UTAH’S NEW ELK PLAN APPROVED – On December 1st, the Utah Wildlife Board met to review the proposed elk management plan.  This is a new 10 year plan that Utah is hoping to utilize to improve the elk population and elk hunting in the state.

“The demand for elk hunting in Utah has continued to grow over the years,” DWR Big Game Coordinator Dax Mangus said. “In 2014, the over-the-counter any bull elk permits sold out in 77 days, and the spike-only elk permits sold out in 84 days. In 2022, the any bull elk permits sold out in five hours and the spike elk permits sold out in only nine hours. We want to implement several strategies to respond to these dramatic increases in demand for general-season elk hunting opportunities, as well as find ways to address continued ‘point creep’ in the limited-entry system.”

With approval to this new elk plan, the changes will go into effect in 2023.  They will run until 2032 with a review in 2026.

Changes to the Elk Management Plan

The changes listed below are directly cited from the Utah Division of Wildlife:

  • Removing multi-season permits for the any bull elk hunt. (There will still be a multi-season option for spike bulls, and anyone with a multi-season spike bull elk permit can still participate in both the spike and any bull hunts during the archery season.)
  • Adding six additional general-season hunting units/areas to the any bull elk hunt.
  • Dividing the current general-season 13-day any legal weapon any bull hunt into two separate seven-day hunts.
  • Issuing 15,000 general-season permits for the early season any-legal-weapon any bull hunt.
  • Having no cap on permit numbers for the late season any-legal-weapon any bull hunt.
  • Expanding the general spike hunt to the Diamond Mountain unit.
  • Continuing to issue 15,000 spike bull permits each year, with a cap of 4,500 available as multi-season permits.
  • Creating an unlimited youth general-season elk permit that will be valid during all general seasons on both any bull and spike units.
  • Discontinuing the limited-entry bull elk hunts on the Paunsaugunt Unit and converting them to general-season any bull hunts. However, the hunts won’t include archery — only rifle and muzzleloader. This will be reviewed during the three-year management plan review in 2026.
  • Restructuring the harvest age objectives for traditional limited-entry units to include three age objectives: 6 ½ to 7 years old, 6 to 6 ½ years old and 5 ½ to 6 years old.
  • Adding the mid-season any legal weapon hunt on most traditional limited-entry elk units.
  • Adjusting the weapon splits for traditional limited-entry hunts to place more of the any-legal-weapon hunts in the mid-season hunt.
  • Moving the season dates for the beginning of the hunt and end of the traditional limited-entry archery season to four days later than in past years.
  • Adjusting the length of the early any-legal-weapon traditional limited-entry elk hunt to five days long.
  • Maximizing hunting opportunities by maintaining some units/hunts managed for September archery hunts and HAMS hunts (hunts that allow the use of handgun, archery, muzzleloader, and shotgun).
  • Developing and recommending adaptive opportunity limited-entry hunts to seize unusual opportunities. Examples include December archery hunts on limited-entry units, HAMS hunts on units with very high success rates and/or high bull-to-cow ratios, and limited-entry hunts on general-season units using unique timing or the migration of available bulls.

Updated Season Dates

As mentioned above, there are now changes to both seasons and season lengths.  Below is a list of season dates for the 2023 hunting season.

  • General-season archery: Aug. 19–Sept. 15, 2023
  • General-season muzzleloader: Sept. 27–Oct. 5, 2023
  • General-season early any legal weapon: Oct. 11–15, 2023
  • General-season any legal weapon: Oct. 21–29, 2023
  • General-season archery spike bull: Aug. 19–Sept. 8, 2023
  • General-season archery any bull: Aug. 19–Sept. 20, 2023
  • General-season any legal weapon spike bull: Oct. 7–19, 2023
  • General-season early any legal weapon any bull: Oct. 7–13, 2023
  • General-season late any legal weapon any bull: Oct. 14–20, 2023
  • General-season muzzleloader: Nov. 1–9, 2023
  • Limited-entry elk archery: Aug. 23–Sept. 19, 2023
  • Limited-entry late-season archery elk: Dec. 2–17, 2023
  • Limited-entry elk muzzleloader: Sept. 25–Oct. 6, 2023
  • Limited-entry elk early any weapon: Sept. 20–24, 2023
  • Limited-entry elk HAMS/restricted weapons: Nov. 11–30, 2023
  • Limited-entry any legal weapon hunt on 14 units that didn’t previously have a mid-season hunt: Oct. 7–19, 2023
  • Limited-entry late-season any legal weapon hunt on Diamond Mountain: Nov. 11–19, 2023

There were other changes the were discussed during the meeting.  Those changes will be discussed in an article in the coming days.  What are your thoughts on the elk management changes that Utah is implementing?

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