The Western Hunter's blog

Colorado 4th Season Elk Leftovers

In my last article, I noted that there were several 4th season elk tags available as leftovers that actually had better success than the 1st season tags, which are not available as leftovers.  In this article, I’ll break down these top value units a little better with respect to hunting them in 4th season if you are considering a leftover bull or either sex tag instead of an OTC license for 2nd or 3rd season.  In case you missed it, those interesting tags are 15, 16, 19, 34, 44, 161, 181, 421, 561, and 861.

2011 Colorado Elk Leftover Tags

As I’ve mentioned before, there’s not much of a reason to not check the leftover draw option box if you are unsuccessful in your drawing here in Colorado.  You can always ask for an OTC tag instead of applying for a leftover, but I wouldn’t miss the chance to get the first crack at the leftovers.  So, Colorado is sending out its list of leftover licenses to choose from amongst the unsuccessful applicants right now.  So, this seems as good a time as any to go over the list of available bull and either sex elk tags.  Don’t worry, even if you are not in the leftover draw, many of these licenses will still be available on leftover day (August 9th).

Leftover Licenses

Now that most of the big game drawings are completed throughout the West, leftover license lists are also starting to pop up.  While it should be obvious that not all tags are created equally, people will frequently buy a license without doing sufficient research.  Others routinely turn their noses up at leftovers, thinking they are all poor quality licenses.  They certainly aren’t all created equally, but it would be a mistake to those looking to maximize their opportunities to outright dismiss all leftovers or to think they are all useful to the public land, DIY hunter.

Hunting Back Up Plans

As I detailed in some of my drawing strategy articles earlier in the year, we built in a lot of different “what if” type scenarios into our applications.  Just as importantly, since most of our choices would not be guaranteed, we needed to properly plan the draws so that we did not end up with conflicting tags.  We’re now in the middle of the drawing periods, where I know of everything but my Wyoming results and the Colorado antelope draw.

I’ll get into some of our draw results here in a minute, but the real impetus for writing this article is a reminder that Wyoming allows you to alter your deer and antelope applications up until June 3rd.  Unfortunately, I needed to do this because two of my California friends just called to say they weren’t going to be able to make it out to Wyoming this fall.  I understand the finite nature of time and money, and while disappointing, I’m glad they called now, instead of in two months. Thankfully, they called in time for me to modify my apps. 

Utah Mule Deer Hunting: The Southeastern Region

And now to conclude this five part series on Utah’s deer hunting, with what most people regard as the top region:  the Southeastern Region.  Southeast Utah is as far as one can get from the largest population centers in the state.  In fact, there’s a fair amount of country in this region that could put a hunter 100 miles from the nearest gas station.  This is the least disturbed, and most rugged of all of Utah, but the weather here is generally mild and winterkill isn’t a major issue.  Droughts and predation are really the only thing most deer here have to worry about outside of hunting season. 

Within the Southeast Region are one limited draw unit and two limited subunits.  The Henry Mountains are a totally limited unit, and one of the top deer hotspots in the country.  San Juan, Elk Ridge and La Sal, Dolores Triangle are the two limited subunits with a more mixed reputation, though they seem to be producing well as of late.  Just as importantly, we have the general units:  La Sal, San Juan, Nine Mile and San Rafael.

Long Term Planning for Your Hunting Goals

Many of us dream about deer hunting Utah’s Paunsaugunt, or Henry Mountains or unit 201 for elk in Colorado.  Bighorn sheep, moose, and mountain goats are also high on the list of many hunters.  Others have specific Boone and Crockett class goals for various species.  Still others are most interested in the various “Grand Slams."

It’s one thing to dream about these opportunities, but another to actively attempt to pursue your dreams.  In writing up some of these articles recently, and then discussing some of my goals with my hunting partners, it’s apparent that some hunts are just unattainable, while other incredible hunts are within easy reach as long as we start doing something about it. 

Utah Mule Deer Hunting: The Southern Region

Utah’s Southern Deer Region easily has the most units to cover.  Where we only had two units to cover, that were entirely in the Northeast Region, the Southern Region has eleven.  This also gives you a great diversity in terms of the types of habitat, deer densities, pressured versus unpressured areas and some limited draw opportunities.  Of all the regions that define Utah in my mind, I’d say the Southern Region fits the description best. Rugged canyons, steep cliffs, pinyon-juniper, hot summers at the medium elevations and red dirt all define my mind’s eye of Utah.  As with any state, the terrain varies greatly, but all the time I’ve spent off of I-15 near St. George and Cedar City has permanently etched my image of Utah.

Utah Deer Hunting: The Central Region

As with Utah’s Northern and Northeastern mule deer regions, the Central Region is quite diverse.  You’ve got the Wasatch Mountains all the way down to the West Desert country along the Nevada border.  There is a limited draw subunit and a limited season general unit here.  The West Desert, Vernon subunit is totally limited, and Oquirrh-Stansbury unit has a shorter season.  Other units that I’ll cover in the Central Region include the Central Mountains and Wasatch Mountains. Both of these units straddle two different deer zones, but descriptions of them fit in a little better here rather than the Northeastern and Southeastern Regions.

Utah Deer Hunting: The Northeastern Region

Utah’s Northeastern mule deer region doesn’t have nearly as many units as the Northern Region.  In fact, there are just two units entirely within the Northeast Region boundary, and one that straddles the Central and Northeast.  These are all pretty large areas and I’ll go into some extra detail here on some of the hunting areas within the Northeast to help flesh this edition out.  But I’ll cover the Wasatch Mountains area under the Central region write up.

Utah Mule Deer Hunting: The Northern Region

So, to kick off our more in depth look at Utah’s mule deer regions, we’re going to start with the Northern Region.  As I mentioned last week, the Northern Region is not a great deer hunting hot spot.  There are plenty of deer, but since this is where most of Utah’s population resides, the public lands can be pretty crowded.  Thankfully, you have the option of the Northern Region buck/bull combination hunt here, and with that comes a much longer hunting season.  Also, there is a limited draw that deserves some additional mention here.  I will not ignore the deer only opportunities either, and will address the pluses and minuses of each unit here.

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