It’s already that time again — time to enter Utah’s big-game hunting lottery before a rapidly approaching deadline.
Applications to hunt big game this fall, including deer, are due online by 11 p.m. March 1. Prospective hunters apply through the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ website, www.wildlife.utah.gov.
Those still planning to apply for a permit are advised to do so before the last minute, said Judi Tutorow, wildlife licensing coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.
“Thousands of hunters wait until the last day to apply,” Tutorow said. “Receiving that much traffic in such a short period of time slows our website down.”
For procrastinators, those who start the online application process before 11 p.m. on March 1 will be fine as long as they stay logged on until the process is complete — even if they finish after 11 p.m., she said.
“If you log out after 11 p.m., and then you try and get back into the system,” she said, “you’ll be out of luck.”
The deer hunt is easily the most popular of Utah’s big-game hunts. State wildlife officials made some changes for this fall’s general hunt, the most significant being a splitting of the state into 30 smaller hunting units to help manage deer populations more effectively.
Hunters who are trying to decide which unit to apply for should visit http://go.usa.gov/ncx, which contains a map showing where the 30 units are located, a link to more detailed maps, and a boundary description for each unit, along with other information.
Units that have large populations and higher buck-to-doe ratios will probably be the units that have the highest number of permits, said Anis Aoude, big-game coordinator for the DWR.
As part of the process, the DWR is asking applicants to donate money to help control coyotes, the animals most responsible for predation of mule deer fawns. Those who want to donate can click on a box at the end of the application process.
The agency is also encouraging people to join its Dedicated Hunter program, in which participants volunteer time gathering information for fishing reports, keeping an eye out for poaching activity, and other field work. In return, they receive privileges such as permission to hunt all three general deer hunting seasons.
Those wishing to join the Dedicated Hunter program must complete an online orientation course and draw a 2012 general deer hunting permit.
One item that isn’t on the website is drawing odds from last year. That’s because this is the first year hunters have applied for 30 separate units, so the data needed to determine drawing odds isn’t available yet.
DWR communications specialist Amy Canning said that after the application period is over, and after the Utah Wildlife Board sets permit numbers this spring, “we’ll have the information needed to let those who apply for the 2013 hunt know what the odds were in 2012.”