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Applying for Utah’s Dedicated Hunter deer permit program

Utah has a plethora of options when it comes to deer hunting. You have limited entry, general season, and a sort of lesser-known Dedicated Hunter program. Everyone knows about Utah’s general season hunts and especially their famous limited entry hunts… but one that sort of flies under the radar (mainly under the radar for nonresidents) is the Dedicated Hunter program.

The Dedicated Hunter program is a phenomenal opportunity to get out and hunt. Even more so, if you have the time to hunt multiple seasons each year and can afford the cost of the permit, the Dedicated Hunter program is an excellent way to scout, hunt and take a big buck on a general season unit.

While most permits are pretty self-explanatory, the Dedicated Hunter program has a lot of required steps and rules that you must follow to ensure you get your permit each year. So be sure to follow them exactly!

Utah dedicated hunter deer permit program

A Utah buck I was able to take with a muzzleloader after locating a decent area from archery hunting earlier in the year on the Dedicated Hunter program. Photo credit: Brady Miller

Jump to: Details Required Service Hours Program Fees Yearly Steps To Get A Permit Extra Information Point Systems

Details of the Dedicated Hunter program

Once you draw a Dedicated Hunter permit you can hunt that general season unit for three consecutive years but can only kill two general season deer in a three-year period. Also, it’s worth noting that once you draw a dedicated hunter permit in a unit, you are stuck with that unit for three consecutive years and you cannot switch units.

What is great about this program is that you could cough up your first year as a “scouting/learning” year and just get a feel for the unit. Or by being able to hunt all of the seasons, you might learn a ton about the unit on year one. Then on years two and three, you could fill your two tags, but again, you can only kill two deer (one per year) while on the Dedicated Hunter program.

Being able to hunt all seasons could be tough for most nonresidents, but at least you have the option. If you tag out on year one and two, you will have to sit out the third year as you can’t jump over and try to draw a different general season hunt. There are also some conservation service hours that you must complete while enrolled in this program. More on that later.

What does this tag allow you to do?

Utah mule deer taken on dedicated hunter program

My second buck I was able to take on year three of the Dedicated Hunter program on a rifle hunt. Photo credit: Steven Drake of Annuli Collective

A Dedicated Hunter tag is good for a general season deer unit and you can hunt all open seasons during their specific season dates. So you could hunt the archery season and if you don’t tag out you could turn around and hunt muzzleloader and finally hunt the any legal weapon rifle hunt. In addition, if your unit has an early rifle hunt, you also get to hunt that too. And if that wasn’t enough hunting, you could then later hunt on the general season extended archery deer hunt. There are no dedicated hunts on limited-entry areas available, this program is for general season units only.

So again, in summary, you can only take one deer per year, but if you don’t tag out, you can continue to hunt all of the available seasons and even the extended hunts. If you want to hunt the extended archery hunts, you will need to take an archery ethics course.

Required service hours

What makes this program different from a normal tag is that it is a service-based program that allows hunters to give back and contribute their time and hard work on wildlife related projects. Plus, going on projects is a great way to meet like-minded individuals and helps gain an understanding of wildlife management. Once enrolled in the program you are required to complete a total of 32 hours of DWR approved wildlife related service projects. This is most likely why a lot of nonresidents shy away from the Dedicated Hunter program. See the bottom of the article for how many service hours you need to complete each year in order to get your permit.

If you want a great opportunity to hunt more and also give back, the Dedicated Hunter program is for you. A full list of service projects can be found here. Projects are available year-round, however, during the winter months very few opportunities are offered. The majority of projects are offered during March, April, May and June. Once the hunting season begins, the number of available projects decreases.

COVID-19's impact on service projects

According to the UDWR, "in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic posed some unique challenges for the Dedicated Hunter program. The evolution of health guidelines -- and the importance of protecting volunteers, staff and community members -- also limited the types of service that could occur. Consequently, the DWR did not hold many of its traditional projects or events. Although sufficient service opportunities were available in 2020, Dedicated Hunters may have had a hard time fulfilling their service hours for various reasons. With uncertainty about how the pandemic may affect us in 2021, it's essential to understand that project availability, locations and timing will continue to be subject to public health orders and local conditions.

Those who have the flexibility to participate in service projects regardless of the location will find it easier to accomplish the service requirements while in the program. If you are unable or unwilling to travel up to 3 hours to get to a project, you may need to plan on paying for service hours directly or consider waiting to join the program at a later time."

