Every nonresident hunter has Utah on the list for places to hunt. If you got into the points game late, most coveted tags are unreachable and this actually goes for residents too. Every year at the sport shows Utah guys complain how they never can get drawn for a trophy area let alone just hunt their own state. Is this actually the case? Well, let’s take a look.
There is a lot of competition out there and the average hunter needs to be savvy and to separate yourself from the pack when it comes to being successful. This goes for any state really, but Utah specifically. First, if you want to hunt Utah every year, there are many ways to do this. There are almost 100 general season buck deer hunts in Utah, which includes muzzleloader, archery and rifle hunts. So that gives you an idea of how many opportunity hunts are out there. And that’s just deer. Now these hunts are in a drawing too but most are not difficult to draw and take place in many good areas across the state, they just have difficult hunt dates. Find a unit that you can hunt every year, and spend the time and do your homework. Work on gaining access to private if you have to and combine that with being persistent and hunting hard, there’s no reason you can’t be wildly successful year after year.
Some of the better general deer hunts are Monroe, Dutton, and Pine Valley where success is over 50% for any weapon and muzzleloader and as high as 38% for archery. Those are very high success rates! And these hunts only take two points to draw as a resident. Many of the hunts take no points to draw. So when it comes to deer, there is plenty out there! Be sure to check out the MRS in the upcoming issue of EHJ for more details on some of the best general hunting but limited entry draw odds and stats as well.
Ok, so general elk is an option every year in Utah as well. General season bull elk hunt tags go on sale July 16th and are on a first come first serve basis for muzzle loader and any weapon and do run out when the quota is met. Archery licenses in the general areas are unlimited. There are 19 general season areas, many which border fantastic limited draw areas. So next time you start feeling sorry for yourself because you didn’t draw elk in Utah, take a look at a general season elk hunt, it could make the difference in your hunting season. Once again, put in some leg work to gain access to private if need be and don’t be afraid to volunteer to work for the landowner for a few weekends in the summer to gain access to private. Little things like that can set you apart from the rest of the hunters and may be the upper hand you need to punch your tag on a solid buck or bull.
Some other hunts that are in addition to normal limited entry hunts are via Cooperative Wildlife Management Units. These are hunts where a landowner can enroll in the program if they have a minimum of 5,000 contiguous acres for deer and antelope and a minimum of 10,000 contiguous acres for elk and moose. A management plan is written for the CWMU with cooperation of the landowner and DWR biologist in which the number of permits will be determined available and will be comparable for both the public and private hunters. As of now there are 107 bull elk, 127 buck deer, 62 moose, and 30 antelope CWMU units available. Some of these hunts have more than one license. There are also doe and cow hunts available as well. The licenses issued to the private landowners are transferable so they can be given to or purchased by anyone. Hunters who hold the public tag will also have the same opportunity and acreage to hunt as the private hunters. Once you draw a tag you and the landowner can negotiate when you are going to hunt and how long. Unfortunately, nonresidents cannot apply for the public permits, but they can obtain a voucher from the private landowner for the ability to hunt. Yes, a lot of these hunts are tough to draw for the guys on a budget, there’s no doubt about it. But there are some areas that are guaranteed to draw and of course everything in between.
Season dates are also very liberal in CWMU’s. Archery hunts for deer, elk, and antelope run from Aug 17- Oct 31. Any legal weapon hunts for all species run from Aug 31 – Oct. 30th and muzzleloader hunts run from Aug 31 – Nov 7th. So if you need flexible seasons a CMWU may be just what the doctor ordered.
So there you have it, just because you didn’t draw a tag in Utah doesn’t mean your hopes and dreams of hunting the state are shattered. And if you don’t want to play along in the difficult to draw limited areas, try your hand at drawing a CWMU tag. And if that doesn’t work, purchase a general season buck or bull tag or even buy a CWMU voucher from a landowner. And most importantly, be sure to subscribe to Eastmans’ Hunting and Bowhunting Journals to study up on the MRS. Be sure to get a digital subscription for expanded MRS content too. Good luck in the draws!