Utah elk hunters are rarin’ to go, because the elk hunt is only a week away. Utah’s general rifle bull elk season takes off on October 9th and runs through October 21st. According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, there are plenty of elk out there. The trick is to find them. “As soon as the first shots are fired, the elk head away from the roads and into the thickest cover they can find,” says Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the DWR. “If you want to be a successful elk hunter, you need to get into that cover too.”
As of Sept. 21, 2010, about 1,500 permits to hunt on any-bull units were still available, but they’re selling fast. Permits to hunt on spike-only units sold out on Sept. 27.
Hunters should be able to at least spot elk and have a chance at one, if they play their cards right. Division biologists surveyed elk populations this past winter and estimate the state has more than 67,000 elk. With the statewide goal being 68,825, we’re getting close to reaching that goal here in the state.
According to the DWR webpage:
“Aoude says some of the largest elk herds are found on the Central Mountains (Manti) and Wasatch Mountains units in central Utah; the South Slope, Yellowstone unit in northeastern Utah; and the Plateau, Fish Lake/Thousand Lakes unit in south-central Utah.”
Aoude also mentions that there are plenty of elk in the Morgan, South Rich unit in northern Utah, a unit that is mostly private land. Permission must be obtained before hunting on it.
Unless we have significant storms before the hunt, the elk will be scattered at higher elevations.”Elk are smart and wary animals,” Aoude says. “And they’re sensitive to hunting pressure. As soon as the shooting starts, they head into the thickest cover they can find. To find success, you have to head into the backcountry and find them.”
Spike bulls can be even more difficult to find than mature bulls. The rut (breeding period) occurs just before the general season. During the rut, the spike-bulls are chased away from the herd by the mature bulls. The already nervous spikes head for thick cover, and generally stay there once the bullets begin to fly.
The success rate for spike-only hunters is expected to be about 16 percent. Hunters can maximize their chances of success by hunting the thick stuff where the elk will be hiding.
For more on the 2010 elk hunt, visit the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources or the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.