The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is recommending some big changes to its big game hunts. The largest of these changes will be suggesting unlimited any-bull elk permits. Now that suggestion can be a little misleading. What the DWR is suggesting is they want unlimited elk permits in their any-bull units. However, the DWR would keep most of their elk units as Limited Entry draw only areas. In recent years, Utah has issued 15,000 bull elk permits for its any-bull units. These units are usually considered to be not great elk habitat or the areas are designated as better deer or pronghorn habitat. It just seems like someone forgot to tell the elk about that. Although the elk population in these regions remains low, the elk herd still manages to survive. Harvest rates are low and hunting pressure can be high.
However, this is one of the last over-the-counter hunting opportunities left in Utah. The suggestion comes from the DWR as a way to give hunters opportunities at a big game animal without having to apply for the draw system the state utilizes. The thought process by the DWR is that since harvest rates are low, the elk in these regions are scattered and in some cases have access to private land, that unlimited permits will not result in much increase in harvest numbers. The Utah DWR also released a number of changes for their big game hunts. The majority of the changes will be listed below. For readers that are interested, you can watch the suggested changes on the DWR website.
Suggested Utah Elk Changes
- As stated above, Utah DWR is suggesting unlimited any-bull elk permits within the any-bull units. Moving from a capped tag limit of 15,000 to unlimited bull elk permits.
- They are also suggesting expanding the current any bull units by added four more units to the any-bull program. The four new units (Box Elder-Sawtooth, Nine Mile-Antro, Oqurrih Stansbury-East, Southwest Desert-North) will join the 19 other any-bull units.
- We will list the current any-bull units by region below. Starting with the Northern region, these units include Box Elder-Hansel Mountain, Ogden, Cache-E Rich, Morgan-South Rich, and East Canyon. Continuing on to the Northeastern region, these units include Chalk Creek, Kamas, North Slope, and South Slope. On to the Central units, these units include West Desert-East, Filmore-Oak Creek, Beaver-West, Nine Mile-Range Creek, and San Rafael-North. Lastly, we have the units in the Southern region. These units include Pine Valley, Zion, Henry Mountains, and San Juan-Montezuma Canyon.
- Sticking with changes to elk hunting. The DWR is also suggesting some changes to the Limited Entry elk hunting in Utah. Four current Limited Entry hunts will be changed to Archery and HAMS (Handgun, Archery, Muzzleloader, and Shotgun Only) Limited Entry hunts. These unique hunts will allow archery hunters to pursue elk during the peak of the rut.
Other Suggested Changes
- The DWR is also suggesting changes to the Mule Deer management plan. Instead of managing the state for 454,100 deer, they are now suggesting that they manage the state to have 403,800 deer. This results in a management strategy that lowers the goal population by 50,000 animals. The DWR is also discounting two Limited Entry deer hunts to meet management goals.
- Likewise, the DWR is suggesting discounting three bison hunts.
- The DWR will also be suggesting adding three new Pronghorn hunts. They will also suggest the closure of the Plateau-Parker Mountain Pronghorn hunt.
These changes come from population trends and aerial counts. Every year the Utah DWR conducts surveys and counts to gather population numbers. Each area has unique and different challenges when it comes to managing wildlife.
What are your thoughts on Utah suggesting unlimited any-bull permits? Do you think the elk herd can handle that kind of pressure? What about the other suggestions? Do you like or dislike these suggestions? Let us know in the comments!