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Application Strategy 2022: Utah Mule Deer

Photo credit: Dreamstime

Utah's 2022 mule deer application overview

Jump to: NEW FOR 2022 State Information Draw System Mule Deer Breakdown Points System

Note: The application deadline for all Utah species is March 3, 2022 at 11 p.m. MST. Applicants wishing to purchase preference and/or bonus points have until March 17, 2022 at 11 p.m. MST. You may apply online here.


New for 2022

  • New restrictions for trail cameras and baiting. See article links below:
  • Utah Wildlife Board bans trail camera usage for big game hunting
  • Utah to ban big game baiting
  • Some unit boundaries and unit names may have been changed for 2021. See the 2022 Utah big game guidebook for more information.
  • New child support law now in effect: As of July 1, 2021, there are restrictions on fishing and hunting license purchasers for non-payment of child support. See the 2022 Utah big game guidebook for more information.

Your goHUNT INSIDER account also has the NEW Point Tracker feature. This allows you to enter the number of points you have for each state and species and, as you research through Filtering 2.0 and Draw Odds, your point total will automatically be highlighted.


State Information

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 Mule Deer Profile to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy areas.

Utah State Profile Utah Mule Deer Profile goHUNT Maps Draw Odds Filtering 2.0

Important dates and information

  • The deadline to apply is March 3, 2022 at 11 p.m. MST. Apply online here.
  • Applicants can also apply via telephone by calling any Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) office.
  • The bonus point/preference point only purchase and application withdrawal deadline is March 17, 2022 at 11 p.m. MST.
  • Applicants can withdraw their application at no additional cost until March 17, 2022.
  • Results will be emailed or available online on or shortly before May 31, 2022.
  • 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 for two consecutive years on one license. You do not need an active hunting license to hunt, just to apply.
  • Applicants must be 12 years old by Dec. 31, 2022 to apply.
  • Hunters must be 12 years old to hunt.
  • Hunters born after Dec. 31, 1965 must have taken an approved hunter’s education course.
  • 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 and reapply.
  • Group applications are allowed for limited entry and general season deer. Up to four applicants can apply together as a group.
  • 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, bighorn sheep, mountain goat or bison. They can also apply for general season deer and the dedicated hunter program if they are not already enrolled.
  • If you draw a limited entry elk permit, you may not apply again for five years.
  • If you draw a limited entry deer permit, you may not apply again for five years.
  • There is no waiting period for general season deer.

Utah limited entry and general season deer fees 2022

Item Resident Nonresident
365-day
hunting license
$11 youth (13 and under)
$16 youth (14 to 17)
$34 adult (18 to 64)
$25 adult (65 and older)
$29 youth (14 to 17)
$72 adult (18 and older)
365-day hunt/fish
combination license
$20 youth (14 to 17)
$38 adult (18 to 64)
29 adult (65 and older)
$33 youth (17 and under)
$98 adult (18 and under)
App fee
per species
$10 $15
Premium limited entry
deer permit
$168 $768
Multi-season premium
limited entry deer permit
$305 $1,330
Limited entry deer permit $80 $650
Management buck deer permit $80 $650
General season deer permit $40 $398
Dedicated hunter deer program $195 $1,047
Dedicated hunter deer program
(youth)
$120 $814

Note: Applicants need to buy either a hunting license or combination hunting/fishing license to apply. Applicants will not be charged the cost of the permit unless they are successful in the draw.


The Utah Draw System

Hunting license to apply

Every applicant will need to have a valid hunting license to apply for hunts or even bonus or preference points only. That hunting license is valid for 365 days from the date of purchase. Applicants can buy one hunting license every two years and apply if they time it correctly. For example, if you purchase a hunting license and apply on the last day of this application period and then apply early in next year's application period you could apply for two years on one hunting license. You do not need a valid hunting license to actually hunt; you only need it to apply in the draw. 

The permit split offers 90% to residents and 10% to nonresidents.

