You might have a better chance of drawing a buck deer hunting permit this year. Biologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources are recommending more general buck deer hunting permits—a total of 90,950—for hunts in Utah this fall.
And, if you obtain written permission to hunt on private property, you might enjoy a great cow elk hunting experience. Biologists are recommending 12,010 new permits—called private lands only permits—for this fall’s cow elk hunt.
You can see all of the biologists’ recommendations at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings/rac/2016-04_rac_packet.pdf.
Learn more, share your ideas
After you’ve reviewed the ideas, you can let your Regional Advisory Council members know your thoughts by attending your upcoming RAC meeting or by sending an email to them.
RAC chairmen will share the input they receive with members of the Utah Wildlife Board. The board will meet in Salt Lake City on April 28 to approve permit numbers for Utah’s 2016 big game hunts.
Dates, times and locations for the RAC meetings are as follows:
April 5 – 6:30 p.m.
Springville Civic Center
110 S. Main St.
April 6 – 6 p.m.
Brigham City Community Center
24 N. 300 W.
April 12 – 5 p.m.
Beaver High School
195 E. Center St.
April 13 – 6:30 p.m.
John Wesley Powell Museum
1765 E. Main St.
April 14 – 6:30 p.m.
DWR Northeastern Region Office
318 N. Vernal Ave.
You can also provide your comments to your RAC via email. Email addresses for your RAC members are available at http://wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/rac-members.html.
The group each RAC member represents (sportsman, non-consumptive, etc.) is listed under each person’s email address. You should direct your email to the people on the RAC who represent your interest.
90,950 buck deer hunting permits
The total number of deer in Utah has increased for the fourth straight year. And the number of bucks, compared to the number of does, is the best it’s been in decades.
For those reasons, DWR biologists are recommending a total of 90,950 general buck deer hunting permits for 2016. In 2015, a total of 86,550 permits were offered.
You can see if the unit you applied for is one of the units that might have more permits by reviewing the list at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings/rac/2016-04_rac_packet.pdf.
Justin Shannon, big game coordinator for the DWR, says 2016 is an exciting time to be a deer hunter in Utah. “The total number of deer in the state is the highest it’s been since the 1980s,” he says, “and a good percentage of those deer are bucks. The average buck-to-doe ratio across Utah—on general season units that are made up mostly of public land—is 23 bucks per 100 does.”
A multitude of reasons, including mild winters and precipitation received at just the right time, intense work to make habitat better for mule deer in the state, and efforts to reduce the number of deer hit and killed by vehicles have combined to help Utah’s deer populations thrive.
Based on surveys conducted after last fall’s hunts, DWR biologists estimate the state’s deer population at more than 384,000 animals.
Private lands only elk permits
Elk populations are also thriving in Utah, with an estimated 79,230 elk in the state.
One challenge hunters and landowners are facing in certain areas, though, are elk moving from public land to private land when the hunts start.
“When elk are not properly distributed on a unit,” Shannon says, “it can frustrate both hunters and private landowners. The elk leave the public land, and not many hunters have access to them. We need to ‘retrain’ elk to stay on public land by limiting the refuge areas they have on private property. Providing private landowners with additional tools, to help control elk on their property, is the key to making that happen.”
The recently approved statewide elk plan allows for some “out of the box” ideas regarding cow elk hunting in Utah. The idea DWR biologists would like to try in 2016 is offering 12,010 private lands only permits on 15 units. These permits would be valid only on private property. The proposed date to start selling the permits is July 21.
The Wasatch unit in north-central Utah is one of the 15 units where the DWR is recommending private lands only permits. “On the Wasatch unit,” Shannon says, “we want to increase harvest on private lands and decrease hunting pressure on public lands. Over time, the increased hunting pressure on private land should push the elk to public land, giving hunters more access to them in the future.”
Biologists are relying on draw permits and the new private lands only permits to control elk on the unit. Cow elk control permits would no longer be offered for the Wasatch unit.
Before buying a private lands only permit, please remember one critical thing: before hunting on private property, you must have written permission from the person who owns the land. “Before you buy one of these permits,” says Judi Tutorow, wildlife licensing coordinator for the DWR, “obtain written permission to hunt on the private property you want to hunt. You don’t want to end up with a permit you can’t use.”
Cow moose permits
For the first time since 2011, cow moose permits might be available in this year’s draw. Biologists are recommending a total of 20 cow moose hunting permits for the East Canyon and Ogden units in northern Utah. “Moose are doing really well on both units,” Shannon says.
The following are the total number of permits biologists are recommending for all of Utah’s 2016 big game hunts:
Hunt 2015 2016
General buck deer 86,550 90,950
Premium limited entry deer 184 184
Management buck deer 46 55
Limited entry deer 1,058 1,166
Doe deer 625 755
General any bull elk 14,300 15,000
Youth any bull elk 500 500
General spike bull elk 15,000 15,000
Limited entry bull elk 2,938 2,796
Cow elk, public draw 15,360 13,680
Cow elk, private lands only 0 12,010
Buck pronghorn 804 771
Doe pronghorn 844 630
Bull moose 65 68
Cow moose 0 20
Bison 80 96
Desert bighorn sheep 41 42
Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep 37 38
Mountain goat 107 102
Contact: Mark Hadley, DWR Relations with the Public Specialist, 801-538-4737