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Rules for Commercial Hunting Areas

Generally, it is prohibited to release any animal into the wild, including pen-reared gamebirds. However, there are some exceptions for training dogs or falconry birds, as well as for permitted field trials and permitted Commercial Hunting Areas.

For the public

Commercial hunting areas within Utah offer additional upland game hunting opportunities outside of the general upland game seasons. CHAs are areas on private land where hunters can pursue released pheasants, partridges and quail. CHAs generally charge an access and per-bird fee.

Commercial hunting area seasons can run from Sept. 1 to March 31. Open dates can vary by Commercial Hunting Area. Contact the CHA operator for more information hours, prices, species available, reservations, etc.

View a map of Commercial Hunting Areas in Utah that are open to the public.

Commercial Hunting Areas are private businesses that are regulated, but not affiliated with nor endorsed, by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Hunter education or a trial hunting authorization is required to hunt on a Commercial Hunting Area.

For operators

Note that under the pen-reared gamebird rule as revised in 2023, a Commercial Hunting Area COR only permits release of pen-reared gamebirds. A separate permit for a commercial gamebird facility is required from the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food if your facility houses over 1,000 pen-reared gamebirds. A gamebird personal possession permit is required for 1,000 or fewer pen-reared gamebirds.

A Commercial Hunting Area COR is required to release pen-reared gamebirds for put and take hunting operations. Commercial Hunting Areas can also host field trials without additional permitting.

Additional details
  • Operators are responsible for knowing the laws surrounding the operation of Commercial Hunting Areas. Those laws are contained in DWR Administrative Rule R657-4.
  • The Wildlife Document for a Commercial Hunting Area pen-reared gamebird release is valid for three years from the date of issuance. However, an annual report and fee is required at the close of the season every year. The COR is subject to cancellation if the annual report and fee are not received by the DWR.
  • An operator, their employees, customers or volunteers may release pen-reared gamebirds as specified on their COR within the designated commercial hunting area for hunting or training activities during established commercial hunting area season dates.
  • The operator must have an invoice or bill of sale available for inspection showing lawful personal possession or ownership of such birds, or documentation that birds were propagated on site. Customers must also be provided with a bill of sale.
  • Pen-reared gamebirds may be released without a durable marking within designated commercial hunting area boundaries.
  • After release, pen-reared gamebirds may be taken on the designated property. Pen-reared gamebirds that leave the designated Commercial Hunting Area boundaries shall become the property of the state and may not be taken outside of the designated Commercial Hunting Area boundaries, except during legal hunting seasons as specified in the upland game or waterfowl guidebooks.
  • Pen-reared gamebirds released must meet disease requirements before release and be healthy, capable of flight, free of disease and suitable for human consumption.
  • Boundaries must be marked every 300 yards.
  • The minimum size of a CHA is 160 acres. The maximum size is 5,760 acres.
  • General season dates are Sept. 1 to March 31. Extended dates can be requested for field trials only.
  • Wild birds found within Commercial Hunting Areas can only be hunted during seasons as outlined in the Utah upland game or waterfowl guidebooks.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has additional requirements for captive migratory birds (waterfowl), including an additional permit. See https://www.fws.gov/service/3-200-9-waterfowl-sale-and-disposal

Utah's Hunter Mentoring Program

This popular program allows a young person to share a mentor's hunting permit.

Launched in 2014, Utah's Hunter Mentoring Program has been extremely popular. As a result, the Utah Legislature and Utah Wildlife Board have approved the following changes to the program since its inception:

  • Expanding mentoring opportunities beyond family
  • Allowing mentors to share most hunting permits
  • Increasing the number of youth that can be mentored on a single permit
  • Allowing youth to go on mentored hunts and also hunt on permits they draw
  • Simplifying age requirements for all participants
  • Allowing nonresident youth to be mentored
  • Allowing enrolled participants to use their mentors permit in the event of the permit holder's death

These changes will expand the program and provide additional high-quality mentored hunting opportunities to youth hunting in Utah. By participating in the program, you can help build the next generation of hunters, and teach them to be safe and ethical in the field.