Limited entry hunts

Utah has a hybrid draw system for limited entry deer permits where they allocate 50% of the permits for each hunt to the applicants with the most bonus points and 50% are randomly allocated. The random draw takes into consideration the number of points each applicant has, meaning you get more chances in the random draw with each point you have. For example, if I have no points, I get one chance. If I have 10 points, I get 11 chances (one for each point I have and one for this year’s application). If there is an odd number of permits, for example, three, the bulk go to high point holders and only one will be randomly allocated. If there is one permit only, it will be randomly drawn.

Bonus points are given for each year an applicant applies for a limited entry or once-in-a-lifetime species and is unsuccessful in the draw. Applicants can also apply for bonus points only if they choose to until March 17 at 11:00 PM. Bonus points are species specific, meaning you cannot apply bonus points for limited entry deer toward a limited entry elk or antelope hunt. We highly recommend that applicants apply for limited entry hunts and not for bonus points only. With Utah offering half of their permits through a random draw, applicants should apply for hunts. They will receive a bonus point if they are unsuccessful in the draw. 

Residents can apply for general season deer, dedicated hunter deer and one limited entry species: either premium/limited entry deer, limited entry elk or limited entry antelope. Residents can also apply for one once-in-a-lifetime species: moose, bighorn sheep, bison or mountain goat. Nonresidents can apply for every species they are interested in.

Premium limited entry

These units/hunts are managed for higher buck:doe ratios and a higher quality hunt. The Henry Mtns, Paunsaugunt and Antelope Island hunts fall under this category. There are archery, muzzleloader, rifle and multi-season hunts available for the Henry Mtns and the Paunsaugunt. Antelope Island only offers a rifle permit. 

Limited entry

Limited entry units are managed for a lower buck:doe ratio than the premium units. These units offer good hunts, but quality is not typically on par with the premium units. There are archery, muzzleloader and rifle hunts for these units and the odds of drawing these hunts are better than the premium units.

Management and cactus limited entry

The Paunsaugunt unit will have archery, muzzleloader and rifle hunts for management (bucks with three points or less on at least one antler) and cactus (bucks with velvet covering at least 50% of its antlers during the season dates). The management and cactus buck hunts are limited entry hunts and successful applicants will lose any accumulated bonus points.

Handguns, archery, muzzleloader and shotgun (HAMS) hunts

HAMS hunts will occur on the Book Cliffs, Floy Canyon, Kaiparowits and Morgan-South Rich and run from Nov. 12 to 27, 2022. The dates are ideal for a rutting mule deer hunt, but weapons are restricted to handguns, archery, muzzleloader (no scope) and shotgun.

Late muzzleloader on general season units

These hunts occur on the general season units from Nov. 2 to 10, 2022 and permit holders must use a muzzleloader. These are limited entry hunts that occur on all general season units and, if you draw one, all of your bonus points will be utilized. It’s worth noting that these hunts will begin two days after the rifle general season hunts. The dates are also prior to the prime dates of the rut, which typically occur throughout the middle of November into December.

General season hunts

General season deer hunts are allocated in the state draw. There are no over-the-counter (OTC) deer options for residents or nonresidents. General season deer permits are allocated through a true preference point system. This means that the applicants with the most preference points for any given hunt receive the permits. Applicants can gain one preference point per year by applying for it as a first choice or by applying for a hunt and being unsuccessful in the draw. Applicants can include up to five hunt choices; however, applicants will lose their points if they draw any choice. Utah considers every applicant's first choice before moving to any applicant’s second choice. To draw a permit as a second choice, there must be a surplus of permits after every applicant’s first choice is considered. 

20% of the general season deer permits are allocated to youth applicants. Youth that apply for and draw a general season any weapon permit can also hunt the archery, muzzleloader and rifle season(s). 

When considering general season deer hunts, the detailed draw odds pages are critical for the hunt(s) you are considering. Make sure you understand point creep and know how to read the draw trends.

