APPLICATION STRATEGY 2018: Utah Elk and Antelope
Utah's 2018 elk and antelope application overview
When most of us consider our bucket list hunts, hunting big bull elk in Utah sits fairly close to the top. Since the early 2000s, more trophy book bulls have come from Utah than any other state. Even the internet and pages of every major hunting magazine have been flooded with pictures of giant Utah bulls. The reality is that while Utah still produces a few big bulls, the bulk of Utah’s units don’t produce the number of big bulls that they did just 10 or 15 years ago. Hunting is still really good, but management strategies have changed a bit to try to give more applicants the opportunity to actually go hunting. Odds of drawing a permit are tough and that’s not going to significantly change. However, Utah is still a must apply state if you love elk hunting and, for another $10 application fee, you can also add a chance for an antelope permit.
Note: The application deadline for all Utah species is March 1, 2018 at 11 p.m. MST. Applicants wishing to purchase bonus points only have until March 15, 2018 at 11 p.m. MST. You may apply online here.
Why Utah for elk and antelope
Almost two-thirds of Utah is federally owned. Add in another 10% that is state owned and you have one of the most do-it-yourself (DIY) friendly accessible states to hunt.
There are a variety of elk seasons and weapon choices. The holy grail has always been the early rifle hunt that occurs right in the heart of the rut in mid-September. Archery hunters have nearly an entire month (from mid-August to mid-September) to try to fill their tag. The muzzleloader hunt takes place in the last few days of September and the first part of October and many years occurs along with the best part of the rut. Utah also offers mid-season hunts in some units and late November seasons in most limited entry units. Utah also gives a limited amount of multi-season permits for some units, which allow the lucky few to hunt every limited entry season for that unit.
Utah has a bonus point system for limited entry elk and antelope, but every applicant has at least some chance in the draw. For the $65 license fee and $10 per species application fee, it’s worth having a chance at the hunt of a lifetime.
Some of the biggest bulls in the West are harvested in Utah every fall. There are only a handful of units that are specifically managed for top-tier bulls, but almost any unit in the state will produce 330” bulls regularly.
New for 2018
Changes to the hunter mentoring program
- Any qualified adult (21+) can now mentor a resident youth as long as the child’s parent or legal guardian provides written permission. The mentor can be a resident or nonresident, but the youth must be a resident.
- A mentor can now share any hunting permit—not just big game.
- A mentor can now identify up to four minors to be mentored on a single permit. Mentors may only mentor one youth in the field at a time and only one animal may be harvested.
- Youth are limited to one mentored hunt of the same species and sex per year, but they may also hunt on any permits they personally draw.
- You may enroll in the hunter mentoring program by printing the application form, completing it and returning it to a division office.
Multi-season general bull elk hunts
In 2018, hunters can purchase a multi-season general bull elk (spike or any bull) that allows you to hunt all three seasons (archery, rifle, muzzleloader). These permits can be purchased over-the-counter (OTC) starting July 17, 2018 at 8 a.m.
Season dates change slightly every year, review before applying
Archery elk hunters are always interested in Utah’s hunt dates. In 2018, the limited entry and general any bull archery elk hunt will end on Sept. 14. The general spike archery elk season ends Sept 7.
For 2018, goHUNT has included draw odds for cow elk, cow moose, doe antelope and deer permits.
In late May, Utah will publish the antlerless hunt guidebook where applicants can see hunts, dates, and maps. You can see your draw odds here.
To view important information and an overview of Utah’s rules/regulations, the draw system and bonus points, tag and license fees and an interactive boundary line map, check out our State Profile. You can also view the Utah Elk Profile and Antelope Profile to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy areas.
Important dates and information
- Deadline to apply is March 1, 2018 at 11 p.m. MST.
- Bonus and preference point applications will be accepted up to March 15, 2018 at 11 p.m. MST.
- You may apply online or by calling or visiting any Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) office.
- Results will be emailed or available online on or shortly before May 31, 2018.
- Hunters born after Dec 31, 1965 must have taken an approved hunter’s education course.
