2100, seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Permits are $10.00 each, two permits per household, 2 trees only. All species of trees may be cut except Ponderosa Pine and Blue Spruce.
Fillmore Ranger District: (435) 743-5721 - Permits go on sale Monday, November 22, 2010. Permits can be purchased at the Fillmore Ranger District, 390 South Main Fillmore, Utah Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 and 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Permits are $10.00, one permit per household, one tree only. Any species of tree maybe cut except Ponderosa Pine.
Fremont Ranger District: (435) 836-2811 - Permits are now available and can be purchased at the Fremont River Ranger District Office, 138 South Main, Loa, Utah from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Permits are $10.00, one permit per person, one tree only. Any species of tree may be cut, but Ponderosa Pine and Bristlecone Pine. Trees maybe cut anywhere on the Fremont Ranger District, except the Fish Lake Basin, the vicinity of Wildcat Guard Station and Oak Creek campground including the Meadows and Park Pasture.
Richfield Ranger District: (435) 896-9233 - Permits go on sale Friday, November 19, 2010. Permits can be purchased at the Richfield Ranger District Office, 115 East 900 North, Richfield, Utah, from 8:00 a.m. to
5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Permits are $10.00, one permit per household, one tree only. Any species of tree may be cut except Ponderosa Pine, Engleman and Blue Spruce. Permits may also be purchased at: Lin’s Market, 670 North Main Street in Richfield, Utah Saturday and Sundays from 6:00 a.m. to midnight; Don’s Sinclair, 215 West Main in Salina, Utah Monday-Saturday 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sundays from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
MANTI-LASAL NATIONAL FOREST: www.fs.fed.us/r4/mantilasal
Ferron/Price Ranger Districts: (435) 384-2372/ (435) 637-2817 and Moab/Monticello Ranger Districts: (435) 259-7155 or (435) 587-2041 Christmas tree permits will be on sale at all offices of the Manti-La Sal National Forest beginning November 15 at a cost of $10 each. District offices (in Ephraim, Ferron, Moab and Monticello) are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Supervisor’s Office in Price is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, the Price and Sanpete offices will open two Saturdays, November 27 and December 4, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Christmas tree permit sales. The Sanpete District will not be selling tree permits at canyon sites on the District this year.
Some local retailers will also be selling permits at their businesses to assist weekend and after-hours customers. The public should contact the ranger district nearest them for details regarding private vendors in their community. In addition, the Forest will be selling tree permits through the mail. Customers should send a request for the permit, provide their name, mailing address, phone number, and a check for $10 in an envelope marked “Attention: Christmas Tree Sales.” A permit will be sent to them by return mail. Orders can be sent to any of the following mailing addresses:
Supervisor’s Office, 599 W. Price River Drive, Price, UT 84501; Ferron Price District Office, P.O. Box 310, Ferron, UT 84523; Moab District Office, P.O. Box 386, Moab, UT 84532; Monticello District Office, P.O. Box 820, Monticello, UT 84535; and the Sanpete District Office, 540 N. Main Street, Ephraim, UT 84627-1117.
There is a limit of three permits per person. Purchasers will need to provide a check or exact change. Forest Service Offices are not equipped to accept debit or credit cards or make change.
The Forest officer selling tags will issue each purchaser cutting instructions. Customers traveling long distances for permits should call in advance to determine if permits are still available. Vehicle access, except for snow machines, must be confined to established roads on the Forest. Roads may be muddy, snow packed and slick. Be prepared for winter driving conditions.
UINTA-WASATCH-CACHE NATIONAL FOREST: (801) 236-3400 AND (801) 342-5100
Heber-Kamas Ranger District: (435) 654-0470 and (435) 783-4338 – Christmas tree permits will be sold on Friday, November 5th, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., and Saturday, November 6th from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. at the Soldier Hollow Lodge. The $10 permits are for areas within the Heber Permit Area, Heber-Kamas Ranger District, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Permits are for personal use only. One permit per adult (16 years of age and older) will be sold on a first come, first- served basis. Young adults will be required to show their driver’s license at time of purchase.
One thousand (1,000) permits will be available on Friday and 1,000 permits will be available on Saturday. Any remaining permits will be sold beginning Monday, November 8th at the Heber-Kamas Ranger District Office, Heber Office Location, 2460 South Highway 40, Heber, City.
Only subalpine fir trees 20 feet tall or shorter may be cut and removed. All trees must be tagged before removing them from the area.
Soldier Hollow Lodge is located at 2002 Soldier Hollow Drive, in Midway, Utah. Directions and a map are available on the internet at http://www.soldierhollow.com/map.php .
Evanston/Mt. View Ranger Districts: (307) 789-3194 and (307) 782-6555 - Permits for the Evanston area go on sale Monday, November 15, 2010. Permits are $10.00, one permit per household, one tree only.
Permits can be purchased at the Evanston Ranger District Office, 1565 South Highway 150, Suite A, Evanston, Wyoming from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Permits may also be purchased at
the Bear River Lodge located 30 miles south of Evanston on the Mirror Lake Highway 150, (435) 642-6289. Any species of tree may be cut, but Lodgepole Pine is the main species in the area. Snow conditions may require permit holders to use snowmobiles, cross-country skies or snowshoes to access the cutting area.
Permits for the Mt. View area go on sale, Monday, November 15, 2010. Permits are $10.00, one permit per household, one tree only. Permits can be purchased at the Mountain View Ranger District, 321 Highway 414, Mountain View, Wyoming, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday only. Permits may also be purchased at the Maverick Store (307) 782-6693 located at 655 N. Highway 414 in Mountain View, Wyoming, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Any species of tree may be cut, but Lodgepole Pine is the main species in the area.
The gates on the Mirror Lake Highway and on the North Slope Road are typically closed during the first week of December, limiting access for people without a snow machine. Cutting is not allowed in the Lily Lake Cross Country Ski Area.
Gambel's Quail Photo Courtesy Lynn Chamberlain
If you’ve ever thought about hunting quail in Utah, this fall might be the time to give it a try.
California quail and Gamble’s quail populations have done well in Utah the past few years. And they appear to be doing even better this year.