Dedicated hunter

The dedicated hunter program is offered on general season units. This program is a unique opportunity that allows a hunter to hunt all seasons (archery, muzzleloader, rifle) and harvest two bucks in a three-year period. If drawn, you will be enrolled in the program for three years. You may obtain a permit and hunt all three years, but you can only harvest two bucks in a three-year period. You can only hunt the unit you originally drew. In exchange for having a guaranteed permit and the opportunity to hunt all three seasons, a hunter must complete 32 service hours on UDWR approved conservation projects or you can purchase all or a portion of your hours at a cost of $20/per hour.

If you can afford the cost and time to hunt multiple seasons, the dedicated hunter program is an excellent way to scout, hunt and harvest a big buck on a general season unit.

Hunt choices

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.

General season deer applicants can select up to five hunt choices. Be aware that if you draw any of your five choices, you will lose any accumulated preference points.

Group applications

Up to four applicants can apply for limited entry and general season hunts on one application. Group applications are not accepted for management buck hunts. Nonresidents and residents can apply together. Bonus points and preference points are averaged for a group application and rounded down to the nearest whole number. There must be enough permits to cover the number of applicants on your group application; otherwise it will be rejected. That goes for residents and nonresidents who apply together as a group. Nonresident permits will come out of the nonresident pool for that hunt — make sure there are enough.

Draw order:

Utah’s draw goes in the following order from first to last:

  1. 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)
  2. Bull elk (multi-season limited entry, limited entry and CWMU)
  3. Buck antelope (limited entry and CWMU)
  4. Once-in-a-lifetime species (bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goat and bison)
  5. General buck deer (lifetime license holders)
  6. General buck deer (dedicated hunters)
  7. General buck deer (youth)
  8. General buck deer
  9. Youth any bull elk

Utah does not allow applicants to draw multiple limited entry tags in the same draw/year. You also cannot draw a limited entry and a once-in-a-lifetime (moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat or bison) permit in the same year.

Permit return

Successful applicants who wish to return a permit that they have drawn can do so 30 days prior to the start of their hunt. In this case, they can have their bonus points reinstated; however, they will not earn one for that year's application. The cost of the permit will be refunded as long as it is returned 30 days prior to the hunt. If applicants drew a permit as part of a group, all members of the group must surrender their permits in order to have each applicant’s bonus points reinstated. Hunting licenses and application fees are nonrefundable. General season permits that are returned will not receive a refund. 


Snowpack and drought in Utah

The availability of quality feed for mule deer antler growth is critical. Mule deer are special in terms of their diet selection and, as such, poor snowpack and moisture during the winter and spring months results in less than stellar antler development. This was the case in 2021. Utah was extremely dry during the winter and spring months and the crop of bucks throughout most of the state did not reach potential. Some high country areas still produced great bucks, but many of the well known premium limited entry, limited entry and general season units did not produce the type of trophy caliber bucks they are known for. 

This winter has been much better so far. Utah still needs a few good snowstorms and some spring rain to help habitat improve, but it’s better than it was in 2021. The state is still in a drought, but it’s less severe and, with some added moisture, it will improve range conditions for herds. As it currently stands, we are optimistic that it could be a good year for antler growth. It’s not likely to be an outstanding year, but definitely better than 2021. The high country will produce better feed and better bucks while the desert county in the southwest and lower elevation units of the state will still continue to struggle.

