Slight Reduction in Buck Deer Hunting Permits


DWR biologists are recommending a slight decrease in the number of general season buck deer permits available for hunts in Utah this fall.

DWR Press Release

DWR recommends big game hunting permits for 2017

Drought conditions, followed by a tough winter in parts of the state, might lead to a slight reduction in the number of general season buck deer hunting permits available in Utah this fall. Permits for other species, including desert bighorn sheep, bison and pronghorn, might increase.

All of the big game hunting permit recommendations for this fall’s hunts are available at

Learn more, share your ideas

After you’ve reviewed the ideas at, 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 April 27 to approve permit numbers for Utah’s 2017 big game hunts.

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

Central Region
March 28
6:30 p.m.
Springville Civic Center
110 S. Main St.

Northern Region
March 29
6 p.m.
Brigham City Community Center
24 N. 300 W.
Brigham City

Southern Region
April 4
5 p.m.
Beaver High School
195 E. Center St.

Southeastern Region
April 5
6:30 p.m.
John Wesley Powell Museum
1765 E. Main St.
Green River

Northeastern Region
April 6
6:30 p.m.
DWR Northeastern Region Office
318 N. Vernal Ave.


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

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 with the Division of Wildlife Resources are recommending for Utah’s 2017 big game hunts:

Hunt                                                  2016                            2017

General buck deer                              90,675                         89,050

Premium limited entry deer                 184                              184

Management buck deer                      55                                61

Limited entry deer                              1,166                           1,191

Doe deer                                           755                              1,470

General any bull elk                           15,000                         15,000

Youth any bull elk                              500                              500

General spike bull elk                        15,000                         15,000

Limited entry bull elk                          2,752                           2,833

Cow elk, public draw                          13,680                         9,980

Cow elk, private lands only                 12,010                         8,790

Buck pronghorn                                  771                              849

Doe pronghorn                                    630                              750

Bull moose                                         68                                68

Cow moose                                        20                                22

Bison                                                 96                                148

Bison (archery only)                            0                                  10

Desert bighorn sheep                          42                                53

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep            35                                32

Mountain goat                                    102                              106

Mountain goat (archery only)               0                                  2

General buck deer permits

During the 2016 general buck deer hunt, 90,675 hunters took 31,800 buck deer. That’s the highest success rate in Utah since 1996, when nearly 104,000 hunters took almost 33,000 bucks.

Even though hunters harvested plenty of bucks last fall, that’s not the main reason the number of bucks per 100 does has declined slightly in some areas in the state. Justin Shannon, big game coordinator for the DWR, says a difficult winter two years ago, followed by drought conditions in 2016 and then a severe winter this past winter, have reduced the number of younger bucks in some areas.

“Before this winter started,” he says, “we found a statewide average of 59 fawns per 100 does. In some parts of Utah, the winter of 2016 – 2017 was pretty severe, and we know some fawns died. The hunting units that were hardest hit by the winter are the units on which we’re recommending a permit decrease. There will probably be fewer 1½-year-old bucks on those units this fall.”

After the hunts were over last fall, the statewide buck-to-doe ratio, on general season units in the state, averaged 21 bucks per 100 does. That’s slightly higher than the 18 to 20 bucks per 100 does objective most of the general season units are managed for. “There should still be plenty of bucks to hunt in Utah this fall,” Shannon says.

Doe deer permits

While buck deer permit numbers might go down a bit—from 90,675 in 2016 to 89,050 in 2017—the number of doe deer permits might go up.

Letting more public hunters take does is the reason why. If public hunters don’t take the does, many of them will likely be taken by private landowners.

Shannon says all of the recommended doe deer permit increases are for units in Southern Utah. “We’re recommending the increases to address situations where deer are getting into farmers’ fields and eating their crops,” he says. “Instead of private landowners taking the deer, we’d like to give public hunters a chance to take them, before the does reach the farmers’ fields.”

Permit increases

While the number of buck deer has decreased slightly in Utah, other big game populations are growing. Desert bighorn sheep, bison and pronghorn are three examples. Here’s a recap of the number of permits biologists are recommending for the three species:

Hunt                                                2016                            2017

Desert bighorn sheep                        42                                53

Bison                                               96                               148

Bison (archery only)                           0                                 10

Buck pronghorn                                 771                              849

Doe pronghorn                                   630                              750

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