27 comments on “Where To Go in Utah For 2013-2014 Deer Hunt

  1. Huntingthewest,

    Nice summary of your Utah deer units. I agree, lots of pigs out there in almost any unit…if one knows where to look and puts in the time/effort scouting. But therein lies the problem, right?

    I was intrigued at your inclusion of unit 8 as one of your top general season deer units. For many years we have been archery ELK hunting the North Slope. Enough time and effort in primarily one drainage is finally producing a lot of success as we have figured out most of the habits and hidden areas for the elk. However, not a lot of deer sightings, ever. Although, years ago I did shoot my first small archery buck up there, emphasis on small. While respectable bucks have been glimpsed, the very small numbers make it seem more like a needle in the haystack situation. Granted, we are spending our time primarily in elk habitat.

    Anyway, my 16 year-old son has the North Slope tag this year (drew his 4th choice). Without asking you to give up any detailed locations of your prime/secret areas, would you be willing to provide some general guidance for that unit? For example, do you like the above timberline areas better for big bucks? Or are you thinking of lowland bucks? Are these big bucks primarily on the east or west side of the unit? I realize that during the rifle hunt season we would not want to go looking for high alpine bucks due to the potential of severe winter weather, but we may want to consider this unit for future buck hunting if it actually shows us some proimise. Heaven knows we love to spend time up in that awesome country. Be great to have another excuse to do so!

    Thanks.
    Russ

    • Hi Russ,

      Thank you for your comments on the post and congrats on your son drawing a unit 8 tag! My 17 year old daughter will be packing a firearm on her shoulder this year. I’m very excited. Being his fourth choice this tends to tell you one of a few things. Either, there are no deer, or it is to far for most to travel, or there are no deer. Well, I am a glass half full kind of guy, so I am leaning more towards the fact that it is a difficult unit to get to without driving many miles. Not a lot of people will put this unit into their top 2 or 3 picks because of that exact reason. Now, the Henry Mountains is a long drive, but as you read on a daily bases, it is well worth the drive. Although unit 8 is NOT the Henry’s, it is a sleeper of a unit and that is the exact type of unit you want to find and hunt. A little history on this unit for deer; Over the past 10-15 years there has been a real battle between the Utah Division of Wildlife and the Wyoming Game & Fish. Most all of the deer herd found on unit 8 winters across the border into Wyoming. So, there have been two wildlife management agencies trying to manage this herd. For years Wyoming has had huge numbers of late season doe tags in this wintering range. Specifically in the Bald Range, Cedar Mountain, and Flaming George Valley areas. This took a huge toll on the Mule Deer herd on the North Slope for years, and years. About 3-4 years ago the late season hunts were eliminated, except for a few around the Flaming George area. This has helped build that herd back up. Especially on the Eastern side of the unit. Although last Spring’s storms did hit the fawns pretty hard, a large percentage (50%-55%) survived. Another good piece of news, the deer hunter numbers have been low the past 10 years on the North Slope as well (compared to traditional numbers). This, of course, was due because of the lack of deer thanks to Wyoming’s winter hunts on the does. The winter hunts have stopped, the hunter numbers have been low, the winters have been mild, and this unit is in the top 5 units in the state of Utah, for having some of the best winter range. All of these things mentioned provide perfect ingredients for deer and not only deer but big bucks. Now the bad news. This Spring was very wet, the early Summer was really wet, and the fall has been really wet. This means the deer will be scattered and not bunched up in herds, especially the mature bucks. You and your son will see buck/doe ratios around the 25:100 range. That is awesome ratios, especially for a normal unit in Utah. Most other units that sit around unit 8 will see closer to 10-17 bucks per 100 does. So prepare for a lot of 1,2 & 3 year old bucks. If you get off the road and do some hiking you will see a lot of deer and a lot of bucks. I have no secret areas, draws, or canyons, but I do have some good advice as to where I would go to find a mature buck in unit 8. Depending on the weather and snow depths in the high country, go high, as high as you can. Watch the weather before you go. Any chance of precipitation at all then don’t go high. Either way, I would hold to the Eastern portion of the unit. You can and will find mature bucks anywhere on this unit, but there will be higher numbers in the Eastern half. I would hold close to the Summit and Daggett county line. Now, it also depends on if it snows, how long it snowed before opening morning, and how much snow. If there is little to no snow and you are up for a hike I would hunt the Eastern ridges and slopes of Thompson Peak and North Burro Peak. Walk along Kabell Ridge so you can see into both drainage’s. Set up so you can glass under the ledges below these two peaks. The largest buck I have ever seen come off of the Uinta’s was shot in the Bear Park drainage. This is the drainage just South of Kabell Ridge and East of North Burro Peak. If you run into a lot of snow it will be impossible to get back in there that far. In that case I would hunt the lower areas between Poison Mountain and Phil Pico Mountain. I hope this information helps, Russ. Biggest advice for hunting Utah giants; Get out of the truck, get off the road, and go where others don’t go. I wish you and your son all the best. Whether you find that trophy or not, I hope you will share with us the story followed up with some photo’s. Be safe out there!

