RMEF Conserves Vital Wyoming Elk Habitat

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/rmef-conserves-vital-wyoming-elk-habitat/

MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation worked alongside landowners who cherish the wildlife values of their land to acquire and conserve 6,659 acres of prime wildlife habitat in southeast Wyoming. 

“This is a significant conservation victory for elk and other wildlife, hunter access and wildlife management,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “We salute the vision of Sam Shoultz and Frank Petrouskie and appreciate their patience in making this transaction a reality.” 

The Mule Creek property lies near the southern Laramie Range Mountains between Casper and Laramie. It provides winter and year-round elk range and is also home to mule deer, pronghorn antelope and a variety of other wildlife species. 

Rich in natural springs and located on or near several contributory drainages to Mule Creek and Sheep Creek, it is an expansive and ecologically diverse property in the heart of southeast Wyoming’s Elk Hunt Area 7. 

“This project is especially important because it links 38,000 acres of contiguous state and federal land in a part of Wyoming where public access is challenging, at best, due to a large number of private ranches and landlocked state and federal land,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “And since elk populations are well above population objectives, biologists can better utilize hunters to manage elk numbers.”  

RMEF previously collaborated with the landowners and Wyoming Game and Fish Department to create the Mule Creek Public Access Area, which allows elk hunting access on foot or horseback.  

On the broader regional landscape, RMEF contributed more than $500,000 to complete 40 habitat enhancement projects, and eyes plans to do more on the immediate property while a long-term ownership plan is formulated. 

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: 

Founded more than 38 years ago and fueled by hunters, RMEF maintains more than 225,000 members and has conserved nearly 8.4 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK. 

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SMOKED VENISON CHILI

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/smoked-venison-chili/

Prep Time- 30 MINUTES

Cook Time –2 HOURS

Severs-4-6 People

Traeger’s 6-in-1 versatility is on full display in Eva Shockey’s smoked venison chili recipe. We’re braising wild game, with all the traditional chili ingredients, directly on the grill for a smokin’ hot take on this comfort food classic.

INGREDIENTS

  • As Needed Olive oil
  • 1 Large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 Clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 Pound ground wild game meat
  • 2 Can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 2 Can (15.5 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Can (15.5 oz) white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 Tablespoon chili powder, plus more to taste
  • 3 Tablespoon ground cumin, plus more to taste
  • 4 Tablespoon Brown sugar
  • 2 Teaspoon oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon Black pepper
  • 1/2 Cup ketchup
  • To Taste chili flakes
  • To Taste salt and pepper
  • As Needed Your favorite toppings, for serving

STEPS

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add crushed garlic and onion, and cook until fragrant. Add meat and cook until no longer pink.
  2. When ready to cook, set Traeger temperature to 325℉ and preheat, lid closed for 15 minutes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to pot and stir together. Bring to a simmer, cover and place directly on the grill grate.
  4. Cook for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until chili has thickened and the meat is tender.
  5. Season to taste, adding more chili powder and cumin for a spicier chili.
  6. Serve with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!

 

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GRILLED VENISON LETTUCE WRAPS

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/grilled-venison-lettuce-wraps/

Prep Time- 30 MINUTES

Cook Time –6 HOURS

Severs-4-6 People

Marinated venison steak is grilled and served with fresh lettuce cups, rice, carrots, cucumbers, kimchee, fresh cilantro and topped with chili sauce.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 1/2 Pound venison steaks
  • 1/4 Cup soy sauce
  • 4 1/2 Tablespoon raw sugar, or brown sugar
  • 1/3 Cup Beer, Stout or Porter
  • 4 Clove garlic, minced
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 2 Teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 Asian Pear, Peeled and Grated
  • 1 Teaspoon Black pepper
  • 1 Head butter or iceberg lettuce, leaves separated
  • As Needed Cooked sushi rice
  • As Needed scallion, thinly sliced
  • As Needed Kimchee
  • As Needed Fresh Thai basil
  • As Needed Fresh shiso leaves
  • As Needed fresh mint leaves
  • As Needed fresh cilantro
  • As Needed Radishes, Thinly Sliced and Soaked in Cold Water
  • As Needed Julienne carrots
  • As Needed Thinly sliced Persian cucumbers
  • As Needed chili flakes
  • As Needed Thinly sliced garlic cloves
  • As Needed Chili sauce

 

 

