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Rifle deer hunt starts Oct. 20, 2012

More than 52,000 hunters expected afield for Utah's most popular hunt

Hunt early in the morning or late in the day.

Utah's most popular hunt — the rifle buck deer hunt — kicks off Oct. 20, 2012

Utah's most popular hunt — the rifle buck deer hunt — kicks off Oct. 20, 2012.

Photo by Mike Keller

That's the advice Division of Wildlife Resources biologists are giving rifle buck deer hunters if the weather stays hot.

The general rifle buck deer hunt—Utah's most popular hunt—starts Oct. 20. More than 52,000 hunters, along with their family and friends, are expected to be in Utah's backcountry that day.

Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the DWR, says, with the exception of southern Utah, dry conditions have prevailed across the state this year.

"If it stays hot," Aoude says, "the deer will feed during the night. Then they'll move into heavy cover early in the morning. They won't come into the open again until evening nears."

For that reason, early in the morning or later in the day should be the best times to hunt. "If you hunt during the middle of the day," Aoude says, "you'll have to bust through heavy cover to find the deer."

Aoude says good numbers of bucks are found in many areas in Utah. Based on surveys they conducted after the deer hunts were over last fall, DWR biologists estimated the state's deer population at about 286,100 animals.

Because this past winter was so mild, most of the deer—including the fawns that were born in spring 2011—made it through the winter. And that means more young bucks should be available to hunt this fall.

Between now and Oct. 20, Aoude says colder temperatures would help hunters a bunch. Colder weather forces deer to feed more. "That need to feed gets the deer moving and puts them in places where hunters can see them," he says.

Deer have also grown their heavy winter coats. With their heavy coats on, deer are more comfortable moving in temperatures that are 40 degrees or less.

"I think a drop in temperature would really help the hunt," Aoude says.

One reminder: If you plan on riding an all-terrain vehicle during the hunt, please remember to ride it only on designated roads and trails.

If you take your ATV off a designated road or trail, you and other hunters could lose the privilege you have to use ATVs on public land in Utah.

DWR biologists have provided deer hunting reports for each of Utah's 30 general deer hunting units. Read the 2012 deer hunt preview.

The reports are split into five groups based on where the units are located.

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