Hunts for both species of quail start Nov. 6. Utah’s ring-necked pheasant hunt starts the same day.
Despite a continuing loss of habitat, more upland game hunters—about 15,000—pursue pheasants than any other upland game species in Utah.
Hunters who take to the state’s farm fields and other areas that have good pheasant habitat should find fair to good numbers of birds this fall. “Nesting conditions were good for pheasants this past spring,” says Dave Olsen, upland game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.
Olsen says counties along the Wasatch Front and Millard County in west-central Utah provide some of Utah’s best pheasant habitat. This habitat includes river bottoms, marshes and thickets near farm fields.
Olsen says many of these areas are privately owned or are close to private property. “Don’t wait until the last minute to approach a landowner about getting written permission to hunt his or her property,” he says. “Try to get this permission way in advance of the hunt.”
You must have written permission to hunt private land that’s properly posted. More information is available on page 13 of the 2010 - 2011 Utah Upland Game Guidebook.
The guidebook is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks .
California quail are found mostly in brushy thickets near the edge of fields and farms in northern, central and northeastern Utah.
These areas are usually found in urban settings. Because they’re usually found in urban areas, it’s important that you obey the law and that you’re careful where you shoot. And remember that you must have written permission to hunt on private land.
Gambel’s quail are found in southwestern Utah, mostly in the Mohave Desert near the Nevada and Arizona borders in Washington and Kane counties.
Olsen says Gambel's quail populations and the amount of rain that falls in the spring go hand-in-hand; if plenty of rain is received, plenty of quail are usually available in the fall. And southwestern Utah received plenty of rain this past spring. “Those who know where to find quail should have a fun hunt,” Olsen says.
The best places to find Gambel’s quail include draws that are near water and that have almond and other types of brush in them.
When you find quail, get ready for some fast shooting. The birds could be together in small groups or in a covey of as many as a dozen quail. The action happens fast when the birds flush. Usually, the entire covey flushes at once. But sometimes smaller groups of birds will flush—two or three birds at a time—after the main covey has flushed.
“Shooting can be fast and furious,” Olsen says. “When you’re done, you’ll either be picking up a bird or two or waving goodbye to the birds you missed.”
Olsen says chukar partridge populations are also doing well in the Mohave Desert this fall, so you might find some chukars there too.
For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR’s Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.
If you like to hunt deer in Utah, you need to let the Utah Wildlife Board know which hunting option you want the board to pass.
The Division of Wildlife Resources will present some major changes for the 2011 hunt at public meetings in November. Those changes could affect the number of bucks you see and the ability you and your family have to hunt.
You can learn about the proposed changes by visiting this Web page— www.wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/2011-deer-changes.html .
Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the DWR, says the proposed deer hunting changes are the biggest proposed in Utah in almost 15 years. “What’s decided could change deer hunting as we know it,” Aoude says.
The DWR will present three options.
Option 3 is similar to the way deer hunting happens in Utah today (see www.wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/2011-deer-changes.html for details). The following are highlights from the other two options:
Raising the number of bucks compared to the number of does is the goal of both options.
The current goal is to manage Utah’s general season areas so biologists find at least 15 bucks per 100 does after the hunting seasons are over in the fall. Both of the new options would raise that goal to 18 bucks per 100 does.
Raising the number of bucks per 100 does requires reducing the number of bucks hunters take during the general season hunt. And there’s only one effective way to do that—reduce the number of hunters.
Option 1 is the DWR’s preferred option. Under this option, general season hunting would continue within the five regions Utah currently has. But areas within a region that have very low buck-to-doe ratios would be managed separately from the rest of the region.
Increasing the regional buck-to-doe average to at least 18 bucks per 100 does would require reducing the total number of hunters by about 7,000.
Currently, 94,000 hunters are allowed to hunt.
Because 7,000 fewer permits would be offered, the permits that are available might cost more.
Under Option 2, the state would be split into 29 separate hunting areas. These areas would be called units. The units would be managed on an individual basis so at least 18 bucks per 100 does were found on each unit after the hunts were over in the fall. Reaching at least 18 bucks per 100 does on each of these smaller units—instead of an average of 18 bucks per 100 does on a larger, regional basis—would require a deeper cut in permits.
About 13,000 fewer hunters would be allowed to hunt under Option 2. And permits would probably cost more.
Two other notes about Option 2:
The state’s Dedicated Hunter program would change under Option 2. The program would probably become a one-year program. Before you could join the program, you’d have to draw a permit for the unit you wanted to hunt. After getting a permit and joining the program, you’d be allowed to hunt all three seasons—archery, muzzleloader and rifle—on the unit you drew a permit for.
Under Option 2, it’s likely that archery hunters would be required to hunt within a single unit. Currently, archery hunters can hunt statewide.
Learn more, share your ideas
After visiting www.wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/2011-deer-changes.html , you can let members of your Regional Advisory Council know which option you prefer either of the following ways:
Five public meetings will be held starting Nov. 9. Dates, times and locations are as follows:
Brigham City Community Center
24 N. 300 W.
Springville Junior High
165 S. 700 E.
Beaver High School
195 E. Center St.
John Wesley Powell Museum
1765 E. Main St.
302 E. 200 S.
You can also provide your comments to your RAC via e-mail. E-mail addresses for the members of the RACs are available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings .
The group each RAC member represents (sportsman, non-consumptive, etc.) is listed under each person’s e-mail address. You should direct your e-mail to the people on the RAC who represent your interest.
Dec. 2 is the day of decision
Members of the Utah Wildlife Board will use the public input they receive directly and through the RACs to decide which of the three options to approve.
Members of the board will make their decision when they meet Dec. 2 in Salt Lake City.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Kamas -- Biologists are concerned about a sinkhole that was discovered recently near a creek that flows past the Kamas State Fish Hatchery.
“Whirling disease has been detected in the creek above the hatchery,” says Walt Donaldson, Aquatic Section chief for the Division of Wildlife Resources. “We don’t think whirling disease made it into the hatchery. But we’re not taking any chances.”