- Applicants must be 12 years old by Dec 31, 2018, to apply and hunt in Utah.
- Hunters must have a valid hunting or combination hunting/fishing license to apply.
- Hunting licenses are valid for 365 days from the date of purchase. If you time it correctly you can apply two consecutive years on one license. You do not need an active hunting license to hunt, just to apply.
- Withdrawing or correcting an application is allowed before the application deadline. Corrections are made by withdrawing an application and submitting a new one. Be aware: you will be charged the $10 application fee again to make adjustments.
- Utah issues 10% of their draw permits to nonresidents.
- Nonresidents may apply and build bonus points for all available species.
- Residents may only apply for one limited entry species: elk, antelope or deer. They may also apply for one once-in-a-lifetime species: moose, sheep, goat or bison. They may also apply for general season deer or dedicated hunter deer if applicable.
- If you are unsuccessful in the draw, then you will be awarded a bonus point for that species.
- An individual who draws a permit may surrender it back to the UDWR prior to the season starting. If surrendered prior to opening day, you will receive your bonus points back.
- If you draw a limited entry elk permit, you may not apply again for five years.
- If you draw a limited entry antelope permit, you may not apply again for two years.
Snowpack in Utah
The 2017-2018 winter has been one of the worst in the last 30 years. Statistically, if you are less than 75% of normal snowpack on Jan 1, there is only about a 20% chance of getting back to average by April. Currently, there are only four areas above 75% and almost the entire southern portion of the state is below 50%. The keys to antler and horn growth are a combination of age, genetics, and nutrition. The age class and genetics are there, but just how good will the feed be? If spring rains are good through the months of April and May, antler growth could be fine. If those months remain dry, antler development could be inhibited, which is normally manifested by bulls that will have average bottom end tines and short top ends. Antelope bucks put on the bulk of their horn growth during the winter and early spring months, which doesn’t bode well for 2018 horn growth. If Utah gets better spring rain, you may see decent height, but cutters and mass are likely to suffer. Overall, antler development is complex with several contributing factors; however, with the current state of moisture, there is a reason to be concerned.
The draw system
Understanding the draw
Understanding the draw process and some key aspects of it are critical before you apply. As noted above, you must have a 365-day hunting or hunting/fishing combo license to apply. You do not need one to hunt. If you time it correctly by buying and applying near the end of the application timeframe one year and then applying the next year early in the application period, you could only have to buy one license every two years.
Utah’s draw system is complex, but not nearly as complex as some other states. Utah limited entry elk and antelope utilize a bonus point system. For every year you apply and are unsuccessful in drawing a permit you will gain a bonus point. You may also simply purchase a bonus point. Every bonus point you have is essentially the number of times your name goes into the draw. Statistically, the more points you have, the better the odds.
Utah also gives 50% of the permits for any given hunt to the applicants with the most bonus points in that pool. The other 50% will be randomly drawn with bonus points giving applicants statistically better odds with more points. If there is an odd number of permits, the bulk will be randomly drawn. If there is one permit, it will be randomly drawn. This is why even applicants with no points have at least some chance to draw as long as there is at least one permit.
Permit allocation breakdown
Example: Monroe muzzleloader bull elk
Six total permits (five resident, one nonresident)
Resident pool: two resident permits go to maximum point holders; three are randomly allocated.
Nonresident pool: one permit randomly allocated.
The random draw process is relatively simple. Each applicant is assigned a randomly generated number for each bonus point they have. The applicants with the lowest generated random number will draw the permits until they are gone.
Applicants can select two hunt choices when applying for limited entry hunts. Every applicant’s first choice is considered before moving to anyone's second choice. It is extremely rare for a limited entry permit to be drawn as a second choice. In recent years, the very few hunts that could be drawn as a second choice are not hunts we would advise applicants to apply for. Also, if you draw a permit as a second choice, you will lose any accumulated points.