Download application

Program basics

Any qualifying adult (age 21 or older) can mentor up to four resident or nonresident youth, as long as a parent or legal guardian provides written permission on the application.

Permits that are now eligible for sharing under the Hunter Mentoring program include all big game and antlerless permits, as well as black bear, turkey, greater sage-grouse and sharp-tailed grouse permits. The only permits that are not eligible are swan and sandhill crane, which are subject to conflicting federal regulations.

To participate, adult mentors must apply (in person or by mail) for themselves and up to four qualifying minors. Mentors must also meet all program requirements.

Qualifying mentors can be residents or nonresidents, but they must also:

  • Be at least 21 years old when applying for the program
  • Possess a valid permit.
  • Have written permission from a minor's parent or legal guardian in order to serve as a mentor.
  • Comply with Utah's hunting regulations.
  • Not receive any form of compensation for mentoring.

Note: If you have a Trial Hunting Program authorization, you may not serve as a mentor in Utah's Hunter Mentoring program.

Qualifying minors must:

  • Be under the age of 18 when applying for the program and meet the specific age requirements for the species they hope to hunt. (Specifically, a youth must be at least 12 years old to hunt big game or antlerless animals. To hunt black bear, a youth must be at least 12 years old by the end of the calendar year in which they obtained the permit.)
  • Possess a valid Utah Hunter Education number, Utah Trial Hunting Program authorization or have successfully completed a hunter education program recognized by the Division (for nonresidents).
  • Have written permission from a parent or legal guardian.
Allowing mentored youth to also hunt on permits they draw

Although youth are limited to one mentored hunt of the same species and sex per year, they may also hunt on any permits they personally draw.

For example, Paul draws a limited-entry buck deer permit and chooses to mentor his 15-year-old granddaughter, Eva, on the hunt. Eva has also drawn a general-season buck deer permit. She can legally go on both deer hunts because one of them is a mentored opportunity. She would not be allowed, however, to go on another mentored hunt for a buck deer during the same hunt year.

In the field

Once a mentor and up to four minors have been approved for the program, the mentor will be issued a hunting authorization that allows them to share their permit with the qualifying minors.

IMPORTANT: Only one of those minors may be mentored at a time, and only one animal may be harvested per permit.

While hunting, the mentor and minor must remain close enough to communicate in person, by voice or through hand signals.

Only the mentor and the youth being mentored may carry firearms in the field, and either the mentor or the minor may fill the permit.

For example, Madison draws a general-season deer permit and wants to mentor her two nephews during the hunt. She must first enroll in the program with both children (after obtaining written permission from their parents), and then she can take them hunting during the season listed on the permit. She is only allowed to mentor one of the boys at a time. As soon as someone — either Madison or one of the boys — harvests the species listed on the permit, the hunt must end.

After the hunt

Because the mentor is the individual who originally drew the permit, he or she will forfeit any applicable bonus points or preference points. Likewise, any waiting periods will also be applied to the mentor.

Participating in the program

To participate, download and complete the program application and return it to any DWR office.

Don't risk a ticket!

The Utah Hunter Mentoring program holds the potential for many positive memories. Don't ruin your hunt by receiving a citation for not following the law.

Some of the most common violations seen in the program are as follows:

  • Neglecting to enroll in the program. Before you can share your permit with a youth, you must both be officially enrolled in the Hunter Mentoring program. That requires you to download the application well in advance of your hunt. Then, you must return the completed application to a Division office.
  • Allowing the minor to hunt without the mentor present. The minor and mentor must stay together throughout the hunt. The mentor is the permit holder and is legally required to be with the minor when an animal is harvested and tagged.
  • Exchanging mentors or minors. The minor and mentor who enrolled together must hunt together. You cannot trade mentors or minors with others in your hunting group. Minors are breaking the law if they harvest multiple animals of the same species with multiple mentors — and you could be held accountable.
Questions?

If you have questions about how the Hunter Mentoring program works, don't just take your best guess. See the answers to common questions about the Utah Hunter Mentoring Program or call a Division office.

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