2022

Utah snow water equivalent update as of February 7, 2022. Source: National Resources Conservation Service
 

2022 Utah drought monitor status as of February 1. Source: United States Drought Monitor

2021

Utah snow water equivalent from February 9, 2021. Source: National Resources Conservation Service

2021 Utah drought monitor status from January 11. Source: United States Drought Monitor


Utah's 2022 mule deer breakdown

Utah is historically and remains a great state for mule deer hunting. Mule deer populations have dipped over the past four years due largely to drought, but there are still good populations and opportunities to hunt. The limited entry hunts are tough to draw, but the general season hunts can be drawn with relatively few points. General season units are managed for lower buck to doe ratios and hunters should expect to see high hunting pressure. Almost every year some of the biggest bucks in the state will be harvested on general season hunts. Utah is without a doubt a state where the residents put in significant time and effort to scout and hunt and the biggest bucks are almost always taken by those that put in that level of effort. The reality is that big bucks exist in these units and, if you have the time and some luck, they can be really good hunts. For those who have little time to hunt and scout, they are still good hunts for the amount of points it takes to draw. Utah is actually one of the cheaper western states to apply in and applicants should consider general season hunts 

As stated, the number of limited entry hunts has increased over the years. Utah has gotten creative in introducing new limited entry hunts in an attempt to move more applicants through the system. It’s working to some extent although there are still thousands of applicants and point creep will always be an issue. Within the limited entry section of deer hunts, Utah currently offers: premium limited entry, limited entry, management and cactus buck, HAMS and late muzzleloader limited entry on general season units. Applicants can apply for one of the previous limited entry hunts, but not all of those.

Utah premium entry mule deer

Unit Harvest
success
Average
age
Percentage
5+ yeas old
Buck:doe
ratio
Buck:doe
ratio objective
Paunsaugunt Archery: 80%
Muzzleloader: 87%
Rifle: 96%
Mult-season: 100%
5.0 67% 40:100 40 to 55
Henry Mtns Archery: 100%
Muzzleloader: 90%
Rifle: 93%
Multi-season: 100%
5.2 65% 31:100 40 to 55

 

Utah limited entry mule deer

Unit Harvest
success
Buck:doe
ratio
Buck:doe
ratio objective
Book Cliffs, North Archery: 75%
Muzzleloader: 90%
Rifle: 84%
Multi-season: 92%
28:100 25 to 35
Book Cliffs, South Muzzleloader: 90%
Rifle: 77%
Multi-season: 92%
29:100 25 to 35
Cache, Crawford Mtn Muzzleloader: 92% 23:100 25 to 35
Fillmore, Oak Creek Archery: 71%
Muzzleloader: 88%
Rifle: 100%
Multi-season: 100%
39:100 25 to 35
La Sal, Dolores Triangle Archery: 75%
Muzzleloader: 50%
Rifle: 100%
33:100 25 to 35
San Juan, Elk Ridge Archery: 92%
Muzzleloader: 86%
Rifle: 83%
Multi-season: 100%
46:100 25 to 35
South Slope, Diamond Mtn Archery: 96%
Muzzleloader: 100%
Rifle: 100%
Multi-season: 100%
32:100 25 to 35
West Desert, Vernon Archery: 63%
Muzzleloader: 76%
Rifle: 81%
Multi-season: 86%
37:100 25 to 35

 

