Want the chance to hunt cranes, grouse or swans in Utah this fall? Apply for permits starting July 5
Salt Lake City — If you are looking for a unique experience in Utah's outdoors, consider applying for a permit for the chance to hunt greater sage-grouse, sandhill crane, tundra swan or sharp-tailed grouse this fall. The application period for these four Utah bird hunts opens on Wednesday, July 5.
Qualifying to hunt most bird species in Utah is simple: buy a combination or hunting license and head afield. However, some bird species also require a special permit in addition to a hunting license. Those species include:
- Band-tailed pigeon
- Greater sage-grouse
- Sharp-tailed grouse
- Sandhill crane
- Tundra swan (Hunters should note that, as of this year, it's illegal to harvest a trumpeter swan in Utah.)
- White-tailed ptarmigan
Permits for greater sage-grouse, sandhill crane, tundra swan and sharp-tailed grouse are available through the Utah hunt drawing. You can apply for permits from July 5–19 for a chance to hunt these larger, unique birds in the fall.
"These permits provide a unique opportunity for hunters to pursue species that aren't widely available everywhere," Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Upland Game Coordinator Heather Talley said. "Utah is one of only nine states that allows swan hunting, and sage-grouse can only be found in the western United States. It's a great chance for people to do something different and have an incredible outdoors experience."
You also have to register in the Migratory Bird Harvest Information (HIP) program if you plan to hunt the following migratory species:
- American crows
- Band-tailed pigeons
- Mourning doves
- Sandhill cranes
- Tundra swans
- White-winged doves
It is free to register and Utah has a simple, online HIP registration process.
If you are 16 or older and you're going to hunt any waterfowl — including ducks, geese, swans, coots, rails and snipes — you must also purchase a federal migratory bird hunting and conservation stamp, often referred to as a "duck stamp." Those stamps can be purchased on the DWR website, at your local post office, from some license agents or by phone at 800-782-6724. The fee for an electronic duck stamp is $30.
Federal duck stamps help fund wildlife conservation across the U.S., with 98% of the purchase fee going directly to help acquire and protect wetland habitat and purchase conservation easements for the National Wildlife Refuge System.
To participate in the hunt drawing, you must apply for permits through the DWR website no later than 11 p.m. MDT on July 19. You should be notified of your drawing results by Aug. 4.
If you're not going to hunt swans, grouse or cranes this year, you can still apply for a preference point. Hunters with preference points have a better chance of obtaining a permit for the following year.
If you're planning to apply for a tundra swan permit, you must first successfully complete the 2023 swan hunting orientation course. The course is an annual requirement for everyone who applies for a swan permit.
The hunting seasons for the birds that require a permit in Utah are as follows:
- Band-tailed pigeon: Sept. 1–14
- Greater sage-grouse: Sept. 30 to Oct. 22
- Sharp-tailed grouse: Sept. 30 to Oct. 22
- Tundra swan: Oct. 7 to Dec. 9
- White-tailed ptarmigan: Sept. 1 to Oct. 31
- Sandhill crane: Sept. 2–10 for Cache and Rich counties, Sept. 2 to Oct. 31 for east Box Elder County, Oct. 7–26 for the early Uintah Basin hunt, Oct. 27 to Nov. 15 for the middle Uintah Basin hunt and Nov. 16 to Dec 5 for the late Uintah Basin hunt.
- Turkeys: Multiple turkey hunts take place in both fall and spring. For season dates and how to obtain permits, please see the 2023–24 Utah Upland Game & Turkey Guidebook.
Utah's trial hunting program
If you are new to hunting and wondering where to start, you may want to try Utah's Trial Hunting Program. This program allows you to tag along and hunt upland game or waterfowl with a licensed hunter who is over 21. You can try this for up to three years before you are required to take hunter education yourself.