The sinkhole developed recently on the bank of Beaver Creek. The hatchery does not receive any water directly from the creek. (Water for the hatchery comes from several springs in the area.) However, biologists are concerned that water that entered the sinkhole may have mixed with water in the aquifer that feeds the hatchery springs.
Whirling disease—a disease that doesn’t affect people but can be fatal to fish—was found in Beaver Creek in the 1990s in a stretch below the hatchery. The sinkhole, which workers from a local irrigation company have since blocked off, is about three-quarters of a mile above the hatchery.
After the sinkhole was discovered, biologists sampled trout from the hatchery. They also sampled trout from a section of the creek that’s above the hatchery and sinkhole.
Fortunately, none of the fish sampled in the hatchery had whirling disease (WD). But two of the 30 trout from the creek had the disease.
Donaldson says that’s not surprising, since fish with WD have moved to various parts of the creek over the past 15 years.
Donaldson says all of the DWR’s hatcheries are tested routinely for disease.
Not taking chances
DWR biologists were happy to hear that the fish in the hatchery did not test positive for whirling disease. But they’re still not taking any chances:
- All of the fish that are currently in the Kamas hatchery will be stocked immediately, but only in waters where WD has been previously found. As a precautionary measure, the fish will not be placed in waters that don’t already have WD.
“The DNA test used to analyze the sampled fish is very sensitive and accurate at catching whirling disease in fish,” says Chris Wilson, pathologist at the DWR’s Fisheries Experiment Station.
“Even though the fish in the hatchery appear to be free of the disease, we’ve learned to be extremely cautious when dealing with fish diseases,” Wilson says. “We don’t want to spread disease from one hatchery to another, or from a hatchery to the wild.”
- The Kamas hatchery will be closed until the entire facility has been disinfected and a special ulta-violet filtration device has been installed. This device will remove WD if the disease ever gets into water sources that flow into the hatchery.
The public will not be allowed to tour the hatchery while it’s closed.
Donaldson says the Kamas hatchery will not produce fish again until late 2011 or early 2012. Fortunately, the DWR’s refurbished Springville State Fish Hatchery will take up some of the fish-production slack. (The Springville hatchery was closed in 2007 after WD was confirmed in the hatchery.)
Donaldson says the installation of a UV-filtration device is nearing completion at the Springville hatchery. “We’re hoping the hatchery will be producing fish again soon, maybe as early as November,” he says.
Bountiful -- A program is now in place to manage deer in the city of Bountiful.
The city and the Division of Wildlife Resources joined together to develop the program. The program includes the following:
A website will be developed to educate Bountiful residents about things they can do to keep deer from damaging their property. The website will also explain why people should not feed deer.
A list of property owners who have expressed a willingness to allow their property to be used to access deer within the city limits will also be developed.
A pilot program will be developed to evaluate the effectiveness of managing the deer population by selectively thinning some of the deer on public property in the city. Deer would also be thinned on private property where the property owner has given permission for deer to be thinned.
In addition to getting information from the city’s website, the following Web pages provide information about mule deer and how to keep the animals from damaging your yard or garden:
Goal of the program
“The goal of the program is to effectively manage the wildlife population within the corporate limits of the city of Bountiful,” says Bountiful Mayor Joe Johnson. “What we are trying to do is develop a program where we tolerate a certain number of deer within the city limits, but manage that number so that they do not become a health, public safety or nuisance threat to our residents.”
Johnson was quick to point out that the goal of the program is not to eliminate the deer population within the city limits.
“We have always had deer within the city limits,” Johnson says, “and from time to time the deer population has been thinned. This thinning is simply an extension of an existing policy that has been utilized when the need has arisen.”
Bountiful is working with the DWR to share the costs of the program. DWR biologists and city managers will evaluate the program several months after it’s implemented. Additionally, the city will work with the DWR to develop educational materials the city can disseminate through its website and through the city’s newsletter.
“This program attempts to balance the desires of those who enjoy the deer as part of the experience of living in Bountiful,” says City Manager Tom Hardy, “and those who wish to use their property for raising gardens, flowers, shrubs and other plants in the ‘City of Beautiful Homes and Gardens.’”
Giving meat to those in need
The Utah Chapter of Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry is accepting donations from those who would like to help pay so meat from culled animals can be processed and prepared. This meat will be given at the Bountiful Food Pantry to those in need of food.
If you’d like to donate, contact Kelly Bingham at (801) 726-2598 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Photo courtesy of Dustin Stettler
If you’re one of the lucky hunters who obtained a permit for the hunt, getting prepared now—by gathering materials and gaining knowledge—are the key to a safe and successful hunt. And while taking a deer is usually the highlight of any deer hunt, make sure you take advantage of all the experiences deer hunting offers. Utah’s most popular hunt—the general rifle buck deer hunt—begins Oct. 23.
“Don’t be so focused on taking a deer that you miss out on everything deer hunting has to offer,” says Gary Cook, hunter education coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. “Camping with your family and friends and enjoying Utah’s wildlife and the beautiful state we live in are all things you can enjoy during your time afield.”
Cook provides the following tips for an enjoyable and safe hunt:
* be familiar with the area you’re going to hunt. If possible, scout the area before the hunt. “Knowing the area and the habits and patterns of the deer that live in the area is vital for success,” Cook says.
* put a survival kit together. The kit should include:
1) a small first aid kit;
2) three ways to make a fire (e.g. matches, a cigarette lighter, fire starters);
3) quick-energy snack foods;
4) a cord or rope;
5) a compass;
6) a flashlight;
7) an extra knife and;
8) a small pad of paper and a pencil (so if you become lost, you can leave information at your last location about yourself and the direction you’re traveling).
Preparing your firearm:
* be as familiar as possible with your firearm—know how to load and unload it, and where the safety is and how to operate it.
* make sure the barrel of your firearm doesn’t have any obstructions in it.
* make sure you have the correct ammunition for your firearm.
* sight-in your firearm before the hunt.
* controlling your firearm’s muzzle is the most important part of firearm safety. Never let the muzzle of your firearm point at anything you do not intend to shoot. That includes not pointing the muzzle at yourself.
* never carry a loaded firearm in your vehicle.
