Team Wildlife - Hunting - Learn

Team Wildlife - Hunting - Learn

  • Endangered Species Day: How the DWR is helping native wildlife species in Utah

    Friday, May 20 is Endangered Species Day, making it a great opportunity to learn about programs that are helping some of Utah's endangered and threatened species to recover.

  • Profile: Why I'm a Hunter — Aubrey Tuttle

    Team Wildlife profile
    Aubrey Tuttle

    Aubrey Tuttle

    A mom of five who loves the hunting lifestyle

    Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up and where do you live now?

    I grew up mostly in Nephi, Utah, but was born in Tooele and lived for several years in Bear River City. My family and I have been in Parowan for about five years now, but pieces of my heart were left in Logan and Ogden as we moved for work opportunities. I am so blessed to be a stay-at-home mom. I have five kids ages 5 to 15 years old; one boy and four girls.

    I love creating in all the ways: food, poetry, clean spaces, fun family trips and happy rosebeds. Whether it's a buttery, flaky pastry sparkling with turbinado sugar and overflowing with rich and sweet blackberries, a moist flank of venison seared to crusty brown topped with herb-infused butter, or an education-packed trip to Mount Rushmore complete with four hotel stops and wildlife scavenger hunts, it all makes me happy!

    Why do you hunt?

    I hunt in part because of tradition, and in full because it's a lifestyle that I love. My family members have been avid hunters for many generations, and it continues to speak to us.

    As a child, I enjoyed hunting as a way to spend time with my family and soak in the wild mountains and windy fields. I have vivid memories of admiring the kaleidoscope of colors on a rooster pheasant, and standing with my grandpa at sunrise, waiting for the first sighting of a good buck on Middle Mountain.

    As an adult, I enjoyed hiking along with my son as I mentored him on his very first deer hunt. I will never forget the crisp, bleached snow, the quiet of morning betrayed by the crunch of our boots, and our garb of safe, flashy orange.

    We have benefited greatly from organic, fresh game meat. With a family of seven, how to feed everyone is a constant and forefront thought in my mind. My kids have grown up on elk, venison, game fowl and fish. There are years when I rarely have to buy any meat from the market. It is a family affair at harvest time after a hunt: We set up an assembly line to process the meat, and all of us look with pride on our freezer full of nicely packaged hunks of steak, massive roasts and burgers.

    How did you get into hunting?

    I have been hunting since I could walk. I can recall many a frosty morning wrapped up in a blanket, an old-fashioned jelly-filled doughnut in one hand and strawberry milk in the other, my nose pressed to the window and eyes peeled. Some adventures involved a gun, others a fishing rod, and still others just a sturdy pair of shoes as we scouted for "the good ones" we would hope to bring down during the hunt. So, it was natural for me to marry a hunter who had had similar experiences, and to create those experiences for our own children.

    What is your favorite hunt you've been on?

    It is impossible to choose a favorite hunt! Each one is unique and special. The October rifle hunt up Manti-La Sal with my cousins, grandpa and dad; my first pheasant hunt; my husband's first antelope hunt on the Parker Plateau and (of course) my son's first mentored deer hunt. Utah is gorgeous, and hunting provides a way to see the landscape, fill your lungs with the good air, and get an up-close-and-personal view of God's furry and feathered creations.

    What are some tips you would offer someone who is interested in learning to hunt?

    My advice is to find a good teacher. Hunting is a skill and there is a lot to it. Rise to the challenge.

    Learn how to process the harvest. Elk and venison are delicious and there are a myriad of ways to cook them, so experiment until you find the recipes that your family loves.

    See it as an adventure. There is always something to learn from each hunt: Find the takeaway. Most importantly, have fun. There's no better place to be than out of doors — to breathe it in, really see it! I promise you will love it!

    To learn more about hunting and wildlife management, visit wildlife.utah.gov/teamwildlife.

    Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
    Aubrey Tuttle

    Why I'm a Hunter

  • Profile: Why I'm a Hunter — Bronx Withers

    Team Wildlife profile
    Bronx Withers

    Bronx Withers

    A youth hunter who loves getting outdoors with his family

    Tell us about yourself.

    I am 13 years old, and I live in Alton, Utah. I like to fish, hunt, shoot and rope. When I was four weeks old, my mom took me on my first elk hunt, and hunting has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I have hunted deer, elk, pheasants, geese and coyotes. My favorite animal to hunt is pheasants, because I like to watch the dogs point.

    Why do you hunt?

