A CWMU is a Cooperative Wildlife Management Unit. In other words, It's private land that has state animals crossing and living on it.
The state allows the land owners to sell so many permits a year for what ever price the market will bear. The land owners get to keep the proceeds. These are the tags you see selling for $8000 - $10,000 - $15,000 per hunt. The private land owners can spread their hunt dates out over a much longer hunt period vs what the state allows for general season hunts. So instead of a 5 day or 10 day hunt on public lands, the land owners can hunt for say 6 weeks. Some ranchers sell all the tags for the same week, Others spread them out and combine them with guides and provide a full service hunt. These tags can be anything from a simple trespass permit that allows access to a prime piece of land, to a fully guided hunt. Again depending on the rancher.
The trade off is that they have to donate about 10% of their tags to the public. So if they get 10 tags to sell, they have to give 1 tag to the general public, These rules vary depending on the property, spieces being hunted, etc. These tags are given away via the state hunt lottery. Just like drawing a tag from a Limited Entry Hunt. Some owners treat the public like gold, Some don't. Some CWMU are operated by the actual land owners, some by Leasee who lease the land from the ranchers and run it as private hunt. So how you get treated can vary. Just remember that they get to sell 90% of the tags for big money and the 10% they give for public access don't generate any revenue. So generally you get treated as the poor step child.
Some CWMU will just open the gate and say have fun. Some will dictate whch canyon and what days you get to hunt, so that you don't interfer with their cash paying customers. Some will allow you to hunt by yourself, some require that one of their staff stays with you. It just depends on the CWMU.
As a John Q Public who draws a CWMU tag. It gives you access to private land. You get to hunt private land where the other hunters on the property may be paying thousands of dollars. The extended seasons may allow you to hunt times of the year that the normal state hunt dates would not allow.
Of course any CWMU can sell you a tag WITH OUT you having to go through a lottery. So if you want to hunt trophy elk every year, Just write the check and reserve a week year after year.
Some CWMU's have dedicated game managers. They manage the herd for trophy animals. They collect detailed statistics and work hard at improving the herd. Some units are just the land owner and he doesn't care if you shoot a spike or a bull as long as your check clears.
Almost all of the CWMU's list the phone # of the person you need to call. Talk with them and see how they manage their unit. Ask if you will be allowed to hunt at the same time as the paying guest. Or will your hunt be confined to limited dates. Ask what the average trophy is coming off their property. Are they managing for 5 year old bulls or for 8 year old bulls. How big is the ranch, what limitations on access will you face. Can you ride an ATV anywhere or like the Forest Service be limited to select dirt roads. Will non- hunters be allowed to accompany you. etc.
Let me broaden this a bit more.
Public land hunts fall into several other categories.
The state sells Spike elk and General Bull tags over the counter..
The Spike tag allows you to hunt Spike units (most of the state) and harvest a Spike
The General bull tags allows you hunt any elk with horns. (Spike or Mature) There is only a couple general bull units in the whole state and they are the dense forest that are usually the hardest areas to hunt.
These tags are available in either Archery or Rifle hunts.
In addition they offer Limited Entry tags where you put in for a lottery and occssionally get lucky and are drawn. They have preference points and waiting periods between successfully draws. I have 14 points and am still trying to draw one of these tags. So your chances of drawing are pretty slim. You have to purchase a hunting license before you can apply for these tags. For a non-resident, that means paying something $70 for a hunting license, $10 for the draw and probably not being successful. (This is the same process to draw a CWMU tag.) You can view previous years draw results and see what units have better draw odds.
As a Non-Resident that just wants to come hunting. Buy an over the counter tag for either spike or Open Bull. You will have to hunt public land and your odds of success will be around 10%. But you will get to come hunting this year and not wait around for a lucky draw.
Painted Horse summed it up, There are limited entry units that take less time to draw especially the limited entry archery elk hunts if you are willing to hunt with a bow on a 20 plus day season in the pre rut.
Also the Utah general season archery elk hunt allows you to take a cow or spike on the spike only units. It is a good time.
Also there is an antlerless draw in June 2009 that allows you to put in for a cow permit and if you draw they are a fun hunt.
This tip is for anyone who does or does not use a rangefinder while bowhunting, here is a simple and easy way to judge the distance to your game. Whether you’re in a tree or on the ground you can use this method at any time. Marking the distance before a hunt from your stand is a helpful way to determine the distance. I use either colored pins and/or hunters tape to mark trees at 20, 30 and 40 yards in 3 different spots around my stand. With those 9 markers I have a good chance that...