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Hunting changes to be discussed

Public input meetings to start November 6

Archery deer and pronghorn hunting might be allowed on some of Utah's waterfowl management areas in 2014. And eight different areas in Utah might receive transplanted mule deer.

A buck in velvet in Utah.

DWR biologists are recommending some deer hunting changes for Utah’s 2014 hunts.

Photo by Scott Root

Also, young hunters who don't have their own hunting permit might be allowed to use their parent's or grandparent's permit to take a big game animal in 2014.

Those changes are among several changes Division of Wildlife Resources biologists are proposing for Utah's 2014 big game hunts.

All of the changes the biologists are proposing should be available online by Oct. 30.

Learn more, share your ideas

After you've reviewed the ideas online, you can let your Regional Advisory Council members know your thoughts by attending your upcoming RAC meeting or by sending an e-mail to them.

RAC chairmen will share the input they receive with members of the Utah Wildlife Board. The board will meet in Salt Lake City on Dec. 5 to approve rules for Utah's 2014 big game hunts.

Dates, times and locations for the RAC meetings are as follows:

Email

You can also provide your comments to your RAC via email. Email addresses for your RAC members are available online.

The group each RAC member represents (sportsman, non-consumptive, etc.) is listed under each person's email address. You should direct your email to the people on the RAC who represent your interest.

Archery hunting on waterfowl management areas

Opening some of Utah's waterfowl management areas (WMAs) to archery deer and pronghorn hunting are among the biologists' ideas.

The six WMAs in question — Bicknell Bottoms, Brown's Park, Clear Lake, Desert Lake, Locomotive Springs and Redmond — are far from major urban centers. Both the archery deer and archery pronghorn hunts would be over before the general waterfowl hunt started in October.

Moving deer

Some areas in Utah might receive some additional deer. If a need arose to move deer, DWR biologists have identified eight deer hunting units they'd like to move deer to. The eight units are in rural parts of the state. Each unit has enough winter range to support additional deer and has 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
14A (San Juan, Abajo Mtns) Southeastern Utah
17C (Wasatch Mtns, Currant Creek) North-central Utah
19A (West Desert, West) Western Utah
20 (Southwest Desert) Western Utah
21A (Fillmore, Oak Creek) Western Utah
24 (Mt. Dutton) Southwestern Utah

Justin Shannon, big game coordinator for the DWR, says deer would be moved only from populations that were drastically exceeding their population objectives and were starting to damage habitat. Surplus deer from these areas could be taken to bolster deer populations on the eight units.

When is a teenager no longer a youth hunter?

Right now in Utah, the definition of who is and isn't a youth hunter varies by hunt. For example, as soon as a young hunter reaches 16 years of age, he or she can no longer participate in Utah's youth waterfowl and upland game hunting days. Big game hunters, however, are considered youth hunters until they reach 19 years of age.

The DWR would like to make the age cutoff consistent across all hunts. Biologists are proposing that anyone 17 years of age or younger on July 31 be considered a youth hunter.

New hunter mentoring program

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

The Hunter Mentoring program allows a non-licensed 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 will be over for both the mentor and the youth hunter.

Magnifying scopes, draw locks and crossbows

Another change would permit 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 says. "By choosing to use archery equipment or a muzzleloader, the chance they'll take an animal is lower than if they used a rifle."

Splitting the any-weapon hunt on the Book Cliffs Unit

Splitting the Book Cliffs limited-entry deer hunting unit into two areas for the any-weapon hunt would allow the number of bucks per 100 does on the northern portion of the unit to increase.

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

"If we split the unit into two areas," Shannon says, "we could reduce the number of permits for the northern area. That would help increase the number of bucks in that area. At the same time, we could increase the number of permits for the southern portion. There are plenty of bucks to hunt in the southern area."

New bighorn sheep hunt in north-central Utah

Bighorn sheep hunting has not been allowed on Mount Timpanogos or in Rock Canyon near Provo for about six years.

The overall number of bighorn sheep hasn't increased much during that time, but the herd now has some big, impressive rams in it. Biologists would like to give a limited number of hunters a chance at the rams.

"Even if a few rams are taken," Shannon says, "plenty of rams will be left in the herd to breed with the ewes and keep the herd going."

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