Up to four applicants can apply for limited entry hunts on one application. Nonresidents and residents can apply together. The group application goes into the draw as one single application. If that application is successful in the draw, all applicants will receive a permit provided there are enough permits available for all applicants in the group. For example, if a group of four apply together and there are only two permits available for that hunt, the application will be rejected. Bonus points are added together and divided by the number of applicants in the group and rounded down to the whole number. For example, a group of three applicants with 5, 7, 4 would go into the draw with 5 points (5+7+4= 16/3=5.3333 rounded down to 5).
Unlocking Utah’s system
Utah’s draw goes in the following order from first to last:
- Buck deer (multi-season premium limited entry, premium limited entry, multi-season limited entry, limited entry, Cooperative Wildlife Management Unit (CWMU) and management buck deer)
- Bull elk (multi-season limited entry, limited entry, and CWMU)
- Buck antelope (limited entry and CWMU)
- Once-in-a-lifetime species (sheep, moose, mountain goat and bison)
- General buck deer (lifetime license holders)
- General buck deer (dedicated hunters)
- General buck deer (youth)
- General buck deer
- Youth any bull elk
The order in which the draw happens is important to consider because Utah does not allow you to draw both a limited entry and once-in-a-lifetime permit in the same year. For example, if you applied for a bull elk permit and a moose permit and you draw the bull elk permit, your moose application is removed and not considered in the draw.
We recommend that you review your bonus points, draw odds and develop a strategy. If you are close to that maximum bonus point spot for drawing a once-in-a-lifetime tag, perhaps don’t shoot yourself in the foot by applying for and drawing an easier bull elk permit and, subsequently, taking your name out of the once-in-a-lifetime drawing. For more information on applying as a group, visit the Utah State Profile.
Utah application strategy Q&A video
You can check out the video below for some questions we got asked on an Instagram post we made last week. Note: this Q&A covers elk and deer applications in Utah.
Subscribe to goHUNT on YouTube channel here to stay up-to-date on our latest videos.
Utah's 2018 elk breakdown
Current elk herd condition
Elk are well established throughout the state. Populations vary locally throughout the state, but, overall, the statewide population is down slightly from recent years. It’s still near the objective, but down from the historic highs of 2013. Current snowpack conditions are poor, which may impact antler growth; however, winter survival should be very good. Utah manages their elk herds by a unit with each unit having a desired age class objective for harvested bulls. Age class is determined by analyzing teeth from bulls harvested. Each limited entry elk hunter has to complete a harvest survey although they are not required to return teeth. UDWR reports that they typically receive a statistically significant number of samples to evaluate age class objectives.
Utah’s limited entry elk hunting seasons
Utah has archery, early any weapon, muzzleloader, and late any weapon. Some units also have a mid-season October any weapon hunt. The archery hunters have the first chance at big bulls with season dates running from mid-August until September 14. The archery hunt is typically hot and pre-rut. Bowhunters should plan on spot and stalk hunting, ambush hunting over water or wallows, and may get into some rut and calling action during the last few days of the hunt. Bulls are often transitioning from summer range into rut areas and keeping tabs on a particular bull can be frustrating. A review of Utah’s archery bull harvest success rates will show you that those hunts are far from a guarantee.
Early rifle hunts begin right after the archery hunt and occur along with the heat or the rut. Listening for and chasing bugles and spot and stalk hunting are both good methods. Bulls are typically rounding up cow/calf herds and can be scattered. Harvest success rates are very high for these hunts.
The muzzleloader hunts take place right after the early any weapon hunt and occur during the last few days of September and during the first part of October. Some years, this is the best rut hunt. Muzzleloader hunters in Utah can use an inline modern setup and magnified scopes. Once again, spot and stalk and chasing bugles are productive methods. Harvest success is normally very high.
Some units have mid-season (early October) any weapon. These are relatively new hunts that UDWR has incorporated to give more hunters the opportunity to hunt. They take place along with the OTC any weapon spike elk hunt and hunting pressure can be very high. Bulls will have began to pull away from cow/calf herds and start transitioning into winter range. Big bulls can be tough to locate, but these hunts take far fewer bonus points to draw than some of the other hunts.
