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The general deer hunt will open Oct. 22. At first light, more than 180,000 hunters will be scanning the mountainsides for deer.

Early indications are that more hunters will hunt this year, and that more than ever will spot their game and end up taking it home. Game officers report that Utah's mule deer are approaching record numbers.Last year, 170,475 hunters actually hunted, and of those 62,516 harvested a buck for 37-percent success. This year, predictions are that success on the buck-only hunting will be around 40 percent - weather permitting.

Last year, on the special control hunts, 10,413 of the 10,480 permits were sold. Of those who purchased the permits, 9,541 actually went hunting. Of those that hunted, 7,342 got deer for 77 percent success.

This year, because of the high number of deer, more of the control permits were issued. Even on these hunts, success is expected to be higher than last year.

Hunters are reminded of the high fire danger this year and of special regulations involving off-highway travel, transportation of game and purchasing licenses before the hunt.

DEER HUNT MEANS $$$ - Nearly 600,000 people - hunters, family and friends - will take to the hills on the opening weekend of the 1988 general deer season, spending approximately $45 million.

Deer hunters and campers will spend an average of $25 per day over the three-day opening weekend, traditionally the single biggest outdoor event in the state.

Figures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study indicate that in 1985, 85 percent of the hunters in Utah were residents. Since hunters will be mostly from Utah, their business is often not considered new money. However, some of the best hunting occurs in regions where local economies could use the boost.

Wildlife-related activity accounted for approximately $447,129,000 in Utah's economy in 1985. More than $325 million was spent by hunters and anglers and $120 million in other wildlife-related activity. The Fish and Wildlife Service study indicated that 92 percent of Utah's population were involved in some kind of wildlife-related recreation. Sportsmen account for 39 percent.

FIRE RESTRICTIONS IN EFFECT - Fire danger remains high in northern Utah, with the general deer hunt just over a week away. No, the hunt will not be stopped, but hunters are being asked to be extremely careful when in the woods.

According to State Forester Dick Klason, "The state is still facing a critical fire situation and we do not anticipate lifting fire restrictions for a number of weeks."

Restrictions on open fires and smoking are currently in effect on public lands in northern Utah. Open camp fires are only allowed in designated camps where fire pits are provided. Also, smoking is not allowed except in vehicles, structures, or in areas cleared of combustible material for three feet in diameter.

One hunter-related fire has already been reported in Logan.

Another fire, believed caused by an illegal abandoned fire of a hunting party, has been reported.

Unless weather conditions change dramatically within the next week, wildlife conservation officers and other state and federal officers will be out on the opener of the hunt issuing citations for violations of fire restrictions.

BUY BEFORE THE HUNT - Big game licenses will not be sold during the general hunt - Oct. 22-Nov. 1. Resident hunters must purchase big game or combination licenses by midnight, Oct. 21.

This is the second year of a regulation designed to stop excessive abuses of old license procedures, which encouraged unethical hunters to "party hunt."

Party hunters would sometimes kill several deer during the season, then ask friends or relatives to buy licenses so the deer could be tagged.

14 YEAR OLDS CAN NOW HUNT - A new law passed this year by the Utah State Legislature allows Utah youngsters to hunt big game at 14 years of age. Under the old law, a hunter had to be 16 years old before he or she could hunt big game.

Those buying a license must, however, have successfully completed a hunter education course before purchasing a license. The new young hunters must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian and must remain in visual and verbal contact (without the use of optical or radio equipment) with that adult at all times while hunting.

Also new this year, anyone - resident or nonresident - born after Dec. 31, 1965, must successfully complete a hunter education program before purchasing a Utah big game or combination license.

WHERE TO SIGHT IN YOUR RIFLE - Hunters who have not sighted in their rifles, but want to before the deer hunt have three ranges in the Salt Lake City area - the Lee Kay Center, Holladay and Police ranges.

The Lee Kay Center at 6000 W. 2100 South (north frontage road), is open Wednesday through Friday 1 to 7 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m.

The range has a newly finished 100-yard large bore rifle range. Cost is $2 for adults, $1 for those 16 and under, and includes a target.

The Police Range, near Mountain Dell Reservoir in Parleys Canyon, is open Tuesday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to dusk. Cost is $2 per day. Targets and ear protection are also available. It, too, has a 100-yard large bore range. On weekends a range officer is available to help shooters.

The Holladay Range is open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Cost of shooting on the 100-yard large bore range is $2.50 daily. There will also be an individual at the range from now until the hunt with special equipment to help sight in a rifle. He is there 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the cost is $6.