* don’t put your finger on the trigger until your firearm’s sights are on the target.
* before shooting, make sure of your target and what’s beyond it.
* make sure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition.
* make sure you have a shovel, an ax, tire chains, jumper cables and a tow chain in your vehicle.
* if you experience mechanical problems with your vehicle or become snowed in, stay with your vehicle—don’t leave it.
Before leaving on your trip:
* let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
While in the field:
* never hunt alone.
* wear proper safety clothing: 400 square inches of hunter orange on your back, chest and head.
Field dressing your animal:
* use a sharp knife. A sharp knife does a better job of cutting than a dull knife does and is safer to use.
* cut away from you—never bring a knife blade towards you while cutting.
Your physical well-being:
* know your physical limitations, and don’t exceed them.
* prepare yourself for weather changes by dressing in layers. Dressing in layers allows you to regulate your body temperature by adding or removing clothes as needed.
* drink plenty of water, no matter how cold it is. “You can become dehydrated, even in cold weather,” Cook says.
* hypothermia (the loss of body temperature) can occur in temperatures as warm as 50 degrees.
Be aware of the signs of hypothermia. Some of the first signs are violent shivering, stumbling or becoming disoriented. “When you notice these signs, sit down immediately and build a fire,” Cook says. “Get yourself warm and dry.”
* frostbite. If you’re hunting in cold weather, watch for signs that you’re getting frostbite. White spots on your skin are the first sign. Check your face, feet and hands regularly. You’ll notice the first signs of frostbite on your face sooner if you’re hunting with a companion who can alert you.
Photo courtesy of Dustin Stettler
You might see a few more young bucks when Utah’s general rifle buck deer hunt starts Oct. 23. But you’ll also have fewer days to take one. Utah’s most popular hunt will be shorter this year. More than 70,000 hunters expected afield.
Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says if you’re hunting in northern Utah—where the winter was mild this past winter—you could see more young bucks. If you’re hunting in southwestern Utah, where deep snow covered the deer’s winter range, you might see fewer young bucks.
Aoude says the number of mule deer in Utah is holding steady at just over 300,000 deer. The number of bucks wildlife biologists saw after last fall’s hunting seasons averaged about 16 bucks per 100 does on the state’s general-season units.
When you can hunt this fall depends on two things: your age and the area you choose to hunt:
On most of the state’s units, those over 18 years of age can hunt for five days, from Oct. 23 to Oct. 28. Those who are 18 years of age or younger can hunt for nine days, from Oct. 23 to Oct. 31.
There are five units, however, where all hunters—regardless of their age—may hunt for only three days. The hunt on the following units in the following regions runs from Oct. 23 to Oct. 25:
South Slope, Vernal unit
The rifle hunt on the five units runs Oct. 23 – 25.
While approving rules for Utah’s 2010 hunts, members of the Utah Wildlife Board decided to shorten the season on the units. They made their decision after learning about the number of bucks per 100 does on the five units.
Utah’s statewide deer management plan says action must be taken to increase the number of bucks per 100 does on units that fall below an average of 15 bucks per 100 does for three straight years. A map and boundary description for each of the five units is available at http://go.usa.gov/xLQ .
The following are deer hunting prospects for each of the DWR’s five regions:
With the exception of the Cache and Ogden units, all of the general season units in northern Utah have at least 15 bucks per 100 does. And some units have more. Here’s a look at the deer herds on many of the region’s general season units:
Cache and Ogden units
Wildlife Biologist Darren DeBloois says the three-year average for the Cache and Ogden units is slightly below the objective of 15 bucks per 100 does. Like much of the Northern Region, DeBloois says range conditions are good and the animals are scattered. He also says the past two winters have been mild, and few fawns have been lost. “Hunters should see good numbers of two-point bucks on both of these units,” he says.
Box Elder unit
Two good years with low winter losses, high fawn production and good range conditions should translate into a good hunt on the Box Elder unit.
Wildlife Biologist Kirk Enright says the unit’s buck-to-doe ratio is 19 bucks per 100 does. “Habitat improvement projects we’re doing with landowners and other agencies is creating better habitat and more deer,” Enright says.
Uintas North Slope unit
Biologist David Rich says archery hunters had very limited success on the North Slope of the Uinta Mountains this fall. He says unseasonably warm temperatures have kept many of the deer at higher elevations.
“Rifle deer hunters will need to scout the area before opening day and expect to hunt remote areas away from heavily used roads and trails,” Rich says. “The best advice I can give is to do your homework before the season begins.”
Summit and East Canyon units
Biologist Scott McFarlane cautions you that most of the land on these units is private property. Written permission from landowners is required to hunt much of this area.
Phil Douglass, regional conservation outreach manager, shares two reminders:
If the average buck-to-doe ratio on a unit stays below 15 bucks per 100 does for a three-year period, Utah’s mule deer management plan requires that the hunting seasons on the unit be reduced in length until the buck-to-doe ratio improves.
As a result, the rifle hunt on the Cache and Ogden units will run for only three days this fall. The hunt on the units runs from Oct. 23 to Oct. 25.
To avoid attracting bears into your camp, store food where bears can’t get to it and keep your camp clean. Additional tips are available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/learn-more/bear-safety.html .
Where you decide to hunt in the Central Region will be important this fall. Some areas harbor good numbers of bucks. Other areas have less.
Overall, the number of bucks on the region’s general season units is 15 bucks per 100 does. The area east of Interstate 15, from Spanish Fork Canyon north to Interstate 80 in Salt Lake City, has the best habitat and the highest buck-to-doe ratios.
Buck-to-doe ratios are lower outside of that area. For example, the buck-to-doe ratio on the South Manti unit is 5 to 6 bucks per 100 does. On the Oquirrh-Stansbury unit, the ratio is 7 to 8 bucks per 100 does.
West of I-15, in Tooele and Juab counties, Wildlife Biologist Tom Becker says the deer herds average about 10 to 11 bucks per 100 does. On a positive note, Becker says precipitation has helped the desert areas this year, and the habitat conditions are better than they were last year. The improved conditions should help more deer fawns make it through the upcoming winter.
