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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2015: Utah sheep, moose, goat, bison

 

Utah Desert bighorn sheep - X-TREME Outfitting
Photo credit: X-TREME Outfitting LLC

Overview

Utah has a deserved reputation as a hunter’s paradise. The draw really caters to nonresidents, allowing them to apply for every species every year. No matter where you call home, Utah has some great opportunity for quality hunts in a range of species. Unlike other Western states, Utah’s big game draw happens all at once. Although it can be a bit overwhelming to wade through all your options, here’s what you need to know about this year’s draw. Apply online here for 2015 and find more details for particular species on our Utah State Profile.

Why Utah for sheep, moose, goat and bison in 2015

Desert bighorn sheep

Utah is one of the few states that gives nonresidents an opportunity to hunt desert bighorn. For nonresidents there are three units that you can hunt, Kaiparowits East, San Rafael and the Zion. Residents have twelve different units to chose from. Expect demanding, fun hunts if you’re lucky enough to draw one of these permits. 
 

Utah Desert bighorn sheep - X-Treme Outfitting
Mont Bingham with his Desert bighorn. Photo credit: X-TREME Outfitting LLC

Utah Desert bighorn sheep Boone and Crockett entries

County

Entries

Units within county

Washington 4 Zion, Pine Valley
Garfield 3 Kaiparowits WestKaiparowits EastKaiparowits Escalante,
San Rafeal/Dirty DevilHenry Mountains
Uintah 2 Kaiparowits West, Kaiparowits East, Kaiparowits Escalante

 

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

There are only 17 entries in the Boone and Crockett record book from Utah. California bighorns are also classified in this species, and are typically smaller scoring rams.
 

Utah Rocky bighorn sheep - Wade Lemon Hunting
Photo credit: Wade Lemon Hunting

Utah Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep Boone and Crockett entries

County

Entries

Units within county

Grand 9 Book Cliffs/South
Emery 5 Nine Mile/Range Creek
Uintah 2 Nine Mile/Range Creek
Carbon 1 Nine Mile/Range Creek


Moose

Utah produces some great bull moose with racks over 40”. Each year a few B&C class moose are harvested. Note for residents: there are more than double the amount of people applying for this once-in-a-lifetime species than any other.
 

Utah bull moose
Photo credit: Wade Lemon Hunting

Utah moose Boone and Crockett entries

County

Entries

Units within county

Weber 42 East CanyonMorgan-South Rich
Cache 30 Cache, Ogden
Summit 25 Chalk CreekEast CanyonKamas
East Canyon/ Morgan-SummitNorth Slope/Summit,
North Slope/Three Corners/ West Daggett, Wasatch Mtns
Morgan 22 East CanyonEast Canyon/ Morgan-Summit,
Morgan-South Rich, Ogden
Rich 7 Cache, Morgan-South Rich

 

Mountain goat

Utah offers some of the best mountain goat hunts in the country. The Beaver unit has some great goats, fairly easy access and typically has a high success rate. The units located in the High Unitas offer hunters a remote, backpack style hunt with a high population of goats.
 

Utah mountain goat
Photo credit: Wade Lemon Hunting

Utah Mountain goat Boone and Crockett entries

County

Entries

Units within county

Weber 13 Ogden/Willard Peak
Utah 11 Wasatch Mtns/Provo PeakCentral Mtns/Nebo
Wasatch Mtns/Box Elder Peak/Lone Peak/Timpanogos
Beaver 10 Beaver
Salt Lake 6 Wasatch Mtns/Box Elder Peak/Lone Peak/Timpanogos
Piute 5 Beaver
Summit 5 Wasatch Mtns/Box Elder Peak/Lone Peak/Timpanogos,
Chalk Creek/KamasNorth Slope/South Slope/High Uintas East,
North Slope/South Slope/High Uintas West
North Slope/South Slope/High Uintas Central

 

Bison

Utah is one of the few places to hunt trophy-sized free-range American bison. The Henry Mountains offer four seasons, two hunters choice (bull or cow) and two cow only, that are open to both residents and nonresidents. 
 

Utah bison taken with High Top Outfitters
Photo credit: High Top Outfitters

Utah bison Boone and Crockett entries

County

Entries

Units within county

Garfield 40 Henry Mountains
Grand 9 Book Cliffs
Davis 8 Antelope Island
Wayne 4 Henry Mountains
Uintah 2 Book Cliffs/Wild Horse Ranch

 

General herd conditions:

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has been transplanting Desert bighorn sheep and mountain goats to build herds in new areas as well as rehabilitate current herd health. West of Salt Lake we are excited to see the California bighorns doing well enough that the state can use the herd to transplant animals into different parts of the state. Desert bighorn sheep tend to be smaller in trophy size than other states, but offer great hunt potential. Moose and bison populations are also stable in Utah. Moose have been appearing in areas where they have never been seen before. 

What’s new in 2015?

  • The Zion Desert bighorn unit will offer an early and a late season this year.
  • The Box Elder, Newfoundland Mountain Unit will offer an early and a late season.
  • The Box Elder, Pilot Mountain Unit will not offer a tag this year.
  • Extended season dates for most goat hunts.
  • Permit numbers for big game hunts will be set during the Utah Wildlife Board’s April 2015 meeting.
  • A recent innovation for Utah is that you can keep your hunting license on your smart phone or tablet. The official app allows you to renew, check expiration and also counts as a valid copy to show to a conservation officer.

