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Slight Reduction in Buck Deer Hunting Permits

Utah Wildlife Board approves permits for 2017 big game hunts
Salt Lake City — Drought conditions, followed by a tough winter in parts of Utah, means 1,625 fewer hunters will be hunting buck deer during the state’s general hunt this fall. More hunters will be hunting desert bighorn sheep, bison and pronghorn, though.
After hearing presentations from Division of Wildlife Resources biologists, chairmen from Utah’s five Regional Advisory Councils and members of the public, the Utah Wildlife Board—a panel of seven citizens appointed by Gov. Gary R. Herbert—approved permits for this fall’s hunts. The following are the total number of permits the board approved:
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                         10,060
Cow elk, private lands only                12,010                         8,915
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. In northern Utah, there will probably be fewer 1½-year-old bucks on some of the units this fall.”
The hunting units that were hardest hit last winter are the units on which the number of permits was decreased.
On a positive note, after the hunts were over last fall, the statewide buck-to-doe ratio, on general season units in Utah, averaged 21 bucks per 100 does. That’s slightly higher than the 15 to 17 bucks per 100 does objective, and 18 to 20 bucks per 100 does objective, that the various general season units are managed for. “There should still be plenty of bucks to hunt in Utah this fall,” Shannon says.

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