Scott Root, regional conservation outreach manager, has three reminders:
The rifle hunt on the Oquirrh-Stansbury unit will run for only three days this fall. The rifle hunt on the unit runs from Oct. 23 to Oct. 25.
Please remember that you may not use a rifle or a muzzleloader to hunt deer or elk in Salt Lake County, south of Interstate 80 and east of Interstate 15. Much of Emigration Canyon is also an archery-only hunting area. A map of the Emigration Canyon archery-only area is available at http://go.usa.gov/xma.
You can extend your hunt by hunting on the Wasatch Front Extended Archery Area. You may use archery equipment to take either a buck or a doe on the area from Aug. 21 to Nov. 30. From Dec. 1 to Dec. 15, only doe deer may be taken.
Before hunting on the Wasatch Front Extended Archery Area—or any of the state’s extended archery areas—you must complete the DWR’s Extended Archery Orientation Course. The free course is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/huntereducation .
After completing the course, you must carry your Extended Archery Orientation Course certificate with you while you’re hunting.
You must complete the course each year before hunting on Utah’s extended archery areas.
If you can adapt to the weather, you might see more young bucks in northeastern Utah this fall.
Ron Stewart, regional conservation outreach manager, says the weather has been good to deer this year. “The winter was relatively light in the Uinta Mountains,” he says. “Most of the herds on these units came through the winter without much winter loss.”
(Most of the region’s general-season units are located in the Uinta Mountains.)
Even though the general-season units didn’t receive a lot of snow, rain this spring and summer kept the vegetation on the mountains green through most of the summer. That vegetation is providing the deer with good forage. But it’s a mixed blessing for hunters.
“The spring and summer rainfall was a real bonus,” Stewart says. “The vegetation grew extremely well. Most of the units are providing deer with plenty of forage.” However, the weather this fall has been dry—and so is the vegetation. “If the weather stays dry,” Stewart says, “hunters will have a more difficult time approaching the deer; the crunching of dry leaves will give the hunters away.”
To compensate for the noisy conditions, Stewart encourages you to get out early—well before shooting hours—and to pick a good spot to stop and watch. “The more a hunter wanders around, the more sounds he’s going to make,” he says. “That noise increases the chance that deer in the area will hear you and run for cover in the thick brush and dark timber.”
Stewart reminds you that the hunting season in the region is shorter this year, especially on the South Slope, Vernal unit. Across most of the region, the hunt for those over 18 years of age runs Oct. 23 - 28. Those 18 years of age or younger can hunt from Oct. 23 to Oct. 31.
On the South Slope, Vernal unit, however, all hunters—regardless of age—may hunt for only three days. The hunt on the South Slope, Vernal unit runs Oct. 23 - 25. The total number of deer is still below objective on five of the region’s six general-season units. But the number of deer on most of the units is up from last fall. The following is a snapshot of the deer herds, including the number of bucks per 100 does and the estimated number of deer:
Unit Bucks per 100 does Total number of deer
North Slope 18 Up, and near objective
South Slope, Yellowstone 14 Up, but below objective
South Slope, Vernal 12 Up, and at objective
Nine Mile, Anthro 34 Up, but well below objective
Currant Creek 12 Up, but well below objective
Avintaquin 19 Stable, but well below objective
You might see a few more bucks in southeastern Utah this fall. The overall number of deer is up from last year.
While that’s good news, there’s still plenty of room for growth—the overall number of deer on most of the region’s general season units is between 55 and 60 percent of the number called for in management plans. “One exception is the Abajo unit,” says Brent Stettler, regional conservation outreach manager. “The number of deer on the unit is above the unit’s objective of 13,500 deer.”
Another positive sign is the number of bucks per 100 does that biologists counted after last fall’s hunting seasons. Stettler says the number of bucks on all of the region’s general season units is above the minimum objective of 15 bucks per 100 does.
So what’s the secret to taking a deer in the region this fall?
“Hunters may experience higher success rates by simply spending more time away from roads and other areas that experience high use by hunters,” says Justin Shannon, the region’s wildlife manager. “Hiking an extra mile may be more difficult. But it may also provide a more rewarding hunting experience.”
Shannon also encourages you to do some pre-season scouting. Once you’ve selected a particular area, learn where the springs, seeps and creeks are. Get to know the game trails, the bedding areas and the escape routes the deer might take once the hunt starts.
Develop a hunting strategy that will account for changes in deer activity once hunters start moving through the woods.
Southern Utah received something last winter that it rarely gets: lots of snow. The snow that fell could result in fewer younger bucks in the region this fall. On the positive side, the moisture has also led to healthy mature deer with bigger antlers.
Another plus is the number of bucks per 100 does. The buck-to-doe average on the region’s general season units is 20 bucks per 100 does. The Southern Region has more bucks per 100 does than any region in the state. Buck-to-doe ratios on the general season units vary from a low of 11 bucks per 100 does on the Monroe unit to 30 bucks per 100 does on the Southwest Desert unit.
Biologists say additional precipitation this spring and summer has provided excellent forage and water for the deer. The deer should be spread across their transitional range when the hunt starts on Oct. 23. The following is a look at the deer herds on region’s general-season units:
Beaver and Fillmore units
Wildlife Biologist Blair Stringham says archery and muzzleloader hunters saw good numbers of bucks on both the Fillmore and Beaver units this fall. He reminds you that access is limited on the north end of the Tushar Mountains because of the Twitchell Canyon fire. The latest fire and road closure updates are available at http://www.utahfireinfo.gov/ .
Monroe and Plateau/Fishlake units
Wildlife Biologist Vance Mumford says this past winter was a long one on the Monroe and the Plateau, Fishlake units.
“The number of fawns that died this past winter was higher than normal,” Mumford says. “That will affect the number of yearling bucks available during the hunt, especially since the number of fawns we started with was lower than normal before the winter even hit.”
Mumford says there should be plenty of mature deer to hunt, though. “Those who hunt smart and scout areas for mature deer should have a good hunt,” he says.
Mumford says lots of rain fell on the two units this past spring and summer. That has led to healthy deer and good antler growth. “I’ve seen some good mature buck groups on the Fish Lake unit,” he says.
