Slight reduction in Utah buck deer permits

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 online.

Learn more, share your ideas

After you’ve reviewed the ideas, 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, Springville
Northern Region
March 29, 6 p.m.
Brigham City Community Center
24 N 300 West, Brigham City
Southern Region
April 4, 5 p.m.
Beaver High School
195 E. Center St., Beaver
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, Vernal


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.

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 1 1/2-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.”