Late season any weapon hunts can be very good, depending on the area. Units with a lot of open glassable topography can provide an excellent hunt. Bulls are often is small bachelor herds or tucked away alone in winter range pockets. Broken tines can be an issue during these post rut late season hunts as can cold snowy conditions. Harvest success for these hunts is still very high.
A limited number of multi-season permits are offered, giving permit holders the chance to hunt every season for that unit. These are incredible permits and are designed to let hunters be very selective. Odds are tough for these permits, but they are the best of the best if you have the time to put into it.
The goHUNT hit list units for Utah elk
The age class table above can very quickly give you an idea of where the biggest bulls in the state are harvested every year. The genetics are good in just about every unit, but it also takes age and feed to produce trophy bulls. The Plateau/Boulder, San Juan, Fillmore/Pahvant, Beaver/East, and Book Cliffs/Little Creek units are the best in the state. Consequently, they are also the hardest units to draw.
Several other units will produce 350”+ bulls every year, but they typically do not have the number of older age class bulls that the top tier units do. If your objective is to hunt and possible harvest a 370’+ bull, then you really should be looking at those top five units or be prepared to scout and hunt hard or hire a guide. Overall, the trophy potential is still good in Utah, but it is not what it was in the early 2000s and is unlikely to get back to that level given the changes in the management strategies.
Top hunt units to consider for 350” or better bulls
avg. age class
|Book Cliffs, Little Creek||370"+||7.8||100%|
|West Desert/Deep Creek||350"+||7.2||85%|
|North Slope/Three Corners||350"+||5.4||95%|
Nonresidents should note that several of the very best units will only offer one nonresident permit and if there is one permit it will be randomly allocated. A nonresident applying for a hunt like the Fillmore/Pahvant muzzleloader will never be guaranteed a permit as long as there is only one.
How to uncover hidden gem elk units
Utilize the Filtering 2.0 tools to manipulate the Trophy Potential and Draw Odds to explore each unit's potential. Explore archery, mid-season rifle, and late season rifle odds on the standalone draw odds page.
For example, 100% odds for the nonresident Plateau/Fishlake hunts: archery (14 points), early rifle (20 points), muzzleloader (15 points), mid-season rifle (12 points), late rifle (14 points). This is just one example where there is an eight-point difference between the early rifle and the mid-season rifle hunts. The mid-season hunt in early October takes place during the same time as the general season OTC spike rifle elk hunt. It’s not ideal, but if you don’t have many points, these types of hunts are worth considering.
Additionally, it’s worth evaluating your objectives for a hunt. Everyone wants a giant bull, but are you willing to possibly never draw a permit or in reality would you be happy with a chance to hunt and tag out on a 320” to 340” bull? Almost every unit can offer you that type of hunt and the odds of drawing those types of hunts are much better than the top shelf units.
Utah’s OTC any bull and spike bull hunts, what are they all about?
Utah has 18 over-the-counter any bull units. You can easily find and research those by using Filtering 2.0 and selecting the “Elk, Over the Counter” link. Any bull elk permits can be purchased from any authorized dealer or online beginning July 17. You may purchase an archery, any weapon or a muzzleloader permit. Also, new for 2018, there will be multi-season any bull permits available, which will allow a hunter to hunt all three hunts. An any bull permit will allow you to hunt any of the any bull units in the state. Utah's any bull units do not offer a high-quality hunt. Most units either have low numbers of elk or a decent number of elk and the land is mostly privately owned. Of the any bull units, the North Slope, Summit/West Daggett and South Slope, Bonanza/Vernal/Yellowstone, Nine Mile/Range Creek in northeast Utah and the Zion unit in southern Utah offer the best hunts. Overall, for a nonresident, there are far better OTC hunting opportunities in the neighboring states of Colorado and Idaho.
We often get asked about the OTC spike elk hunting opportunities in Utah. Utah offers OTC archery, any weapon and muzzleloader permits and, new for 2018, multi-season permits. Utah uses spike elk hunting to keep the bull:cow ratios within desired levels while still maintaining and offering older age class bulls to the hunters who draw limited entry permits. An OTC spike elk permit allows the hunter to hunt and harvest a spike elk on any of the limited entry units. Harvest success is typically in the 20% range for these hunts. Hunting spikes on a limited entry unit for a couple years prior to drawing a limited entry big bull tag can help you get to know the area and learn elk behavior.
