It’s hard to believe, but the start of Utah’s general archery deer and elk hunts are only about six weeks away. Both hunts start August 17.
One key to having a fun, enjoyable and successful time is preparing for the hunts now. Scott Root is a regional conservation outreach manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. He’s also an avid archer. Root provides the following tips.
Inspect archery equipment now and make sure it works right and that all needed equipment is ready. This is a great place to start.
Once equipment is ready, it’s time to practice shooting. Similar to hunting with a rifle, hunters have to shoot accurately to take an animal with a bow and arrow. But unlike a rifle hunter, an archer must use stealth and patience to sneak within at least 50 yards of his or her target.
“Just like with golf,” Root says, “a lot of frustration can result if you haven’t honed your skills. You need to practice shooting until you’re as accurate as you can be.”
Early July is also a perfect time to download one of the many archery equipment checklists found on the Internet. “It’s not uncommon to drive all the way to deer camp,” Root says, “and then turn around and drive all the way back home because you forgot your arrow release, range finder, bow or some other piece of equipment. Want to save yourself that extra trip? Start gathering your equipment now.”
In August, Utah’s backcountry will probably be dry. Root says scouting for water sources that deer and elk will use during the hunt is a key to finding success. “In addition to hunting near water, carry plenty of water and snacks for yourself in your backpack,” Root advised.
Root says several websites offer checklists that help hunters to know what items they should carry in a backpack. These items include a GPS unit, knife, game bags, and flashlight and extra batteries. “But plenty of water should be at the top of the list for anyone heading into the woods in August,” Root cautioned. “Right now is also a great time to start loading your hunting pack with non-perishable food items.”
The DWR officer also encourages hunters to visit an archery shop, a sporting goods store or an archery club to learn about the latest technology in archery equipment.
Even though the archery hunt is usually hot and dry, mosquitoes and biting flies can still be a problem.“Many hunters end their hunting trips early because they can’t fend off these biting bugs,” he says. “Insect repellant, and light clothing that protects you from bug bites, are often essential items to have with you in mid to late August.”
Packing plenty of clothes in a vehicle is also a good thing to do. The weather and the temperature in the mountains can change quickly. “It’s better to have too many clothes than too few,” Root says.
Fire restrictions will probably be in place in August. As the hunt gets closer, Root encourages hunters to check with the agency that manages the land they’re going to hunt (usually the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management) to learn about any fire restrictions in the area.
Because the temperature is usually hot during the archery hunt, it’s vital that hunters know how to care for any deer or elk they take. “Temperatures in the backcountry often reach the 90s in August,” Root explained. “You need to quickly care for any animal you take.”
Some archers choose to “bone out” their deer or elk in the field. After skinning the animal, they put the meat in bags and then put the bags in a backpack or sled before hiking off the mountain.
Root says several good videos are available on YouTube that will show hunters how to care for harvested deer or elk. (When transporting an animal, remember that the animal’s head or sex organs must remain attached to the largest portion of its carcass.)
It’s also important to know Utah’s big game hunting rules. Root encourages hunters to study the rules now by obtaining a copy of the free 2013 Utah Big Game Field Regulations Guidebook.
Youth 18 years of age or younger who doesn’t have a general buck deer permit, can obtain an archery permit starting at 8 a.m. on July 11. That’s the day special youth archery permits for all 30 of Utah’s general deer hunting units go on sale.
Permits can be obtained on the DWR website, wildlife.utah.gov. These permits will also be available at DWR offices and from more than 300 hunting license agents across Utah.
Root says extended archery areas are another reason to hunt big game with archery equipment. The archery hunt on these units runs through November. To hunt any of the extended archery areas, hunters must first complete the DWR’s archery ethics course and then carry a certificate of completion while hunting.
The free course will be available on the DWR website soon.