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A Few Helpful Tips for the Upcoming Utah Rifle Buck Deer Hunt

Sunday, October 8, 2017 10:33
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Utah DeerUtah Deer

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR)USA -( If you’re one of the 60,000 hunters who’ll participate in Utah’s general rifle buck deer hunt, Gary Cook, Hunter Education coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, has some advice to share.

He says preparing in advance and following the basics of firearm safety are two ways to ensure you have a great experience. And, while taking a deer is always the highlight of a hunt, so much more awaits.

“Just being in the outdoors,” Cook says, “enjoying the mountains and wildlife with your family and friends, is really what it’s all about. My family and I recently participated in the state’s general muzzleloader deer hunt. We took a deer, but it was the moose in our campground, the porcupine in our campground, the amazing fall colors, that really made the trip. Spending time together as a family was awesome.”

The general rifle buck deer hunt starts Oct. 21. Cook provides the following tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable time:

Preparing Your Firearm:

  • Be as familiar as possible with your rifle. Know where the safety is and how to operate it, and how to load and unload it properly.
  • Make sure the barrel doesn’t have any obstructions in it.
  • Make sure you have the correct ammunition for your rifle.
  • Visit a shooting range, and sight in your rifle. When you sight in your rifle, make sure you use the same ammunition you’ll use during the hunt. A list of shooting ranges in Utah is available at
  • If you recently bought a rifle, you can enjoy a free day of shooting at the DWR’s Lee Kay and Cache Valley public shooting ranges. To shoot for free, just bring the sales receipt for your rifle to either range within 30 days of buying it.
  • The Lee Kay Public Shooting Range is at 6000 W. 2100 S. in Salt Lake City. The Cache Valley Public Shooting Range is at 2851 W. 200 N. in Logan.

Firearm Safety:

  • Always control the muzzle of your firearm. Never let the muzzle point at anything you don’t intend to shoot. And make sure you don’t accidently point the muzzle at yourself.
  • Never become careless or complacent while handling a firearm. Treat every firearm like it’s loaded.
  • Do not put your finger on the trigger until your sights are on the target.
  • Before you shoot, make sure the animal you’re shooting at is a buck deer. Also, be certain that the area behind the target is safe to shoot into and will stop any bullet that doesn’t hit the target.
  • Never carry a loaded firearm in your vehicle. Carrying a loaded firearm in your vehicle is illegal and dangerous.

Personal Preparation:

If you haven’t yet, try to scout the area you’ll hunt at least once before the season starts. “If you want to be successful,” Cook says, “you need to learn where the deer are and their daily patterns. Also, if you scout before the hunt, you’ll know in advance if any road or camping conditions have changed.”

Put a survival kit together. The kit should include:

  • a small first aid kit
  • three ways to make a fire (e.g. matches, a cigarette lighter, fire starters)
  • quick-energy snack foods
  • a flashlight
  • an extra knife
  • a cord or rope
  • a compass or Global Positioning System unit
  • a small pad of paper and a pencil (if you become lost, you can leave information at your last location about yourself and the direction you’re traveling).

Utah Harvested DeerUtah Harvested Deer

Vehicle Preparation:

  • Make sure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition.
  • Before you leave for your hunt, make sure a shovel, an ax, tire chains, jumper cables and a tow chain are in your vehicle.
  • If you experience mechanical problems with your vehicle or you get snowed in, stay with your vehicle—don’t leave it.
  • Before Leaving on Your Trip:
  • Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.

While In the Field:

  • Wear proper safety clothing: 400 square inches of hunter orange on your back, chest and head. This is the minimum amount that’s required. “It’s a good idea to wear even more,” Cook says. “Hunter orange really helps you stand out to other hunters.”
  • If possible, try not to hunt alone.

Field Dressing Your Animal:

  • Use a sharp knife. Because a sharp knife cuts better than a dull knife, it’s safer to use.
  • As you cut, cut away from you. Never bring a knife blade towards you while cutting.

Your Physical Well-Being:

  • Know your physical limitations, and don’t exceed them.
  • Prepare yourself for weather changes by dressing in layers. Dressing in layers allows you to regulate your body temperature by adding or removing clothes as needed.
  • Drink plenty of water, no matter how cold the air temperature is. “It might be hard to believe,” Cook says, “but you can become dehydrated, even in cold weather.”
  • Hypothermia (the loss of body temperature) can occur in temperatures as warm as 50 degrees.
  • Be aware of the signs of hypothermia. Some of the first signs are violent shivering, stumbling or becoming disoriented. “If you notice these signs,” Cook says, “sit down immediately, and build a fire. Get yourself warm and dry as fast as you can.”
  • Frostbite. If you’re hunting in cold weather, watch for signs that you’re getting frostbite. White spots on your skin are the first sign. Check your face, feet and hands regularly. You’ll notice the first signs of frostbite on your face sooner if you’re hunting with a companion who can alert you.

If You Get Lost:

  • Don’t panic. Sit down and build a fire, even if it isn’t cold. A warm fire has a soothing effect. “It’s amazing the effect a small campfire can have,” Cook says. “Building one can help you calm down, relax and think clearly.”
  • After calming down, try to get your bearings and think your way out of the situation. If you think you know the direction you need to travel, get the pad of paper and pencil out of your survival kit, and leave a note at your location. Indicate on the note who you are and the direction you’re traveling. If you find other hunters as you’re walking, don’t be embarrassed to ask them for help and directions.
  • If you don’t know which direction you should travel, stay at your camp. If possible, build a shelter several hours before sundown. Build a smoky fire (this type of fire can be spotted from the air) or build three fires (a distress signal that can also be spotted from the air).
  • Remaining at your camp is usually a good option. “You might not know this, “Cook says, “but you can live without food and water for several days. Staying at your camp, rather than taking off and possibly traveling in the wrong direction, is usually a good choice.”

Alcohol and Firearms Don’t Mix:

  • Do not handle a firearm if you’ve been drinking alcohol.
  • Do not give alcohol to someone who’s cold. Rather than warming the person, alcohol will actually make them colder.

This post A Few Helpful Tips for the Upcoming Utah Rifle Buck Deer Hunt appeared first on Shooting Sports News .


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