OTC hunt units for Utah bull elk
|Cache, East Rich||300"+||13:100||54%|
|Nine Mile, Range Creek||300"+||49:100||72%|
|Box Elder, Hansel Mtn||NA||NA||29%|
|Fillmore, Oak Creek||NA||NA||99%|
|North Slope, Summit/West Daggett||NA||14:100||90%|
|San Juan, Montezuma Canyon||NA||NA||70%|
|San Rafael, North||NA||NA||86%|
|South Slope, Bonanza/Vernal/Yellowstone||NA||18:100||61%|
|West Desert, East||NA||NA||72%|
In our opinion, there are much better OTC opportunities to hunt bulls in states like Idaho and Colorado where elk populations and trophy quality are much better in those types of units. For a resident that wants to explore OTC any bull hunting in Utah, the best two units are the North Slope, Summit/West Daggett and South Slope, Bonanza/Vernal/Yellowstone.
Extended archery elk opportunities
An additional OTC opportunity is the extended archery hunt on the Wasatch Front and the Uintah Basin. If you purchase an OTC general archery permit, you may hunt and harvest either-sex on an any bull unit or a spike or cow/calf on spike units. If you have not filled your permit or if you simply want to hunt the extended units you may do so from August 18 to December 15, 2018. If you plan to hunt the extended archery elk hunt you must also complete the required extended archery ethics course and print the certificate and keep it with you while hunting. The extended archery hunt for elk is for either sex.
Extended archery elk units
|Uintah Basin||Sept. 16 - Dec. 15|
|Wasatch Front||Aug. 19 - Dec. 15|
Antlerless elk hunting opportunities
Utah offers any weapon antlerless elk hunts on almost every unit. The antlerless elk permits are allocated through a draw that is a separate draw from the regular big game draw. For 2018, goHUNT has included draw odds for all antlerless hunts. They can be found in the stand-alone draw odds section of your INSIDER account. The Utah antlerless guidebook is typically available online late May and the application deadline is in mid-June. The antlerless draw works on a preference point system where the applicants with the most points receive the permits. If you draw any of your hunt choices, you will lose your antlerless elk preference points. Drawing an antlerless tag does not impact your limited entry bonus points. There are typically none or very few permits remaining after the antlerless elk draw. If you want to hunt antlerless elk in Utah, plan on applying in the antlerless elk draw in June.
Boone & Crockett (B&C) entry trends for Utah elk
Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county. Data provided below courtesy of the Boone and Crockett Club.
Utah's top B&C producing
|Units found within county|
|San Juan||7||San Juan, La Sal/La Sal Mountains|
|Garfield||5||Mt Dutton, Panguitch Lake, Paunsaugunt, Plateau/Boulder/Kaiparowits, Beaver|
|Sevier||5||Plateau/Boulder/Kaiparowits, Beaver, East, Central Mtns/Nebo, Central Mtns/Manti,|
Plateau/Fishlake/Thousand Lakes, Monroe, Fillmore/Pahvant
|Sanpete||4||Central Mtns, Nebo, Central Mtns, Manti|
|Iron||3||Beaver, East, Southwest Desert, Mt Dutton|
|Rich||3||Cache, South, Cache, Meadowville|
|Millard||3||Southwest Desert, West Desert/Deep Creek, Fillmore/Pahvant, Beaver|
|Uintah||3||South Slope/Diamond Mtn, Nine Mile, Anthro, Book Cliffs, Bitter Creek/South|
Utah's top B&C producing
|Units found within county|
|Garfield||4||Beaver, Panguitch Lake, Paunsaugunt,|
Plateau/Boulder/ Kaiparowits, Mt. Dutton
|Carbon||1||Central Mtns, Manti, Nine Mile, Anthro, Wasatch Mtns|
|Iron||1||Beaver, East, Panguitch Lake, Southwest Desert|
|San Juan||1||San Juan, La Sal/La Sal Mountains|
|Tooele||1||Oquirrh-Stansbury, West Desert, Deep Creek, Box Elder, Pilot Mtn|
Trending bull:cow ratio units
You have probably noticed that we provide data on bull to cow ratios for each hunt unit in Utah. Male to female ratios are a critical measuring data tool for wildlife managers and indicate the current status of the herd. A higher bull to cow ratio could indicate that a unit could have a higher availability of mature bulls compared to a unit with a lower bull to cow ratio. This doesn’t always indicate that the bulls will be the highest scoring bulls, but more bulls equates to more bulls to find and harvest. When selecting an area, or comparing several areas, take this into consideration to help your decision. For a complete understanding of male to female ratios, please refer to a recent article covering this in depth.
