Become an INSIDER to gain access to this article

Join now

APPLICATION STRATEGY 2015: Utah elk & antelope

 

Bull elk bugling
Photo credit: Getty Images

Overview

Utah is well known as one of the top elk states in the West, over the last 15 years it has produced the largest typical bull and nontypical bull. Antelope on the other hand, are not Utah’s claim to fame, but what a lot of people don’t realize is the opportunity that Utah gives antelope hunters, especially nonresidents. Here is what you need to know about this year’s draw. Apply online here for 2015, and for more information on certain species in Utah, see our Utah state profile.

Why Utah for Elk in 2015
 

Steve Barker's Utah bull elk
Photo credit: Steve Barker

Utah is a state that can produce incredible bulls from any of its units. Great management has led to large numbers of elk, along with good age class across the entire state. Tags can take years to draw for some of the better units, but there is always a chance at the 50% of tags reserved for the applicants without the most points.

Utah’s bull elk Boone and Crockett entries: Typical

County

Entries

Units within county

San Juan 26 San Juan, La Sal/La Sal Mountains
Garfield 23 Panguitch Lake, Paunsaugunt, Plateau/ Boulder/Kaiparowits
Beaver, Mount Dutton
Millard 21 Southwest Desert, West Desert/Deep Creek
Fillmore/Pahvant, Beaver
Sevier 14 Plateau/Boulder/Kaiparowits, Beaver, Central Mtns/Nebo
Central Mtns/Manti, Plateau/Fishlake/Thousand Lakes
Monroe, Fillmore/Pahvant
Rich 10 South Slope/Diamond Mountain, North Slope/Three Corners

 

Utah’s bull elk Boone and Crockett entries: Nontypical

County

Entries

Units within county

Garfield 10 Panguitch Lake, Paunsaugunt
Plateau/ Boulder/Kaiparowits
Beaver, Mount Dutton
Beaver 4 Beaver, Southwest Desert

 

Why Utah for Antelope in 2015
 

Large Utah antelope buck
Photo credit: Wade Lemon Hunting

Utah is not known as a top antelope state, but it still produces some great bucks. Residents have a relatively good chance to draw tags with the majority of people applying for elk or limited-entry deer. There is a lot of good habitat throughout the entire state, allowing hunting opportunity in all areas of the state. 

Utah’s antelope Boone and Crockett entries

County

Entries

Units within county

Emery 26 Nine Mile/ Range Creek, San Rafael/ North
San Rafael/ Desert
Box Elder 16 Box Elder/ Pilot Mtn, Box Elder/ Snowville
Box Elder/ Promontory
Carbon 10 Nine Mile/ Range Creek, San Rafael/North
Nine Mile/Anthro
Millard 8 Beaver, Fillmore/Black Rock, Southwest Desert
West Desert/Riverbed, West Desert/Snake Valley
Uintah 7 Book Cliffs/Bitter Creek
South Slope/Bonanza/ Diamond Mtn
South Slope/ Vernal, Nine Mile/ Anthro

 

General herd conditions:

Overall herd condition for elk is solid. Utah’s elk herd thrives with bulls in the 340” to 370” class in nearly every unit, producing a few bulls over 400” every year. With the herd growing, the state continues to offer good hunting opportunities. Antelope are holding strong in many parts of the state and trophy quality is as good as it ever has been. 

What’s new in 2015?

  • The Sanpete extended archery elk area has been eliminated this season.
  • For the first time, limited-entry elk archery hunters who don’t harvest during the limited-entry season will be allowed to hunt extended archery areas.
  • Longer seasons for limited-entry muzzleloader elk hunts.
  • Boundaries changes for some species, including the northern boundary of the Wasatch elk unit.
  • Permit numbers for big game hunts will be set during the Utah Wildlife Board’s April 2015 meeting.

The draw system: An overview

Tag or license: License plus individual species permits.
Point system: Bonus points for nonresidents and residents.
Youth: There is opportunity for youth to apply for youth general season any bull and late season any bull permits.
Draw type: Regular draw with a nine-step process.
Resident perk: Only residents can apply for the coveted Utah sportsman permits. More permits for these limited-entry hunts are issued to residents.

Compared to other states in the West, Utah has a fairly simple draw. Remember that every species has different maps and boundaries. Otherwise it is straightforward and easy to apply. You will need an active hunting license in order to apply for the draw, see pricing and deadlines below.

Applicants can select three hunt choices when applying for limited-entry tags. The state considers all applicants’ first hunt choices before considering any applicant’s second choice. Due to the amount of applicants for each tag, very seldom is a 2nd choice ever considered.

Nonresidents can build points more quickly across multiple species than residents. Residents can only build points for one species at a time. Nonresidents also receive 10% of tags for each hunt choice when at least 10 tags are offered.
 