      Jason

  2. Greetings, it sounds as though you are very knowledgable with this states herds… I drew a unit 28 tag and have been looking at topo maps, bing, etc… as I was last here 15 years ago as a new hunter and harvested a small buck… I have since spent a great deal of time learning this wonderful past-time and have taken some very nice deer in Colorado, MS, LA, and CA… Well back to my question; I have looked very carefully at Red Creek Lake and the hill behind it as my focus area. Do you have any suggestions for me? FYI, I do like to hike in and hunt from a spike camp if possible. Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Frank,

      Congratulations on drawing unit 28 for this years hunt! I love the Panguitch Lake unit. As with many of the Southern Utah units, unit 28 provides high alpine forests, steep rocky ledges and dusty low deserts. Now, I hope I understood the area you are talking about that you have been looking at. You mentioned Red Creek Lake, I’m assuming you mean Red Creek Reservoir going up Paragonah or Little Creek canyon’s. I hope you will correct me if I’m wrong in another comment. But for now, I’ll assume I’m correct (which get’s me in trouble with the wife 98% of the time) and hopefully provide you with some helpful advice with the above mentioned information.

      First the bad news. Unit 28 does not hold a lot of mature bucks (over 3.5-4 years old). Don’t get me wrong, they are out there and some are taken each year, but it is currently not a strong unit for really large bucks. The hunting pressure is high, due to the easy access over most of the unit. Before Utah went to the 30 unit program it was still a very popular area for the Southern Unit. Again, because of the easy access. Also, and this can and is debated, there is an incredible amount of Pine Beetle damage to the higher altitude pine forests throughout this unit. Personally, I feel this has a big effect on both the deer and elk herds in areas that suffer from the Pine Beetle. You will find this from about the Little Creek Peak area, all the way South through Brian Head Resort and Cedar Breaks National Monument. But, that’s enough “bad news”.

      Now the good news, and there is plenty of good news. This unit is chalk full of deer. This unit averages 8 deer per square mile. You are going to see a lot of deer and a lot of bucks. Most of these bucks will be the 1,2 and 3 year old bucks. But, you will see a ton of animals. So there wont be much lacking by way of action. Now, where is the best place to find a Panguitch Lake Bruiser? The best places are on the privet property, but, since that isn’t an option then as close to these areas as possible. I’ll mention the area that I think holds as good a chance of finding that big buck as any. That area is right about where you are talking about. If you look on your map and go just slightly to the Northeast you will come to Little Creek Peak. Now, there is some privet land that covers most of that valley between Red Creek Reservoir and Little Creek Peak. Where the road T’s at FR 078 & FR 076, hike Southeast until you are just under the closest ridge, then hunt that ridge going Northeast and get to the South side and the East side of Little Creek Peak. It’s all Forest Land and the only road that is a good road that can get back there is gated off at the Privet property. You will have some incredible valley’s at the bottom of that ridge you can glass in the morning’s and evenings. You will see deer and you WILL see bucks, and just maybe a genuine Panguitch Lake PIG! This area is known as the County Line Triangle because of the 3 peaks that are there. Little Creek Peak, a smaller peak to the Southeast of little creek and a peak to the Northeast of Little Creek Peak. Draw a line from one peak to the other and hunt within that triangle. You will find success.

      Most hunters will be in their trucks and on their 4-wheelers running up and down the roads between Red Creek and Yankee Meadows. Also around Brian Head and Panguitch Lake. Get away from all of that and you will be fine.

      I hope this information helps Frank. I wish you all the best. Please let me know how the hunt went with a future comment and photo’s. Good luck and be safe my friend!

      Jason

  3. Jason
    hoping to draw my unit 30 tag this season with 3 general season points. My question is after trying to learn all there is about this unit, also knowing the buck to does ratio is decent what are the chances of seeing a good buck in the upper 170’s to 180 class? I have been told that there are some great bucks in this unit in the Burn, and those bucks like most Utah bucks migrate very early unlike my favorite hunting areas in Colorado. I will not shoot small bucks and really looking for that pig of a life time.
    thanks so much