It’s important to understand how Utah manages their bull to cow ratios, which, in turn, will tell you something about overall herd health. In addition to the bull elk Limited Entry permits allocated through the draw, Utah uses a spike only OTC hunt on almost every limited entry unit to reduce the overall bull to cow ratio. That keeps the bull to cow ratio in check while retaining an older age class of bulls within the population for Limited Entry hunters to hunt and harvest. Because the listed bull to cow ratios are gained through postseason data and Utah harvests spikes in addition to big bulls, the ratio, by and large, represents a MATURE BULL TO COW ratio.
Top Utah units for bull:cow ratios
|Central Mtns, Manti||52:100||350"+||X|
|Nine Mile, Range Creek||49:100||300"+||X|
|La Sal, Dolores Triangle||41:100||340"+|
|North Slope, Three Corners||35:100||350"+||X|
Managing points and expectations
2018 max bonus points for elk: 25
I have 0 elk points. What can I expect?
If you’re just starting to apply in Utah for elk, expect a long wait. Without a lot of bonus points, you will be mainly relying on luck. Note: every applicant has a very slight chance to draw as long as there is a permit available.
There are two main strategies to applying in Utah:
- Pick your dream hunt (build points) and cross your fingers that lady luck shines on you
- Maximize your odds to draw a random tag by picking units that offer a greater number of permits or offer better odds, i.e. archery, late season or muzzleloader
With all the options listed below with zero points, keep in mind that they might be easy to draw for a reason and if you’d rather build your points for a better hunt, it could be best to avoid applying for them.
Residents with no points can adopt a similar strategy.
- Either apply for a top tier hunt and cross your fingers or increase your odds slightly by looking for a mid-tier type of hunt that still meets your objectives.
- The Paunsaugunt archery hunt had 25% odds and could be a decent hunt for an average bull. The Cache Meadowville hunts have good odds, but, once again, the bulk of the elk reside on private land and going with a guide who has access to that property is advised.
If you are a nonresident applying for elk in Utah for the first time there are couple strategies that you might consider.
Apply for a highly sought after permit and hope you get very lucky in the draw. Almost every hunt has odds of less than 1% regardless of whether its a top tier or mid-tier type of unit. There is a handful that has odds from 1-4% but those odds are not good enough to justify applying for them. Instead, it’s probably better to swing for the fences and if you are going to get lucky, get lucky with an amazing permit.
There are units/hunts that have good odds: Cache Meadowville, Cache North and Oquirrh-Stansbury. The Cache Meadowville is very difficult to hunt without access to private land. If you have the means to go on a guided hunt with an outfitter that has access, then it’s a good hunt. If you are considering that route, do the research and have an outfitter in place before applying. The Oquirrh-Stansbury has had lower populations, success rates and trophy quality. The Cache North also has lower populations and has not produced the caliber of bull Utah is known for. Referring to the three year age class average, it has been below the 4.5 year old baseline objective. Both of the units have good odds though and may be worth considering.
What can I do with 3 to 6 elk points?
This next tier of points won’t get you very far in Utah and you’ll still need to apply with hopes of drawing a random tag.
At this point level, you have already put in some time to accrue points, so it might be your best interest to apply for the top units you’d be happy to draw and hope to pull a tag randomly.
