More Deer Hunting Permits Possible, Utah’s Herds Doing Well

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Photo by Lynn Chamberlain

DWR Press Release 

The number of mule deer in Utah is growing. If you’re a deer hunter, that’s great news: it might mean more chances to hunt deer in the state this fall.

Division of Wildlife Resources biologists are recommending a total of 87,050 general deer hunting permits for this fall’s hunts. In 2014, a total of 84,800 permits were offered.

Starting the week of March 23, you can see all of the big game permit recommendations online.

Plans that will guide the management of mountain goats in Utah on various management units will also be available to review.

Learn more, share your ideas

After you’ve reviewed the proposals at wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings, you can let your Regional Advisory Council members know your thoughts by attending your upcoming RAC meeting or by sending an email to them.

RAC chairs will share the input they receive with members of the Utah Wildlife Board. The board will meet in Salt Lake City on April 30 to approve permit numbers for Utah’s 2015 big game hunts.

Dates, times and locations for the RAC meetings are as follows:

Email

You can also provide your comments to your RAC via email. Email addresses for your RAC members are available online.

The group each RAC member represents (sportsman, non-consumptive, etc.) is listed under each person’s email address. You should direct your email to the people on the RAC who represent your interest.

Permit recommendations

The following are the total number of permits biologists are recommending:

Hunt 2014 2015
General buck deer 84,800 87,050
Premium limited-entry deer 183 184
Management buck deer 49 46
Limited-entry deer 811 1,068
Doe deer 410 625
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
Cow elk 16,715 14,985
Buck pronghorn 781 804
Doe pronghorn 699 644
Bull moose 67 65
Cow moose 0 0
Bison 91 80
Desert bighorn sheep 40 41
Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep 38 37
Mountain goat 108 107

More chances to hunt deer

In addition to the general-season hunt, biologists are also recommending more permits for the limited-entry deer hunt. If their recommendations are approved, a total of 1,068 limited-entry deer permits would be available for hunts this fall. In 2014, a total of 811 were available.

Most of the additional permits would be 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 buck deer hunt will be held Oct. 3–15.

“Starting the season that early should get hunters into the area before the bucks leave,” Shannon commented.

Deer are doing well

Biologists base their deer hunting permit recommendations on deer classifications they do each year. During the classifications, 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 survey 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 said. “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 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% utaof the fawns made it through 2014.

“Those are great survival rates,” Shannon said. “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 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.”

 

 

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