    • Hey Mike,
      Ohhhhhh unit 30…What a great Utah unit! As you have probably seen in past post responses, I like starting with the bad news before finishing off with the good news. So, first the bad news; The secret for unit 30 was spilled about 8 years ago. Even before it became unit 30. Back then, we knew that area as being part of the Southern unit. Most hunters that would hunt this southern unit would hunt east above Cedar City, Beaver, and Filmore. But then word began to spread about the “monsters that roamed around Enterprise”. Many of these hunters changed their traditional hunting location to the Dixie National Forest near the little town of Enterprise, Utah. With the secret now out, mature bucks in the area took a hard hit, as did the buck/doe ratio. Within just a few short years most hunters went back to their traditional hunting areas and left this area around Enterprise to re-build or die. This area was a perfect example of why Utah had to do something to allow the state to manage specific herds better. This is why the new 30 units was so crucial for Utah’s future deer herds for both viewing and hunting opportunites. It happened about 10 years to late, but I guess it’s better than never. Now for the good news; Because this area was hit so hard 8-10 years ago, it has had the opportunity to bounce back without a lot of hunting pressure. The locals will hate me for this post, because they are the ones that have kept hunting this area and have been witnessing its re-berth, if you will. Unit 30 is a prime area for large bucks. What has saved it from being over hunted again is the new 30-unit program Utah has in place. It has allowed the state to manage the number of hunters in a much better way. This has also made this one of the most difficult general season units to draw, on a consistent basis, but it is well worth the wait. The most exciting thing about unit 30 is its genetics. Big, wide, thick horned bucks wonder these woods. There is also a good chance to find non-typical genetics mixed in adding strong odds in finding mature bucks with the coveted drop tines or extras on the crown. Buck/doe ratio is solid at about 20:100. As with all of Utah’s general season hunts, you will need to put in the time and get away from the roads. If you do this you will have some great opportunities at a 170+ buck. Good friend of mine has been shed hunting this unit for the past 5 years. He has one pair of sheds that tapes out at 205 inches. This was found last year. He has plenty of sheds in the 150-170 area and a few in the 170+ area. They are there, the trick is to find them. So much of your success in this unit depends on the weather, feed, water, temperature, etc. My hope is Utah will continue to improve their deer managing tactics. This unit is a great example of Utah doing a great job thus far. Best of luck to you in getting the tag first of all, and then with the hunt. Let me know how it turns out.

      Jason

  4. Hey,

    Great Article! I was wondering if you could share any more information about 14a. I have always wanted to try it out, but have no experience there at all. It seems like I have less and less time these days for anything, let alone scouting a new hunting area. I have hunted unit 21b for years, and have watched it decline significantly over the years. As a side note, any thoughts on which unit might be good for hunting with smaller boys? Easy hiking, good numbers of mid-sized bucks?

    Thanks in advance,

    Damon

    • Hey Damon,

      Unit 14A is a great unit and will only get better. The big deciding factor for this area is weather. Water will determine a lot of things for these southern and southeastern units. So far this year in southern utah, it has been dry and well below annual average in moisture (snow). If this continues into Spring and Summer it will be a difficult hunt. The terrain alone makes this a hard hunt, especially for archery. But, it is a unit that holds fantastic buck to doe ratio (30:100), and there are some monsters in this area. I would primarily focus on the Forest land between Monticello and Blanding. The Abajo Mountains are mean, big, dry, and challenging, but have huge bucks. If that area continues to remain dry this Spring and Summer you will have to go as high as you can and do a ton of glassing to find the scattered deer. You can also check in the northeastern edge of the forest land for some alfalfa farms, closer to Monticello. There used to be a couple alfalfa farms along that corner. Where there is alfalfa, there will be water, and where there is alfalfa and water there will be lots of deer. I rate 14A as one of the best General-Season units in Utah for an excellent chance at a huge buck. I have it in the top 5 general-season units, and within the next 2-3 years it will be the top one or in the top two. There are currently 200+ inch bucks in 14A. A realistic view for 2014 would make the opportunity of seeing and harvesting a 170-180 inch buck a very good reality. I have no doubt you will see them, the trick is to get them within your bottom pin range.

      As far as some areas that would allow you to see good numbers of “mid-sized” bucks and provide some easier hiking…There are a few that come to mind. I really like above Manti and Fairview. You get up on the South Skyline and you will see lots of deer and lots of 2-3 year old bucks. I also like up near Strawberry, in the 17B and 17C units. You will see a lot of deer and a lot of young bucks (1-3 year olds). All of these areas offer some easy hunting opportunities and good deer numbers. Last areas would be the Fishlake and Boulder units (25A, 25C, 26).

      I hope this information helps. Let me know of any other questions you might have. I’m excited for you if you are able to pull a tag for 14A. It truly is a great Utah unit.

  5. Jason-

    This article was so helpful I cannot even begin to tell you. However I am new to hunting Utah (non-res) and just started putting in for points in 2014. CA is driving me nuts with their management and lack of overall respect that is given to outdoors men and women. With that in mind I did not draw a UT tag this year (2014). I will be traveling in from Southern CA. My goal is to enjoy being outdoors and seeing deer. The latter is diminishing rapidly in S. CA. The ability to see sheer numbers of deer that CA can only dream of is what I am looking for in the first couple of years as I learn the UT units.

    With the type of detailed information you have provided previous comments, I feel you would be able to greatly assist me in learning what the state of UT has to offer. Additionally, it will allow me to learn about the state and the deer herds before my two young boys (9 & 7) are legally ready to hunt, and when Dad will be ready to take them deer hunting. Finally, I am a couple years away from 40 and in great shape. I like to go where I won’t see another human being. Hope this helps in answering my questions below.

    1. Can I realistically hunt Utah every year or every other year in the SW part of the state without drawing a tag, essentially OTC or leftover tags?

    2. The second question is which units in the SW part of UT are usually available after the draw, if any?

    3. Finally, any other advice you would provide a deer hunter that does not know the UT units?

    Thanks again,
    David

    P.S..

    My friend drew a Cow Elk tag for the SW Desert and I am going with him….what kind of deer numbers are there?

