Utah’s deer hunting season may have just recently ended, but it’s already time for hunters to turn their attention to changes planned for next year’s hunt.
A series of meetings beginning tonight in Ogden will be the last chance for members of the public to weigh in on the state’s proposed hunting rules for deer and a few other big-game species next year.
Some significant changes in the making for 2012 will likely result in fewer overall buck deer permits, but will also mean more hunting days in areas of the state that had shortened seasons this year.
In the past, rifle and muzzleloader hunters have hunted in five large regions covering the state, while archery hunters have been allowed to hunt anywhere in Utah that has been open to general deer hunting.
In 2012, all general-season hunters — archery, rifle and muzzleloader — will be hunting in smaller areas called units. Utah’s five regions have been split into 30 smaller units for the 2012 hunt.
Breaking the regions down into smaller units allows wildlife managers to fine-tune the number of permits available for each unit, said Anis Aoude, big-game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. The change will likely result in fewer overall buck deer permits, Aoude said, because the DWR has a mandate from the Utah Wildlife Board to increase the buck-to-doe ratio in the state.
“Reducing the number of hunters by reducing the number of permits is the best way to reduce the number of bucks that are taken during the hunting season,” Aoude said.
The total number of general buck deer permits for 2012 will be determined by the board at a meeting in May 2012.
While it might take time to get used to hunting in one of 30 smaller units, one change should help simplify things. Instead of having different season dates in different areas, the DWR is recommending that all units allow nine-day seasons for rifle and muzzleloader hunters and 28 days for archery hunters.
In past years, the rifle hunt has been as short as three days in some parts of the larger regions in order to help increase buck populations, Aoude said.
In addition to making season dates the same for deer statewide, DWR biologists are also recommending some elk, mountain goat and bison hunting changes.
All of the big-game hunting changes the DWR is recommending for 2012 can be viewed online at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings. After reviewing the ideas, the public is encouraged to share thoughts with Regional Advisory Council members by attending an upcoming meeting or through e-mail. The first meeting is at 6 p.m. tonight in Ogden, followed by meetings in Springville, Richfield, Green River and Vernal over the next several days.
After the various councils share the input they receive with members of the Utah Wildlife Board, the board will decide Dec. 1 whether to approve the new rules for Utah’s 2012 big game hunting seasons.
- When: 6 p.m. tonight
- Where: Weber State University, Shepherd Union Building, Rooms 404A and 404B
- What: Discussion of proposed changes to Utah’s deer hunting rules for 2012