Utah Wildlife Forum banner

1 - 20 of 51 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,522 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
There has been a strong rhetoric about over-crowding and deer hunting the last few years. I'm sure it goes back longer than that, but these forums and social media I guess have simply given more of us a platform to speak from.

Anyway, to the over-crowding issue--- How do we reconcile the fact that a few decades ago we had twice as many deer hunters than we do now with the over-crowding arguments/complaints? This is something that just has never made sense to me. I'm interested to hear the rationale.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
692 Posts
There has been a strong rhetoric about over-crowding and deer hunting the last few years. I'm sure it goes back longer than that, but these forums and social media I guess have simply given more of us a platform to speak from.

Anyway, to the over-crowding issue--- How do we reconcile the fact that a few decades ago we had twice as many deer hunters than we do now with the over-crowding arguments/complaints? This is something that just has never made sense to me. I'm interested to hear the rationale.
We also had a ton more land to hunt on a few decades ago... we can thank idiots who don't respect the land for that part.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
650 Posts
Not sure I am understanding your question. You are correct in that the hunter number are considerably less for the general season deer hunt, (rifle) but many times more for the specialty hunts (muzzy and archery) I remember prior to the Pick-Your-Weapon/Hunt days, we had close to 200,000 people carrying guns chasing deer and less than 3,000 archers chasing elk and about 5,000 archers chasing deer. As a youth, during the rifle season, you didn't dare go into the mtns without wearing hunter orange. I remember hunters being shot and killed by other hunters. We have come a long way in that respect. You can now hunt a canyon and often have it to your self. The last hunter shot by another hunter that I can remember was a friend of mine who was killed in October of 73 or 74. To me, things have improved from what they used to be like. The last time I rifle hunted (about 10 years ago) we were up in the Mill Hollow area and didn't see another hunter in the draw we were working. Hunter numbers have decreased even more since then. Now on the other hand, I am an avid archer and though I don't see many archers in the field, sometimes finding a camping spot can be difficult. Seem we all want to hunt the same general areas. I remember years ago when you didn't see another archer or camp.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,522 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Sorry if I made my question a little convoluted.

There are those that argue tags should be cut due to over-crowding and we need to return to the 'good old days' of deer hunting. But the reality is we have significantly less hunters today than we did back then. So I'm looking for rationale on how to reconcile these two contrary things.

Most of the over-crowding complaints to RACs seem to come from down south, for some reason.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,089 Posts
having hunted in both... the over crowding in the old days was opening day. the rest of the time, hunting was really good and it wasnt tuff to come up with a nice buck if you got out mid week. i personally think its harder to come up with a nice buck in todays conditions even with 1/3 of the hunters we used to put in the field.
 

·
Member
Joined
·
1,666 Posts
I remember the 5 day southern hunts.

Those were bad.

Now if they gave more than a week (Idaho & Montana) or split the seasons into multiple seasons (Colorado) it would help with the pressure.

Also, if they closed down ATV trails and access roads there would not be as much pressure too.

Utah isn't as bad as Eastern States as far as people, but it is probably the worst western state as far as the rifle hunt goes as far as pressure.

The smaller units have helped, but a longer season or multiple seasons would make it a lot better.

I hunted Idaho last year and it was fun sneaking on a deer, that wasn't running for it's life.

If you don't like the heat switch to archery, but don't switch to muzzleloaders because there are too many of those already.:D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,002 Posts
Don't forget that we've built a bunch of garbage, ramshackle houses in the fall-winter transitional range of a lot of mule deer. The reason you hit deer on the way to work is that we recently built houses where they used to go during the winter and fall.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
155 Posts
I'll bite and give it a try. A few decades ago we had twice the hunters, twice the deer, and almost twice the area to hunt. Since then the deer herd has declined and a lot of prime hunting land is being developed or leased leaving us with less deer to hunt on less land. I don't think it's that difficult to see why people feel "overcrowded".
A few decades ago a simple phone call or visit would get most anyone who asked permission to hunt private land for free or a small fee which helped spread hunter out. Good luck with that now!