The draw system: An overview

Tag or license: License, plus individual species permits.
Point system: Bonus points for nonresidents and residents.
Youth: No advantages for the once-in-a-lifetime permits.
Draw type: Regular draw with a nine-step process.
Resident perk: Only residents can apply for the coveted Utah sportsman permits. Many once-in-a-lifetime hunt units only offer resident permits.

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 to. 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 or general season tags. The state considers all applicants’ first hunt choices before considering any applicant’s second choice. 

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.

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
Sheep (desert or rocky) Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/March 19 May 29 $1,518*
Rocky Mountain goat Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/March 19 May 29 $1,518*
Moose Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/March 19 May 29 $1,518*
Bison Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/March 19 May 29 $1,518*
Bison (Antelope Island) Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/March 19 May 29 $2,615*
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
Sheep (desert or rocky) Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/March 19 May 29 $513*
Rocky Mountain goat Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/March 19 May 29 $413*
Moose Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/March 19 May 29 $413*
Bison Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/March 19 May 29 $413*
Bison (Antelope Island) Jan. 29 – Mar. 5 March 5/March 19 May 29 $1,110*
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. 

Special limitations to consider

Rocky Mountain bighorn, desert bighorn, moose, bison and mountain goat permits are all once-in-a-lifetime permits. If you have already drawn one of these you cannot apply for that species again.

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 antelope (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. 

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. 

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. 

  • Desert bighorn sheep: 22 points
  • Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep: 22 points
  • Mountain goat: 20 points
  • Moose: 22 points
  • Bison: 22 points

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.

Youth 

There is no youth-specific point system in Utah. Youth have no tags or special seasons for once-in-a-lifetime species.

Group applications

Group applications are not accepted for once-in-a-lifetime species.

Sportsman permits

Long season dates and almost any unit in the state could be yours with a 2015 Utah sportsman permit. These permits are available to residents only through a raffle-style draw. One permit each for moose, desert bighorn, Rocky Mountain bighorn, bison and mountain goat is usually offered every year. Apply online from October 28 to Nov. 18, 2015. Chances are slim to draw, but someone has to draw one.

Note: You cannot apply for a sportsman bison, bull moose, desert bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep or Rocky Mountain goat permit If you have already used your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for that species. If you draw a sportsman permit for a once-in-a-lifetime permit species, you will be given a lifetime waiting period for that species.

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 very 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. Most once-in-a-lifetime species have hunts with generous dates. In some cases, multiple weeks and a small number of permits mean the animals are not pressured or stressed. Anyone who draws these permits will definitely have a hunt to remember.

Hunter opportunity

General information, tips and our insights for hunting Utah’s once-in-a-lifetime species.

Draw odds and tag availability

Coveted hunts, (any of Utah’s once-in-a-lifetime hunts), have an extremely small number of tags each year. Overall odds for permits are better for residents than nonresidents.

Utah once-in-a-lifetime tags for residents
 

Utah once-in-a-lifetime tags for nonresidents

Special features for big game in Utah

  • All five species have fairly liberal season dates.
  • Most season dates for all once-in-a-lifetime species are during the rut.
  • There are no wolf or grizzly hazard areas in the state.

Managing points and expectations

I have 0 points. What can I expect?

Residents, there is always a possibility you will get lucky and draw a permit from 50% of tags reserved for those without maximum points. You can always work on building points.

Nonresidents, with the majority of the hunts only offering one permit, there is always a chance that you can draw because that permit is drawn randomly.

What can I do with 3 to 10 points?

Residents and nonresidents should use the same strategy as applicants with 0 points. If a hunter does not want to wait to shoot a billy, apply for a nanny tag where nanny tags are available is a great option if you just want to take a mountain goat. 

What can I expect with 15 or more points?

Sheep: 

  • Residents: with very few tags given for deserts and Rockies, the bonus point permits will take 21-22 points to draw. There is always a chance at the random tags, and you might as well keep building points.
  • Nonresidents: there is typically only one tag to give to nonresidents in a unit. Hope that your lucky this year because that tag is drawn randomly.

Goat: 

  • Residents: with a decent number of tags given, the bonus point permits will take 17-19 points to draw. If you are willing to harvest a nanny, that typically requires a few less points. There are units that have more opportunity at less points such as the Uintahs which you have a chance at drawing with 13 or 14 points.
  • Nonresidents: in 2014 there was only one season that offered more than one permit which allows for a bonus point permit going to the person with max points.

Bison: 

  • Residents: with a decent number of tags given, the bonus point permits will take 20-21 points to draw. If you are not a max point holder, keep building points, and there will be a chance at the random draw permits. 
  • Nonresidents: there is typically only one season that offers more than one permit which allows for a bonus point permit going to the person with the most points, 20-22. Points creep is inevitable with so few of tags offered.

Moose: 

  • Residents: with typically under 100 tags given annually, the bonus point permits will take 20-22 points to draw. There is always a chance at the random tags, and you might as well keep building points.
  • Nonresidents: same plan of attack for moose as the other species, there is typically only one season that offers more than one permit which allows for a bonus point permit going to the person with the most points, 20-22.

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