Service hour buyout

If you can’t do any service hours, you are allowed to pay off the hours at a rate of $20 per hour. Once enrolled in the program, you can pay for the service hours online here. So in addition to the tag fee, if you bought out all of your required service hours you would be paying an additional $640.

Find service projects

When to apply?

You apply for the Dedicated Hunter program at the same time as all other big game applications in Utah.

  • The deadline to apply is March 4, 2021 at 11 p.m. MST. Apply online here.
    • You must take the Orientation Course before you apply for Dedicated Hunter here.
  • The bonus point/preference point only purchase and application withdrawal deadline is March 18, 2021 at 11 p.m. MST.
  • Results will be emailed or available online on or shortly before May 31, 2021.

Hunt choices

Within the application, you'll have the option to select the general season hunting unit that you'd like to hunt. Once again, there are no limited-entry areas available to Dedicated Hunters. The online application will allow you to apply for up to five different units. You'll only draw one unit, and won't be able to switch to a different unit during the program. This is very important to only select a unit you would want to hunt for the entire three-year period.

Group applications

If you decide to select more than one hunt unit choice, applying as a group is the only way to ensure that you, and your hunting companions end up drawing the same unit. The application will allow up to four hunters to apply together in a group.

Tag fees

Applicants must buy a hunting license in order to apply for draw hunts. You do not have to front the cost of the permits you apply for. You will only be charged the permit fee if you are successful in the draw. If you apply for the Dedicated Hunter program, but are unsuccessful in the drawing, you won't be charged any program fees. Instead, you will automatically earn a Dedicated Hunter preference point that will improve your chances of getting into the program the next time you apply.

Dedicated Hunter fees for 2021

ItemResident feesNonresident fees

Plus service hour buyout is $20 per hour if you don't complete service projects.

A preference point only fee for the Dedicated Hunter Program is $10 for residents and $15 for nonresidents.

Before you apply

When applying, you must take the required orientation course before you apply. The deadline to apply for the Dedicated Hunter program is during the annual big game permit application on March 4.

Utah dedicated hunter orientation course

Utah’s draw process

General season deer permits and Dedicated Hunter 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. 

It’s also important to note Utah’s draw order.

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 (bighorn 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

You may be asking why goHUNT hasn’t come out with Dedicated Hunter draw odds. Unfortunately, the Dedicated Hunter program is quite complicated in terms of draw odds in that you don’t exactly know the time frame hunters have left, if they have withdrawn from the program, or even failed to complete the requirements to acquire a tag. So knowing when people are leaving the program is very hard to showcase and you really need to look at the data from the past three years, but even then you don't really get the full big picture. So unfortunately the way the Dedicated Hunter program is set up doesn’t allow for accurate draw odds from year to year.

Yearly steps required in order to get your permit

Muzzleloader mule deer on Utah Dedicated Hunter program

Moments after taking my muzzleloader buck my second year of Utah's Dedicated Hunter.

Once you draw your Dedicated Hunter permit, if you don’t perform the required steps each year, you will not get a permit! So while the steps are very straightforward, it is always best to keep track of your Dedicated Hunter progress in a notebook or in a document on your computer. That way you don’t forget anything.

Conservation and ethics course

You must complete an online conservation and ethics course. Take the course here. This is a different course than the one you took before you applied.

Even if you take a deer on year one and year two, you are still required to finish out your remaining service hours. Not doing so has big consequences. If you have killed two bucks under the program and you fail to complete the required hours of service prior to the expiration of the certificate of registration, you are then ineligible to apply for or obtain any Utah hunting license or permit until the remaining service hours have been completed.

1st year Dedicated Hunter requirements

Before your hunt:

  • Complete a minimum of 8 service hours
    • As soon as you receive successful draw results, you will need to start looking for 8 hours of service to complete, especially if you want to hunt the opener of the archery hunt. Waiting until late July or August to do a project is not recommended. Service hours done prior to joining the program is not applicable for Dedicated Hunter credit. Note: you could complete or pay for all your 32 hours within the 1st year of enrollment. Or you can just complete the annual minimum.
  • Complete the online Conservation and Ethics Course
    • Note: this is a different course than the orientation you took to apply
  • Obtain your deer permit
    • When your annual requirements are fulfilled and entered into the system, your Dedicated Hunter deer permit will be printed and mailed automatically (beginning July 10 and ending October 10). Permits are mailed on the next business day from when your requirements show completed in the system, but may take approximately one week to arrive. If your permit does not arrive by the time you are leaving for your hunt, contact the nearest office to arrange an in-person pick up instead. This applies to year two and three as well.

