Hunting Utah

Course required to hunt shed antlers

Take the course at wildlife.utah.gov/shedantler

Late winter and early spring is a tough time for elk, moose and especially deer in Utah.

You must complete a free online course before gathering shed antlers in Utah.

You must complete a free online course before gathering shed antlers in Utah.

Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

In fact, it’s the worst time of the year for the animals.

In the winter, deep snow makes it hard for deer to move and find food. And cold temperatures sap the deers’ strength. By the time winter ends, deer are the weakest they’ll be all year.

Winter is also the time of year when the antlers of male deer, elk and moose drop off their heads. The animals will be without antlers until spring, when they’ll start to grow a new set.

Gathering shed antlers

Gathering antlers that drop off the heads of deer, elk and moose is an activity that’s grown in popularity across the country, including in Utah.

Captain Mitch Lane with the Division of Wildlife Resources says gathering shed antlers is a fun activity that your whole family can enjoy. Please remember, though, that late winter and early spring is a tough time of year for deer, elk and moose.

“In addition to the animals being stressed,” Lane says, “the habitat the animals rely on in the winter is wet. Because it’s wet, it’s easily damaged. Once it’s damaged, it can take years for it to recover.”

Fortunately, you can have a great time gathering shed antlers, and not stress the animals or damage their habitat, by doing a few simple things. “Those simple things are found in a free shed antler course on our website,” Lane says.

The Antler Gathering Ethics course is available at wildlife.utah.gov/shedantler.

Lane says you must complete the course if you want to gather shed antlers in Utah between Feb. 1 and April 15.

Print your certificate

After you finish the course, make sure to print your certificate of completion before you take off to gather antlers. “And make sure you carry your certificate with you,” Lane says. “You must have your certificate with you while you’re gathering shed antlers.”

If you have young children, and you’ve completed the course, your children don’t need to complete it — your certificate will cover your kids too.

You must complete the course if you want to gather shed antlers between Feb. 1 and April 15. If you wait until April 15 or later to gather antlers, you don’t need to complete the course.

Lane says once you complete the course, you can gather antlers across Utah. There are two exceptions, though:

Many of the state’s wildlife management areas are closed in the winter and spring, to protect animals and their habitat.

You must have written permission from the landowner before gathering antlers on private land.

For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR’s Salt Lake City office at 801-538-4700.

Deer herds focus of public meetings

Cedar City — The Division of Wildlife Resources will hold two open houses to discuss deer management strategies in south-central Utah. The meetings will specifically cover the following units: Plateau, Boulder; Plateau, Fish Lake; Plateau, Thousand Lakes; and Monroe.

The Division of Wildlife Resources will hold two open houses to discuss deer management strategies in south-central Utah.

The Division of Wildlife Resources will hold two open houses to discuss deer management strategies in south-central Utah.

Photo by Brent Stettler

The meetings will be held on:

  • March 31, at the Sevier County Administration Building, 250 N. Main St. in Richfield
  • April 1, at the Loa Civic Center, 90 W. Center St. in Loa

Both meetings will run from 6 to 8 pm. DWR biologists and other wildlife officials will be available answer questions about the deer unit management plans, habitat projects and range trends, mule deer predator control, and deer population status and data.

The open houses are an opportunity for the public to discuss these units with the biologists that manage them, provide comments and express any concerns they may have.

For more information, call the DWR’s Southern Region office at 435-865-6100.

6 comments on “Hunting Utah

  1. Jason,
    My son just became old enough to hunt deer, so I would like to take him on a good hunt. In this case, I’m defining good purely by deer numbers not age/antler size. I really want to peak his interest and let him see a lot of deer. What general deer units in Utah would you recommend for purely deer numbers and lots of access? Appreciate any advice you can give in advance.

    • Hi Rick,

      I am happy to see you getting your son out and enjoying the rich tradition of hunting. In all of my memories growing up, the most common memories that I think about is hunting with my dad. I strongly believe if every young man and/or young woman had a parent that took them hunting this world would be a drastically different place. Less drugs, less murder, less hate, less inmates in prison, etc., etc..