Utah mule deer populations

Unit Population
2020
Population
objective
Buck:doe
ratio
Buck:doe
ratio objective
Beaver 10,300 13,000 13:100 18 to 20
Book Cliffs 4,550 15,000 29:100 25 to 35
Box Elder 10,100 20,000 17:100 15 to 17
Cache 14,100 25,000 15:100 15 to 17
Central Mtns, Manti,
San Rafael
24,400 38,000 15:100 15 to 17
Central Mtn,
Nebo
12,500 22,600 12:100 15 to 17
Chalk Creek 9,100 10,500 22:100 18 to 20
East Canyon 12,800 13,500 21:100 18 to 20
Fillmore 6,500 12,000 19:100 18 to 20
Henry Mtns 900 2,700 31:100 40 to 55
Kaiparowits 400 1,000 NA 18 to 20
Kamas 7,400 8,000 19:100 18 to 20
La Sal 6,500 18,100 22:100 15 to 17
Monroe 5,200 7,500 17:100 18 to 20
Morgan, South Rich 10,000 18,000 25:100 18 to 20
Mt Dutton 2,200 2,700 12:100 18 to 20
Nine Mile 6,800 8,500 19:100 18 to 20
North Slope 5,800 6,200 18:100 18 to 20
Ogden 8,600 11,000 19:100 18 to 20
Oquirrh-Stansbury 10,000 11,600 22:100 15 to 17
Panguitch Lake 10,100 10,000 13:100 18 to 20
Paunsaugunt 4,500 5,200 40:100 40 to 55
Pine Valley 19,500 16,000 21:100 18 to 20
Plateau 12,100 25,000 16:100 18 to 20
San Juan 11,750 20,500 20:100 15 to 17
South Slope,
Diamond Mtn
9,200 13,000 32:100 25 to 35
South Slope,
Yellowstone
7,700 13,000 20:100 18 to 20
Southwest
Desert
2,900 4,000 20:100 18 to 20
Wasatch Mtns
Avintaquin
3,800 3,200 NA NA
Wasatch Mtns
Current Creek
13,700 15,000 NA NA
Wasatch Mtns
West
22,600 22,600 16:100 15 to 17
Wasatch Mtns
East
NA NA 18:100 18 to 20
West Desert 8,000 11,200 NA 15 to 17
Zion 18,000 15,500 19:100 18 to 20


Hit list units for trophy Utah mule deer in 2022

Top hit list hunts to consider for Limited Entry hunts

Unit Trophy
potential
Harvest
success
Resident points
to draw (2021)
Nonresident points
to draw (2021)
Antelope Island 190"+ Rifle: 100% Random only No permit
Paunsaugunt 190"+ Archery: 80%
Muzzleloader: 87%
Rifle: 96%
Multi: 100%
100% with 18
100% with 20
100% with 20
100% with 23
100% with 24
100% with 24
45% with 24
No permit
Henry Mtns 190"+ Archery: 100%
Muzzleloader: 90%
Rifle: 93%
Multi: 100%
41% with 20
56% with 23
100% with 23
100% with 25
Random only
Random only
100% with 26
No permit
Fillmore, Oak Creek 190"+ Archery: 71%
Muzzleloader: 88%
Rifle: 100%
Multi: 100%
100% with 19
75% with 21
45% with 22
Random only
Random only
Random only
50% with 24
No permit
San Juan, Elk Ridge 190"+ Archery: 92%
Muzzleloader: 86%
Rifle: 96%
Multi: 100%
52% with 17
28% with 17
60% with 16
100% with 22
Random only
Random only
50% with 22
No permit
La Sal, Dolores Triangle 180"+ Archery: 75%
Muzzleloader: 50%
Rifle: 100%
69% with 11
52% with 17
23% with 17
No permit
No permit
Random only
West Desert, Vernon 170"+ Archery: 63%
Muzzleloader: 76%
Rifle: 81%
Multi: 86%
47% with 10
82% with 14
66% with 14
100% with 18
36% with 13
36% with 18
22% with 18
Random only
Book Cliffs, North 170"+ Archery: 75%
Muzzleloader: 90%
Rifle: 84%
Multi: 92%
36% with 11
55% with 12
26% with 12
100% with 16
34% with 17
100% with 19
28% with 18
Random only
Book Cliffs, South 170"+ Archery: 75%
Muzzleloader: 90%
Rifle: 77%
Multi: 92%
36% with 11
55% with 12
100% with 14
100% with 16
34% with 17
100% with 19
51% with 20
Random only
South Slope,
Diamon Mtn
170"+ Archery: 96%
Muzzleloader: 100%
Rifle: 100%
Multi: 100%
58% with 12
61% with 14
83% with 14
51% with 16
27% with 15
100% with 15
16% with 17
No permits

Limited entry deer bonus points

2022 maximum bonus points for limited entry deer: 28

 
 
 

