As the rifle hunt for deer kicks off in Utah, wildlife officials are anticipating a successful season despite drought conditions.
“We had a really tough winter a couple of years ago, so we kind of lost that entire age class, that age structure,” said Dave Rich, a Summit County wildlife biologist. “But the deer we’re seeing are in really good shape and are a little bit bigger than we expected.”
Rich said not only are individual animals in good shape, but deer populations as a whole across the state are increasing.
“The majority of the deer we checked have been 2.5-year-old deer and prime deer, so a little bit better age class,” Rich said.
The right age and the right time of the year, Rich said, to expect an average hunting season.
Hunters like Jennifer and Zach Bawden haven’t shot any bucks yet, but they said they are enjoying the time outdoors with their family.
“The adrenaline, the outdoors," Jennifer Bawden said. "I fell in love with it."
Rich said he’s killed a few deer and elk in his life, but hunting is all about family for him. He says his family has been hunting for generations and looks forward to the activity each year.
“Hunting is a great thing,” Rich said. “I mean, it’s a Utah tradition.”