22 comments on “Where to Hunt Mule Deer in Utah for 2015

  1. Just found your article on the web “Where to Hunt Mule Deer in Utah for 2015” and am excited to see that you rate my hunt unit as #6 on your top 10 for regular season. At the end of your article you mention to drop you a line and you could see if you could put me on the buck of my dreams. I am curious what advice you could give me about where to hunt this unit. It will be especially challenging since there is so much private property in this unit. Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks,

    • Hello Fisherman,

      Congratulations on drawing the Chalk Creek/East Canyon/Morgan-South Rich unit. This is a huge unit and has a lot of options as to what, where, when, etc.. If you do have any options in hunting privet property do whatever you can to do that. But if you don’t, like most of us, then I have a couple ideas that might put you on that buck.

      I have mentioned how the North Slope unit will have an early hunt this year. I feel bad for anybody that drew this unit for the regular season hunt as the larger bucks will have been pushed out by then. But this may bode well for your unit along its border with the North Slope unit. This border is highway 150 along the Bear River. I don’t expect many deer being pushed west onto your unit but there will be some that will head west that are not ready to head north into their winter area. A good option is to hunt that border around the Notch Mountain and Moffit Pass. I do know there are good deer movement along highway 150 around Hayden Fork. This tends to be a migration point for some reason. I’m guessing these deer will use this same pattern if and when they are pushed from the North Slope unit early in the season.

      So much of this depends on the weather, especially in this unit. If it’s dry get high, if it’s wet…good luck! If there are some early snows, and depending on the depth in the high country, try and hunt closer to the Wyoming border. The big bucks on the North Slope unit and the eastern part of your unit winter in Wyoming and they don’t hesitate to get there early due to the fact that Wyoming’s deer hunt in units 132 and 133 are done by October 14th. The deer will head north and get an early start on their winter range if there is snow in Utah and when the pressure begins. The bucks in your unit are older than other Utah units in part because the units 132 and 133 in Wyoming are 3-point or bigger units. This has helped Utah’s bucks with older age more so than it has helped Wyoming’s. Most of the deer in those two units are Utah deer during the months of October-March.

      If this is a little farther away from home than you would like to go than you can hit the areas north of Morgan. This is rough country and has more privet property than other areas, but there are some great bucks in this area too. The buck/doe ratio is solid at 30:100 and there are plenty of deer. I would recommend Herd Mountain and the fingers (canyons) that fall to the south from Herd Mountain. Have a good map or GPS with you as some of these fingers are privet property in some of the bottoms. But there is plenty of public land to hunt. I used to hunt on some privet land out near Lost Creek Reservoir, but that was years ago. There were always great bucks taken in our party of hunters. I have an uncle that still hunts that area west of the reservoir and has success every year. 2014 was a strong year for him. He was able to harvest a beautiful 4×4 buck around the Pine Canyon drainage. Don’t tell him I told you.

      Good luck with your hunt. I hope I was able to give you a couple ideas where to go. Remember, get off the roads and away from people (If you are able). This will dramatically improve your odds at a mature buck. Thank you for visiting this blog. I hope you are a follower and will mention it to others. Have a great hunt!

      Jason

  2. My Grandson and I drew out for the west Desert (19A) but have no idea where to hunt in this area. Can you make any suggestions? Thanks

    • Hello Jeff,

      Deep Creek Range!!! This mountain range sits close to the Nevada border. Although this area has become more popular over the past 10-15 years, there is plenty of country and plenty of mature bucks to be found. If I remember right, it also has plenty of public land to hunt as well. I know a group of guys that have hunted this range for the past 30+ years. They have great success on most years and are skunked on the other years. But the bucks they consistently take out there are impressive with the largest being a 193″ monster back in 2009. Take a good map or GPS as there is an Indian Reservation on the south end of the range. I believe it is on the western side. I also like this range because there are not a lot of access into the mountain itself. Plenty of roads all around it but some walking is needed to get in a little deeper.

      You can also try the western border of the West Dessert, Vernon unit. The Vernon unit is full of big bucks and I’m guessing some of these bucks find new homes around the Thomas Range and Drum Mountains. Even as far west as the Swasey Mountain Range would be a good option. Although I have never been to Swasey Mountain specifically, I have been through this area a lot coyote hunting and taking photos of rutting Vernon bucks a little further east on the Vernon unit.

