On Saturday I got back from my third of three bowhunting trips to Southern Utah. Me and my wife drove into the vast unit on Sunday afternoon and began hunting various areas throughout the week. After five days of “running and gunning” with little success, the lessons I’ve learned are many:
- Just like all public land hunting units in Utah, the Beaver unit is over-hunted, too easily accessible, and contains very few, if any, real trophy deer. According to all human evidence, the area has been depleted of its greatest resource (mule deer).
- The few “big” bucks that have managed to survive to maturity exist only above tree-line (above 10,000 feet), in relatively open areas. They’ve also developed intricate security measures to avoid hunters. In other words, they are mostly unhuntable. With very few opportunities at decent bucks, the odds of success are extremely low, even for the greatest hunters.
- The big bucks are only visible in the early morning and only for a short time before they seemingly vaporize without a trace. They also do not reappear until after dark, so your only opportunity is morning.
- Because mature bucks live in such inaccessible areas, it requires the hunter to be in extreme physical condition. If you can’t climb 1000 vertical feet before sunrise, you have no chance.
- Throughout the week I saw a total of 40 bucks scattered throughout the unit. Of those bucks, only two would be considered “trophy” quality, scoring between 170-180″.
- It only takes two days for a hunter to completely blow out an area, even in the biggest valleys. What I mean is, after pursuing deer throughout a valley for two days, a hunter’s scent and presence is made known. In turn, every deer changes its behavior and location, and by the third day there are no more deer.
- The largest bucks in the unit repeatedly return to the same food source. Like they say, “Where you find the best feed, you’ll find the best bucks.” After being spooked, however, the bucks do not return, or feed only at night.
That’s all! The general bowhunt is now over, but the extended hunt has begun and will continue until December. My goals have not changed. I will continue to pursue these mystical creatures, but now with greater fervor.