The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources wants to hear from you - potential changes on the horizon
The Utah Division of Wildlife resources recently released a packet outlining several proposals that will soon be making their way through the Regional Advisory Council (RAC) and the Wildlife Board process. This is not uncommon but I will say that this year some of the proposals are different than I have seen in a long time. In reviewing the packet, it sparked a lot of thought internally that I have about those proposals and other issues that seemingly float around the edges. I will be including those in an upcoming op-ed style article. Additionally, we will discuss the proposal on an episode of the Big Hunt Guys podcast. In the meantime, I am suggesting you strongly consider what you want for the future of mule deer hunting in Utah and to show up to RAC meetings or submit feedback online if you can not attend. Also, please drop your comments and questions here or shoot us a DM via social media. We would love to hear your thoughts and even moreso, I hope that you all show up to a RAC meeting and express your thoughts.
With that being said, below are the most intriguing proposals within the recently released UDWR proposal. The UDWR is recommending:
Mandatory Harvest Reporting
All general season buck deer including:
- Dedicated hunter
- All weapon general season buck deer
- Youth general season buck deer.
All general season bull elk including:
- Archery general season
- Any weapon and muzzleloader spike and any bull general season
- Multi-season spike
- Youth general season.
Mandatory Limited entry, Once-In-A-Lifetime, and antlerless species harvest reporting is already required.
Permit holders will have 30 days to report after season ends and can report online or over the phone.
Non-compliance will result in exclusion from being able to apply in the next year’s big game draw.
Late reporting will result in a fee to reinstate eligibility to apply in the next year’s big game draw.
Technology and Hunting Recommendations
No scopes would be allowed on muzzleloaders for muzzleloader hunts. This would include general season muzzleloader hunts, limited entry muzzleloader hunts, management muzzleloader hunts and HAMMS hunts.
Scopes would be allowed on a muzzleloader during any-legal weapon hunts if someone wanted to hunt with a muzzleloader during an any-legal weapon hunt.
Utah Buck Deer Hunting Research Study on Harvest Strategies
This is the biggest proposed change in Utah. This proposal is for select units in the Southern Region as a means of conducting research via different hunt structures. The stated goals and objectives of the proposal are to determine if hunt restrictions based on antler point, weapon technology, and season length can improve mule deer population performance, hunting opportunity, and hunter satisfaction.
Below are the proposed units and changes. If passed, the proposed study/hunt structure would run for four consecutive years, 2024-2027, starting in 2024. Permit numbers would remain constant at the four year average (2020-2023) during the length of the study. The UDWR director could adjust permit numbers by up to 20% annually if buck to doe ratios fall below 15:100 or exceed 24:100.
Proposed Units and Changes, Utah 2024
|Unit||Restriction type||4-year average number of permits|
|Pine Valley||4 point or better point restriction||3,150|
|Southwest Desert||Shortened seasons||525|
|Mt. Dutton||Restricted weapons||325|
|Boulder/Kaiparowits||Combined - all restrictions||1,125|
|Monroe||Control - no restrictions||750|
|Zion||Control - no restrictions||2,900|
Antler Point Restriction
Hunters could only take a buck that has 4 points or more on 1 antler - not including eyeguards.
- Pine Valley
2-week archery (Start 1st Sat in Sept), 5-day Muzzy, 5-day Rifle
- Southwest Desert
Hunters would be restricted to hunting with a single stringed long bow or recurve bow, with no cables, pulleys, cams or sights. Muzzleloaders would be limited to traditional flintlock, wheellock, matchlock, musket cap or percussion cap. All other ignition systems would be prohibited. Only open or peep sights would be allowed. Restricted rifle hunters could hunt with any legal caliber, but must use open sights or peep sights. Semi-automatic rifles would be prohibited.
- Mt. Dutton
All of the Above
4 point or better antler restriction, shortened season dates, and restricted weapons.
No change in season or weapon structure.
Dedicated Hunter Recommended Changes
Discontinue the orientation course to apply and replace it with an informational page within the big game application.
Annual service hours to receive your first year's permit to hunt would change from 8 hours to 6 hours. The second permit could be received after having completed 16 plus hours. The third year would require 10 plus hours. The total number of hours to receive your permits would remain 32 total hours and can be completed at any time you are enrolled in the program. Hunters would still only be allowed to harvest two bucks in a three year period. They could also still be allowed to hunt all open seasons/weapons until they have filled the permit.
Dedicated hunters would no longer be required to return an un-notched permit to the UDWR to report non-harvest. Hunters could report non-harvest through an online survey.
If the proposed changes are implemented as outlined under the “Buck Deer Hunting Research Study” above dedicated hunters that joined the program in 2022 or 2023 will have the option to hunt their unit under the new management rules or they may withdraw from the program and receive partial refund and partial reinstatement of their preference points. Reinstated points will be proportional to the number of years they have remaining.
if you'd like to read the direct summary, here's a link to the UDWR RAC, board meeting agendas, materials and minutes.
Upcoming Utah DWR Meetings
Northern Utah RAC meeting: Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Weber County Commission Chambers at 2380 Washington Blvd. Suite #240 in Ogden. (Online comments must be submitted by Nov. 2 at 11:59 p.m.)
Central Utah RAC meeting: Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. in the Wildlife Resources Conference Room (DWR Springville Office) at 1115 N. Main St. in Springville. (Online comments must be submitted by Nov. 2 at 11:59 p.m.)
Southern Utah RAC meeting: Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. at Southern Utah University in the Hunter Conference Center in the Charles R. Hunter Room in Cedar City. (Online comments must be submitted by Nov. 8 at 11:59 p.m.)
Southeastern Utah RAC meeting: Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. at the John Wesley Powell Museum at 1765 E. Main St. in Green River. (Online comments must be submitted by Nov. 8 at 11:59 p.m.)
Northeastern Utah RAC meeting: Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. in the Wildlife Resources Conference Room (DWR Vernal Office) at 318 N. Vernal Ave. in Vernal. (Online comments must be submitted by Nov. 8 at 11:59 p.m.)
Utah Wildlife Board meeting: Nov. 28 at 9 a.m. at the Eccles Wildlife Education Center at 1157 S. Waterfowl Way in Farmington. (Online comments must be submitted by Nov. 16 at 11:59 p.m.)
Online comments can be submitted via the link provided above. Please select the region who you would like to direct your feedback to and submit.
Once again, I am encouraging all to strongly consider the proposals and engage in the future management of wildlife in Utah by attending meetings and/or submitting feedback online if you are unable to attend. Let us know what you think in the comments section below!