It’s time to prepare for Utah’s archery elk and deer hunts.
Both hunts start Aug. 18. That day might sound like it’s a long way off. But if you want to have a fun and successful hunt, you need to start preparing now.
Archery elk permits, which go on sale July 17, are unlimited in number, so there’s no problem getting one. Also, almost 500 permits—to hunt buck deer on two general season hunting units in northern Utah—go on sale July 19.
“This fall might be the perfect time to start archery hunting,” says Scott Root.
In addition to serving as a regional conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, Root is an avid archery hunter.
“Archery hunting is extremely enjoyable,” he says, “if you’re prepared.”
Root provides eight tips to help you prepare for this fall’s hunts:
Tip 1–Shoot, shoot, shoot
Similar to rifle hunting, you have to shoot accurately to take an animal during the archery hunt. But unlike a rifle hunter, an archer must use stealth and patience to sneak within at least 50 yards of his or her prized 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.”
Root says right now is a great time to start practicing for the August opener. “If and when a big game animal presents itself,” Root says, “you want to make sure you make an accurate shot.”
Tip 2–Scout, scout, scout
Another tip is to start scouting your hunting area as soon as you can. Root says scouting is vital because habitat and water conditions change every year. “You need to find the animals, their water sources and the trails they’re using,” he says. “If you do, the chance you take a deer or an elk this season goes way up.”
Because of the hot, dry conditions, Root says a finding water source is the key to finding success this year. “Just about every available water source out there is being used by animals on a regular basis this summer,” he says.
Also, if you’re going to hunt on private property, don’t wait until a few days before the hunt starts to try to get written permission from the landowner. “Get written permission now,” Root says.
Tip 3–Make a hunting checklist
Even after you’ve honed your shooting skills and scouted your hunting area, you can still make mistakes. Many of those mistakes happen when hunters forget some of their equipment and try to make due without it.
“Most hunters have left their release mechanism, their range finder or appropriate clothing at home at least once in their life,” Root says. “Almost any archer can share at least one frustrating story about leaving something at home.”
Having an archery hunt checklist — a list that shows all of the items you need to take on your hunt — is the key to not making this mistake.
You can create your own list. Or, you can type ‘Archery Hunt Checklist’ in an online search engine to access checklists available on the Internet.
Tip 4–Keep the bugs away
It’s not uncommon to encounter plenty of mosquitoes, biting deer flies and biting horse flies during the archery hunt. “Insect netting and clothes that are designed to resist insects are good options,” he says. “But they can be pricey.”
Root says insect repellant may leave you with more odor than a stealthy hunter wants to have. “If it keeps the bugs off, though,” he says, “smelling like bug spray might be worth it.”
Tip 5–Caring for harvested game
Hot temperatures are another challenge archery hunters face. During the archery hunt, temperatures can climb into the 90s. Some hunters aren’t prepared to properly process a big game animal once they’ve taken it.
“The meat needs to be taken care of quickly,” Root says, “or it will spoil.”
If you’re not sure how to clean game quickly, Root says YouTube and other websites offer free video clips that will teach you how to take care of harvested game quickly and properly. The DWR also offers some big game processing seminars each year, so watch for those to be announced.
Tip 6–Trail cameras, tree stands and ATVs
– If you want to learn more about the wildlife in your hunting area, placing a trail camera or two is a great idea. “It’s a very enjoyable hobby and a very effective way to monitor big game movements and habits,” Root says. “Check with the land managing agency or the landowner for rules pertaining to trail camera use.”
– Tree stands are a popular tool for patient archery hunters. But please remember that you cannot build a permanent tree stand on a national forest.
(Permanent tree stands damage trees, and the trees often have to be removed. There’s a risk that someone who cuts into the tree with a chainsaw might be hurt by hidden nails and other hardware.)
Temporary tree stands — the type you climb up the tree with — are legal to use.
– Please remember that you may not take an all-terrain vehicle off-road to retrieve game.
Tip 7–Learn the rules
The 2018 Utah Big Game Field Regulation Guidebook is the place to go to learn the rules for Utah’s archery hunts.
Equipment rules for the hunt (minimum pull of 30 pounds at the bow’s draw or peak; arrows must be at least 20 inches long, from the tip of the arrowhead to the tip of the nock; and arrowheads must have two or more sharp-cutting edges that cannot pass through a 7/8-inch ring) are found on page 45 of the guidebook.
Pages 23–24 also provide deer and elk hunting information.
The free guidebook is available on our website and from DWR offices and hunting license agents across Utah.
Tip 8–Take Utah’s Bowhunter Education course
Taking the DWR’s Bowhunter Education course is another great way to prepare for the upcoming season. The course teaches the basics of archery hunting. It’s for youth and adults alike.
Utah also has many archery clubs, archery shops and sporting goods stores with helpful staff who can get you prepared for the upcoming hunts by helping you get the right equipment.
Extended archery areas
Even when the general archery elk and deer hunts wrap up in September, archery hunting will continue in extended archery areas in various parts of Utah. The extended archery areas for deer are listed on page 19 of the free 2018 Utah Big Game Field Regulations Guidebook. Page 25 lists areas for elk.
To hunt any of the extended archery areas, you must complete the DWR’s Archery Ethics Course and then carry your certificate of completion with you while you’re hunting. The course will be available online soon.