    I hunt because I enjoy being outside and being with my family in the field. My family loves the outdoors and so do I. Being able to have the chance to harvest an animal — and the memories and feelings that go along with it — mean so much to me. Making jerky and trying all the different game recipes is something I really enjoy. My favorite meat is moose!

    How did you get into hunting?

    Since I could walk, I have been following my parents in the mountains. The first hunt I remember was when I was 4 years old and we were in Nebraska. We sat in a ground blind waiting for a whitetail buck, and it was really cold! I saw turkeys and does walk right by us. I was so excited when my mom got a big buck.

    What is your favorite hunt you've been on?

    It's hard to choose the best hunt so far, but I think one of my favorites was when I went snow goose hunting. We set up a pop-up blind and all of the decoys, and then we sat there in the cold and waited. A lot of geese started coming into the decoys, and we started calling to bring them in closer. We ended up getting a few and I couldn't believe how big they were.

    What are some tips you would offer someone who is interested in learning to hunt?

    Practice shooting a lot so that when you get a chance you make a clean shot and don't wound an animal. Learn to read animal signs, and study where they live. Stick with it and don't give up!

    To learn more about hunting and wildlife management, visit wildlife.utah.gov/teamwildlife.

    Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
    Bronx Withers

    Why I'm a Hunter

  • Profile: Why I'm a Hunter — Igor Limansky

    Team Wildlife profile
    Igor Limansky

    Igor Limansky

    An outdoorsman who loves hunting's culinary connection

    Tell us a bit about yourself. Where did you grow up and where do you live now?

    I grew up in Millcreek, Utah, for the most part. We moved a lot when I was a kid, but that was the place I spent the most time and that feels like home.

    Why do you hunt?

    I hunt for the connection to nature and to be a conscious participant in my ecosystem. I hunt to be able to cook and share some of the best food available with my family and community.

    How did you get into hunting?

    I got into hunting in my early 30s. I always loved spending time in nature, but never had any friends or family that were into hunting. I had just returned to Utah after living in France for 2½ years, and I wanted a deeper dive into all the things I had missed while I was away. The mountains, deserts and wild places of nature were at the top of that list. I had also learned to cook while living in France, and I wanted access to great cuts of meat and organs. I was able to connect with friends of friends to take me out hunting with them. I remember watching the first light creep over the mountains one morning while watching deer grazing, and I was hooked.

    What is your favorite hunt you've been on?

    My friend drew a bison tag (cow only) in the Book Cliffs. We hiked into the roadless area and had a horse packer make a drop camp for our heavier gear. We spent the next few days exploring the canyons and mountains in the area. We found many bachelor groups of bulls but no cows. On the fourth day, we were getting worried, but we finally spotted a small herd. It was a long and slow stalk to get close to them, and at the last stretch, we spooked a coyote hiding in the brush. He ran off and took the herd with him, except for one cow and one calf.

    I have always believed that the animal we are hunting for is looking for us, as well. Watching that cow standing there — while the rest of the herd ran off — confirmed that belief for me. My friend shot the cow, and the calf ran off to rejoin the herd. We sat in marvel, watching this beautiful being lying on the grassy canyon floor. All I could think about were the generations of relationships between the human and the more-than-human world — how dependent we are on one another and how grateful I was to this animal.

    I wanted to show my respect for the experience by not letting anything go to waste, so I milked the bison into my coffee thermos before field dressing her. When we got to the liver, I cut fresh pieces, added some salt and handed them to each person in the hunting party. The liver was still warm and filled with the last bits of life of the bison.

    We were 8 miles from the drop camp where we would meet the horse packer who would help us haul the bison out. We spent the next 3 days walking 16 miles with heavy packs to get the whole bison back to camp. On the hike out, we passed the remarkable Sego Canyon petroglyphs of a bison hunt. I hoped there would be many generations to come who would also be able to have this sacred experience.

    What are some tips you would offer someone who is interested in learning to hunt?

    Find mentors and spend as much time out hunting as you can.

    To learn more about hunting and wildlife management, visit wildlife.utah.gov/teamwildlife.

    Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
    Igor Limansky

    Why I'm a Hunter

  • Profile: Why I'm a Hunter — Luke Simon

    Team Wildlife profile
    Luke Simon

    Luke Simon

    A scientist from India who fell in love with big game hunting in Utah

    Tell us about yourself.

    My journey to Utah started on the other side of the world, and it wasn't an easy trek. However, I gave my best every step of the way.