    • Hello David,

      I’m glad to read that my article was helpful for you. I hate the fact that many solid, law abiding citezens are being forced out of their own states because they have less and less hunting opportunities. This has a huge impact on the local economy and all it does is hurt the locals that pay the taxes. But thats another article for another day.

      In reality David, there are usually no southern or southwest units still available after the draw, and this includes archery and muzzleloader as well. Usually, the only tages you will find left over from the draw are northern or northeastern archery and muzzleloader tags. I’m assuming you are looking to do a rifle hunt, but if by chance you are willing to do archery I do believe there are some archery tags remaining for one of the Fillmore units.I believe it’s the Fillmore, Oak Creek unit. This unit is in the southeastern side of the state, and there is a reason there are archery tags available. This unit lies on the western side of I-15 and consists a lot of dry, low elevation country. A lot of this area is winter range for deer and elk and there usually are not a lot of animals roaming those hills in August and September. There’s also a lot of private property within that unit. All-in-all not a unit I would recommend blowing points on. Unless you are simply looking to get out in the hills and purchase a hiking permit, which I would still respect, it just isn’t an easy unit for early season hunts.

      Realistically, you could hunt Utah every year if you are pulling archery or muzzleloader tags each year. If you are looking to do rifle I would plan on every 3-5 years, and that is for the general season units. Although some premium southern Utah units are the best Mule Deer hunting units anywhere, plan on your two boys being grown and in college before getting drawn, unless you are traditionaly lucky. Most all of the southern units are the most popular units in Utah, and they will be gone before anything else.

      Any other advice on Utah units? There are a lot of deer in most units in southern Utah. There are also a lot of deer hunters. It will be very difficult for you to really get away from the crowds during the general season rifle hunt. A couple units that provide some deep back-country opportunities would be the three Plateau units; Boulder, Fishlake & Thousand lakes. Although these are more in the central part of southern utah, they do provide opportunities to get away from other hunters (by Utah standards). They also hold a lot of deer numbers with large buck possibilites. Of course these are three very popular units as well, so it may take a few years to draw. I’m liking the Monroe unit these days. Been hearing some good info about solid numbers and bucks surviving into their 3-5 year range. This is also a good area to get away from people. I would jump onto the Utah Division of Wildlife website and check past year draw results and odds.

      Congrats to your friend on drawing the cow elk tag. Pray for some snow for this hunt and you should find a lot of elk. I’m guessing this is a late season hunt as this is a winter area for elk. Although there are some elk that live in that area year round, a lot of the elk you will see in this unit during November and December will be coming off of the Tushar’s to the east. This is a huge unit, and I’m guessing most of the elk you will see will be just west of the town of Beaver. I like this area for deer and you will see a lot of deer, especially since it will be during the rut. The numbers of deer and quality of bucks will go up the furthur southeast you go in the unit. Areas around the Needle Range and the Wah Wah Mountains are good deer areas.

      I hope this has been helpful, David. Good luck hunting Utah in the coming years.

      • Hi Jason,

        Thank you for the great article and being so willing to share your knowledge. I grew up in central Utah and have hunted the Manti and Nebo units my entire life. I’ll be hunting the Nebo with a muzzy this year. Over the years we (my family and I) have taken a few good deer (170ish range) and seen a few bigger. I love hunting these areas, but would love to get a buck over the 180 mark, so I have started to research other areas that would give me a better chance at reaching this goal.

        There are several units you mentioned that I have been looking at, but the one that surprised me was the West Desert. I’ve spent a little time out that way, but know next to nothing about the deer heard out there. There is some wide open and desolate country out there. I know the Deep Creek Range is out there, are there other mountain ranges or areas that hold deer? Do you have any recommendations for areas to start looking for deer?

        Thank you again for being so willing to share your knowledge!!
        Jake

      • Hello Jake,

        I have also hunted the Manti and Nebo units in years past. I grew up hunting the Manti unit, back when it was part of the Southeast unit. Some of my favorite country resides in those two areas. I also spent many years hunting north of Nebo mountain around the Loafer Mountain area and on the back side of there looking over to the Manti area. Huge country with a lot of deer. Although it has been hunted hard over the years the new units have and will continue to help these areas considerably. These are also areas that hold some incredible trophy elk opportunities. But that’s a different article for a different day.

        So far there has been nothing but awesome feedback from the archery hunters out there in the great Mule Deer state of Utah. Lot’s of deer and more mature bucks are being seen throughout the state. Utah is stating that the deer heard has now hit the 300,000 mark. I’m not sure how much I believe that, but that is a huge jump in only two years. Either way, I strongly believe that some of Utah’s best deer hunting is now, and for years to come. As long as they continue to manage effectively and the winters are kind.