Utah antelope
Photo credit: High Top Outfitters

A recent innovation for Utah is that you can keep your hunting license on your smartphone or tablet. The Utah Hunting and Fishing mobile app allows you to renew, check expiration, and counts as a valid copy to show to a conservation officer.

Application types and deadlines

Nonresident
application

Online
application
dates
(by 11 p.m. MT)

Modify/
Withdraw
dealine date

(by 11 p.m. MT)

Results
available

License
cost*

Hunting license
(18 or older)
Must be current
at time
of application
    $65

Combo hunting
& fishing license
(18 or older)

Must be current
at time
of application
    $85
Youth hunting license
(17 or younger)
Must be current
at time
of application
    $25
Youth combo hunting
& fishing license
(17 or younger)
Must be current
at time
of application
    $29
Elk Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/
March 19
May 29 $393*
Elk (CWMU or
limited entry)
Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/
March 19
May 29 $800*
Elk (Multi-season
limited entry)
Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/
March 19
May 29 $1,505*
Antelope (CWMU or
limited entry)
Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/
March 19
May 29 $293*
Bonus point only
(All species)
Jan. 29 – Mar. 19     $10

*All permit applications include a nonrefundable fee of $10.
You must have a valid hunting license to purchase a bonus point. 
 

Resident
application

Online
application
dates
(by 11 p.m. MT)

Modify/
Withdraw
dealine date
(by 11 p.m. MT)

Results
available

License
cost*

Hunting license
(18-64 years old)
Must be current
at time
of application
    $34
Combo hunting
& fishing license
(18-64 years old)
Must be current
at time
of application
    $38
Hunting license
(65 years old or
older)
Must be current
at time
of application
    $25
Combo hunting
& fishing license
(65 years old or
older)
Must be current
at time
of application
    $29
Youth hunting license
(13 years old or
younger)
Must be current
at time
of application
    $11
Youth hunting license
(14-17 years old)
Must be current
at time
of application
    $16
Youth combo hunting
& fishing license
(14-17 years old)
Must be current
at time
of application
    $20
Elk Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/
March 19
May 29 $50*
Elk (CWMU or
limited entry)
Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/
March 19
May 29 $285*
Elk (Multi-season
limited entry)
Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/
March 19
May 29 $513*
Antelope (CWMU or
limited entry)
Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/
March 19
May 29 $55*
Bonus point only
(All species)
Jan. 29 – Mar. 19     $10

*All permit applications include a nonrefundable fee of $10.
You must have a valid hunting license to purchase a bonus point. 

Note: If there are any limited-entry permits remaining after the big game drawing, they will be available on a first come, first served basis beginning July 14, 2015 at 8 a.m. MT. You can buy permits online and at license agent locations and division offices. You must have a valid hunting license or a combination license to buy one of these permits.

Special limitations to consider

Anyone who has drawn a limited-entry elk permit may not apply again for five years. If you have drawn a limited-entry buck deer or buck antelope permit, you may not apply again for two years.

The draw: Unlocking Utah’s system

Big game permits are drawn in the following order. If you receive deer, elk, or antelope limited-entry permits, you will not be included in the draw for once-in-a-lifetime species.

First: Buck deer (multi-season premium limited-entry, premium limited-entry, multi-season limited-entry, limited-entry, CWMU and management buck deer). 
Second: Bull elk (multi-season limited-entry, limited-entry and CWMU).
Third: Buck pronghorn (limited- entry and CWMU). 
Fourth: Once-in-a-lifetime permits (Rocky Mountain bighorn, desert bighorn, moose, bison and mountain goat).
Fifth: General buck deer (Lifetime License holders). 
Sixth: General buck deer (Dedicated Hunters). 
Seventh: General buck deer (youth).
Eighth: General buck deer.
Last: Youth any bull elk.

Elk general permits are also available over the counter starting July 14.

HOW MUCH OF THE DRAW IS RESERVED FOR NON MAX POINT HOLDERS?

The point system

The more bonus points you have, the better your chances at drawing a coveted tag. Both residents and nonresidents accrue points. You get one point for each year you apply for a limited-entry hunt. Residents can only accrue points for one species at a time, nonresidents can accrue points for multiple species at once. 50% of the tags goes to the applicants with the most points, with the other 50% being drawn randomly. Note for nonresidents: if there is only one permit available, it will be drawn randomly.

Utah Wasatch Mountains - 2014 early rifle

Utah Wasatch Mountains - 2014 early rifle - Resident

The maximum bonus points for 2015 are:

For all species the maximum point amount is 22 for 2015, however there are some species where there are no longer applicants that have 22 points. 

  • Elk: 22
  • Antelope: 16

If your application is unsuccessful you will automatically get a bonus point for that species. You can also purchase a bonus point only, but cannot apply for a permit and bonus point for the same species. You must have a current hunting license to apply for and earn points.
 