STEPS

  1. Wrap the venison steak in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Make the marinade. In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, raw sugar or brown sugar, beer, garlic, scallions, pepper, sesame oil, honey, and Asian pear.
  3. Remove the steak from the freezer and slice it across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick strips.
  4. Place the sliced venison into the marinade, toss to coat, and let marinate for 30 minutes.
  5. When ready to cook, set the Traeger temperature to 450°F and preheat with the lid closed, for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the steak from the marinade, and place directly on the grill grates. Close the lid and sear the steak until nicely caramelized, flipping once, 2-3 minutes on each side.
  7. Remove the venison steak from the grill. To assemble the lettuce wraps, in a lettuce leaf, add some rice, venison, kimchi, basil, shiso, mint, cilantro, radish, carrots, cucumbers, chili flakes, and top with your favorite chili sauce, as desired. Enjoy!

 

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SMOKED VENISON SOFT TACOS

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/smoked-venison-soft-tacos/

Prep Time- 15 MINUTES

Cook Time –30 HOURS

Severs-4-6 People

Field-to-table freshness tucked into a warm tortilla and garnished with a little green spice.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Pound venison backstrap steaks
  • 2 Tablespoon Traeger Prime Rib Rub
  • 1/2 Pound tomatillos, husked
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed
  • 2 Clove garlic
  • 1 Medium yellow onion
  • 3 Anaheim chiles
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 Cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • To Taste Kosher salt
  • 4 flour tortillas, warmed
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 Cup crumbled queso fresco
  • 1/4 Cup chopped fresh cilantro

STEPS

  1. Season the venison steaks with the Traeger Prime Rib Rub and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  2. When ready to cook, set the Traeger temperature to 225℉ and preheat with the lid closed for 15 minutes. For optimal flavor, use Super Smoke, if available.
  3. Insert the probe into the center of a venison steak. Place the steaks directly on the grill grates, close the lid, and cook until the internal temperature reaches 110℉, 30-45 minutes.
  4. While steaks are smoking, make the salsa verde: Preheat the oven to 450℉.
  5. Arrange the tomatillos, jalapeño, garlic, onion, and Anaheim chiles on a baking sheet. Roast until lightly browned.
  6. Transfer the roasted vegetables to a blender and add the lime juice, cilantro, and salt. Purée until smooth.
  7. Remove the steaks from the grill and increase the temperature to 450℉. Preheat with the lid closed for 15 minutes.
  8. Return the steaks to the grill and re-insert the probe. Sear until the internal temperature reaches 130°F for medium-rare, or your desired temperature, 2-4 minutes per side.
  9. Remove the steaks from grill and let rest for 10 minutes (the internal temperature will continue to rise to 135℉).
  10. To assemble the tacos, slice the venison steaks against the grain, then transfer to the tortillas and top with the salsa verde, avocado, queso fresco, and cilantro.

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Kimber’s Micro 9 Rapide (Black Ice) Is Big on Attitude

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/kimbers-micro-9-rapide-black-ice-is-big-on-attitude/

Kimber’s Micro 9™ Rapide (Black Ice) gives you all the enhancements, upgrades, and flair of the original 1911 Rapide (Black Ice), in a 9mm subcompact that’s like nothing else. With its match-grade V-Cut™ trigger, DLC-coated barrel, black G10 grips and more, the Micro 9 Rapide (Black Ice) is as big on performance as it is on style. In other words, it’s time to kiss your boring, old everyday carry goodbye. 

Because it’s a Kimber, this latest addition to the Micro 9 series of pistols delivers legendary Kimber dependability, in a small 1911-like platform. All Micro frames are shaped from the finest aluminum for integrity and strength. Micro 9 design advantages include a single-action trigger with a short, smooth pull that ensures accuracy and builds confidence. The thumb safety, slide release and magazine release are pure 1911 as well. 

Standard features on Micro 9 handguns include a lowered and flared ejection port for flawless ejection and a beveled magazine well for fast, positive loading. Sights are steel — not plastic — and mounted in machined dovetails for additional integrity. Each Micro 9 includes an extended seven-round magazine.

Simple operation and 9mm power make the Micro 9 platform ideal for shooters with small hands, as well as those who insist on mild recoil combined with enough power for concealed carry or home protection.

Learn more at www.kimberamerica.com

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Colorado Elk Habitat, Research Get $1.1 Million Boost

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/colorado-elk-habitat-research-get-1-1-million-boost/

MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners allocated $1,126,750 in grant funding to improve wildlife habitat and bolster scientific research in Colorado. RMEF directly granted $281,725 that leveraged an additional $845,025 in partner dollars. 