I assume you started this thread after reading my comments on another thread so I'll use the same unit as an example. Prior to Option 2 the Zion unit had an average of 190 muzzy hunters per season, now there are 600 muzzleloader tags on the unit. You tell me, if you hunted the unit prior to Option 2 and then after would you feel it was "overcrowded" with an increase in hunters of over 300%? EVERY public land hunter I know that hunted it before and after Option 2 feels "overcrowded" now!
The southern RAC voted to not increase general season tags on the Zion unit this year. I agree with them because I personally feel that we currently have a decent balance between hunter opportunity, a healthy deer herd, and hunter access. I don't think everyone that "complains about overcrowding" wants tags to be cut, some like me just don't think we need to increase permits everytime we have a mild winter or count some extra deer during the winter.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
8,501 Posts
A few things here. I hunted the last year of unlimited rifle tags- 1992. It was FREAKING CRAZY back then. You really had to go deep to get 300 yards from another hunter. Opening morning was a veritable war zone once the deer started moving and shots started. That season especially - winter came really early after 4-5 years of bumper crops of fawns, and deer were everywhere, and so were hunters. That winter that came so early, following such a fruitful hunt, was the direct reason that tags got limited to under 100,000. But back in those days, must hunts were AT LEAST 7 day hunts - which meant that it spanned two weekends.

Today, we have a fraction of the tags, but some of the rifle hunts were reduced to 5, or even 3 days. Which means that everyone will be hunting on those days - so hunters are concentrated by time, which means they will be concentrated by space as a result.

The biggest thing I see isn't that things are as bad as they were prior to '93. Rather with people that don't have that same baseline comparison are finding things more crowded on their particular unit, as in huntinfanatic's example, than prior to the Option 2 approach.

I've gone back to the area I used to hunt in the 90s, the place I shared with hundreds of my not-closest friends - and had the place totally to myself.

The biggest thing is that significant changes in management, such as switching to total draw system after the '92 season, or shifting to Option 2, will result in a major shift in experience, especially related to crowding issues. That is to be expected.

I don't buy in to the concept about a huge reduction in lands. Outside the habitat encroachment of the urban expansion in northern Utah, there hasn't been habitat lost. And really, most of that urban expansion was into private lands that most people couldn't hunt anyway.

As for the safety, there have been a number of hunting deaths in recent years, certainly been a couple of dozen in the last 20 years. For some reason, they always continue, no matter what happens. And the reasons is because people hunt together with others. Most seem to be people walking trails with loaded weapons and then trip and fall or drop their gun, or something like that, and end up shooting a hunting partner.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
834 Posts
I'm just going to go out on a limb and share the following experiences. When I've been hunting the general season with a rifle, a little boot leather goes a LONG way towards fixing the over crowding issue. And by that I don't mean kicking the other guy in the butt with my boot.

If I get out and walk more than a half mile from the road, somehow, magically the number of people I see drops dramatically. Yes, I will see the occasional orange pumpkin on the opposing ridge, but they really aren't interfering in my ability to hunt, and sometimes it actually works to my advantage where they bump something to me that they never saw.

If I really want an experience where I don't see other hunters, I go archery. The only times I've had any real competition or issues is when I've stayed close to the roads with a youth hunter.

But as pointed out, I grew up in the generation where there were 297,000 hunters in the field on opening morning. The level of overcrowding that I see in the units I hunt is minimal unless I stay near the roads.