        You mentioned the West Desert unit. There are two West Desert units consisting of the Tintic and the West units. You are correct that this is some “wide open” and “desolate” areas. The deer numbers are not high in these units and they are hard to find. On dry years you simply have to find some water and you will find the deer. On wet years…good luck. Hearing this may be discouraging, but my original article wasnt ranking the units with the most deer but the units with the best trophy opportunities. The West Desert has some true pigs, the challenge is finding them. The top areas that I like for the West unit include the Deep Creek Range and the western edge of the Vernon unit along the Fish Springs and Swasey Range. The Vernon is the Limited Entry unit for the West Desert and holds some amazing bucks. A lot of these bucks will move out of the area when they begin to feel the pressure from the 104 lucky hunters hunting that unit. What I would personally do with the West Desert units is hunt the Deep Creek Range opening couple of days and then hit the western edge of Vernon later in the hunt when the deer are being pushed around. Focusing on areas that hold water.The genetics in the West Desert rarely produce 30″ bucks. Width is not in the cards in that area. I have seen bucks, both harvested and on the hoof, that were in the 30″ range but rarely. What the genetics do provide in these areas is antler height and tine length. So they score really well even with a 24″-28″ spread. I personally know a number of people that have harvested 170-190 class bucks in the areas I am talking about. The largest buck I have ever heard about coming off of the Vernon unit was a 206 desert stud! This was in the recent past during the archery season, and this buck only had a 27 3/4″ spread. I have no doubt there have been larger taken that I have not heard about. The Tintic unit is hunted pretty hard and does not have the same trophy opportunities that the West unit has. Although, there are some good bucks taken from this unit as well, each season.

        I hope this has helped Jake. Please don’t hesitate to send me additional questions on other units you are thinking about. I am happy to share what I know. Especially this year as I wont have a chance to hunt Utah. I drew an incredible elk tag here in Montana that will take up my Fall. But good luck this season in Utah. This should be a great year and I’m excited to hear more about it in the coming weeks.

        Jason

  6. Great info! I definitely know about the elk on the Manti and Nebo units. Last year I was lucky enough to draw the Manti premium tag and my cousin had an early rifle Nebo tag. We were both able to harvest great bulls. Mine was an awesome 6 that scored just shy of 350. My cousin’s was a gnarly 8 point that scored 367. Best part about mine was my Dad and 2 brothers were both there when I got it.

    Anyways, back to the point. Since you offered I’ll pick your brain about one other unit I’ve been looking at 25c/26, Plateau/Boulder. I’m primarily interested in the southern desert half of the unit. It’s another place with some wide open and desolate country. I know the deer numbers aren’t high in this area, but I know there are some big bucks down ther as well. It’s another area that I’ve been to, but never to hunt so I don’t know much about the deer heard that lives there. Any recommendations as to where to start looking in this area?

    I heard a great deer hunter once say that if you want to kill a big buck you have to hunt where they live. I still haven’t found out exactly where that is, but it sure is fun trying to figure it out!

    Thank you again for your help!! You have helped me out a ton!!

    • Hey Jake,

      I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. Been out of town for a few days and just getting cought up.

      Unit 25c/26 is one of the most incredible and diverse units in the state of Utah, if not in the entire West. The overwhelming good news for this unit is the amount of public land that is available to you. The overwhelming bad news is where to go hunt for that monster mulie? This unit has beautiful, rugged alpine mountains, in the Boulder’s, and it also provides some of the most unforgiving, desolate country to the south and southeast within the unit. There are also as much difference in deer heards within this unit as there is country. My dad grew up on the Boulder Mountains and in this part of the state. I grew up spending a lot of time hunting and fishing this part of the state as well. This is a unit that is close to my heart and is probably my favorite piece of property anywhere on this earth. From fishing for days-on-end on the Boulder, to chasing Desert Bighorn Sheep around Tibbet Canyon and East Clark Bench to the south. Beautiful country that will never give up all of her secrets.

      One other unique thing about this unit is its location. This unit sits between two of Utah’s premium hunting units; the Henry’s and the Paunsaugunt. The Henry’s are getting all the buzz these days, and that was the Paunsaugaunt 15+ years ago. Then the Cougar population exploded along with an incredible amount of poaching. These two things destroyed the Paunsaugant 15 years ago and it has taken that long to be built back up to truly being another great Utah premium unit again. The Plateau/Boulder area suffered from being over hunted, before the new unit plan a couple years ago. Hunters would see how it was next to the Paunsaugunt unit and figured it had similar deer quality since it was in the same area of the state. Although that was true 20-25 year ago, that thought quickly destroyed the Boulder area for mature bucks. Since the change in management and units the number of deer have exploded and is providing record numbers of deer in the area. Mature bucks that survive from year to year is on the increase as well. Of course this is talking about the entire unit but specifically within the areas that provide the water and feed on a regular bases (i.e. Boulder Mountains). The southern part of the unit has great deer numbers as well, compared to historic numbers. But, the southern part of the unit, even with record deer numbers, is still very low for deer per square mile. This is naturally the case due to water and feed being available to support a certain number of animals.

      My biggest word of advice for this area is to scout, scout, scout. Check the Forest Service to see if there have been any new forest fires during this past summer. If the fire was before August it will be a perfect place to hunt. The food will be plentiful and the bucks will think they are still in good cover. I would especially encourage scouting in the southern part of the unit. Find water and you will find deer. I love the quote you shared in your last message and I am a huge believer in that theology as well. This doesn’t always mean to go high, but it can also mean to simply get away from roads and the high percentage of Utah hunters that sit their butts on their four wheelers and dont get off until it’s time to eat. If you want to find a unit that is defined by your quote, this is it. There are monster bucks scattered throughout this unit. Your odds of seeing a lot of deer and solid 160-180 class bucks is in the north part of the unit. There are a couple 190+ bucks roaming there as well. Your odds of seeing very few deer but solid 180-190 class bucks is in the south part of the unit. But when I say few deer I mean few deer. But if you see a mature buck, you better be ready to harvest a buck of a life time.