After your hunt:

  • Return your permit to a DWR office if you did not harvest a deer. This part is VERY important!

The Dedicated Hunter system assigns you with a “harvest” as soon as your permit is printed. If your account shows two harvests, you won't get a permit in the third year. If you do not harvest, returning your permit to DWR after the hunt — showing an uncut and unnotched kill tag — is how you will report that you did not harvest.

2nd year Dedicated Hunter requirements

To get your permit in the second year you'll need to have at least 24 service hours completed (and recorded) in the Dedicated Hunter system. The service must be done before your permit can be printed.

Before your hunt

  • Complete a minimum of 24 service hours (total)
  • Have a valid hunting or combination license
  • Obtain your deer permit:

After your hunt

  • Return your permit to a DWR office if you did not harvest a deer. Again, this part is VERY important! For example, if you took a buck your first year and didn't take one the second year and you forgot to turn your permit back in, it will show up as you "harvested a deer" and Utah will not mail you your third permit even if you have completed all the service hours.

3rd year Dedicated Hunter requirements

To get your permit in the third year, you'll need to have at least 32 hours completed (and recorded) in the Dedicated Hunter system. The service must be done before your permit can be printed.

Also, keep in mind that the program rule only allows two deer to be harvested while in the program, so the third permit won't be issued if your account shows that you harvested in both of the previous years.

Before your hunt

  • Complete the minimum of 32 service hours (total).
  • Have a valid hunting or combination license
  • Obtain your deer permit

Other information

Limited entry deer permit while you are in the Dedicated Hunter program

One of the most commonly asked questions we get asked is if you can still obtain a limited entry permit while you are in the Dedicated Hunter program. And the answer is yes, you could still attempt to draw a limited entry permit. You can only have one buck deer permit per year, so the year you draw a limited entry while in the dedicated program, you will not get your Dedicated Hunter permit.

If you do draw a limited-entry deer permit and you're currently enrolled in the Dedicated Hunter program, you must choose whether to keep that permit or the Dedicated Hunter deer permit for that year (but not both). If you accept the limited-entry deer permit, you may request a one-year extension of the Dedicated Hunter program.

Taking a buck in a limited entry unit if you draw will not count toward your harvest limit for the Dedicated Hunter program.

Also, it’s worth noting that if you draw a limited entry deer permit while enrolled in the Dedicated Hunter, you will need to contact the DWR and request an extension. You must make the request in writing before the enrollment period expires. Also if you are deployed on military assignment you can request an extension as well.

Note: Extensions are not given for hunters purchasing permits directly from a landowner, CWMU, the annual convention permit auction or draws a limited-entry deer permit from the annual Hunt Expo. If any of these apply to you, you must choose between that permit and the Dedicated Hunter permit before the season begins and a program extension is not available.

Point Sytems

Utah deer points

In Utah, a resident and nonresident can build points for three separate deer draws:

  • Limited entry deer (bonus points)
  • General season deer (preference points)
  • Dedicated Hunter deer (preference points)

They are all separate points and separate draw. One thing to note, while you are enrolled in a Dedicated Hunter program, you are not able to build points for a general season hunt. You could only apply for and build additional points for limited entry hunts only.

Dedicated Hunter point totals



Summary of steps to take for Dedicated Hunter

Brady Miller Utah mule deer dedicated hunter program

My opening day buck while on the Dedicated Hunter program. Photo credit: Steven Drake of Annuli Collective

When applying:

  • Take the Dedicated Hunter orientation course before you apply
    • After completing the course, I always print off the confirmation document, sign it and I will write down my Course Completion Number and keep that somewhere safe
  • Apply in the big game draw

If you draw:

  • Year 1
  • Year 2
    • Complete a minimum of 16 more service hours (24 total over two years)
    • Have a valid hunting or combination license
    • Then you will obtain your second deer permit
    • If you don't kill, turn your unnotched tag in
  • Year 3
    • Complete 8 more service hours (32 total over three years)
    • Have a valid hunting or combination license
    • Then you will obtain your third deer permit
    • Note: Even if you kill your two deer before year three, you still need to complete the rest of the service hours

So now the only thing left is figuring out what unit to apply for, which is easy when you dive into the research tools on INSIDER, plus look at a unit you are considering on goHUNT Maps to figure out more details of the unit you are applying for.

Start your research now!


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