If you like to hunt deer, get ready — some major changes are happening in Utah in 2012.
Approved by the Utah Wildlife Board in December 2010, the changes are the biggest deer hunting changes seen in the state in almost 20 years.
30 hunting units
The biggest change is the amount of area youвЂ™ll be able to hunt during the stateвЂ™s 2012 general seasons:
- In the past, rifle and muzzleloader hunters have hunted in five large regions. And archery hunters could hunt anywhere in Utah that was open to general deer hunting.
- In 2012, all general season hunters — archery, rifle and muzzleloader — will be hunting in smaller areas called units.
UtahвЂ™s five regions have been split into 30 smaller units for the 2012 hunt.
Same season dates
It might take time to get used to hunting in one of 30 smaller units. But one change should be easy to adapt to. Instead of having different season dates in different areas, the Division of Wildlife Resources is recommending that all 30 units have the same season dates.
At a series of upcoming public meetings, DWR biologists will recommend that general deer hunting seasons run the following number of days on each of UtahвЂ™s 30 general season deer hunting units:
HuntВ В В В В В Number of days
RifleВ В В В В В 9
MuzzleloaderВ В В 9
ArcheryВ В В В В В 28
More buck deer
Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the DWR, says in the past, the rifle hunt has been as short as three days in various parts of the large regions. The number of days was reduced to try to reduce the number of bucks hunters took in areas that didnвЂ™t have many bucks.
вЂњHaving smaller hunting units will allow us to fine tune the number of hunting permits available for each unit,вЂќ Aoude says. вЂњReducing the number of hunters by reducing the number of permits is the best way to reduce the number of bucks that are taken during the hunting season.вЂќ
And limiting the number of bucks hunters take will be important in 2012– at their December 2010 meeting, members of the Wildlife Board raised the minimum number of bucks they want biologists to see after the hunting seasons are over in the fall.
In the past, the goal was a minimum of 15 bucks per 100 does after the hunting seasons were over. Starting in 2012, the goal is 18 bucks per 100 does.
The number of general buck deer hunting permits for UtahвЂ™s 2012 hunts will be determined by the Wildlife Board at a meeting in May 2012.
Elk, mountain goat and bison
In addition to making season dates the same for deer, DWR biologists are also recommending some elk, mountain goat and bison hunting changes.
Starting Oct. 31, you can see all of the big game hunting changes the DWR is recommending for 2012 at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings.
Learn more, share your ideas
After youвЂ™ve reviewed the ideas at www.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 chairmen will share the input they receive with members of the Utah Wildlife Board. The board will meet in Salt Lake City on Dec. 1 to approve rules for UtahвЂ™s 2012 big game hunting seasons.
Dates, times and locations for the RAC meetings are as follows:
Weber State University
Shepherd Union Building, Rooms 404A and 404B
3848 Harrison Blvd.
ille Junior High School
165 S. 700 E.
Richfield High School
510 W. 100 S.
John Wesley Powell Museum
Bingham Entrepreneurship and Energy Research Center 320 N. 2000 W.
You can also provide your comments to your RAC via email. Email addresses for your RAC members are available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings.
The group each RAC member represents (sportsman, non-consumptive, etc.) is listed under each personвЂ™s email address. You should direct your email to the people on the RAC who represent your interest.