As reported earlier the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources considered multiple recommendations for making adjustments to the 2018 hunting seasons. Of the multiple recommendations the DWR evaluated, the following have been approved by the Utah Wildlife Board:
Due to relatively low harvest success rates, the bull elk population continues to show forth strength. Accordingly, the Board has approved a multi-season general bull elk permit to allow hunters to hunt all three available seasons - archery, rifle and muzzleloader. Which will be made available to purchase on July 17th, 2018.
Hunters will have the choice between spike-only or any-bull units when obtaining the $150 over-the-counter permit. However, this does not mean you can harvest three bull elk. Once you take an elk, regardless of the season within the multi-season permit, your elk hunt ends.
Jones confirms, "...if the number goes beyond the limit set in Utah's elk management plan, we'll relook at whether the opportunity should be offered again in 2019."
Hunting the units within the multi-season permit are organized accordingly:
Archery - open to any general-season bull elk unit.
Rifle & muzzleloader - open only to the type of unit the permit pertains to.
"Splitting the rifle buck deer hunt into two hunts — an early-season hunt and a regular-season hunt — on nine general deer hunting units. The early-season hunt runs Oct. 10–14."
The following units are included in the early-season hunt:
Kamas, Chalk Creek, East Canyon and Morgan/South Rich (northern Utah)
Nine Mile (southeastern Utah)
Fillmore, Fishlake, Pine Valley and Zion (south-central/southwestern Utah)
The original proposition was to include 10 General Season Deer units, however, it appears Panguitch Lake was not included in the final approval.
Covy Jones, the DWR Big-game coordinator affirms, "Splitting the rifle hunt into two seasons will reduce hunter crowding on the nine units that have an early season... some of the hunters will now have a chance to hunt earlier."
Along with new early-season hunt comes the opportunity to hunt both deer and elk at the same time, as the early-season deer and general rifle bull elk season occur simultaneously. Jones explains, "If you have a permit for both hunts you could possibly take a buck deer and a bull elk during your hunt."
The third newly approved opportunity pertains to the "cactus bucks" that are typically unable to reproduce. They are easily identifiable, as they maintain their velvet well beyond the typical shedding period. These bucks are few and far between, however, the DWR explains the Paunsaugunt holds a small population of them. This special hunt will allow more hunters to hunt on the Paunsaugunt, a premium-limited-entry unit in the southwestern region of Utah.
The DWR reports, "The cactus buck opportunity gives more hunters a chance to hunt a unit that's challenging to obtain a permit for."
Those who do draw an LE tag for the Paunsaugunt can currently take a cactus buck, but understandably pass up the opportunity in order to harvest the much larger bucks that have given the unit a very reputable status.
After a cactus buck is taken, it will be required to be checked by a DWR biologist or conservation officer to maintain a precise account of the cactus buck harvest rate.
These approved changes for the upcoming 2018 seasons provide significant opportunities for hunters, all while maintaining the health of the animal populations.
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