    I was born and brought up in a small village in the countryside of southern India, in the state of Tamilnadu. My home was surrounded by farmlands and next to the Mudumalai National Park, a wildlife sanctuary for tigers and Asian elephants. Life is not easy in India, and it's even more challenging in remote areas of the country. Until just recently, we didn't have electricity, telephone, running water or internet. I had to travel three hours a day to the nearest schools to learn English. However, on the bright side, I spent most of my free time outdoors foraging, fishing and small game hunting.

    I've always been fascinated with science, and I pursued a bachelor's degree in biology at the University of Madras. I went on to complete a master's in molecular biology in India, and my doctorate in medicine at Queen's University in Belfast, UK.

    In 2011, I joined the University of Utah School of Medicine research team for my postdoctoral fellowship. I fell in love with the state and the many opportunities presented. Being outdoors here brought back memories of my childhood in the forests of India, and it feels like I get the best of both worlds living in Utah.

    How did you get into hunting?

    Hunting and fishing are lifelong passions of mine. I went fishing in India, but it was impossible to pursue big game hunting there. (Personal firearms are prohibited, and any form of big game hunting is illegal.) The most I could do was trapping small game animals like rabbits, squirrels, partridge, etc. And I was extensively involved in another form of hunt: beehive hunting. I would track the beehives and sustainably harvest honey without harming the bees.

    When I moved to Utah, I realized that I could hunt big game animals like deer and elk. But I didn't know where to start, and I had never shot a gun. I took classes to get my hunter education certificate, and asked my coworker, Ki, if he could introduce me to big game hunting.

    We applied for buck tags on the Cache, North unit, and each drew a tag. I still remember my first day of that hunt: We got up very early in the morning, drove down a long dirt road and started hiking around 4:30 a.m. so we could be set up at our hunting spot at the break of dawn. I was exhausted by the steep hike and nervous, but at the same time I was excited to be on my first big game hunt. A few hours later, I saw a mule deer walking toward me, and I used my binoculars to check if it was a buck. As soon as I saw the antlers, my heart started to pound and I was telling myself, “This is really happening!” I had to take a deep breath to calm down, took the safety off the rifle, aimed and shot the buck at approximately 70 yards. It was a small buck with 2 and 3 points, yet it was my first deer.

    This was the start of my big game hunting adventures. Since then, I have harvested three buck mule deer and eight elk. I became hooked on big game hunting in Utah!

    Why do you hunt?

    Hunting and fishing are my way of life. I grew up depending on natural resources, and foraging based upon seasonal availability.

    I've always preferred to do some form of outdoor recreational activity during the weekends and work holidays. I love hiking, camping and backpacking, so it was very easy for me to add hunting and fishing to those trips, and to make my time off from work into a fun experience with friends. Utah is one of the best places for outdoor activities, and hunting and fishing areas are easily accessible within a 30-minute drive from Salt Lake City.

    When I started hunting in Utah 10 years ago, it was extremely challenging because there were a number of factors new to me that could influence hunting results. For example, after my first successful buck hunt, the next few years had early snowfall, which made the animals migrate in a different pattern. I had several unsuccessful hunting experiences, but I had a mindset to learn from my failures and never give up. Soon, my rifle hunts became very successful and easier, so I started choosing archery and muzzleloader hunts to make the experience more challenging.

    Also, when I started big game hunting, I realized that I needed to be fit to hike, and especially to carry the meat back to my car. Every year, I set a personal goal to achieve my physical fitness before the start of hunting season. The best part of hunting is that I am able to harvest and save the best organic meat as a reward for my healthy lifestyle.

    Hunting is a connection with nature, and for me, being outdoors helps me to decompress from the stress of day-to-day life. It is well documented that spending time in nature helps with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. This concept may vary from one person to another, but I can say for myself that my spirit is rejuvenated when I connect with nature.

    What is your favorite hunt you've been on?

    I can talk about all of my successful big game hunts as if they were yesterday, but one of my most memorable hunts was during the general-season elk hunt in 2016. I was hunting the Uinta National Forest near Mirror Lake with an any-bull tag and a control cow tag. Hiking up a ridge, I heard a couple of elk bugle on the other side. After a 45-minute hike, I got closer to the top of the ridge and noticed some cow elk in a saddle a few hundred yards away. I slowly inched toward the herd, expecting to see the bugling elk near the cows.

    Little did I know, the herd was moving toward me. I started to hear noise in the brush and rocks moving, and I could feel the herd getting closer to me, but I couldn't see the elk through the pine trees and brush. There was an opening in front of me, but I didn't want to cross it because I thought the elk may notice my presence. So, I sat down at the base of a pine tree.