“These grants pay for habitat enhancement projects ranging from forest thinning and prescribed burns to invasive weed control and removing old fencing – all of which positively impacts thousands of acres for elk and other species of wildlife,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “There’s additional focus on science-based wildlife management, three different research projects and support for youth recreational shooting organizations and other outdoor-related events.” 

There are 30 chapters and nearly 15,000 RMEF members in Colorado. 

“This funding is available to go back on the ground in Colorado only because of our volunteers who plan and host banquets and other events. We sincerely appreciate their diligent efforts that so greatly benefit conservation,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO.  

Below is a list of 2022-funded projects in Colorado.  

Chaffee County 

  • Burn 900 acres across multiple treatment areas in the Salida Ranger District on the Pike-San Isabel National Forests to reduce dead and down fuels and improve wildlife forage (also benefits Saguache County). 

Delta County 

  • Provide funding for Colorado Outdoor Heritage Day in Delta, a free event that introduces families to various outdoor activities. 

El Paso County 

  • Provide funding assistance for Pikes Peak Orange Crush, a Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) team in Colorado Springs, to compete in the Colorado STCP State Championship (also benefits Douglas and Pueblo Counties). 
  • Provide funding for the St. Mary’s High School competitive shooting team, the first such in-state school to sanction a competitive shooting team. Participating youth may earn a varsity letter by competing in trap, skeet and sporting clays under the SCTP banner. 

Grand County 

  • Treat invasive weeds across 475 backcountry acres in the Sulphur Ranger District on the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest.  

Gunnison County 

  • Remove 4,300 feet of obsolete fencing and improve 1,100 feet of fencing to be wildlife-friendly on private land that serves as elk summer range near the town of Crested Butte.  
  • Use satellite imagery to identify and treat 450 acres of invasive cheatgrass in the Gunnison Ranger District on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests, Bureau of Land Management Gunnison Field Office and Sapinero State Wildlife Area.  

Larimer County 

  • Treat 1,800 acres of elk winter range on state, county and private land on the Northern Colorado Front Range to combat invasive cheatgrass. The treatment is in response to several high severity wildfires and part of RMEF’s $1 million commitment to wildfire restoration efforts (also benefits Boulder County). 

Las Animas County 

  • Thin 450 acres of forestland on the Spanish Peaks State Wildlife Area to reduce stand density, allowing more grasses and shrubs to grow, and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire. The project is designed to improve habitat for elk, mule deer, black bear, wild turkey and other wildlife. 
  • Masticate 170 acres on the Bosque del Oso State Wildlife Area to improve wildlife habitat and help the forestland be more receptive and resilient to natural fire. 

Mesa County 

  • Provide funding for research to capture and outfit 50 cow elk with collars to better understand how elk move across the landscape in Colorado’s Grand Mesa game management units (also benefits Delta County). 

Moffat County 

  • Improve elk management by supporting research focused on elk recruitment and survival and the potential impacts of human populations to elk herds in high-recreation areas (also benefits Delta, Garfield, Gunnison, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray, Pitkin, Routt and San Miguel Counties). 

Routt County 

  • Provide funding support for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Family Cast, Blast and Twang, a free event for those interested in learning outdoor skills such shooting, archery and fishing (also benefits Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Mesa, Moffatt, Pitkin, Rio Blanco and Summit Counties.) 

Statewide 

  • Sponsor the Colorado Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus which hosted Sportsmen’s Day at the Capitol to recognize the contributions of sportsmen and women. 
  • Provide funding for Coloradans for Responsible Wildlife Management, a group that works to enhance, promote and defend the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and responsible science-based wildlife management, including advocacy work.  
  • Support for the Cameo Shooting and Education Complex, which offers learning opportunities to shoot pistol, shotgun and archery and take part in competitions. 

Project partners include the Arapaho-Roosevelt, Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison, and Pike-San Isabel National Forests, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management and various conservation, hunting and business organizations as well as colleges. 

Since 1987, RMEF and its partners completed 824 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Colorado with a combined value of more than $192.3 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 480,626 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 122,107 acres. 

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation: 

Founded more than 38 years ago and fueled by hunters, RMEF maintains more than 225,000 members and has conserved nearly 8.4 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK. 