      If you watched a couple of the hunting movies with Mr. Moss, you will notice some of their shed hunting video’s are taking place in Southern Utah. Some of these are obviously from areas near and around the Henry’s and Paunsaugunt units. But, some of these are filmed in areas where wintering deer winter from both the Paunsaugunt and Boulder units. I know for a fact that Moss has guided many hunters into the Boulder unit for Mule Deer, and if you know Moss and his crew, they wouldn’t touch an area if there werent monsters there. Moss loves the Boulder unit for elk (best elk unit in the country currently) and obviously see many bucks while scouting bulls. No wonder he makes a living with both deer and elk on the Boulders.

      This is a great unit and I would highly recommend this unit. It has really come on recently as a solid choice for big bucks.

      Jason

  7. Hi Jason,

    I live In CA and am a huge blacktail wilderness hunter. I have killed plenty of really big true blacktails to most peoples standards. Hiking far and huge elevations changes is the name of the game here in CA if you want to harvest big blacktails. I have done some research on some of Utahs general season hunts and really liked the idea of hunting the wasatch area, Unit 17a. I know there will be plenty of pressure but I’m counting on my physical abilities to find at least a mature buck and it seems this may be a unit i can draw every year or every other year. If you have any suggestions I would appreciate any info good or bad. Also I really love hunting fresh burns, like five to six years old. If there are any burns in unit 17a I’d love to hear about them.

    Thanks

    Larry

  8. HuntingtheWest,
    I just came across this article, and am planning for the deer hunt in 2015. I’m wondering if you could fill me in on the pros and cons of the Chalk Creek/East Canyon/Morgan-South unit? Any info is much appreciated.
    Thank you!

    Jared

    • Hello Jared,

      My apologies for not getting back to you sooner. The winter time and early spring are very busy for me with work, but things are finally settling down and I can focus on the blog a lot more now.

      Let’s start with the cons for the Chalk Creek/East Canyon/Morgan-South unit. First, this is a huge area that provides a lot of different opportunities. Normally this wouldn’t be a negative, but due to the strange winter Utah has been having and depending on the moisture received this summer, it is leading to being a big guessing game where the deer will be come October. Second, there is a lot of easy access and a huge chunk of population just down he hill from this unit in Sal Lake City. This allows most hunters that are drawn for this unit to hunt fairly easily on a daily bases, so be ready for a lot of hunting pressure. Third, traditionally this unit has had a lot of deer but few mature bucks due to the hunting pressure in the past with Utah’s hunting regulations. The smaller units have been helping this unit along with the north slope of the Uintah’s. Wyoming has also helped with bolstering the deer herd in these two units with there cutting of doe tags across the border in Wyoming. Years past Wyoming had a late season hunt in the winter range that a lot of the Utah deer (within these two units) would migrate to during the winter. Many of these deer would be hunted 5-months out of the year. This took a heavy toll on both mature bucks and deer population as a whole.

      Now the pro’s for the Chalk Creek/East Canyon/Morgan-South unit. There is a ton of public land you can hunt in this unit. This unit also provides you with options for dry years and wet years. Plenty of high country and plenty of low winter range country. This provides you with the option of switching to plan B if needed according to the weather. There are a lot of deer living in this unit and a lot of small bucks as well. It’s estimated that the buck/doe ratio for this unit is hitting the 20 bucks to 100 does. For a general season unit, that’s fantastic! Another potential pro is the fact that Utah may switch the season for the North Slope of the Uintah unit to be a couple weeks earlier than usual this year. The reason is most of the time the mature bucks have already crossed into Wyoming by the time Utah’s rifle hunt starts. This will allow the hunters that draw that tag to see some of these pigs before they head north onto their winter range. Why this is a potential “pro” for you is, it may be wise to hunt along the western side of highway 150 where it bumps up to the north slope unit. I’m not promising anything but earlier hunting pressure may push some mature bucks west onto your unit and provide some opportunities of seeing some mature deer.

      Honestly, there are deer all over on this unit. The hard part is finding mature bucks. There are plenty of these big boys that call this unit home but you will have to go find them. Try and map into areas with minimum access. The further you can get from roads and 4-wheeler traffic the better your odds will be in both seeing a lot of deer and possibly mature deer. I like the idea of hitting the west edge of the north slop unit if they actually do move the hunt up a couple days. So far they are still showing the season starting the same time as usual so it may not happen until 2016. Keep an eye on it and if they do change it then that’s where I would recommend you go. Other areas that I know have produced good bucks is the Red Hole area just west of the Joyce and Boyer lakes. Lot’s of water but requires some good hiking to access. If you have a good GPS you could hit the BLM land south of Woodruff. A lot of antelope call this country home but a lot of deer do too. You find some BLM that holds some water and some places where the deer can get out of the sun and you will see some deer.

