Big game hunt applications for the 2023 season draw to open in March

UTAH — Beyond the gear, the training, and the area knowledge, big game hunting in Utah starts with a drawn permit. This year’s application period opens on March 23 at 8 a.m., lasts till April 27 and can be completed online or by calling a DWR regional office. This is later than previous years but will be the plan moving forward in addition to the proposed permit number information available to hunters. The results of the drawing will be released on May 31.

This year’s winter season has been rough on many of the big game species in the snowy parts of the state. Snowpack levels have reduced food availability to an extreme minimum, forcing DWR to step in with emergency feeding areas. Elk in Summit County have resorted to standing side by side with cows and horses to feed on hay put out by farmers. Understanding winter survival rates combined with the previous fall hunting harvest numbers and other surveys combine to help determine proposed permit numbers.

“We don’t have the data from the winter big game captures, the previous fall hunt harvest rates, and other big game surveys until March,” said Lindy Varney, DWR Wildlife licensing coordinator. “After we receive that data, we put together the permit recommendations for the upcoming fall big game hunting seasons. After receiving requests from the public, the DWR approved the shift in application dates from January to March so that hunters will have information about the proposed permit numbers prior to applying. Hunters can access the proposed permit numbers for each hunt unit beginning in April. This information will be available on the Utah Hunt Planner. The final permit numbers will be approved by the Utah Wildlife Board during their public board meeting on May 4.”

Mule Deer Buck in the Uinta-Cache-Wasatch National Forest
Mule Deer Buck in the Uinta-Cache-Wasatch National Forest. Photo: TownLift // Kevin Cody.

Utah’s Dedicated Hunter Program is another option for Utah residents. The program opportunity is part of the draw, and offers participants the chance to hunt all of Utah’s general-season deer hunts. First-year recipients must complete a minimum of 8 service hours, and a conservation ethics course. Second and third year recipients will have higher minimum service hour requirements.

Those not planning on hunting in 2023 can still apply for a bonus point or a preference point. Bonus points are for limited entry and once-in-a-lifetime type hunts. Preference points are received when an application for a general season permit for general-season buck, antlerless deer, antlerless elk or doe pronghorn is unsuccessful. Applications for preference or bonus points can be submitted even if you are planning on not hunting in a particular season.

West desert pronghorn antelope buck.
West desert pronghorn antelope buck. Photo: Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Applications can now be edited without a fee at any time prior to 11 p.m. on April 27, when the application period closes. If an application is completely withdrawn and then resubmitted, there will be a fee. Additional information for the 2023 season can be found in the 2023 Utah Big Game Application Guidebook.

Most of the 2023 big game hunting permits will be part of the draw with some exceptions. General-season bull elk hunts will go on sale on July 13, and spike bull elk permits on July 20.

For information on a specific area with in-depth guidance by DWR biologists, see the Utah Hunt Planner.


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