      If you are able and have the time I would highly recommend going for a couple drives before the season starts and take a look at these areas. The key is to find water. If you find water there will be deer. Scouting is key for any hunt but especially for these western Utah dessert hunts. There are big bucks in your unit. Some of Utah’s largest bucks have come out of this unit. The trick is to find them and finding water is a great place to start.

      Thank you for reading the blog and good luck this year with your grandson. Having the Grandpa/Grandson experience has already ranked this hunting season as a success. Just go and have fun, oh, and harvest a great buck!

      Jason

  3. Thanks for taking the time to do research/share it all with us. This is my first year, and hunting season in Utah. I drew out for Wasatch west for deer/rifle, can you recommend any specific areas I should try? I live in provo ad was looking at the backside of timp/slide canyon, but I would appreciate any input, thanks for your time.

    Steve

    • Hey Steve,

      I know exactly where you need to go in this popular unit. Now, this recommendation is only good if you are willing to hike and get into some pretty steep areas. If you are ready and willing to act like a Mountain Goat then I can put you on top of a perfect spot and some great bucks!.

      You need to hunt the face of Mount Timpanogos. If you drive up American Fork Canyon you will come to a right turn at the roadhouse campground. You will then take another right at the Timpooneke camp ground. This road is not a friendly road but if it is not washed out it will bring you around at the bottom of the face of Timpanogos. You will want to park along that road and hike UP the face of Timpanogos and get just above the tree line and at the base of the ledges. You will notice a lot of deer trails along the bottom of those ledges. The big bucks run these ledges to get from canyon to canyon. Be up to the spot before day break. Once the sun starts up and all the other hunters start to move the deer will start moving as well. The big bucks will be above everybody and will use the bottom of those ledges as their highway to freedom. If done correctly, you will have a stud of a buck by noon opening morning.

      This requires a lot of patience so bring some good binoculars and plenty of goodies to eat. Remember, let the other hunters do all the work and push all the deer to you. The beginning of your morning will be a huge pain and may darn near kill you. But then you can sit, rest, and glass while everyone else is working. These deer will blend in really well with the rock, so keep a good eye out because a pig will be headed your way.

      I found out about this spot from a very close friend of mine who did it for years. He has since moved out of Utah, so he shouldn’t care that I told you about it, haha! The smallest buck he shot on this spot was a 150″ 4×3. He had some years where he didn’t shoot anything but he said he had a chance every single year to a good 4-year old or older buck. So, the odds are with you.

      I hope this helps. If for any reason you are unable to access such an area let me know and I will get you into another area that has easier access. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. Best of luck to this years hunting season.

      Jason

      • Is the area you describe more for Rifle or bow? I drew a tag for early archery for the same range. I’ve never hunted in Utah or the mountains. My friend lives by Thanksgiving point and I’ll be staying with him. I’ve drove around the area and fished the Provo river. My friend doesn’t hunt, but he’s hiked all over the west range. Would you recommend the same area for a non-res noobie mountain hunter? Kinda worried about the whole hiking in the mountains in the dark. Any lower elevation decent area recommendations? I dont have to chase a giant for the first year out west. Thanks for any advice. Thanks for all the helpful advice already given. Great read.

      • Hey John,

        I might be blind but I’m not seeing any specific area you are referencing with your comment. Most of my posts are for both Archery and Rifle, although weather will have a big impact on these two seasons. If you could send another comment with more specific information on the area or unit you are referencing I would be happy to help you in any way I can. Thank you for the comment!

        Jason

    • Hey Brady,

      A HUGE congratulations on drawing the Vernon unit. I have spent many years drooling over the bucks I would see while out there during the rut taking photos. I have a very close friend that puts in for this unit every year. There is a group of about 6 of them and a couple have drawn the archery season and one has drawn the muzzle loader season, but they have yet to draw the rifle. So you hold a very awesome tag in your hand. I would be happy to get you in contact with my friend that knows that area like the back of his hand. I’m sure he would be willing to help you any way possible. Just let me know and I’ll get you two in contact with each other. Just don’t let him drive if there is snow. He will only get you stuck for hours and hours. Trust me on this.