      I hope this helps with you making your plans for the 2015 season. Good luck and I hope you will let me know how things go.

      Jason

  9. Hello HuntingTheWest,

    Thanks for your article, it’s been very helpful! Credit cards are starting to get hit, and looks like I drew out on the archery Monroe (unit 23) tag for this fall! This will be my first archery season for deer. I’ve hunted the Monroe unit a little in the past, mostly fairly close to Richfield. Do you have any suggestions for areas to try that hold a good buck population? I’m not looking for a P & Y buck, just something respectable.

    On another note, my Dad drew a Beaver general season rifle deer tag. He recently injured his feet, so he won’t be the most mobile hunter. Any suggestions for that unit as well?

    Thanks,
    Steve

    • Hello Steve,

      Congratulations on drawing a tag, first of all. Congrats to your dad as well. These are both great units that hold a lot of deer and solid buck/doe ratios.

      Let’s first touch on the Monroe unit. I have hunted this unit during the archery season a couple of times. Sadly, I missed two great bucks during that time but harvested a small 4×4. I like hunting in the northeast section of this unit during the archery season. The problem is it’s quite open and difficult to get on the deer. The good thing is there are a lot of deer and a lot of bucks. The key is to sit and glass the rolling sage and cedar hills. The bucks bed down in the open due to their sensitive velvet covered antlers. So there will be a lot of glassing and stocking. Not the easiest way to hunt but it’s a lot of fun.

      Have a good map with you as there is a lot of privet property in the area, but it is marked well so there shouldn’t be any problems.

      The exact area that I hunted was just west of Koosherem Reservoir in the sage and cedar covered hills you can see from highway 24. You can get access from the north or south sides. If your coming from the north you can get there by turning onto the Cove Mountain Road or FR068, and from the south you can take the same road out of the town Koosharem.

      I have also hunted further west from that point. The area between Monroe Peak and Monument Peak. The best access is FR084. Lot’s of open areas that would be perfect during the morning and evening hunts.

      Hope this helps!

      Now for the Beaver Unit and a hunter who’s feet wont allow him to get out and do much hiking, I would recommend the following.

      This is a unit with a lot of vehicle access and in reality you could spend the full day simply driving a vehicle from north to south and east to west. There are three different worlds on this unit. You have the impressive Tushar Mountains that are steep, rugged and unforgiving to the east of the town of Beaver. You then have the desert hills of Mineral Mountain and the Black Mountains to the west. You then have the rugged cedar cuts towards the south part of the unit along the Bear Valley Road.

      The Tushar Mountains will hold more deer and more bucks than the other two units, but the access is more difficult and I’m guessing the hunting pressure will be higher. There are less deer along the Mineral and Black Mountains to the west but they hold some impressive bucks and the access isn’t as difficult although there will be more privet property in that area. The south edge of the unit is tough terrain, not many deer, but good bucks.

      My recommendation, if the feet allow it, would be to spend time around Birch Creek Mountain (on the southern edge of the Tushar Mountains). You can access this by driving up Beaver Canyon and then taking a right on FR137. You will come across a couple camp grounds, one at Kents Lake and the second at Anderson Meadow. From Anderson Meadow turn east onto FR137. This is a steep road but all along that road is some of the best hunting on the unit.

      Otherwise I would stay west and hunt the Black Mountains. Lots of road to travel.

      I hope this helps and I wish you all the luck in the word. I hope to hear the stories after the hunt. Good luck!

      Jason

  10. Hey great article. I drew the San Juan 14a rifle. Wondering if I could get any more tips on where to look into?

    • Hello Cameron,

      I’m sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. Maybe you have done some additional research on unit 14a since, and I can maybe add a little to what you already know and are planning to do. First of all, congratulations on drawing 14a. A few articles back I said this would become one of the, if not the best general season units in the state. It’s becoming true with each passing year. Currently the Henry unit is still #1 by a long shot and will be for years to come. I rate the San Juan Elk Ridge unit as #2 in the state for this year. If they continue to manage this unit like they have been it will be the #1 unit in the state within the next 7-10 years. The reason I bring this up is due to the fact that 14a obviously backs up to the Elk Ridge unit and shares the same deer herd for the most part. Many of these deer will winter on the 14a side because of the additional agriculture opportunities closer to Monticello and Blanding.

      First thing I would recommend is getting you a good GPS. I tell you this because I would recommend hunting the Elk Ridge/Abajo hunting unit line. Before heading in that far, however, I would recommend that you do some scouting between the town of Monticello and the East face of the Abajo Mountains. Focusing primarily on any agriculture areas that bump up to the mountain. Early morning and late evening are the obviouse good times to do this. If you are seeing a good number of animals and a good number of young bucks (Mature bucks will only be active during the night) I would focus on the East face of the Abajo Mountains. If your scouting doesn’t reveal good numbers I would head west and hunt up high. If there are no deer in the lower fields than they have plenty of feed and water up high. Focus on or around the north and west side of Linnaeus Peak. You will be around 10k feet so only do this if you are prepared for such an altitude. Other wise you could focus more in the saddle between Linnaeus peak and Abajo peak.

