Deer hunters return empty-handed
By Paul Kendall
Last weekend's great weather is the only good thing some hunters have to say about this year's general rifle deer hunt in Cache County. Some 85,000 hunters across Utah headed afield Oct. 23 to bag a buck.
"We hunted in Temple Fork over the weekend and had a great time, but we never did see a buck," said Frank Matthews. "I don't know why we listen to the fish and game--they say the deer numbers are coming back, but it's a bunch of bull," he grumbled.
Deer numbers may be up across parts of the state, but they are a far cry from where they should be on the Cache unit, said Utah Division of Wildlife Resources biologist, Dennis Austin.
"The weather was so wonderful, about everyone had a good time," Austin said.
About 72 bucks passed through the check-station in the mouth of Logan Canyon last weekend. The largest was a 7x7, with a 28-inch spread, but it was shot in Rich County. That number is up from 42 deer during the 1998 hunting season, Austin said.
"There were 34 bucks checked in the mouth of Blacksmith Fork Canyon," he said.
That's three more than the year before.
These numbers are a far cry from the deer killing days of the 80's, when more than a 1,000 deer would come through these two stations on opening weekend.
"Since the winter of '92-'93 our (deer) population has been stuck on the Cache," Austin said. "It goes up a little and down a little, but there are no big gains."
"Mother nature is the big factor," Austin pointed out. "Predators have got to be controlled."
The biggest problem facing the Cache deer herd is the survival rate of fawns, Austin said.
"We are 35 percent of where we should be (total deer population)," he said.
Wildlife managers say they believe that fawn survival rates on the Cache are around 60 percent--60 fawns per 100 does.
"We need a fawn survival rate of at least 70 percent," said Austin.
The loss of winter range, grazing, vehicle mortality and a number of other factors are keeping the Cache deer herd below management objectives.
Deer hunters may want to hang their rifles up for the year and grab their shotguns for some grouse hunting.
"The grouse hunting has been great this year," said Austin.
Archived Months:September 1998