    Soon, the bull in the herd started to make some grunting noises and I thought the elk figured out I was there. By then I was able to see a few cow elk about 20 yards in front of me, and realized that there were two herds meeting exactly where I was sitting. Both bulls started to grunt at one another, which turned into a bugling contest, and then the bulls started to battle each other right in front of me in the open area. It was like I was watching something on TV, but everything shook as the bulls bugled and clashed with each other. My heart was pounding, and I had goosebumps all over my body. The contest lasted for about five or six minutes, and then one bull gave up and backed out.

    I didn't take a shot on that hunt, but this event helped me to respect the majestic Rocky Mountain elk and shaped me into the hunter that I am today.

    What are some tips you would offer someone who is interested in learning to hunt?

    If you are planning to begin hunting in Utah, you are at one of the best places to get started. Like all skills, hunting is something you must grow into to be successful, which also means it takes commitment, time, patience and effort. I started big game hunting a decade ago, and if I could go back in time and change things I would come up with a big list.

    I wouldn't consider myself an expert in hunting, but there were a few things that helped me and could potentially help someone else.

    You have to start somewhere: My first step was to enroll in a hunter education course at the Lee Kay Public Shooting Range. It is possible to take the class online and find a center to complete the written and shooting tests. However, I would strongly recommend the in-person class to get familiar with the center where you’ll take the shooting test.

    Ask for help: I was fortunate to have a coworker who took me on my first buck hunt, and I was able to build on this experience to continue big game hunting on my own. Also, there are several hunting events organized by conservation groups to promote hunting for beginners. I attended a free shotgun clinic organized by the DWR, which included a shotgun shooting class and pheasant hunt opportunities with volunteer hunters.

    Start small: If you want to go hunting for the first time, start with a simple duck hunt at Farmington Bay. Duck hunting is always a blast, and you can invite your friends to go with you.

    Learn from mistakes: If you are just starting to hunt, you are bound to make some mistakes that result in failure. The biggest lesson I have learned throughout my hunting and fishing experiences is to keep trying, change my approach based on my failures and that patience is the key to success.

    Be positive: When I started out, I watched a lot of TV shows (I still do) and had big dreams of harvesting trophy animals and netting the largest fish. The reality is different, and those fantasies mostly ended in disappointments. So, I had to develop a positive attitude to be content with what I harvest, which helped me to better appreciate the hunt.

    Be prepared: I learned this lesson the hard way. During the hunting season, fall weather changes fast in Utah. Bright blue skies in the morning can turn into a blizzard and freezing temperatures by the end of the day. I now keep extra food and water, a warm jacket and a sleeping bag in my car.

    Most of all: Start hunting and make hunting a fun experience!

    To learn more about hunting and wildlife management, visit wildlife.utah.gov/teamwildlife.

    Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
    Luke Simon

    Why I'm a Hunter

  • Profile: Why I'm a Hunter — Melissa Early

    Team Wildlife profile
    Melissa Early

    Melissa Early

    A habitat biologist, food enthusiast and lover of the outdoors

    Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where do you live now? What's your occupation?

    I am a hunter, angler, wild foods forager, public land owner, food enthusiast and lover of the wild. I grew up in the rural Southeast, in a family of waterfowl and upland bird hunters. However, it was not until I became an adult and moved to the West that I truly became interested in hunting. Currently, I live in Ogden and am a habitat biologist.

    Why do you hunt?

    Food is an endless source of fascination for me, and I hunt primarily to seek wild, organic protein for the table.

    Each hunt teaches me more about wildlife, habitat, the interconnectedness of the world and the impacts we humans have on nature from near and far. Each hunt is different: It is humbling and challenging in unique ways each time, and offers endless learning experiences.

    Hunting requires a special lens to view the landscape, and it makes me feel more connected to wildlife. Thus, I’m very passionate about ensuring that the next generation will have the same opportunities I have had as a hunter and an angler. Hunting is inspiring, whether I harvest an animal or not.

    How did you get into hunting?

    Growing up, my dad and our Chesapeake Bay retriever returned to the house each duck season smelling like a wetland, with birds in hand that my family enjoyed eating. As a youth, I was simply not interested in the frosty early mornings, setting out decoys and leaky waders involved in my dad's hobby.

    However, once I moved to the West and discovered the incredible array of wildlife and habitat found on our public lands, there was a dramatic shift in my perspective.