Residents are closing in on a few of the better hunting opportunities. Archery hunts in all of the following units have good or even 100% odds: Book Cliffs/Little Creek, Book Cliffs/Bitter Creek, Central Mtns/Nebo, Central Mtns/Manti, La Sal/La Sal Mtns, Nine Mile Anthro, North Slope/Three Corners, Plateau/Fishlake, Wasatch and West Desert/Deep Creek.
Several of the muzzleloader, mid-season and late rifle hunts for the same units listed above have fairly good odds and are worth researching.
A nonresident in this point range should adopt the same strategy as above although there are some hunts that are starting to get into the 3-8% draw odds range. Use the draw odds, trophy potential and harvest success filtering tools to determine if there are hunts that would suit your needs. The best units worth considering in this range are Cache South, Wasatch, Box Elder/Grouse Creek or, perhaps, the Paunsaugunt or Cache North.
What can I expect with 9, 10 or more elk points?
The big five: Beaver, Fillmore, Boulder, San Juan and Monroe are the only units that a resident bowhunter should not consider in this point range. Unless you are dead set on hunting one of these units, then apply and hope for a random tag. There are also a handful of muzzleloader, late any weapon, and mid-season October any weapon hunts worth a hard look.
Utah's 2018 antelope breakdown
Antelope hunting in Utah is not as renowned for trophy potential as Arizona or New Mexico and it does not have nearly the population that Wyoming does. Utah should be viewed as an opportunity antelope hunting state. If you are a nonresident buying a license in order to apply for other species, for an additional $10 application fee, it’s worth applying for an antelope hunt, too. Residents can only apply for one limited entry species at a time. We encourage applicants to apply for either limited entry elk or deer and only apply for antelope during the mandatory waiting periods after having drawn one of those other species.
Utah’s antelope population is good and, occasionally, a trophy book buck is harvested. If you are looking for a fun hunt, consider adding antelope to your Utah application.
Current antelope herd condition
The most recent estimate of Utah’s statewide antelope population has it at a historic high: almost 17,000 total. In 2016, more hunters took the field in pursuit of antelope than at any time and harvest was the second highest in history. The current light winter conditions that Utah is experiencing should yield good winter survival and the herd will emerge in good shape, provided spring and summer moisture is decent. Trophy potential could suffer in 2018 given the low amount of moisture the grasslands and sage steppe received through the fall and winter months. Utah is not likely to be the state that will provide you a record buck, but it can offer a good chance for success on a nice buck.
Utah has archery, muzzleloader and any legal weapon hunting seasons. Modern in-line muzzleloaders are permitted as are magnified scopes. Keep in mind that only the Cache/Morgan-South Rich/Ogden, Plateau/Parker Mtn, San Rafael North, and the Southwest Desert have muzzleloader specific seasons. All of those will have at least one nonresident permit. You can see these hunt options in Filtering 2.0 here. The archery season takes place during the pre-rut into the early stages of the rut. The any weapon and muzzleloader hunts typically take in the best part of the rut.
The goHUNT hit list units for Utah antelope
The continual stand-out units for trophy quality bucks has been the San Rafael/North and the Book Cliffs/South. The units in Box Elder county have also produced a few book bucks in recent years. Those units are not as widely talked about. They do have good populations and the genetics and feed can produce a big buck occasionally.
Top units to consider for 75” or better antelope
|San Rafael, North||80"+||Archery: 56%|
|Book Cliffs, South||80"+||Archery: 71%|
|Book Cliffs, Bitter Creek||75"+||Archery: 50%|
|Fillmore, Oak Creek South||75"+||Archery: 50%|
|Nine Mile, Antho-Myton Beach||75"+||Archery: 83%|
|Panguitch Lake/Zion, North||75"+||Archery: no info|
|Pine Valley||75"+||Archery: 43%|
|Southwest Desert||75"+||Archery: 69%|
|West Desert, Riverbed||75"+||Archery: 100%|
|West Desert, Snake Valley||75"+||Archery: 100%|
|North Slope, Three Corners/|
Boone & Crockett (B&C) entry trends for Utah antelope
Units listed below may not have a current hunt for this species. Units in this table are included if any part of the unit is found within the county. Data provided below courtesy of the Boone and Crockett Club.