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Help Solve Wyoming Elk Poaching Case

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/help-solve-wyoming-elk-poaching-case/

Below is a news release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. For 2022, Fiocchi partnered with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to increase the visibility of poaching incidents in an effort to reduce poaching nationwide.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is seeking information about a bull elk that was poached along Highway 34 in Sybille Canyon in early August.

Sometime between the evening of Friday, Aug. 5 and the morning of Saturday, Aug. 6, a mature bull elk was shot along Highway 34 near mile post 20.5, approximately two-and-a-half miles west of the Sybille Wildlife Research facility. Someone then removed the head and antlers from the carcass between the evening of Saturday, Aug. 6 and the morning of Sunday, Aug. 7.

A reward is being offered for information on this case, and informants are urged to call the Stop Poaching Tip Line at 1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-3847). Tips can also be made by texting keyword WGFD and message to 847-411.  Tips can also be made online at https://wgfapps.wyo.gov/StopPoaching/submitTIp.aspx.

(Photo credit: Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

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Reconstructed Elk Viewing Tower Dedication Held, RMEF Volunteers Honored

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/reconstructed-elk-viewing-tower-dedication-held-rmef-volunteers-honored-2/

Below is a news release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. 

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held recently to commemorate the opening of the newly reconstructed elk viewing tower on Hatfield Knob of North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area. 

TWRA Executive Director Jason Maxedon and the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission joined the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, Campbell Outdoor Recreation Association, The Nature Conservancy, Clinch Powell, the National Wild Turkey Federation, local dignitaries, and several others to celebrate the event. 

During the ceremony, the tower was named in honor of Terry and Jane Lewis, a local couple who are long-time Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation volunteers that dedicated countless hours and resources to promote Tennessee’s elk herd. Terry and Jane led the construction of the new, handicap-accessible tower, as well as the original tower constructed in 2005.   

“It’s been a long journey.  We certainly want to thank all of the volunteers that helped put this tower together and this viewing area for all the people to come and see,” said Mr. Lewis.  “One of our efforts was to create a high probability of viewing opportunities and I think you have it right here.” 

The elk viewing tower and NCWMA have been longtime attractions of Campbell County, which boasts 48 percent of its land as public property.  A University of Tennessee study found that around 16,000 people visit the tower annually and thousands more enjoy viewing elk live through the TWRA elk camera also located at the tower. 

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has also been a strong partner in Tennessee’s elk restoration, which began in the year 2000 when the first elk were released onto Horsebone Ridge of the now NCWMA.  To date, 201 elk have been released onto the area. 

(Video credit: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency)

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Wyoming to Hunters: We Need Your Help

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/wyoming-to-hunters-we-need-your-help/

Below is a news release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Hunters have long been considered an invaluable resource for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s efforts to collect biological samples for study and testing. This fall elk hunters in select hunt areas are again being asked to collect blood samples from their harvested animal to help in the department’s brucellosis surveillance efforts. Brucellosis is a disease caused by the bacteria Brucella abortus. Elk, bison and domestic cattle are susceptible to brucellosis, which may cause animals to abort calves and further transmit the disease.

Hunters in targeted elk hunt areas for the 2022 season are asked to help in data collection by taking a blood sample from their elk immediately after harvest with a Game and Fish sample kit, keeping it cool and submitting it soon-after harvest. The targeted elk hunt areas are: 27, 28, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 45, 47, 48, 49, 54, 61, 63, 64, 66, 100, 106, 107, 120, 127. A map is available online.

About 8,500 kits will be mailed to hunters this year. Hunters in targeted elk hunt areas should receive kits about two weeks prior to the opening date of that particular hunt area and license type.

“You may have already — or will soon — receive a blood kit in the mail. Please bring this kit with you while hunting and collect a sample from your harvested animal and submit it to us. Take the sample soon after harvest and keep it cool until drop-off,” said Eric Maichak, Game and Fish wildlife disease biologist in the Cody Region.

As an incentive for hunters to collect samples, the department is partnering with several leading outdoor gear companies in a raffle for hunters who provide a useable blood sample from their harvested elk. Hunters with multiple licenses may receive a kit for each and can enter the raffle for each usable sample returned.

GRAND PRIZE PACKAGE

  • Weatherby Mark V Camilla Deluxe donated by the Gillette Wyoming Sportsman’s Group and Weatherby (.280 Ackley Improved).
  • VIPER® PST™ GEN II 5-25X50 FFP Riflescope donated by Vortex Optics.

