Nine-day Rifle Hunt in 30 New Units in Utah

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If you like to hunt deer, get ready—some major changes are happening in Utah in 2012.

Mule deer

In 2012, deer hunting will not happen in large regions in Utah. Instead, deer will be hunted in smaller areas called units. The Utah Wildlife Board has split the state into 30 units for the 2012 season.

Photo by Mike Keller

Approved by the Utah Wildlife Board in December 2010, the changes are the biggest deer hunting changes seen in the state in almost 20 years.

30 hunting units

The biggest change is the amount of area you'll be able to hunt during the state's 2012 general seasons:

  • In the past, rifle and muzzleloader hunters have hunted in five large regions. And archery hunters could hunt anywhere in Utah that was open to general deer hunting.
  • In 2012, all general season hunters—archery, rifle and muzzleloader—will be hunting in smaller areas called units.

Utah's five regions have been split into 30 smaller units for the 2012 hunt.

Same season dates

It might take time to get used to hunting in one of 30 smaller units. But one change should be easy to adapt to. Instead of having different season dates in different areas, the Division of Wildlife Resources is recommending that all 30 units have the same season dates.

At a series of upcoming public meetings, DWR biologists will recommend that general deer hunting seasons run the following number of days on each of Utah's 30 general season deer hunting units:

 HuntNumber of days

More buck deer

Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the DWR, says in the past, the rifle hunt has been as short as three days in various parts of the large regions. The number of days was reduced to try to reduce the number of bucks hunters took in areas that didn't have many bucks.

"Having smaller hunting units will allow us to fine tune the number of hunting permits available for each unit," Aoude says. "Reducing the number of hunters by reducing the number of permits is the best way to reduce the number of bucks that are taken during the hunting season."

And limiting the number of bucks hunters take will be important in 2012—at their December 2010 meeting, members of the Wildlife Board raised the minimum number of bucks they want biologists to see after the hunting seasons are over in the fall.

In the past, the goal was a minimum of 15 bucks per 100 does after the hunting seasons were over. Starting in 2012, the goal is 18 bucks per 100 does.

The number of general buck deer hunting permits for Utah's 2012 hunts will be determined by the Wildlife Board at a meeting in May 2012.

Elk, mountain goat and bison

In addition to making season dates the same for deer, DWR biologists are also recommending some elk, mountain goat and bison hunting changes.

You can see all of the big game hunting changes the DWR is recommending for 2012 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 Dec. 1 to approve rules for Utah's 2012 big game hunting seasons.

Dates, times and locations for the RAC meetings are as follows:

  • Northern Region
    Nov. 9, 6 p.m.
    Weber State University, Shepherd Union Building, Rooms 404A and 404B
    3848 Harrison Blvd, Ogden
  • Central Region
    Nov. 10, 6:30 p.m.
    Springville Junior High School
    165 S 700 E, Springville
  • Southern Region
    Nov. 15, 6 p.m.
    Richfield High School
    510 W 100 S, Richfield
  • Southeastern Region
    Nov. 16, 6:30 p.m.
    John Wesley Powell Museum
    1765 E Main Street, Green River
  • Northeastern Region
    Nov. 17, 6:30 p.m.
    Bingham Entrepreneurship and Energy Research Center
    320 N Aggie Blvd (2000 W), Vernal


You can also provide your comments to your RAC via email. Email addresses for your RAC members are available at 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.


Ca_Vermonster's picture

Very nice!  As I have

Very nice!  As I have mentioned before, I have only hunted the big rockies for mule deer one time, and it was in Utah about 10 years ago.  I absolutely loved it!  Not only do they have some killer deer, but they have some of the best scenery I have seen in my life.

This should be a great opportunity for people to get out and experience mule deer hunting there.  I know alot of Utah had gone to big amount of points, but maybe this will loosen some of those up a little. It's interesting to see though that their goal is actually a reduced buck harvest, but they are opening hunting areas.  As they said though, it will give them the ability to fine tune certain areas.

Either way, this is very welcome news!

Retired2hunt's picture

  I don't know if this is a


I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing for the Utah hunters.  I came from a state (Ohio) that just divided the entire state into three quadrants.  For deer hunting you were allowed to buy a tag and hunt anywhere within the state but each quadrant only allowed a certain harvest of bucks and does.  One buck you are done with bucks no matter what quadrant but then each quadrant also allowed a certain amount of does.  It has been that way for quite some time and I don't think they encounter an issue with too many bucks being harvested from any one quadrant.

Then I move to this state of Colorado and I had to re-learn the entire process of draw tags by  unit, OTC tags, leftover tags, etc....  That was a task.

The unit boundries allow for a much smaller geographic area to be "managed".  Once the numbers or populations are determined by these smaller units the Utah DWR will be better educated on their decision making on numbers of tags by sex allowed in each unit.

So the unit breakdown does allow a "fine tune" approach.  I think it has merit but it also handcuffs the resident and non-resident hunter.  So I don't know if I would be happy with this change... especially now they are looking to have more bucks still alive per 100 doe.  It does provide for a 9 day rifle hunt so more time is allotted for hunting - that is definitely a good thing.

Bottom line - every state thinks their program is the best otherwise we would have the same hunting program outline for tags on big game in all 50 states.



numbnutz's picture

There are some pretty unhappy

There are some pretty unhappy people in Utah because of the 30 unit break down. I don't see what the issue is as this is how it's been inmy state for as long as I can remember. I don't think the spilt up will do what the Game commision wants it to do but only time will tell. The reason I don't think it will work is because of the how it has worked in Oregon and it hasn't. The mule deer numbers are still declining, But like I said only time will tell. Over all it's not a bad thing to hunt a smaller area if they limit the amount of tags givin out. If it's set up like our general season than it will be very crowded in the more popular areas. I hope this plan works out for Utah and the deer numbers will increase and the season will be able to be extended. Good luck to all the deer hunters in the great state of Utah.