Both hunts start in Utah on Aug. 20. 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.
All of the permits to hunt during Utah’s archery buck deer hunt have been taken. But archery elk permits, which go on sale July 27, are unlimited in number, so there’s no problem getting one.
“With unlimited archery elk permits available,” says Scott Root, “you should consider introducing yourself to archery hunting this fall.”
In addition to serving as a 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 some tips to help you prepare for this fall’s hunts:
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 their 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.”
Get written permission
If you’d like 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 that permission now,” Root says.
Even after you’ve honed your shooting skills, 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 leaving something at home.
You can create your own list. Or you can get a head start by using one of the many checklists available on the Web.
“To find a checklist,” Root says, “simply type ‘Archery Hunt Checklist’ in an online search engine such as Google.”
Keep the bugs away
Because Utah has received a lot of moisture this year, Root says you’ll probably encounter plenty of mosquitoes, biting deer flies and biting horse flies during the archery hunt. “Clothes that are designed to resist insects, or insect netting, 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. “But this year,” he says, “smelling like bug spray might be worth it.”
Caring for harvested game
Warm to hot temperatures is another challenge archery hunters face.
During the archery hunt in August, 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 websites such as YouTube have video clips that will teach you how to take care of harvested game quickly and properly.
Learn the rules
The 2011 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 40 pounds at the bow’s draw; arrows must be at least 20 inches long from the tip of the arrowhead to the tip of the nock, and must weigh at least 300 grains; and arrowheads must have two or more sharp-cutting edges that cannot pass through a 7/8-inch ring) are found on page 28 of the guidebook.
Pages 9 – 14 also provide good information for archery deer and elk hunters.
The free guidebook is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks and from DWR offices and hunting license agents across Utah.
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 in the area is a great idea. But please remember that you may not place a camera on any national forest until one week before the hunt on that forest starts.
This law has been in effect for two or three years. Ted Hendricks, recreation manager for the Uinta National Forest, says you don’t need to register your trail camera with the U.S. Forest Service at the present time.
• 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. Trees often have to be removed after permanent stands have been built on them. There’s also the risk that someone who cuts into the tree with a chainsaw at a later time might be hurt by hidden nails and other hardware.)
Temporary tree stands — the type you climb up the tree with — are legal to use.
• Hendricks also reminds you that you may not take an all-terrain vehicle off-road to retrieve game.
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 and is for youth and adults alike. DWR Shooting Sports Coordinator RaLynne Takeda says the agency is trying to offer at least one new bowhunter education course each week, from now until the archery hunts begin.
“We also offer the luxury of taking the course on our website and then spending one 6- to 7-hour field day with an instructor,” she says, “reviewing course material, learning about the equipment and practicing.”
At the end of the field day, students take a written test and a shooting test.
Visit www.wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/huntereducation.html to learn more about the course.
Utah also has many archery clubs, archery shops and sporting goods stores with helpful staff who can help you prepare for the upcoming hunts by helping you get the right equipment.
Archery hunting into December
Even when the general archery elk hunts wrap up in September, archery hunting will continue on three different extended archery areas in Utah. The three areas are located along the Wasatch Front, in the Uintah Basin and in the Sanpete Valley.
Archery hunting in these areas starts Aug. 20 and runs into December.
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 soon at http://go.usa.gov/Z4S.
Once it’s available, visit http://go.usa.gov/Z4S, and click on “Begin the course” to start the course.
Scott Root, DWR Central Region Conservation Outreach Manager (801) 376-7076 or (801) 491-5678