ADDITIONAL PRIZES

  • Benelli Lupo Bolt Action Rifle – donated by Benelli USA. Valid for item numbers 11900-11905.
  • Sig Sauer Oscar8 27-55×80 Spotting Scope donated by Sig Sauer.
  • Maven C3 binoculars donated by Maven (10×50).

“Thank you to all our sponsors who support wildlife with their generous donations,” Maichak said.

Nearly one-quarter of the state is surveyed yearly on a rotating basis. Each fall hunters return between 1,200-1,500 blood samples to the laboratory. Game and Fish hasn’t identified any seropositive elk in the Bighorn Mountains since 2016.

For 2022 the surveillance area targets hunt areas within and around the Wyoming Livestock Board’s designated surveillance area, as well as the entirety of the Bighorn Mountains.

Hunters are urged to wear latex/nitrile gloves, keep the sample cool in a chilled cooler and not allow it to freeze or spoil. Fill out the requested information on the enclosed card and return the kit to a biologist or game warden in the field, at a check station, Game and Fish office or drop the prepaid box with the sample in the mail. Learn how to collect a sample through a short video.

Hunters who don’t harvest an elk this year should not mail back an empty kit.

“Save the blood kit for your next year’s hunt or return it unused to a Game and Fish office or official,” said Jessica Jennings-Gaines, Game and Fish wildlife disease specialist.

Brucellosis has been shown to slightly reduce pregnancy rates but not limit the population size of elk. Usable data collected by hunters coupled with GPS data from radio-collared elk are being used to develop projects to mitigate brucellosis transmission risk among elk and from elk to livestock.

(Photo credit: Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

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What to Know for Utah’s 2022 Elk, Deer Hunting Season

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/what-to-know-for-utahs-2022-elk-deer-hunting-season/

Below is a news release from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Several years of ongoing drought conditions have impacted mule deer populations across the state. Here are a few things people hunting deer and elk in Utah this fall should know.

Drought impacts deer by decreasing their body fat (because there are fewer plants and available food sources on the landscape). If the does have poor body fat and nutrition, it leads to smaller fawns, and those fawns have a decreased chance of surviving. If an adult deer has too little body fat at the beginning of the winter — especially a severe winter — it will often not survive the winter months. Recent deer research, conducted in Utah, has shown that the amount of fat deer have going into the winter has more of an impact on their likelihood to survive than the conditions and severity of the winter itself.

Drought conditions have persisted for several years in Utah, and long-term drought-related impacts to Utah’s deer and elk populations are still lingering. However, monsoon rains last fall and again this summer have improved vegetative conditions, especially at higher elevations, and deer appear to be in good body condition.

“We still need a few more years with favorable weather patterns to help us fully recover from drought and increase deer numbers,” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Big Game Coordinator Dax Mangus said. “Elk populations are more stable but could also benefit from increased precipitation and better forage on the landscape.”

The current statewide mule deer management plan includes an objective to have just over 400,000 deer across Utah — there are currently an estimated 305,700 deer in the state. While hunting bucks doesn’t impact the total population growth rate, the DWR has decreased hunting permit numbers for the last several years, tracking with population-level declines, in order to better manage to the buck-to-doe ratios outlined in the management plans.

Elk are impacted differently by drought because survival of adults typically remains high, while pregnancy rates have been shown to decline during extreme drought conditions. Much of the rest of the state, including central, southern and southeastern Utah, have elk populations that are at or slightly below their population objectives.

The general-season buck deer archery hunt and the general spike and any-bull elk archery hunts are the first big game hunts of Utah’s fall season, and they all begin Saturday, Aug. 20. The general-season spike and any-bull elk hunts (with any legal weapon) run from Oct. 8–20, and the general-season buck deer hunt (with any legal weapon) runs from Oct. 22–30.

Whether you are a first-time hunter or a seasoned veteran, it’s always a good idea to get a refresher on things that can help you be successful during your hunt. If you are planning to hunt deer or elk in Utah this fall, here are some tips to help you be successful during the archery and rifle hunts:

Do your research before heading out and scout the area in advance

It is a good idea to visit the Utah Hunt Planner before heading out into the field. This great online resource includes notes from the biologists who manage the various hunting units across the state, as well as general information about the units and safety and weather items. You can see information about the number of bucks on the units, compared to the number of does. You’ll also find maps that show the units’ boundaries, which land is public and private, and the various types of deer habitat on the unit.