At this point I would say that cutting additional tags is just eliminating opportunity. Having a back up plan and a second spot in case your obvious choice happens to be everyone else's is a better fix than losing your ability to go though cut tags.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
207 Posts
Here's my perspective, I grew up hunting deer in Utah in the 80's and early 90's with my dad. We used to hunt in family groups each year in Northern Uth and even hunted the Cottonwood canyons with rifles. In fact I shot my first deer with my dad's 270 in mill creek canyon. I distinctly recall going to scout one year before the deer hunt, at a place my dad had hunted for several years, and running into a no trespassing sign. The area had been SITLA lands and had been sold to private interests. I recall unlimited over the counter tags and hunter numbers reaching several times more hunters out than we now have. Most of my experiences here was in Northern Utah.

As a teen and young adult I hunted in the 90's with my uncle on bow hunts in Southern Utah. I was amazed at how few hunters there were and how there were bucks everywhere. There was clearly a difference between Northern and Southern Utah. I still chuckle at the southern utahn's complaining about all the bow hunting pressure they experienced. Even now hunter density is less in Southern Utah than it is currently in the North, and a fraction of what Northern Utah experienced in the 80's and 90's. Then in 94 they capped the number of hunters and required people to pick from Five Regions. It made it tougher to get family and friends altogether for a deer hunt. That's when we sort of stopped hunting together as a family. I really miss those days/hunts. Since then I have been hunting alone or with only a friend/family member or two. Option 2 has made that even tougher. I think CWMU's have contributed to the "less area to hunt" conditions because hunter access is now a commodity from which to make money. That IMO has as much to do with it as irresponsibility of some, although that is a factor. Anyway, in a lot of ways for me it was never about getting a buck (or a big buck), but was all about the family hunt. That's why I opposed option 2, disliked changes in 94 and oppose cutting of tags now. I value the opportunity to hunt every year more than I do having higher quality deer. We were mostly killing 2 points back then anyway and not every year. Only once every 5 years or so would someone in camp get a 4 point. Numbers of hunters now are rather anemic compared to back then, especially in Southern Utah. I kind of like that change, but I realize we can't have it both ways.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
647 Posts
TS We agree for once, it's BS. As a man there is no way I would tell Scott to keep
his daughter home from the bow hunt because I personally demand a "Higher Quality"
experience. What makes me any more important than anybody else?? Or any of us for that matter??

Unfortunately the UT DWR and Wildlife Board has bought in to this crap. Heck they've even tried it with waterfowl hunting.

It's being sold to gullible people by snake oil salesmen....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
155 Posts
FWIW, if a youth doesn't get a general season archery tag on any unit they want in Utah (except maybe Thousand Lakes) it is because their parent or guardian have no clue what they are doing when it comes to how youth hunts work in Utah.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,522 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Wileywapiti, I would wager we actually agree on the vast majority of things.

Some interesting perspective has been posted here. I know when I was very young (5 years old) my dad would take me along on deer hunts. He had almost exclusive use of a fairly large chunk of private property up Chalk Creek. By the time I got old enough to hunt the family had convinced the owner of the ability to make money and leased it to United Sportsman for hunting. I'm not certain, but I think it's one of the CWMUs now. Not to get too far off track, because that comes back to my request for reconciliation. There certainly are areas that have been closed off to the public that were either public and sold or were private before and is now just posted and restricted as opposed to open in the past.

It definitely is a different world than 30 years ago in that realm. I still don't think that compensates for 150,000 hunters no longer in the field, but I can appreciate how it has had some impact.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
218 Posts
I think easier access and better roads, has something to do with feeling like you have more people in the field as well. I can think of more than one use-to-be nasty dirt roads that are now oiled highways. A few other extremely rocky, better bring a spare, dirt roads are now minivan drivable dirt roads.
Every year we see new roads where we hunt. Most are made by one or two people not wanting to hike. Once a road is established, its there to stay. Many great hunting spots of ours have been ruined buy these types of roads.
My two boys are 6 and 4, this will be the first year I decided to take them out on the rifle hunt. I have to admit, I am nervous. I will be picking areas that have the fewest people, regardless if they hold many deer.
 
1 - 20 of 51 Posts
Top