Large Utah bull elk
Photo credit: Wade Lemon Hunting

Youth 

There is no youth-specific point system in Utah. Youth do have the opportunity for a youth-only any bull elk permits.

Group applications

A maximum of four hunters may apply together in a group application. Residents and nonresidents can apply together, but make sure that nonresident permits are available for each hunt you apply for. If members of a group application have bonus points, their bonus points are averaged and rounded down to the nearest whole number. Find out more about group applications here.

Sportsman permits

Long season dates, and almost any unit in the state could be yours with a 2016 Utah sportsman permit. These permits are available to residents only through a raffle-style draw. One permit each antelope and elk. Apply online from October 28 to November 18, 2015. We know every hunter is doing it, but this could be your year.

Utah big game draw FAQs

Where and how do I apply?

Utah’s application is entirely online. Call customer service at (800) 221-0659 (24 hours a day/7 days a week) with any questions. You can also apply over the phone by calling any division office. See deadlines and fees in the tables above.

Is Utah good for building points? 

Yes. You can purchase one bonus point per year, unsuccessful applications will also earn a point per year. Compared to other states, it is fairly inexpensive to build points here. All it takes is the cost of the license and $10 for the point.

Can I turn my tag in if I decide not to hunt?

Yes. If you turn your permit back in, you also get your bonus points back. You must surrender your permit before the start of its hunting period. If you applied as a group, the entire group must surrender their tags 30 days prior to the season opener. Medical conditions and military duties can also qualify you for a refund. See Utah’s permit surrender rules for more details.

The seasons

Utah’s seasons are highly structured. Hunts are weapon-specific with archery, muzzleloader and rifle seasons. Deer and elk have similar seasons and dates and you can go into the field with a permit for each in your pocket. Check out season dates in our Utah species profile pages as well as Utah’s 2015 Big Game Application Guidebook.

Extended archery units for elk are found near urban areas in the north part of the state. These allow anyone with an early archery hunt to get out in the field in November and December if you did not harvest in the earlier season. You will have the chance to be down south in the early season and north in the later, which is definitely a great way to have a lot of time in the field.

Hunter opportunity

General information, tips and our insights for hunting elk and antelope in Utah.
 

Utah bull elk with scenery
Photo credit: High Top Outfitters

Draw odds and tag availability

Coveted hunts, such as many of the early rifle elk seasons, have a relatively small number of tags compared to the amount of people that apply and require close to maximum points. Overall odds for limited-entry hunt permits are better for residents than nonresidents. If you are willing to try for a good, but not the best hunt, you will greatly improve your odds of drawing.

Special features for Elk and Antelope in Utah

  • Limited-entry hunts are typically in different phases of the rut.
  • Multi-season permits allow the hunter to hunt during all the seasons open for that unit.
  • Elk units have up to four different seasons, allowing for hunter opportunity.
  • There are no wolf or grizzly hazard areas in the state.

Managing points and expectations

I have 0 points. What can I expect?

For both residents and nonresidents there is always a possibility that you will get lucky and draw a permit from 50% of tags reserved for those without maximum points. You can work on building points and even if you don’t draw this year, look at over-the-counter elk permits.

What can I do with 3 or 4 points?

Elk — residents and nonresidents should use the same strategy as applicants with 0 points.

Antelope — resident: there is a chance to draw a tag, especially if you are willing to hunt with archery equipment. Some of the better rifle hunts will take a few more points to be in the bonus point permits.

Antelope — nonresident: with the limited number of nonresident tags for antelope you will still be out of the bonus permits. The units that only offer one permit to nonresidents will draw that tag randomly, so you still have a chance to get it.

What can I expect with 10 or more points?

Elk — resident: elk permits in Utah can be hard to draw. If you are willing to hunt archery or during the late rifle season, you will have have high odds to draw in some units. Most early rifle permits will take near max points, and some units there will still only be a small odds of drawing with max points. There is always a chance at those permits saved for those without max points.

Elk — nonresident: if you have closer to 20 points than 10 points you will have a chance at some hunts the archery and late rifle season for most units is easier to draw than the early rifle and muzzleloader seasons. If you have invested long enough to build 10 or more points, keep building and eventually, they will pay off. Note: remember that if there is only one permit available for the hunt, it will go randomly, and not to the person with the most points.

Antelope — resident: you are pretty close to drawing any hunt that you apply for. If you are willing to hunt with a primitive weapon you will draw any hunt that you apply for.

Antelope — nonresident: you will be in the range to draw most of the hunts that you apply for. There are some better hunts that will take 14 to 16 points to draw.

Comments

50 States for 50 Bucks
Save 25% During Our Flash Sale!
Get Hunting Gear for Less