Utah hunters, hikers cautioned to prevent conflicts this fall

Thursday , October 26, 2017 - 5:15 AM

LEIA LARSEN, Standard-Examiner Staff

Many Northern Utah trails are open to multiple uses, including both hiking and hunting. That means hikers should take extra precautions to make sure they’re visible to hunters.

The sound of rifle shots unnerved Tammy Clemens earlier this month while she was taking a Sunday afternoon walk on the Skyline Trail, near the North Ogden Divide, with her husband and dog. 

“We started to hear, as we were coming back down, probably 10 shots in the area,” she said. “It seemed like it was really close to that parking lot.”

Turns out, hunters can go pretty much anywhere hikers can, according to Phil Douglass, outreach manager with the Utah Division of Wildlife. There’s even an extended archery program that allows hunting in the foothills to help thin out urban deer populations.

“I get that kind of question every year, where is it safe to hike?” Douglass said. “My recommendation is to always be a defensive hiker.”

That means wearing hunter orange on hikes and avoiding earth-toned clothing. It means being aware of hunting seasons, too. Fall is the busiest time of year for hunters. Douglass emphasized, however, that he wasn’t aware of any incidents in the state between hunters and hikers in his 30 years working at the division. 

 Northern Utah Big Game Hunting Dates

General archery deer — Aug. 19–Sept. 15

General muzzleloader deer — Sept. 27–Oct. 5

General any legal weapon (rifle) deer — Oct. 21–29

General archery any bull elk — Aug. 19–Sept. 15

General archery spike elk — Aug. 19–Sept. 8

General any legal weapon (rifle) spike and any bull elk — Oct. 7–19

General muzzleloader elk — Nov. 1–Nov. 9

Youth general (rifle) any bull elk — Sept. 16–24

Extended archery deer in Northern Utah areas — Sept. 16–Nov. 30

Extended archery elk in the Wasatch Front area — Aug. 19–Dec. 15

 “I watch closely every year hunting accidents that happen, I can’t think of one where a non-hunter was involved,” he said.

Some counties in the state have firearms restrictions, Douglass said. Salt Lake County has extensive restrictions, as do most state parks, national parks and national monuments.

The hunting rules in Weber County, however, seem a bit fuzzy, according to Iris Hennon, a code enforcement officer with the county.

“You can’t do it within city limits,” said Iris Hennon, Weber County code enforcement officer. “We have areas that are designated hunting areas.

After further research, Hennon wasn’t able to find any hunting ordinances in the county code. Instead, she referred the Standard-Examiner to a privately managed website on hunting in Ogden, www.ogden-ut.com. The website lists a few hunting areas that are popular for hiking, too, like Causey Reservoir, North Ogden Divide and Snowbasin. 

Hunters are required to take hunter education courses and obtain licenses and permits before they can hunt, which are meant to limit conflicts and injury. DWR counted 435,024 licensed hunters last year, with five incidents and no deaths. There have been six hunting-related deaths in Utah since 2007. In 1957, the year the hunter eduation program began, DWR counted 126 hunting-related incidents and 22 deaths. The state made hunting education mandatory in 1960. 

“Hunters, they go through an extensive hunter education course that routinely hammers in ‘make sure of your target before you pull the trigger,’” Douglass said.

He also noted the benefits hunters provide to hikers, liking funding wildlife management areas with trails open to the non-hunting public.

“We don’t want there to be a gap between outdoors enthusiasts,” Douglass said. “We want to bridge that gap.”

Contact Reporter Leia Larsen at 801-625-4289 or llarsen@standard.net. Follow her on Facebook.com/leiainthefield or on Twitter @LeiaLarsen

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