      Now the bucks on the Vernon do not usually support a wide set of antlers. Rarely have I seen a buck that was any wider than 27″. But the height of the antlers in this unit is amazing! You will see the biggest buck in the world from the side and then he will turn and look at you and you will wonder if you could even fit your head between the antlers. But I am actually a huge fan of height over width. I guess I’m an odd ball when it comes to this, but I love the tall bucks! Don’t get me wrong, there have been some bucks taken off of Vernon that were 30+ inches wide. But they are rare and shouldn’t be expected.

      The best way to hunt this unit is to get on top of the mountains and walk the ridges glassing down into the ravines and canyons. It really doesn’t matter what mountain and what ridge as this unit is full of huge bucks on any of the ridges you walk. Be patient and hold out for that magic 180-190 inch monster. They are in there and you will find them. But it will require a lot of hard hunting, walking, glassing and patience. You could shoot a 160-170 buck every day if you want. So, you are a very lucky man and I am a very jealous man!

      Keep scouting and keep looking for water. Please let us know how it goes and send me some pictures if you remember. Would love to post them on the next hunting success article for 2015.

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I love helping others have a successful hunt. Good luck this year and good luck saying “no” to all the big bucks you see so you can say “yes” to the pig that is out there waiting just for you.

      Jason

  4. Jason,

    Extremely helpful information that you are putting out there. Thank you for that.
    I would love to pick your brain about an upcoming hunt.

    • Thank you very much for taking the time to read my blog, Brett. I’m happy you are finding it helpful and informative. I would be happy to let you pick my brain for your upcoming hunt. Pick away!

      Jason

      • Jason,

        Going to be archery hunting 23. I’m from San Diego and this will be my first out of state hunt. I have a family vacation home nearby that I will stage at but I will probably camp in the unit to maximize time in the field. I will have 1-2 days I’m able to scout in late July. Just want to narrow it down a little on where to start scouting. Are the deer numbers higher in the upper elevations or on the southern part of the unit in lower elevations? Would it be a mistake not to buy the spike elk tag while I’m on the hunt? Going to have about 4 days of hard hunting. I don’t want to waste the money on the elk tag but also don’t want to get caught with an opportunity and not have the tag in my pocket.

      • The Monroe unit is a great unit! You will find that this unit has a little of everything for you. High altitude alpine forests to low altitude sage and cedar hills. I grew up hunting this part of Utah including the Monroe, Fishlake, Boulder, etc., etc. It is very difficult to tell you where to begin scouting this time of the year. I guess that’s what scouting is for, to find the deer. The weather and amount of moisture will really determine where the deer will be. Sounds like Utah has had a really wet winter and spring so far. This will really spread out the animals if this remains into effect. Also, the temperatures in late July, early August will also determine where the deer will be. In a wet and slightly cooler summer I love hunting the lower cedar and sage foothills just west of Koosharem Reservoir just off of highway 24. Check maps carefully as there is some privet property in that area. This is an area where you just sit and glass in the early morning and late evening. Glass the south slopes of the sagebrush hill sides early in the morning. The larger bucks like to be out in the open as their antlers are pretty tender this time of year, with the velvet. They don’t like the thick cover unless they feel they are in danger. If the weather is warmer and dryer head higher up the mountain and look for water and thick aspen trees. Aspen offer good cover and shade but without the lower branches to rub the bucks antlers. Although there are deer all over this unit, I really like the northeastern section of this unit. There’s a lot of roads in this section so you will get a lot of locals in the area but few of them get out of their vehicles. There are some great bucks on this unit and I’m confident you will have a lot of opportunities for bucks in the 140-160 range with always the potential of larger bucks. Elk will be at a higher elevation, especially this time of year. But there are elk all over that unit. If you decide to hunt at the higher elevations then I would highly recommend a spike elk tag for the unit. Good luck Brett and let me know how the hunt goes!

        Jason

  5. Jason,
    I just found out me and a friend drew 2 out of state rifle Chalk Creek/ East Canyon/ Morgan South/ Rich Deer tags. Any suggestions on where to start. We are definitely not afraid to put on the boots and put some mile on if necessary. Thanks for your help.

