Some more information:
Providing more opportunity
“It might be hard to believe, but our harvest data shows that more deer are typically taken during five-day hunts than during nine-day hunts,” says Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the DWR.
The following chart compares five-day hunts in Utah to nine-day hunts. The chart begins in 1999, when Utah’s first five-day deer hunt was held in parts of the Southeastern Region:
Year Season Average Deer taken
length days hunted per 1,000 hunters
1999 5 days 3.2 470
9 days 3.9 321
2000 5 days 3.3 480
9 days 3.8 326
2001 5 days 2.9 330
9 days 3.6 275
2002 5 days 3.2 317
9 days 4.0 237
2003 5 days 3.0 224
9 days 3.7 241
2004 5 days 2.8 367
9 days 3.5 329
2005 5 days 3.1 282
9 days 3.5 229
2006 5 days 3.0 441
9 days 3.5 324
Aoude has some ideas about why fewer deer are typically taken during a nine-day hunt.
“I think it might have something to do with hunters putting in more effort during a five-day hunt,” he says. “They know the hunt isn’t going to last long, so they put some extra effort in. Because the hunt is fairly short, I think they’re also willing to take one of the first deer they see.”
A busy life and procrastination might also be factors.
“During a nine-day hunt, I think hunters are more selective. If they don’t see a deer they want the first weekend, they know they can come back and hunt the second weekend,” Aoude says. “But despite their best intentions, most hunters don’t make it back the second weekend to hunt.”
Aoude says Utah deer hunters hunt an average of three-and-a-half days during a five-day hunt. During a nine-day hunt, they hunt an average of four days.
“If Utah stays with a five-day hunt in southern Utah, four days—including a weekend—will be taken away from hunters,” he says. “Most hunters wouldn’t take advantage of the extra days, but those who would like to hunt some extra days could if we went to a nine-day hunt.
“That’s very important for young hunters who are in school during the week and for those who have jobs that allow them to hunt only on the weekends.”
More time to hunt spike elk
Another DWR proposal would give you more time to hunt spike bull elk in the state.
The DWR is recommending the general spike bull elk hunt return to a 13-day season. It’s been nine days long for the past few years.
The general spike bull hunt would run from Oct. 4 -16. Those are also the season dates the DWR is proposing for Utah’s any bull elk hunt.
“The length of the spike bull elk hunt was shortened a few years ago when the age objective for bulls taken on limited entry units was lowered on most of the units,” Aoude says. “Lowering the objective allows more permits to be issued and more bulls to be taken. The idea behind shortening the season was to save more spike bulls so they could grow into mature bulls.”
Since that time, Aoude says the age objective on most of the elk units has been raised. Raising the objective means fewer bulls will be taken.
Even if there was a need to protect spike bulls, Aoude says keeping the season at nine days wouldn’t make much of a difference. “The elk situation is the same as the deer situation,” he says. “Even if the season is lengthened by four days, most hunters won’t take advantage of the extra days.”
Aoude says hunters who hunt nine-day elk seasons in Utah hunt an average of five days. That number increases to five-and-a-half days when the season is 13 days long.
Proposals for southern Utah
Some of the other big game proposals the DWR will present include the following for southern Utah:
- Change the Fillmore, Oak Creek South bull elk unit from a limited entry unit to a general any bull elk unit.
“The habitat on the unit isn’t very good for elk, and there aren’t many bulls on the unit,” Aoude says. “If you draw a tag for the unit, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll take a bull. But we can’t offer many permits for the unit, and we don’t believe it meets the requirements to be a limited entry unit.”
- Change the Plateau, Fishlake – Thousand Lake buck deer unit from a limited entry unit to a general season unit.
“This small unit rarely meets the minimum objective of 25 bucks per 100 does that each of Utah’s limited entry deer units is supposed to meet,” Aoude says.
“The unit is surrounded by private land, and deer move in and out of the unit a lot,” he says. “General season hunters on the private land surrounding the unit take a lot of deer as they move to and from the unit.”
- Create a new general any bull elk unit in southeastern Utah. The unit would be on the east side of US-191, just east of the San Juan limited entry bull elk unit.
“The elk in this area could cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to sunflowers that are being raised for biofuel,” Aoude says. “We’re hoping general season elk hunters can help reduce these losses by taking some of the elk.”