Utah announces changes to 2021 hunting season

Utah announces changes to 2021 hunting season

Photo credit: Dreamstime

Utah hunters listen up: there’s some changes in store for the 2021 big game season. Last week, the Utah Wildlife Board approved several wildlife proposals and changes that will impact elk, antelope, deer, bison and bighorn sheep hunts and permits as well as current deer management strategy and landowner permissions, according to a press release.

For 2021, the elk management plan has been modified to allow 17,500 any bull elk permits as well as an unlimited number of any bull elk permits for youth hunters. In prior years, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) recommended limiting permits to 15,000 statewide; however, changing the number of permits is “a way to expand hunting opportunities for families, strengthen ties to Utah’s hunting heritage and provide a challenge for hunters, since this is not an easy hunt,” said UDWR Big Game Coordinator Covy Jones.

Spike bull elk permits will remain the same and UDWR will cap them at 15,000 statewide.

There are also some changes to limited entry elk hunts on seven hunting units across the state, including a September archery hunt, according to the agency. There are approved boundary changes and some new handgun-archery-muzzleloader-shotgun elk hunting units added for 2021 as well. The spike bull elk hunts on the Book Cliffs units will now only run five days (Oct. 9 to 13), but the general season any bull elk archery elk hunt has been increased by five days for the next two years – and possibly longer if the statewide elk committee sees the change as beneficial.

Other hunt changes, per the board, include:

  • The limited entry High Uintas deer hunt is now an early season any legal weapon hunt.
  • Five new antelope hunts have been added, including three muzzleloader, one archery and one any legal weapon hunt.
  • There is a date change and boundary change for the Henry Mountains hunter’s choice archery hunt.
  • For Rocky Mountain and desert bighorn sheep, there is one new hunt and two discontinued hunts, which includes the desert bighorn sheep archery hunt in the Zion Unit.

Along with those changes, the following dates have been approved for the 2021 general season deer hunts:

  • Archery: Aug. 21 to Sept. 17, 2021
  • Muzzleloader: Sept. 29 to Oct. 7, 2021
  • Any weapon (early): Oct. 13 to 17, 2021
  • Any weapon: Oct. 23 to 31, 2021

In addition to the changes to the 2021 big game season, the wildlife board also revised the mule deer unit management plans for five regions – three of which were revised to “meet requirements designated in HB 125, which directs predator management” to meet population objectives within that unit, according to the agency. The board also approved five new Cooperative Wildlife Management Units (CWMU), which allows private landowners to keep their private range and forest lands as wildlife habitat, “bringing the total number of CWMUs in Utah to 126.” For private land, the board also approved the allocation of 2,872 permits for private hunts and 476 permits for public hunters on the CWMUs. 

Happy hunting!

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