There is little doubt that the overall success on this year's deer hunt will be higher than last year's. All that remains, now, is to figure how much higher it will be.
The number of hunters checked is higher this year and the number of deer already checked is up from 1987 figures.Last year, overall success on the 11-day general buck-only hunt was 37 percent. Or, 191,507 hunters harvested 62,516 bucks. Based on early counts this year, over 40 percent of the hunters will harvest a buck before the hunt is over at dark on Nov. 1.
Conditions for a good hunt were perfect. Some hunters, in fact, felt everything was too perfect. A little rain, they felt, would have helped. As one hunter said, "It would have kept a lot of hunters off the mountain and down on the road, and left me up there with all the deer." Access was not a problem this year.
Two reasons for the higher hunter counts were success and the heat. Almost before the breakfast bell had finished ringing on Saturday, many hunters had their venison. Many of those headed home to have their game properly cared for, then planned to return. Unseasonably warm temperatures threatened to spoil meat not properly cooled.
In checks around the state, most of the game officers said almost all the hunters checked reported seeing deer and the majority of those saw at least one or two bucks. They also reported that most of the bucks checked through the stations were the smaller spikes and two-point. Early guesses are that 70 percent of the deer harvested over the weekend were yearlings.
About the only complaint seemed to be that in some areas there were too many hunters.
Brad Ryan of Heber, for example, hunting in the Strawberry area, joked that there was a hunter under every bush, "and you had to get up early to get your bush."
Two of the larger bucks checked over the weekend were taken by Joe Carrick and Greg Scott of Lindon, who shot the deer in an area just off Skyline Drive above Fairview. Both were nice four-point bucks. The two, they said, were the biggest in a group of four bucks.
Carrick pointed out that along with seeing a lot of deer, "there were also a lot of hunters. After I shot this one, I looked back on the sidehill and counted 25 hunters."
Several game officers pointed out that hunters seemed to pay more attention to conditions this year. In areas where deer counts were reported low - in Millard County where deer there have been fighting a disease and the north end of the Manti where production has been poor in recent years - hunters stayed away.
Down south, hunting ranged from poor in Washington County, where access was restricted, to good in West Washington and Beaver.
Around Price, hunting pressure on the LaSal Mountain was heavy and success fair, while hunting on Trail and East mountains was good under heavy pressure. Most of the deer were yearlings, with some 21/2-year-old deer being checked.
The checking station at Daniels reported numbers and success were up over last year and that 75 percent of the deer were yearlings.
On Diamond Mountain, success was over 40 percent on the opener.
Hunting pressure and success were also reported up in many areas of northern Utah.