Utah Wildlife Board approves changes to big game regulations

SALT LAKE CITY – Those 17 years of age and younger, who don’t have their own big game hunting permit, can use an adult mentor’s permit to take a big game animal in Utah in 2014.

As soon as an animal is taken, the hunting season will be over for both the mentor and the young hunter.

Archery deer and pronghorn hunters will also be allowed to hunt on six Utah waterfowl management areas in 2014.  And, if the need arises, eight different areas in Utah are on a list of areas to receive transplanted mule deer.

The changes are among several big game changes the Utah Wildlife Board approved on Dec. 5.

All of the changes the board approved will be available in the 2014 Utah Big Game Field Regulations Guidebook.  The free guidebook should be available online in late December.

Starting in 2014, young people can hunt with an adult mentor and use the mentor’s permit to take a big game animal in Utah. Once an animal is taken, the hunt is over for both the youth hunter and the mentor. Utah, 2013 | Photo by Mike Keller, courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, St. George News
In 2014, young people can hunt with an adult mentor.  Utah, 2013 | Photo by Mike Keller, courtesy of  Division of Wildlife Resources

Hunting mentor program

A new program that should build bonds and memories between young hunters and their parents, stepparents, grandparents and legal guardians will start in Utah in 2014.

The Hunter Mentoring program allows an unlicensed youth hunter to accompany their parent, stepparent, grandparent or legal guardian into the field.  Once an animal is found, the youth can take the animal and then tag it with the mentor’s tag.

As soon as an animal is taken, the hunting season is over for both the mentor and the youth hunter.

One spike bull elk hunt eliminated on the Monroe

Rifle hunters will not be allowed to hunt spike bull elk on Unit 23, also known as the Monroe unit, in 2014.

Biologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources are concerned about the number of spike bull elk that are being taken during the rifle hunt each fall.  The Monroe unit is a popular and easily accessible hunting area in south-central Utah.

A rifle hunt for spike bull elk will not be held on the unit in 2014.  Archery and muzzleloader hunts for spike bulls will still be held on the unit, though.

Archery hunting on waterfowl management areas

Starting in 2014, six of Utah’s waterfowl management areas will be open to archery deer and pronghorn hunting.   The six WMAs are Bicknell Bottoms, Brown’s Park, Clear Lake, Desert Lake, Locomotive Springs and Redmond.  Both the archery deer and archery pronghorn hunts will be over before the general waterfowl hunt starts in October 2014.

New bighorn sheep hunt in north-central Utah

For the first time in six years, bighorn sheep hunting will be allowed in three areas in north-central Utah: Mount Timpanogos, Mount Nebo and Rock Canyon near Provo.

Bighorn sheep captured in Nevada wait to be transported to their new home in Utah. 2013 | photo by Mike Christensen, courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, St. George News
Nevada bighorn sheep wait to be transported to Utah. 2013 | Photo by Mike Christensen, courtesy of Division of Wildlife Resources

The overall number of bighorn sheep in the areas hasn’t increased much during that time, but the herd now includes some big, impressive rams.  Starting in 2014, a limited number of hunters will have a chance to hunt the rams.

“Even if one or two rams are taken,” said Justin Shannon, big game coordinator for the DWR, “plenty of rams will be left in the herd to breed with the ewes and keep the herd going.”


Splitting the rifle hunt on the Book Cliffs Unit

The number of bucks per 100 does on the northern part of the Book Cliffs limited-entry deer hunting unit should increase after the board approved a DWR proposal to split the unit into two areas for the rifle hunt.

The southern portion of the Book Cliffs is harder to hunt, so most hunters hunt the northern portion.  The increased pressure has reduced the number of bucks on the northern part of the Book Cliffs.

“Splitting the unit into two areas for the rifle hunt will allow us to reduce the number of permits for the northern area,” Shannon says.  “Reducing the number of permits will increase the number of bucks in that area.  At the same time, we can increase the number of permits for the southern portion.  Plenty of bucks are available to hunt in the southern area.”

Magnifying scopes, draw locks and crossbows

Another change the board approved will allow the use of three items during Utah’s any-weapon big game hunts: Magnifying scopes on muzzleloaders, draw lock devices on bows and the use of crossbows.

(During the any-weapon hunts (commonly called the rifle hunts), hunters may use rifles, muzzleloaders or archery equipment.)

“We don’t have concerns with people using scopes, draw lock devices or crossbows during the any-weapon hunts,” Shannon said.  “By choosing to use archery equipment or a muzzleloader, the chance they’ll take an animal is lower than if they used a rifle.”

Deer transplants

Another change approved by the board established eight areas in Utah where mule deer can be moved to.  The eight deer hunting units are in rural parts of the state.  Each unit has enough winter range to support additional deer.  And each area has also held more deer in the past than it’s currently holding.

The following are the units that could receive deer and where they’re located in Utah:

Unit Location
1 (Box Elder) Northwestern Utah
11 (Nine Mile) East-central Utah
14B (San Juan, Elk Ridge) Southeastern Utah
17C (Wasatch Mountains, Avintaquin) North-central Utah
19A (West Desert, West) Western Utah
20 (Southwest Desert) Southwestern Utah
21A/B (Fillmore, Oak Creek/Pahvant) Western Utah
24 (Mt. Dutton) Southwestern Utah

Deer will be moved only in situations where populations are drastically exceeding their population objectives and are starting to damage habitat, Shannon said.  Surplus deer from these areas can be taken to bolster deer populations on the eight units.

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