      Although you will find deer anywhere on this unit, this area has proven productive even in the worst deer years. You really have an opportunity to see some mature bucks in the 150-170 range. But keep in mind there are some pigs in this unit as well that would easily hit 180+. This is difficult country to hunt, but it is a unit that all other hunters, other than the Premium unit hunters, would love to have. Good luck and keep us posted on how the hunt goes.

      Jason

  11. Jason,

    I know you have touched on the West Desert Tintic unit. But I drew out for the rifle hunt this year and live in Eagle Mountain. In the past I have seen some good deer on lake mountain by Saratoga but since the fire a few years back I have had a harder time spotting them. This is the first time that I will actually be able to hunt this unit. How would you recommend hunting Lake Mountain, or would it be better to go elsewhere such as the mountain range by Eureka and what is the best way to hunt that range? any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Jace

    • Hi Jace,

      Thank you for spending some time on the blog, I really appreciate it. One thing that I have learned over the years about fires in deer areas is this. The best time to hunt a fire is the first hunting season after it has burned. The deer still think they are in cover and there is usually some great feed (depending on when the burn happened). By the 2nd to 3rd year however the deer have smartened up and realize that the black poles sticking up out of the ground really don’t offer any cover. This makes them do a couple things. They can re-habituate their patterns from what they have been used to doing or they can move to a new location completely. Unless the entire mountain and all cover is gone I would assume that the deer have not gone anywhere they have just simply found how to take cover in the new surroundings they are given. Another big factor is if this area gets a lot of pressure both during hunting season and the rest of the year. If that’s the case and the cover is minimal then the deer numbers may be very small with most moving out of the area. However if that’s not the case and pressure is low than the deer are there you will just need to find out their new patterns and the areas they are now holding up during the day. My advice for hunting Lake Mountain is to get out there starting now and do some scouting. With this area being close to your home that would be the best way to figure out patterns early so you are confident come opening morning.

      If the scouting doesn’t produce anything promising then you may need to head west and hit those hills closer to the Tintic Mountains and Vernon. The only advice I have for this area is to find water. If you find water you will find deer. If you don’t find water you wont find deer. I have seen some good trail cam pictures of bucks on the Tintic Mountain area this year. But the individuals that provided me those pictures have hunted that area for years and know it like the back of their hands. Again, if your scouting on Lake Mountain proves promising, hunt there. If not, then head west, find water and cross your fingers. Another crazy thought, and I’m not 100% sure this is in the same hunting unit, but you could always try West Mountain. I know that sounds crazy but I have seen some great deer on that little hill. More people have found this out and have hunted it but it is not for road hunters. There is a lot of walking from ridge to ridge just waiting to jump a herd of deer each time to go over the next ridge. I used to Chucker hunt West Mountain years ago and would always jump deer out of the bottoms of those draws and canyons. If you ever been Chucker hunting you know what kind of country Chuckers like. So only the crazy or those with a death wish would do such a thing but that’s why there have always been deer on West Mountain. One of the bucks I remember jumping was easily a 170+ buck. He may have been bigger but I was unable to get a good look. About 9 years ago somebody shot a pig lower by Utah Lake. He scored 180+ and was hanging close to the orchards on the West side of West Mountain.

      Good luck this year Jace. We would love to hear back from you and find out how the hunt went.

      Jason

  12. Jason,
    im getting ready to do the dedicated hunter program with my wife this year, we are die hard back country archery hunters but with kids its just getting to be to big of a pain to not have a base camp where we can drive up if we wanna bring our kids in for a day or two,
    im looking really hard at the zion unit, i shed hunt the crap out of it and i find tons of sheds but ive never been in the area during any hunting seasons, can you give me some pros and cons of the unit? we like big deer and would love to harvest some deer in the 180+ class, i know they are there but i wanted to see what your take on this unit was. thanks in advance

    • Hello Bryce,

      I apologize that it has taken me so long to get back to you on this.

      On the Zion unit (Unit 29), the goal for the unit is a minimum of 18 bucks per 100 does. The three-year average is 24 bucks per 100 does.
      Not only are there lots of deer, but a lot of those deer are bucks. good fawn production coupled with mild winters have allowed the number of deer to grow. And the good news is the number of bucks in the herds. This unit is above the number of bucks called for in the sates buck do ratio plans.

      I don’t know a whole lot about the southern part of this unit but there is plenty of areas to hunt, the access is reasonable, and it would provide a solid hunting unit and still allow you to have a base camp and your family along with you. Depending on this winter and how long it lasts into the Spring, I am confident that this unit will provide you with a lot of opportunities with some good mature bucks and a lot of bucks to choose from as a whole.

      Good luck,

      Jason

  13. GREAT ARTICLE , i am new to utah but not to hunting I drew a Morgan/East Canyon Chalk Creek deer tag this year that I am very excited about but have been told its locked up tight by private property, I’m not looking for a pig just would like to get into a few. Any pointers on this unit for public property. I am worrying myself sick over private, and property maps and apps. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,

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