“Hunters that have scouted their hunting unit and spent time locating animals before the hunt begins are typically more successful at finding, pursuing and harvesting an animal during their hunt,” Mangus said. “Spend time scouting, and if you haven’t, consider planning multiple hunting trips during the hunting season. Treat your early hunting dates in the season as hunting and scouting, and try to cover lots of ground to locate animals.”

As a reminder, if you use trail cameras to assist in your scouting during the deer or elk hunts, the Utah Wildlife Board voted earlier this year to prohibit the use of all trail cameras (including all non-handheld transmitting and non-transmitting devices) in the take or to aid in the take of big game between July 31 and Dec. 31.

Practice with your equipment

Whether you are archery hunting or using firearms, it’s a good idea to practice regularly with your equipment so you are familiar with it and have the skills needed to hit your target.

“Making responsible and ethical shots is an important part of using our wildlife resources wisely,” Mangus said.

Hunt away from the road

If you are hoping to harvest a deer or elk this fall, make sure you are hunting in areas away from the road.

“Elk are smart and know how to avoid hunting pressure. They avoid roads, so especially when you are hunting elk, get off the road,” Mangus said. “Get out and do some hiking and scouting to find where the animals are.”

Look for rugged terrain

When it comes to deer, mature bucks and does are not together during the August archery hunts. So if you are seeing a lot of does in an area, it’s a sign that you should probably move to a different spot. Does have to care for their fawns, so they typically prefer areas where there is a lot of water and the terrain is more gentle, like in rolling aspen groves.

“Bucks will gather in herds of little ‘bachelor groups,’ and they like more rugged mountain terrain,” Mangus said. “So, if you are looking for a bigger buck, look for terrain that is harder to access.”

Pay attention to the direction of the wind

Another tip for archery hunters is to know the direction of the wind. That way, you can make adjustments and prevent your scent from reaching the animals before you get within range. As the sun heats the ground, the wind direction changes. For example, wind almost always blows up canyons in the morning and down canyons in the afternoon.

To know the direction the wind is blowing, you can buy an inexpensive item called a wind or breeze checker. Releasing powder from the checker will let you know the direction the wind is blowing. Once you’ve determined the direction the wind is blowing, approach the deer from the side (a 90-degree angle) rather than approaching it with the wind in your face (at a 180-degree angle). If you approach with the wind in your face and then the wind shifts and starts blowing from your back, it’ll blow your scent directly to the deer. Approaching from the side reduces the chance that a wind shift will carry your scent to the deer.

Be prepared for the weather and possible emergencies

Hunters should also be prepared for any weather and should always have a first-aid kit and plenty of water with them. The weather in Utah’s mountains can change very quickly and go from sunny to snowing in a matter of minutes, so hunters need to be prepared with adequate clothing and supplies.

“We urge hunters to remember the safety basics of hunting with a partner and always make sure someone knows where you are and when you will return,” Mangus said. “You can’t always rely on cell phones as they may not have reception in the backcountry during your hunt.”

Use binoculars and be stealthy

Having success during the archery hunt requires stealth and patience. For example, if you’re going to use a spot-and-stalk method, don’t just walk through the woods, hoping to find a deer without spooking it. Instead, spend time looking through binoculars at an area to find deer and locate where they’re bedding. Then, after they’ve bedded down, plan your stalk, remaining quiet and doing all you can to approach the deer at an angle that keeps your scent from reaching them.

“Stealth and knowing the wind direction are more important for archery hunters than for rifle hunters, as archery hunters need to get closer to the animal to be effective,” Mangus said. “It all depends on the hunter and their skill level, and equipment, but typically, most bows have sights that allow for shooting at 60 yards or less. And typically, the accuracy of most rifles starts to decline between 300–400 yards. I recommend not trying to ‘overshoot’ with your equipment and to stick with a distance where you have practiced and are comfortable. You should also always know what is beyond your target before taking a shot.”

Keep the meat cool

After you harvest a deer or elk, don’t hang it in a tree to try to cool the meat. The hot temperatures (especially during the archery hunts) can spoil it. Plus, hanging a deer or elk in a tree might draw bears into your campsite. Instead, cut the animal up in the field and remove the meat from the bone. After removing the meat, place it in a cooler.

“Dry ice can be used to cool the meat quickly and keep it cool for a prolonged period,” Mangus said. “You want to keep the meat as cool as possible until you can process it and get it into your freezer.”

“Hunting should be fun, and you should enjoy it. It’s a great time to see Utah’s amazing wildlife and to make memories with your family and friends. Get outdoors this fall and have an adventure or two in our beautiful state.”

(Photo credit: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

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