The number of mule deer is holding steady at about 320,000 animals. That’s still more than 100,000 animals shy of a statewide goal of 426,000 deer, but it is a vast improvement over the number of deer left after the 1992 – 93 winter. The 2012 winter in Northern Utah was mild, so hunters should see more deer. Deep snow in the Southwest will result in fewer bucks making it through.
Utah’s state deer management plan is to increase the buck-to-doe ratio to 15 bucks per 100 does for three consecutive years. Harvest reports from 2012 revealed a sex of 16:100, so the Beehive State is well on its way of its management goal.
Mule deer hunters can expect to see more young bucks when firearm season opens on Oct. 23, but they will have fewer days to hunt them. The state has limited the number of hunting days based on age and hunting location. Firearm season for those over 18 years of age will last only five days (Oct. 23 – 28), while those 18 years old and younger can hunt for nine days (Oct. 23 – 31). In addition, there will be five units where all hunters, regardless of age, can only hunt for three days (Oct. 23 – 25). They include the Northern Region – Cache and Ogden Units; Central Region – Oquirrh-Stansbury Unit; Northeastern Region – South Slope, Vernal Unit; and Southern Region – Monroe Unit.
There’s plenty of public land available for hunting, with most flocking to northern units. If you’re bound and determined to stay in the North, try the Wasatch Range, which is just east of Salt Lake City, where you’ll find rugged canyons holding big-bodied deer. Better yet, hunt the Zion Unit in the South around the national park, where deer are protected.