    I vividly remember my great awakening: Gathered around a roaring campfire with friends, I first tasted elk, mule deer and morel mushrooms, and I heard the rugged tales of my friends' backcountry hunting and foraging expeditions. This taste of the wild — coupled with the West's public lands that provide access, opportunity and habitat for multiple species of wildlife — inspired me to enroll in a hunter safety course while I was going to school at the University of Montana. During my first few years of hunting, I frequently tagged along with friends and learned a lot from my community. As a resident of Utah, I've hunted upland birds and big game.

    What is your favorite hunt you've been on?

    My first doe pronghorn hunt remains my favorite hunt. Pronghorn are such a fascinating species; speeding gracefully across the sagebrush sea, and disappearing so quickly into the folds of the landscape. This hunt taught me a lot about the ecology of the sagebrush sea. It’s teeming with life, and I watched sage-grouse while glassing the habitat for pronghorn.

    It was an emotional rollercoaster of a hunt. There were many lows — such as scaring a herd away during a bad spot-and-stalk attempt — to the high of harvest, to the melancholy of taking this beautiful animal's life. When I pulled the trigger on my .270 after a long, exhilarating stalk, I was happy the pronghorn dropped immediately with my shot placement.

    A side note: For this hunt and others, I use non-lead ammunition (such as copper bullets). I make this choice for my family's health at the dinner table, and for the health of the landscape and wildlife, as birds and other species feed on the remains of carcasses left in the field.

    What are some tips you would offer someone who is interested in learning to hunt?

    • Get excited!
    • Be safe and be prepared: Enroll in and complete a hunter safety program. Most importantly, practice your shooting at the range to ensure that you are ready and prepared for the challenges and uncertainty of hunting before you go into the field.
    • Get to know the land: Use a good pair of binoculars, go hiking uphill and glass the landscape. Read up on the ecology of the landscape for the species you are seeking to hunt.
    • Know before you go: Look carefully at maps and determine public land areas where you can hunt. Read through the rules and regulations from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
    • Highly recommended: Read up on the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (the foundational tenets for managing wildlife as a public trust for the benefit of present and future generations).
    • Have fun!

    To learn more about hunting and wildlife management, visit wildlife.utah.gov/teamwildlife.

    Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
    Melissa Early

    Why I'm a Hunter

  • Quiz: How much do you know about big game management in Utah?

    Herd of buck deer in velvet, on a gradually sloping hill Find out how much you know about big game management in Utah.
  • Quiz: How much do you know about pheasant hunting in Utah?

    A pheasant strutting around a grassy field Find out how much you know about pheasant hunting in Utah.
  • Quiz: New to hunting? Here's how to get started.

    Hunter carrying a rifle and scope looking over a wide valley at sunset New to hunting? Here's what you need to know.
  • Species Protection Account

    Species Protection Account

    Protection, research, management and conservation

    Utah's Species Protection Account — formerly the Endangered Species Mitigation Fund — has a mission to protect Utah's plant and animal species of greatest conservation need, as well as species recognized as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

    Species Protection Account funding is allocated for each Utah state government fiscal year (July 1–June 30). To apply for funding, submit your project proposal by close of business on the first Friday in January for work during the following fiscal year.

    June sucker fish

    The primary objective of the Species Protection Account is to direct funds toward the protection, conservation and recovery of federally listed species and species of greatest conservation need as identified in the Utah Wildlife Action Plan. Working with partners, our goal is to prevent additional species from being listed under the ESA, and work toward downlisting or delisting species already listed under the ESA.

    Contact

    Please contact Paul Thompson, DWR Species Protection Account administrator, if you have questions about the account or need assistance with project submissions.

    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    • 801-791-4034

    Want to learn more? Listen to the DWR "Wild" podcast!

    In this episode, Paul Thompson and June Sucker Recovery Implementation Program Assistant Program Director Russ Franklin with the Central Utah Water Conservancy District talk about the Wildlife Action Plan and Species Protection Account, including how they work and some of the success stories of wildlife species that have been helped through these efforts. Note: At the time of this recording, the name of one of the programs mentioned was the Endangered Species Mitigation Fund. As of May 2024, the program has been renamed the Species Protection Account.

  • The Amazing Trace: tracking sandhill cranes in Utah

    Two sandhill cranes, one with wings spread, in a field in northern Utah Sandhill cranes are elegant, long-lived, form life-long pair bonds and can sustain flight at 20,000 feet. We are truly fortunate to have them in our state.
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