Hunters Everywhere? Not Anymore in Utah
We're just about to start the deer hunt in the state of Utah, with the general hunt running from Oct. 21 through Oct. 29 (and early-season hunt already underway).
When I first moved to this great state back in 1980 (I know, I know, I'm old), I remember riding on a school bus (I was in the ninth grade), and being from Texas, I figured I knew a little bit about wildlife and hunting.
So I started to opine about hunting facts from Texas and about 20 seconds into the conversation, I realized I was in way over my head.
It seemed that everyone in the immediate area around the seat on my bus (male or female) was a hunter. They regaled me with stories about the deer hunt and spending time in the mountains with their dads and about 6-point, 8-point and even 12-point bucks.
Pretty much every one of these kids had shot a deer, cleaned its carcass and dragged it off of the mountain.
I had done none of these things.
After back-pedaling, I came to the realization that people in Utah were serious about the deer hunt.
Over the next few years, as I progressed through high school, I learned that it was a strong Utah tradition that involved the whole family and "deer camp" up in the mountains for a week or longer.
Heck, Utah even had a "holiday" every year. It wasn't Fall Break or UEA weekend, but rather "Deer Hunt."
But things have changed.
Sure, I still know plenty of hunters and some of my best friends leave for deer hunts every year. But now we have a lottery to even get a tag and the average hunter isn't so average anymore.
Back in the 1980s, nearly 25 percent of Utahns had hunting licenses and tags were handed out (with no lottery) to thousands of men and women statewide.
But according to statewide statistics, Utah has 249,765 active hunting licenses -- just 7.9 percent of the state's population. The state has issued 73,075 tags, and while the number of total tags is up, the percentage is way down from 40 years ago.
Utah, once a hotbed of hunting, is ranked 21st on the nation for number of hunters per capita.
Still, hunting will always be a part of Utah's DNA.
“We’re really fortunate because hunting has a big heritage in Utah,” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokesman Faith Jolley told KSL.com.
But there's no hiding the fact that with the tremendous growth we've experienced and the aging population of our hunting demographic (60 percent of all hunters are over the age of 45), hunting may eventually be a thing of the past in Utah.
States with the most registered hunters
Gallery Credit: Meagan Drillinger