    • Hey Scott,

      First of all congrats on drawing this unit! This is one of my favorite units simply due to the size and amount of deer on this unit. I have not seen the spring deer count yet from the Fish & Game so keep an eye out for that as this area did receive a lot of snow this winter and may have had some winter kill. My guess is if there was any winter kill it would be around average and nothing too alarming. I’m glad you are willing to put on the boots and put some miles in. This is a heavily hunted unit that has a lot of road access (as do most all units in Utah). So getting away from the road is key. The other great thing about this unit is the amount of public land. Utah is one of the, if not the, best state for public lands being available to hunters. This is something Utah residents take for granted way too often. You cant go wrong by hunting any of this unit but a couple areas that I like on this unit are around the Lost Creek area. I also like just east of Coalville in an area called the narrows. This is only a couple miles up the canyon but anywhere on either side of the road will be great areas to go. Like I said, just get away from roads and you will find lots of deer. Although there are some huge bucks in the area it is also full of younger 2-3 year old bucks. The buck:doe ratio recently has been very solid. I’m assuming this will remain in place for this season as well. If the winter didn’t hit the fawn crop hard then 2016 just might be the best hunting year Utah has seen in a very, very long time. This unit will be a reflection of that, so good luck this year Scott!

      Jason

      • Jason,
        Thanks for the info. I looked on my maps about the 2 areas you had suggested and it look like they are either private or in the CWMU program. Am I not looking in the correct places?

        Thanks,

        Scott

  6. drew the unit 11 rifle tag this year but have no idea where to hunt any input would be greatly appreciated

    • Hi Dalton,

      I’ll be completely honest with you Dalton; the only area that I am familiar with on this unit is the southern part. I have hunted it a few times and have a couple great friends that still hunt the area east of the old ghost town Woodside. My buddy did not draw a tag last year but the year before he was able to find him a great 4×5 that scored in the 160’s. He shot the buck about 1/2 mile west of the Green River going southeast from Woodside. He does hunt with the help of a motorcycle to get him back in and away from roads and other hunters. This is some dry rough terrain but holds some deer and a lot of mature deer as well. Find water and you will find deer. Also the further east you hunt (towards Green River) the more food and water is available for deer. Population will increase the further east you can hunt. There are not a lot of roads or access, and that’s another reason you will have a good chance of seeing some mature deer. Do some additional research on the northern end of this unit as I just simply don’t have any knowledge for the northern part. I will do some research myself now that you peaked my interest. Good luck to you Dalton, and let me know how the hunt goes.

      Jason

  7. Jason,

    You do great work. I know we all really appreciate it. I just got back from visiting Zion National Park over the weekend and I saw a monster 7×5 in full velvet. He was with another buck that was a mere 5×4. I know its the NP, but just seeing the potential of the deer Utah can provide is absolutely amazing. I have pictures if you would like me to email them to you.

    We are from San Diego so the Zion and Pine Valley units are the easiest to get to. However I am also interested in the West Desert after I read the advice you gave Jeff and his grandson. Also the Monroe unit after reading the archery advice. If you had your choice of those 4 units which one would you choose?

    I will be heading into the 2017 season with 3 bonus and 3 preference pts and my hunting partner with 2 bonus and 2 preference pts. Looking at the draw odds from 2016,it seems I should be able to draw any of the 4 zones. With my buddy potentially drawing any of the zones.

    Additionally, we drew the new 2nd season cow elk hunt in the Beaver zone for 2016. Wondering if you might know a good starting spot for the Beaver unit.

  8. Would like to send PM. Concerning 2016 Mule Deer, Fillmore Pahvant unit. Son of a friend lucked into out of state tag.

  9. Hi there,
    I drew your general season #2 being unit 14A, the San Juan, Abajo. This is my first year in that area and although I have family in Blanding and they have a cabin in the area, I’m not entirely confident they know the deer there. What would be your suggestion there? I realize the article I am posting on is a year old (if you have an updated one I’d be much obliged if you’d point me there) but any info is great! Thank you for your fine research and provided information.

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