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Hunting season kicks off with success due to weather, officials say

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Posted at 9:23 PM, Oct 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-21 23:23:53-04

WASHINGTON COUNTY - This weekend thousands headed into the Utah back country as part of a 100-year-old tradition, the Utah general deer hunt. This year hunters are finding it easier to see the bucks.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says it’s been one of the best hunting seasons they’ve had in a long time, and they have Mother Nature to thank.

“This is kind of the year we’ve been waiting for,” said UDWR Region conservation outreach manager Lynn Chamberlain. “It was in a way kind of a perfect storm.”

Chamberlain said southern Utah has always been a hot spot for deer hunting, primarily for its open habitat and mild weather, but this year weather is playing a bigger role.

“Because of the good winter we had last year, fawn survival was pretty good, we had a great summer,” Chamberlain said. “Then the key was in the fall. We had some rain.

Chamberlain said not only did that late rain drive the herds off the higher elevations but it primed the deer for the hunt.

“It rejuvenated all the growth and really fed the deer well,” Chamberlain said. “So, going into the fall hunt, they were in incredible condition.”

Conservation officers kept busy opening weekend verifying tags.  Officers say Saturday they found at least four violations, mostly involving hunting without a tag, but Chamberlain said the most common citation involves having a loaded gun in the vehicle.

“Our officers, when they check somebody in the field, will immediately ask them to open the chamber of their rifle,” Chamberlain said. “And if there’s a live round in that chamber, they will issue them a citation.”

While this past weekend was opening weekend, and it’s typically the busiest, the deer hunt continues through Oct. 27.