Utah's top B&C producing
|Box Elder||5||Box Elder/ Pilot Mtn, Box Elder/ Snowville, Box Elder/ Promontory|
|Carbon||4||Nine Mile/ Range Creek, San Rafael/North, Nine Mile/Anthro-Myton Bench|
|Emery||3||Nine Mile/ Range Creek, San Rafael/ North, San Rafael/ Desert|
|Millard||3||Beaver, Fillmore/Oak Creek South, Southwest Desert,|
West Desert/Riverbed, West Desert/Snake Valley
|Beaver||1||Beaver, Southwest Desert|
|Iron||1||Pine Valley, Southwest Desert, Panguitch Lake/Zion, North, Beaver|
How to uncover hidden antelope units
For residents and nonresidents, the archery hunts offer the best odds of drawing a permit and, if you consider the harvest success rates for those hunts, you’ll see they are actually really good hunts. The Plateau, Parker Mtn unit has the largest population and, consequently, also has the highest number of permits. The odds for that unit continue to be the best in the state. If you have been applying for an any weapon permit, it may be worth reviewing the muzzleloader hunts. The odds of drawing those permits is quite a bit better.
Doe antelope opportunity in the big game draw
Utah offers doe antelope hunting opportunities in most units. INSIDERs should take note that, for 2018, we offer draw odds for doe antelope hunts. You can find those on the standalone draw odds page. Utah has a preference point system for doe antelope where the applicants with the most points draw the permits. Most units can be drawn with one or two preference points. If you want to doe antelope hunt in Utah, plan on applying in during the June antlerless/doe draw.
Managing points and expectations
2018 max bonus points for antelope: 20
I have 0 antelope points. What can I expect?
Residents have some options with no points; the La Sal, Potash/South Cisco archery hunt had 100% odds. The Plateau, Parker Mtn archery hunt had 93% odds. Three other archery units had 40% or better draw odds and an additional three archery units had 20% or better odds. The four muzzleloader hunts also have surprisingly decent odds with very few points.
Nonresidents should decide what their goal is for an antelope hunt. If your goal is to try to harvest a mid to upper 70” buck or better, then you should focus on those trophy units that have a nonresident permit available. The odds of drawing are any of those are long. The best odds of drawing a permit is the Nine Mile, Anthro-Myton Bench 25% (archery), North Slope, Three Corners/West Daggett 14% (archery), Cache/Morgan-South Rich/Ogden 11% (muzzleloader) or the Plateau, parker Mtn with 6.6% (archery) and 2.8% (muzzleloader).
What can I do with 3 to 6 antelope points?
Residents at the six point level could draw all but two of the archery hunts. Of those, the best hunts are likely the San Rafael, North and the Book Cliffs units. At the three point level, you also have several archery hunt options. The four muzzleloader hunts all had 100% odds at the six point level. The muzzleloader odds at three, four and five points are also very good. Rifle hunters also have several very good options, the best of which are the Southwest Desert, Nine Mile, Anthro-Myton Bench, Book Cliffs, South, and the Beaver. Explore the Draw Odds and Unit Profiles to see which unit fits your objectives best.
Once again, nonresidents should apply for a top tier trophy unit and cross their fingers or consider the Plateau, Parker Mtn archery or muzzleloader hunts. The West Desert, Snake Valley archery hunt also had decent odds for this point range.
What can I expect with 7 to 10 antelope points?
Residents with 10 points could draw any antelope permit in the state except for the West Desert, Riverbed and West Desert, Snake Valley rifle hunts. With seven, eight, or nine points there are many hunts that are worth considering. Use the Draw Odds, trophy potential, and Unit Profiles to find the best hunt for you.
Within this point range a nonresident has quite a few good options—the best of which are the Southwest Desert archery and muzzleloader hunts as well as the rifle hunts on the Box Elder, Snowville, Nine Mile, Anthro-Myton Bench, North Slope, Three Corners/West Daggett and the West Desert, Snake Valley and West Desert, Rush Valley.