The Western Hunter's blog

Utah Elk Hunting: The Limited Units, Part 2

Last week we covered some of the less desirable options for Utah’s Limited Elk units.  While some of those areas are in high demand, it generally has more to do with resident convenience than the quality of the hunting experience.  We’ve also covered most of the general units, but the units we’re about to get into are the places that put Utah on the elk hunting map.  While I was lukewarm at best in my descriptions of the previous offerings, these are some really hot units.  If you draw a tag for one of these units, your excitement will be justifiable.

Utah Elk Hunting: The Limited Units, Part 1

While I’m not particularly high on many of Utah’s general elk opportunities, their limited elk hunts are generally a different story.  Utah’s limited elk hunts can be further broken down by price: premium limited or standard limited.  At $795 (compared to $388) plus the $65 hunting license, there is quite a large premium charged for these tags.  Still, they are somewhat of a bargain compared to the $1,500 charged for the premium limited tags.  And in reality, your travel expenses will probably exceed the price of the limited tag. Sure it adds up, but the price also tends to weed out more casual applicants.  Even the residents are charged $280 for that tag and $508 for the premium limited.  So if you claim to hunt only for the meat, these tags are obviously not for you.  The premium limited entry tag is not for any kind of a different area, it just allows you to hunt during all of the limited seasons.  Since I’m writing this more for the nonresident who likely has a less than a week to hunt, there’s no really good reason to go for the premium tag.

Utah Elk Hunting: The General Units

The Utah General Elk license is kind of a misnomer.  In many states, a general license means it is available unlimited, over the counter.  That’s not exactly the case in Utah.  Essentially, a limited number of general elk licenses are available in Utah beginning in mid-June first come first served.  With that license, you are legal to hunt in roughly one-third of Utah, the General Any Bull Units; Box Elder/Hansel Mountain, Ogden, Morgan-South Rich, East Canyon, Chalk Creek, Kamas, North Slope/Summit/West Dagget, South Slope/Yellowstone/Vernal/Bonanza, Nine Mile/Range Creek North, San Rafael North, Filmore/Oak Creek North, West Desert East Units, Pine Valley, Zion, San Juan/Montezuma and Henry Mountains. 

Utah Elk Hunting Overview

The state of Utah is quite famous for its trophy elk hunting.  However, you need to know how to navigate the regulations in order to take full advantage of what Utah has to offer.  One nice thing about Utah is that you do not have to pay the full tag fee up front, but you are required to buy a nonrefundable hunting license at $65.  Consider it an application fee.   And the license fees for the hot units are pretty outrageous: $1,500 for the premium limited entry units (and they want $500 from residents), $795 for the so-called limited entry units, but just $388 for the basic maximum sustained yield units.

With that expensive hunting license fee, and some other screwy application rules, Utah’s draw odds aren’t unreasonable.  Utah allows you to apply for deer, elk, antelope, moose, mountain goat and bighorn sheep, but you can only draw one of the above.  Since deer is the first species through the application system, if you draw, you’re done, no more tags (with one notable exception). 

Central Wyoming Deer Hunting: Regions D, E and J

Central Wyoming’s Regions E, D and J represent incredibly diverse habitat types.  In Region J, you have shortgrass prairie to the east and south of the Laramie Peak Range, then sagebrush basins to the west.  Region D contains the Snowy Range and even more sagebrush, plus a few small canyons and more prairies.  Region E contains the Wind River country as well as the vast basins east of Lander.  These regions are rarely spoken of as traditional deer hunting hot spots but contain some excellent country. 

Southwest Wyoming Deer Hunting: Regions G, K and W

In South Central Wyoming we’ve got some more famous deer country in the Red Desert around Rock Springs and Green River, and in the Southwest around Kemmerer as the main hubs in Regions G, K and W.  There is a tremendous amount of public land in these units, primarily BLM, but also some National Forest.  Much of this will be open country that can be effectively hunted from the main roads. 

Northwest Wyoming Deer Hunting: Regions R, F and H

When we get to Northwest Wyoming’s Regions R, F and H, we’re looking at a combination of high mountains, rugged wilderness, and vast basins between them.  The mountains and basins just west of the Bighorn Range divide makes up most of Region R.  West of there and up into the mountains bordering Yellowstone National Park is Region F. South of Yellowstone National Park and extending down past the famed mule deer country of Pinedale is Region H.  There are vast tracts of public lands throughout each of these regions.  Even the BLM parcels are quite large.  If you want to hunt the national forests, don’t forget that nonresidents cannot hunt the designated wilderness areas without a guide. 

North Central Wyoming Deer Hunting: Regions C, Y & M

As we head up towards North Central Wyoming, our public land deer hunting options become much better. In some parts, the BLM parcels get much larger, with fewer private lands. The creek bottoms are not always going to be private as in Eastern Wyoming. Portions of the Thunder Basin Grassland extend into Region C, but we’ve also got the 1.1 million acre Bighorn National Forest offering true mountain hunting, especially around the 189,00 acre Cloud Peak Wilderness in portions of Region M.

Eastern Wyoming Deer Hunting: Regions A, B and T

As  I stated in my last blog, I’d kick off my in depth look at Wyoming’s Region A, but let’s also take a look at Regions B and T, which will cover all of Eastern Wyoming. Eastern Wyoming, as a whole, has some limitations in terms of public land access. There are very few large, contiguous blocks of public land to get lost on. For the most part, you are dealing with numerous parcels in the 1-5 square mile range before running into private land or an inholding within the National Forest.

Public land hunting opportunities are best in Northeast Wyoming’s Region A, encompassing units 1 through 6.  The Black Hills National Forest and a small portion of the Thunder Basin National Grasslands make up the majority of the publicly accessible lands.

Wyoming Deer Hunting Overview

Wyoming has long been on the short list of states one should consider when talking about a mule deer hunt.  Mule deer can be found throughout the entire state, though in pockets of Eastern Wyoming whitetails outnumber mule deer.  In general, Wyoming’s mule deer densities are greater than Utah’s, and about on par with Colorado’s.   Though the mule deer populations in most Western states have experienced significant declines since the 1980s, Wyoming is still one of the great strongholds.

As our least populous state, resident hunting pressure is generally minor and unlimited general tags are available for a majority of the units.  However, the best places to hunt are completely limited.  Wyoming does not have a preference system for residents to acquire those limited tags, but they offer an unlimited general tag. 

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