Hopefully, when the final count is made, the bad weather for the opening of the elk hunt will be offset by an increase in the number of elk available.
The hunt opened Wednesday under a cloud of rain and, at higher elevations, a hint of snow. The hunt will run through Thursday, Oct. 16.As always, hunters were watching the weather channels earlier in the week. Unfortunately, what they feared most blew through.
Early reports are that hunting was made tougher by the weather, but that by the end of the season about one in five hunters will have tagged an elk.
Some of the early reports indicate there were some larger bulls taken from the "bull" units. The highest success rate appears to come from the "spike" units. The colder weather has, apparently, started elk moving into groups for the winter. This could make hunting a little easier going into the next week.
All signs before the hunt pointed to a better hunt that last year. Utah's elk population is doing well.
Most of the hunting units reported an increase in elk numbers this year, a result of a mild winter and good moisture over the spring.
In the Northern Region, the elk population is at or close to management objectives. In some case, in fact, there are too many elk and an increase in antlerless permits were issued.
Hunting in the Central Region, on the Manti, Nebo, Diamond Fork and Current Creek units, spike-only hunting was predicted to be good. Officers reported seeing "quite a few branch-antlered bulls on those spike bull units."
Elk numbers this region are also at objective numbers, and in some cases have exceeded those numbers.
In the Northeastern Region, officers reported excellent numbers of bulls in the region's three any-bull units - the South Slope, Daggett and Vernal. Also, elk numbers on the Current Creek unit are higher than in several years.
Two units in the Southeastern Region changed this year. Buck-horn went from a limited entry to a bull hunt and Moab went from an any-bull to a spike hunt. The largest herd, on the Manti, was reported to be "thriving."
In the Southern Region, officers on the Fishlake unit reported an exceptional calf crop last year and that this hunt "may be one of the best spike hunts ever."
The Cedar Mountain any-bull unit is expected to yield only a very few mature bulls.
The forecast is for continued unsettled weather.