Mumford reminds you that the rifle hunt on the Monroe unit is shorter than it is on many units in the state.
The rifle hunt on the unit runs for only three days, from Oct. 23 to Oct. 25.
Plateau, Boulder unit
Wildlife Biologist Jim Lamb says this fall’s archery and muzzleloader hunts on the Plateau, Boulder unit were among the toughest in recent memory. “I had two guides call me this week asking me where they could find a good buck,” Lamb said earlier this month. “Usually, they are on the best deer around by this time of the season.”
Panguitch Lake and Mount Dutton units
Wildlife Biologist Dustin Schaible says good precipitation and warm fall temperatures have kept deer in higher elevations, but some migratory movement has been observed on a few units. “The deer will probably be scattered across their transitional range during the rifle hunt,” he says.
Schaible says some hunters had a difficult time finding bucks during the archery and muzzleloader hunts. “But some really nice deer have been taken this year,” he says.
Because of the abundant summer rain, deer are currently spread across their range and are not as tied to watering areas.
“The fawns look excellent this year,” Schaible says. “In some areas, they’re nearly as big as the adults. That’s likely because we had good summer conditions.”
Pine Valley, Zion and Southwest Desert units
Wildlife Biologist Jason Nicholes says he counted more than 20 bucks per 100 does on each of the three units after last fall’s hunts. “Yearling bucks may be down slightly due to some light winter kill,” he says.
Kern River is building a pipeline through the WMA as part of the Kern River Apex Expansion Project. If you’re going to visit the East Canyon WMA this fall, please be aware of the following:
The access point to the WMA is now located east of the road you’ve used in the past to access the WMA. A free map that shows the new access and camping area is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/pdf/eastcanyon.pdf .
You can still hunt and camp at the WMA while the construction work takes place. Just be aware that you might see pipeline construction equipment near the area where you’re camping.
Almost all of the construction is happening on the lower southern portion of the WMA. The higher northern portion of the property is not affected by the construction.
160 additional acres
The Apex Expansion Project is a new 28-mile, 36-inch diameter natural gas pipeline that Kern River is building through the Wasatch Mountains in Morgan, Davis and Salt Lake counties. Changes in access and camping have been made on the WMA to keep the public and the pipeline construction crews safe.
As part of the company’s environmental stewardship program for the project, Kern River, in cooperation with the Division of Wildlife Resources, has acquired 160 additional acres along the eastern boundary of the WMA. This land will be given to the state of Utah and will become part of the WMA.
For more information, call the DWR’s Northern Region office at (801) 476-2740.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Evening Grosbeak by Jane Ogilvie
Ithaca, NY—One backyard at a time, participants in Project FeederWatch are doing their part to unravel nature’s mysteries—simply by sharing information about the birds that visit their feeders from November to April. The 24th season of Project FeederWatch begins November 13, although new participants can join at any time.
People of all ages and skill levels can be FeederWatchers and do their part to help researchers better understand trends in bird populations. Participants count the numbers and different species of birds at their feeders and enter their information on the FeederWatch website at http://www.feederwatch.org/ .
By collecting information from all these feeders in all these backyards, scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology are able to track patterns in bird populations and movement from year to year, all across North America.
Here are just a few key findings based on nearly a quarter-century of FeederWatch data:
* Populations of Evening Grosbeaks, once one of our most common backyard birds, continue to decline.
* Many species are expanding their ranges to the north, including Northern Cardinals and Anna’s Hummingbirds.
* The nonnative Eurasian Collared-Dove is invading North America at an unprecedented rate – it is now found in backyards from Florida to Alaska.
“By engaging the public we are able to pick up fluctuations that could be the result of climate change, habitat destruction, disease, or other environmental factors,” said project leader David Bonter. “These are large-scale changes that we would not be able to see without the massive amount of data we receive from our participants. Keeping an eye out in your own backyard can make a difference.”
To learn more about joining Project FeederWatch and to sign up, visit http://www.feederwatch.org/ or call the Cornell Lab toll-free at (866) 989-2473. In return for the $15 fee ($12 for Cornell Lab members) participants receive the FeederWatcher’s Handbook, an identification poster of the most common feeder birds, a calendar, complete instructions, and Winter Bird Highlights, an annual summary of FeederWatch findings.
• Southwestern U.S. & California: American Crows, Downy Woodpeckers, and Black-capped Chickadees were recorded at more FeederWatch locations than at any point since the project began in 1987. Golden-crowned Sparrow reports were the lowest on record for the project.
Anna's Hummingbird by Elden Allen
• Southeastern & south-central U.S.: Common Grackle reports dropped to the lowest level in the history of FeederWatch. Chipping Sparrows were reported by more participants than ever before; also near record-high reports for Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Yellow-rumped Warblers.
• Pacific Northwest & northern Rocky Mountains: The Bushtit visited more FeederWatch locations last winter than at any point in project history, breaking into the regional Top 20 for the first time. Reports of American Goldfinches and Anna’s Hummingbirds also reached record highs for the region.
• Northeast quarter of U.S. & southeastern Canada: Relatively few birds were seen at feeders last winter as there was a near-complete lack of irruptive winter finches and the most common feeder birds were seen in lower numbers than usual. The few species seen at or near record levels included Northern Flicker, Chipping Sparrow, and Eastern Bluebird.
• North and mid-central U.S. & central Canada: Counts of House Finches were down last winter, dropping to the lowest point since 1991. Two Red-bellied Woodpeckers were seen in Winnipeg, Manitoba, as this species continues to push the northern limits of its range.
• Alaska & northern Canada: Reports of Pine Grosbeaks and Common Redpolls were down significantly in the region. A pair of Rustic Buntings, a Eurasian species rarely seen in North America, was reported in Ketchikan, Alaska, and an out-of-range White-throated Sparrow appeared in Seward, Alaska.
• Hawaii: For the first-time, FeederWatch received reports of two introduced species: Red-billed Leiothrix (a babbler from South Asia) and White-rumped Shama (a flycatcher from South and Southeast Asia).
When: Friday, October 22, 5-8 p.m.
