DWW Press Release
Nearly 2,000 additional hunters will have a chance to hunt buck deer in Utah this fall.
After learning how well deer are doing in Utah, members of the Utah Wildlife Board approved the additional permits at their April 30 meeting.
Most of the additional permits are for the state’s general-season hunt. A total of 86,550 permits will be available for the general hunt this fall. In 2014, a total of 84,800 general-season permits were offered.
Hunters applied for the permits earlier this year. Results of Utah’s big game permit draw will be available by May 29.
Permits for 2015
In addition to buck deer hunting permits, board members approved permits for all of Utah’s big game species. The following are the number of permits board members approved for 2015 compared to the number they approved for 2014:
|Hunt||2014 permits||2015 permits|
|General buck deer||84,800||86,550|
|Premium limited-entry deer||183||184|
|Management buck deer||49||46|
|General any bull elk||14,300||14,300|
|Youth any bull elk||300||500|
|Late season youth any bull elk||20||15|
|General spike bull elk||15,000||15,000|
|Limited-entry bull elk||2,842||2,938|
|Desert bighorn sheep||40||41|
|Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep||38||37|
More chances to hunt deer
In addition to the general-season hunt, the board also approved more permits for the limited-entry deer hunt. A total of 1,058 limited-entry deer permits were approved for this fall. In 2014, a total of 811 were available.
Most of the additional permits are for a high-country buck deer hunt on unit 8a (the North Slope/Summit unit).
Justin Shannon, big game coordinator for the DWR, said the deer population on unit 8a, which sits next to Utah’s border with Wyoming, includes some really big bucks. “Unfortunately, many of those bucks head to Wyoming before the general rifle hunt starts,” he said. “The high-country hunt will give hunters a chance to hunt these bucks in Utah before the bucks leave the state and go to Wyoming.”
The high-country buck deer hunt will be held Oct. 3–15.
Deer are doing well
Each fall, after the deer hunts are over, DWR biologists survey deer on their winter ranges to determine how many bucks, does and fawns are in the herds. What the biologists found during their most recent surveys should be encouraging news for hunters and wildlife watchers alike:
- After the hunts were over last fall, biologists saw an average of 21 bucks for every 100 does. That’s on general-season units that are comprised mostly of public land.Shannon said the higher buck-to-doe ratio is good news for hunters. It means more bucks, and older bucks, will be available this fall.
Shannon said biologists manage 14 of Utah’s 30 general-season units for 15 to 17 bucks per 100 does. The remaining 16 units are managed for 18 to 20 bucks per 100 does.
“So, to be at a statewide average of 21 bucks per 100 does is great news for Utah’s hunters,” Shannon stated. “It means the herds have plenty of bucks in them.”
- Based on surveys after last fall’s hunts, biologists estimate the total number of deer in Utah at 355,600. That’s up more than 22,000 deer from the 332,900 estimated in the state after the 2013 hunts.
- Deer monitoring studies are also providing encouraging news. Over the past five years, biologists have placed radio collars on hundreds of deer across Utah. Placing the collars allows biologists to track the deer and know when one of them dies. Based on data gathered through the survey, biologists estimate 84% of the doe deer in Utah, and 82% of the fawns, made it through 2014.
“Those are great survival rates,” Shannon explained. “There’s no question that mule deer populations are growing in Utah.”
Why are deer doing so well?
Shannon said several factors have combined to help Utah’s deer herds:
- At the top of the list are wet falls and mild winters that have allowed deer to survive until the following spring.
- The DWR and its partners have conducted many long-term habitat projects. Those projects are starting to pay off by providing deer with better habitat.
- Highway fencing, underpasses that allow deer to cross safely under roads, predator control and other management actions are helping too.
“We’re really excited,” Shannon said. “Utah’s deer herds are in the best shape they’ve been in since the early 1990s.”