It wasn't quite what hunters had expected - thank goodness. Early weather predictions for the opening of the 1990 general elk hunt were for rain and snow by Wednesday.

The rain and snow stayed away, but hunters didn't. It appears a record number turned out, despite weather reports, for what is expected to be the best Utah elk hunt on record.According to Wes Shields, big game program coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, there are more elk and more special permits.

"All things considered, I expect we'll have the best elk hunt we've ever had here in Utah. Everything points to it - lots of elk, 10 percent more tags and good weather," he said.

About 32,000 hunters are in the hills, or will be by the weekend. Figured in with that number are 6,000 hunters with special elk tags for either anterless or limited entry bull.

Utah's elk hunting has been on a steady climb for the past two decades. Last year, 30,494 hunters tagged 5,590 elk. Back in 1986, 27,100 hunters tagged 3,000 bull elk. In 1970, 10,008 hunters shot 1,762 elk.

Weather conditions were good on opening day, which meant that hunters had little trouble getting to favorite hunting areas.

Because of extremely dry conditions, game biologist feel that the best hunting is going to be near water sources.

Hunters had hoped for a little inclement weather. A little rain would have lessened the fire danger and also possibly pushed elk out of the heavy timber areas.

The hunt will run until Oct. 16.