Where: Ogden Nature Center, 966 W. 12th Street in Ogden
Cost: $5 Ogden Nature Center members $6 non-members
Who: All ages are welcome. Children must be accompanied by an adult. All ages are invited to the Ogden Nature Center for a fun, non-scary evening of trailside education and adventures!
Dress: Dress for outdoor weather, costumes are welcome. This event will be held rain or shine
• Take a crepuscular creep (early night-time) along Ogden Nature Center trails where you’ll meet our teacher/naturalists transformed into native Utah animals, each with a tale to tell!
• Meet live owls, snakes, spiders and toads.
• Enjoy trailside treats, campfire stories, face painting & carnival games.
• Make fall nature crafts that you can take home.
• Go on a scavenger hunt for freaky facts (bring a flashlight).
• Visit the Bat Cave. Go through the Spider Web Crawl. Sing songs at the Wood Witch’s Lair and try to trick the witch.
This event is for the entire community. For more information please call 801-621-7595.
Petrified Forest Trail, Coutesy Utah State Parks
October 17 Dead Horse Point State Park - Moab
Human History of the Colorado River: Join us for a discussion exploring this important water source in the desert southwest. Meet at 7 p.m. at the visitor center amphitheater. 435-259-2614
October 18 Dead Horse Point State Park - Moab
Geology Program: Join Ranger Dave Zuch for a presentation about the fascinating geology surrounding Dead Horse Point State Park. Meet at the Neck at 6:45 p.m. 435-259-2614
October 20 Dead Horse Point State Park - Moab
Night Walk- Join us at 7 p.m., for a short hike into the night. Learn more about your senses and creatures of the night as you journey without using a flashlight. 435-259-2614
October 21 Escalante Petrified Forest State Park - Escalante
Nature Hike - Nature's Grocery Store: Join the park naturalist on a guided hike through the pinyon-juniper woodlands. Discover how people and wildlife have depended on this important plant community for survival. Meet at the visitor center at 10 a.m. 435-826-4466
October 22 – 23 Snow Canyon State Park - Ivins
Johnson Canyon Hike: Join us at 5 p.m. for a hike to Johnson Canyon and Johnson Arch. Learn about the natural history of the area as you traverse lava flows and a desert scrub community on this ranger-led, two-mile hike. Space is limited and registration is required. 435-628-2255
October 22 Dead Horse Point State Park - Moab
Full Moon Hike: Join us at the Dead Horse Point Overlook at 7:30 p.m. for a mile-long full moon hike to learn about some nocturnal animals and talk about the night sky. Bring a jacket and hat, as the weather will be chilly. 435-259-2614
October 22 and 29 Camp Floyd/Stagecoach Inn State Park and Museum - Fairfield
Ghosts of Camp Floyd - Is Camp Floyd haunted? The public is invited to participate in a paranormal investigation of Camp Floyd beginning at 6 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own tape recorders, film, digital and infrared cameras. A brief presentation will be conducted to familiarize visitors with ghost hunting techniques before the investigation starts. 801-768-8932
October 23 Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum - Blanding
Field Trip: Join Bill Haven for an easy hike to several ancestral Puebloan sites at Abajo Haven Ranch. This event is free, but limited to 10 participants. 435-678-2238
October 23 Escalante Petrified Forest State Park - Escalante
Geology Hike - How did a forest turn to stone? Discover the answer on this guided hike to the Petrified Forest. Meet at the visitor center at 10 a.m. 435-826-4466
October 23 Snow Canyon State Park - Ivins
Monsters in the Desert: Gila monsters are one of the most mysterious and endangered creatures of southwest Utah. Join Wildlife Biologist Ann McLuckie at 10 a.m. as she discusses the biology of these fascinating lizards. Find out how Gila monsters are studied using radio-telemetry and try radio tracking for yourself. 435-628-2255
October 24 Dead Horse Point State Park - Moab
Guided Nature Walk: Meet at the visitor center amphitheater at 7 p.m., for a guided walk along the park's quarter-mile nature trail. Learn about desert plants and animals as the sun sets. 435-259-2614
Salt Lake City -- As hunters venture out this fall, Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Specialist Ann Evans offers the following tips to reduce OHV impacts, protect big game and habitat, and improve hunting and recreation experiences.
- Know vehicle use regulations for your hunting area. Contact the local land management agency for OHV travel regulations and information before the hunt.
- Stay on roads and trails designated for OHV use. Do not contribute to resource damage, stress to big game, or habitat destruction by creating illegal travel paths, which others may follow.
- Have respect for other users. Slow down or stop the OHV when approaching others on the trail. When meeting equestrians, approach slowly, pull over and stop, turn off the engine, remove your helmet and ask how best to proceed.
- Limit OHV use in and around campgrounds. Be respectful of other campers’ desires for quiet.
For more information on OHV safety tips and education, please call 800-OHV-RIDE or visit http://www.stateparks.utah.gov/
The draft RMP identifies issues relating to public use, future development, and operational efficiency for the next five to 10 years. A planning team consisting of park visitors, area residents, other agency representatives and park employees developed the draft plan through a series of team and public meetings.
Comments will be accepted through Thursday, November 4 by:
Utah State Parks: Planning Section
P.O. Box 146001
1594 West North Temple, Suite 116
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-6001
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Hyrum -- You and your family can participate in several outdoor activities at the Elk Festival at the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area. And if the weather gets colder, you might even see some wild elk!
The festival is free of charge. It will be held Saturday, Oct. 9. Activities run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can reach the ranch by traveling 18 miles east of Hyrum on state Route 101.
Taking a free wagon ride, painting pumpkins, turning balloons into antlers, and shooting pellets guns at targets are among the nature-related activities you can participate in.
Whether you’ll see some elk is still in question. “We have not seen any elk in the meadow yet,” Marni Lee, assistant manager of the Hardware Ranch WMA, said on Sept 22. “Right now, the elk are at higher elevations. But we’re hoping some of them will come into the meadow before the festival starts.”
Lee encourages you to bring some binoculars and to dress for all types of weather. “We will host the event, rain or shine!” she says.
