ST. GEORGE – Utah hunters can look forward to a better chance of drawing a deer hunting permit this year, officials with the Division of Wildlife Resources said, because there are more mule deer living in the state.
DWR officials note the mule deer population grew for the fourth straight year to the highest recorded in Utah since the 1980s, with population estimates at more than 384,000 mule deer.
Wildlife biologists are recommending a total of 90,050 permits be issued for general buck mule deer in 2016. Last year 86,550 permits were issued, according to the DWR.
Hunters can see if the unit they applied for is one of the units that might have more permits by reviewing the online list linked here.
Justin Shannon, big game coordinator for the DWR, said 2016 is an exciting time to be a deer hunter in Utah.
“A good percentage of those deer are bucks,” said Shannon. “The average buck-to-doe ratio across Utah — on general season units that are made up mostly of public land — is 23 bucks per 100 does.”
The state’s elk population has also done well, with an estimated 79,230 currently roaming the state. However, some elk have been wandering onto private land in certain areas where hunters can’t reach them.
“When elk are not properly distributed on a unit it can frustrate both hunters and private landowners,” Shannon said.
Because of this, DWR biologists are recommending that 12,010 hunting permits be issued this year for cow elk found only on private lands.
“We need to ‘retrain’ elk to stay on public land by limiting the refuge areas they have on private property,” Shannon said. “Providing private landowners with additional tools, to help control elk on their property, is the key to making that happen.”
These permits would be valid only on private property. The proposed date to start selling the permits is July 21.
Biologists are relying on draw permits and the new private lands only permits to control elk on the unit. Cow elk control permits would no longer be offered for the Wasatch unit.
Before buying a private lands only permit, hunters are asked to remember one critical thing: before hunting on private property, you must have written permission from the land owner.
“Before you buy one of these permits, obtain written permission to hunt on the private property you want to hunt,” said Judi Tutorow, wildlife licensing coordinator for the DWR. “You don’t want to end up with a permit you can’t use.”
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