General season deer preference points

2022 maximum preference points for general season deer: 22

 
 
 

Top general season hit list hunts to consider

Unit Trophy
potential
Harvest
success
Resident points
to draw (2021)
Nonresident points
to draw (2021)
Pine Valley 180"+ Archery: 26%
Muzzleloader: 41%
Rifle: 33%
Rifle: 33%
58% with 0
93% with 1
98% with 2
42% with 2
83% with 3
100% with 4
100% with 5
49% with 5
Zion 180"+ Archery: 28%
Muzzleloader: 38%
RIfle: 38%
Rifle: 36%
83% with 0
54% with 0
79% with 1
20% with 1
78% with 2
77% with 1
63% with 2
42% with 3
San Juan, Abajo Mtns 170"+ Archery: 30%
Muzzleloader: 44%
Rifle: 41%
60% with 0
61% with 0
59% with 0
18% with 2
62% with 2
63% with 1
Southwest Desert 170"+ Archery: 18%
Muzzleloader: 28%
Rifle: 21%
51% with 0
83% with 1
100% with 2
44% with 3
35% with 3
85% with 4
Fillmore 170"+ Archery: 20%
Muzzleloader: 42%
Rifle: 38%
Rifle: 38%
74% with 1
30% with 1
59% with 2
39% with 2
54% with 1
92% with 1
73% with 2
27% with 1
Panguitch Lake 160"+ Archery: 29%
Muzzleloader: 39%
Rifle: 37%
Rifle: 35%
35% with 1
100% with 2
17% with 1
25% with 1
93% with 4
16% with 3
100% with 4
100% with 4
Monroe 160"+ Archery: 32%
Muzzleloader: 43%
Rifle: 47%
60% with 2
16% with 2
62% with 3
75% with 3
40% with 2
100% with 4
Wasatch Mtns, West 170"+ Archery: 14%
Muzzleloader: 24%
Rifle: 19%
76% with 0
97% with 0
89% with 0
94% with 0
100% with 0
100% with 0
Wasatch Mtns, East 160"+ Archery: 21%
Muzzleloader: 32%
Rifle: 37%
79% with 0
79% with 1
29% with 1
82% with 0
87% with 0
77% with 0
Central Mtns,
Manti/San Rafael
160"+ Archery: 20%
Muzzleloader: 25%
Rifle: 29%
13% with 0
17% with 0
78% with 1
65% with 0
76% with 0
74% with 0

Conclusion

We covered the hit list for limited entry deer and the better opportunities for the general season based on population, buck:doe ratios and harvest success. There are many more options for limited entry applicants, including the HAMS and late muzzleloader on general season units. To explore the odds of those hunts, log into your account, hover over the INSIDER header and then when the drop down appears, click on “Draw odds”. You can then select Utah as the state and then resident/nonresident or click the species “mule deer, limited entry.” That will allow you to see the odds for every limited entry deer hunt offered. The HAMS hunt on the Kaiparowits and the Book Cliffs are both interesting options worth exploring.

The late muzzleloader hunts are also intriguing if you have substantial time to scout and hunt. A couple of units worth digging into might be the Pine Valley, San Juan, Panguitch Lake or even the Mt Dutton or Southwest Desert. As previously stated, those can be tough hunts given the fact that they are on the heels of the general rifle hunt, but there are some great bucks taken most years on those hunts.

Finally, as you review the number of people who have a significant number of preference points for the general season, you will see that there are many people packing points. If you are one of those applicants with 6+ points you may consider applying as a party with a new hunter and going on a hunt. Many of the general season hunts can be drawn with very few points. If you have enough points to draw some of the better general season hunts, I would highly recommend burning those and going to Utah to hunt. General season deer is not what it was even five years ago, but it’s still good. The other species that Utah offers are tough to draw so get some value out of the license you have to buy to apply every year and go on a general season deer hunt as often as you can!

Find your draw odds

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