On your way to the ranch, you can enjoy the fantastic fall colors in Blacksmith Fork Canyon. Food is not available at the ranch, but you’re welcome to bring a picnic lunch and eat it in the dining room at the ranch.
Hours of operation
Another chance to take a horse-drawn sleigh or wagon ride through the middle of hundreds of wild elk starts at the ranch on Dec. 17.
Starting Dec. 17, the ranch’s visitor center will be open and sleigh rides will be offered during the following days and times:
Friday noon to 5 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday noon to 5 p.m.
If you want to go on a sleigh ride, you must buy your ticket at the visitor center before 4:30 p.m.
On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the sleigh rides will not be running and the visitor center will not be open. You can still bring your binoculars and view the elk from a distance, though.
For more information, call the Hardware Ranch WMA at (435) 753-6206.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Photo provided by Brent Stettler, DWR
"As soon as the first shots are fired, the elk head away from the roads and into the thickest cover they can find," says Anis Aoude. "If you want to be a successful elk hunter, you need to get into that cover too."
Utah's 2010 general rifle bull elk hunt kicks off Oct. 9, 2010. And permits for the hunt are almost gone. On Sept. 21, 2010, about 1,500 permits to hunt on any-bull units were still available, but they're selling fast. Permits to hunt on spike-only units sold out on Sept. 27.
You can buy an elk permit online at http://www.wildlife.utah.gov/. Permits are also available at Division offices and from hunting license agents across Utah.
Elk are doing great
"The weather over the past seven years has been excellent for elk," Aoude says. "Most of the state's herds are doing great."
Based on surveys this past winter, Division biologists estimate the state has more than 67,000 elk. That's only about 1,800 animals shy of a statewide goal of 68,825 elk. Aoude says some of the largest elk herds are found on the Central Mountains (Manti) and Wasatch Mountains units in central Utah; the South Slope, Yellowstone unit in northeastern Utah; and the Plateau, Fish Lake/Thousand Lakes unit in south-central Utah.
He says plenty of elk are also found on the Morgan, South Rich unit in northern Utah. But this unit is almost entirely private land. You must obtain written permission from a landowner before hunting on it.
Finding the elk
Most of Utah's elk hunting takes place on units that are called spike-only units. Spike bulls are the only bulls you may take on these units. Plenty of spike bulls are available on these units. But once the hunt starts, the animals can be tough to find.
"The success rate on spike-only units averages about 16 percent," Aoude says. "Fortunately, you can do several things to increase the chance you take an elk." Unless it gets cold and snowy before the hunt, Aoude says elk will be scattered at higher elevations when the season opens Oct. 9, 2010. He says the key to finding them is to get off the roads and into the backcountry.
"Elk are smart and wary animals," Aoude says. "And they're sensitive to hunting pressure. As soon as the shooting starts, they head into the thickest cover they can find. To find success, you have to head into the backcountry and find them."
The rut (breeding period), which occurs right before the general rifle hunt starts, can also make it challenging to find spike bulls. During the rut, mature bulls gather groups of cow elk to breed. If one of these large bulls sees a spike bull, he'll chase the spike bull off.
If you're new to elk hunting, the big game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources has some advice for you. Being chased into cover by the bigger bulls makes the spike bulls, which are already nervous, more apt to head back into the cover once the bullets start to fly.
"The larger bulls scare the spike bulls as much as the hunters do," Aoude says. "Unless you get into the backcountry areas where the spikes are hiding, you're probably not going to see many. "The good news is, if you do get into the backcountry, there's a good chance you'll be among the 16 percent who take a spike bull this year."
OHV maps – don't leave home without one
Aoude has an important reminder for elk hunters who will be using off-highway vehicles. "It's critical that you obtain an OHV riding map for the area you're going to hunt," he says. "These maps are available from the agency that manages the land you'll be hunting on. That agency is usually the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management."
Aoude says the Division is receiving more and more complaints about OHVs being taken into areas where it's not legal to take them. "Taking OHVs into these areas damages the habitat the elk rely on, disturbs and scatters the animals, and ruins the hunting experience for other hunters."
Aoude also encourages you to do some preseason scouting and to check the boundary descriptions for the areas you'll be hunting. Boundary descriptions are available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/maps.
For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the Division's Salt Lake City office at 801-538-4700.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Members of the Utah Wildlife Board want hunters to see more buck deer during Utah's general hunts. That goal has led the Division of Wildlife Resources to put on hold big game hunting ideas that's been shared with hunters over the past several months.
Instead, the DWR will present some new ideas. The goal of these ideas is to increase the number of bucks per 100 does on Utah's general-season units.
To increase the number of bucks per 100 does, fewer people would be allowed to hunt in some areas of the state. The discussion that led to the changes happened at the board's Sept. 22 executive work meeting. You can read the minutes of the meeting at www.wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/board-minutes.html. The minutes should be available by Oct. 7.
Details available by late October
The DWR is still working out the details of the new idea, but the idea would likely involve the Wildlife Board amending Utah's statewide deer management plan. Those amendments would likely raise the average number of bucks per 100 does that DWR biologists must manage for.
Instead of an average of 15 bucks per 100 does, biologists would likely have to manage general-season areas so an average of 18 bucks per 100 does was found after the fall hunting seasons were over.
Two ideas to reach that goal have emerged so far.
Under a proposal the DWR is formulating, general deer hunting would likely continue in the five deer hunting regions Utah currently has. If the number of bucks per 100 does fell below preset levels on units or subunits within the regions, however, hunting on those specific units would be allowed only on a limited basis.
A second idea that's been proposed would likely result in the regions being divided into smaller units. All hunters -- archery, muzzleloader and rifle -- would be allowed to hunt on only one of up to 29 smaller units in the state.
Both ideas have one thing in common -- fewer hunters would be allowed to hunt in some areas of the state. All of the details should be worked out by the end of October, says Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the DWR.
Once the proposals have been finalized, you can read the proposals at http://www.wildlife.utah.gov/ .
After you've read the proposals, you can provide your comments at Regional Advisory Council meetings in November. You can also provide your comments directly to your RAC members via e-mail. Members of the Wildlife Board will decide which option to approve when they meet Dec. 2 in Salt Lake City.