Utah DWR announces last chance to get permits for deer, elk hunts

Deer buck, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resourses, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY — If you missed the application period for general-season bull elk and general-season buck deer permits, and are still interested in hunting deer or elk this fall, your last chance to buy a permit begins this week, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Deer buck, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resourses, St. George News

Individuals can also apply for hunting permits for four bird species: greater sage grouse, sandhill crane, swan and sharp-tailed grouse.

Elk and deer permits

All the general-season bull elk permits — including the multi-season general bull elk permits — will be available beginning at 8 a.m., Tuesday, July 16. The general-season bull elk permits allow hunters to harvest a bull elk using a muzzleloader or any legal weapon, according to a DWR press release.

The permits are available online, from a DWR office or from any license agent on a first-come, first-served basis. There are 15,000 spike bull elk permits and 15,000 any bull elk permits available. The general-season archery bull elk permits are unlimited.

The general-season buck deer permits that remain after the big game drawing will be available beginning at 8 a.m. on Thursday, July 18. There are a total of 1,330 permits remaining, and they are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You can get more details about the permits (including which hunting units they are for and how many are available for each unit) on the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources website.

Elk buck, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resourses, St. George News

While that DWR web page isn’t actively updated after the permits go on sale, you can see the remaining number of permits when you go online to purchase.

Youth general-season archery deer permits will also become available at 8 a.m. on July 18. These permits are not left over from any type of drawing — they are set aside specifically for youth hunts each year. You must be 17 years old or younger on July 31 to purchase these permits. Details about the number of permits and the available units are also on the DWR website.

There were no limited-entry big game permits remaining after the drawing this year.

How do I buy one of these permits?

People interested in buying a permit can purchase it online, at a DWR office or from any available license agent. However, because these permits go on sale beginning at 8 a.m., be sure to check the hours of your nearest available agent before traveling there. You can find all the license agents on the DWR website.

New this year, there will be a virtual waiting room for those buying online, to better manage the pressure of the high volume of people wanting to buy permits. If a customer refreshes or navigates away from the queue page, they may lose their spot in line and have to start over.

“If you happened to miss the big game drawing or were unsuccessful, this is your last opportunity to hunt big game this fall,” said Lindy Varney, DWR wildlife licensing coordinator. “Also, don’t forget that you can mentor a youth during these hunts, and it’s a great opportunity to pass on your love of the outdoors to the next generation.”

Make sure to familiarize yourself with the 2019 Big Game Application Guidebook before you start scouting and planning your hunt for the fall. It can be found online, along with the Big Game Field Regulations.

Sharptail bird, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resourses, St. George News

Bird permits

The permit applications for four Utah bird hunts began July 3.

Qualifying to hunt most bird species in Utah is simple: buy a combination or small game license and head afield. However, some bird species also require a special permit in addition to a hunting license, including band-tailed pigeon, tundra swan, sharp-tailed grouse, greater sage grouse, white-tailed ptarmigan, sandhill crane and turkey.

The permits for band-tailed pigeon and white-tailed ptarmigan are available for free starting July 30 on the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources website or from any license agent. The permits for greater sage grouse, sandhill crane, swan and sharp-tailed grouse are available through the Utah hunt drawing. You can apply for those permits from July 3-18, 2019.

“These permits provide a unique opportunity for hunters to pursue species that aren’t widely available everywhere,” Blair Stringham, DWR migratory game bird program coordinator, said.

“Utah is one of only nine states that allows swan hunting, and sage grouse can only be found in the western United States. It’s a great chance for people to do something different and have an incredible outdoors experience.”

If you hunt mourning doves, band-tailed pigeons, sandhill cranes, geese, ducks, coots or snipes, you are required to register in the Migratory Bird Harvest Information (HIP) program. It is free to register and Utah has a simple, online HIP registration process.

If you are over 16 years old, you must purchase a federal migratory bird hunting and conservation stamp, often referred to as a “duck stamp,” if you are hunting waterfowl (ducks, geese, swan, coot and snipes.) Those can be purchased at your local post office, some license agents or by phone at 1-800-782-6724.

Swan flock, Utah, 2013 | Photo by Mike Christensen, courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resourses, St. George News

Changes to waterfowl and upland game hunts

You can apply for greater sage grouse, sandhill crane, sharp-tailed grouse and swan permits in the same hunt drawing. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved an additional 750 swan permits for the Utah hunts this fall, making a total 2,750 permits available.

Hunting for waterfowl will not be allowed on Antelope Island this year, as the state park has been designated as a no-shooting area.

While many upland game hunts typically begin Sept. 1, this year, they will begin Monday, Sept. 2. Per Utah state law, hunting season can’t begin on a Sunday, which Sept. 1 falls on this year.

Application period

To get your application into the drawing for permits, you must apply through the DWR website no later than 11 p.m. on July 18. You should be notified of your drawing results before Aug. 5.

If you’re not going to hunt swans, grouse or cranes this year, you can still apply for a preference point. Hunters with preference points have a better chance of obtaining a permit for the following year.

If you have questions about applying for a permit, call 1-800-221-0659 or the nearest DWR office.

Utah’s trial hunting program

If you are new to hunting and wondering where to start, you may want to try Utah’s Trial Hunting Program. This program allows you to tag along and hunt geese or ducks with a licensed hunter who is over 21. You can try this for up to three years before you are required to take hunter education yourself.

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