      But enough of me and my soap box. Let’s get down to your question. So, in short, you are looking for a unit in Utah where you will see a lot of animals that will provide excitement and interest from you son. Well, the good news is Utah is experiencing their highest deer numbers in years. I better knock on wood as the winter in Utah doesn’t look like it will be over soon, but as long as the weather cooperates I don’t see the deer numbers falling any time soon.

      You will find strong deer numbers anywhere on the eastern side of I-15 from the Utah/Idaho border all the way down to Cedar City. There are always a lot of deer on the Manti-LaSal units and above Beaver and Richfield. Towards the north, you will have very strong deer numbers along the Wasatch Front and in towards Strawberry Reservoir. The Wasatch Mountains, Avintaquin/Currant Creek–Unit 17B/17C is a great choice to see a lot of deer and a lot of bucks. the San Juan, Abajo Mountains unit (Unit 14) is the unit in the region that has the highest number of deer and number of bucks to doe ratios. I’ll list the units I would recommend if you want to see a lot of deer below:

      – Wasatch Mountains, Avintaquin/Currant Creek–Unit
      – South Slope, Yellowstone–Unit
      – Central Mountains, Manti/San Rafael-Unit
      – Fillmore-Unit
      – Plateau, Fishlake-Unit

      These are only a few units that are holding good deer numbers so far this year. But again, you really can’t go wrong in most any of the units these days in Utah if you want to see a solid number of deer.

      I hope this is helpful. Keep your eye’s on the winter and what the states Fish & Wildlife experts say about fawn harvest this year. That will be very important in what unit you finally decide on. I will also be posting additional posts in the next few months with looking forward to the 2016 hunt.

      Jason

  2. Jason,
    I just drew the Zion archery tag, and was wondering what area you would recommend . I have never hunted this area.
    Thanks,
    Bret

    • Hey Bret,

      To get started there are two things I’ll tell you and one might not get you excited…but maybe it will. Really depends on the time you have for the hunt and what you are willing to do. But first the great news; This is simply one of my favorite units in all of the state of Utah. The reasons why this is, vary, but it simply comes down to the fact that there really isn’t a more beautiful location, in all the world, where you can hunt Mule Deer. I mean, how many people can really experience or have the god given gift of hunting such a beautiful area?! Also, there are some giant bucks on this unit. The deer numbers are not high simply because of the overall landscape and terrain but when you see a buck the chance that it is a mature buck is higher than most units. I have already hinted towards the thing that you might not be excited about but it is the deer population for the unit (not counting the park). There just simply is not a high volume of deer that call this place home. This is due to the simple laws of climate and unit capacity that can be sustained because of the climate. This unit has higher elevation areas too but the majority of the unit is more of a desert climate and it is the desert climate areas that I would recommend you hunt. I like the eastern part of this unit the best. Really anywhere from the Pink Cliffs (south of Navajo Lake) south to highway 9. You could go further south than that but it is quite dangerous and desolate. So, stay east of the Kolob Terrace, south of the Pink Cliffs and north of highway 9, then get away from the roads I think you would have some great odds at finding some mature Utah Dessert Bucks! Bring some good maps and/or GPS to find and stay on public land as there is a lot of privet in this unit. Good luck Bret, let me know how it goes.

      Jason

    • Hey Brandon,

      To get a real accurate response to your question we will need to wait until the Spring deer counts come out. This has been a very difficult winter in most areas in Utah and there will certainly be a loss in deer numbers because of it. Let’s just hope we don’t get any heavy storms during the fawning season. The doe’s have already had a stressful winter, especially in the northern areas of Utah. I’m guessing this will result in a sizable amount of still-born fawns, but hopefully that will not be the case. Utah will certainly experience some elderly deer loss but at what extent is difficult to know until we start getting some Spring count numbers back. I will get a post up as soon as I start hearing some numbers from the Utah Fish & Game department.

      Thank you for your interest and post.

      Jason

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