Elk NetworkUtah Approves Keeping Elk Permits as Over-the-counter, Announces 2022 Hunting Dates and New Hunts

General | December 20, 2021

Below is a news release from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

After a proposal to move the over-the-counter, general-season elk permits to the big game drawing for a one-year trial due to increased demand and system overload issues, the Utah Wildlife Board recently voted to continue selling the permits over the counter, and also approved a few other hunting changes during a public meeting.

Elk permit change

The demand to hunt big game in Utah has increased over the past few years. The general-season any bull elk and spike bull elk permits have traditionally been sold online or over the counter at DWR offices and at a variety of retail locations. These elk permits, in particular, have grown in popularity over the last three years:

  • In 2019, all 15,000 permits sold out in 11 days.
  • In 2020, the 15,000 permits were only sold online due to COVID-19 concerns and sold out in eight hours. (This was also a record sales year for hunting and fishing permits in Utah.)
  • This year, the 17,500 permits sold out in almost 10 hours.

“The increased demand for these permits has caused an overload to the license sales system for the past two years, which has led to slower processing times and a frustrating customer experience,” DWR Wildlife Licensing Coordinator Lindy Varney said. “Our current contracted sales system does well during the rest of the year, but these ‘sales days’ for the elk permits cause a buying rush that overloads the system a few days a year.”

The wildlife board voted to continue selling the permits online and over the counter, as in past years.

“We have been working with our contractor to address some of the technical issues, including pursuing a database expansion that will increase performance,” Varney said. “We are hopeful that expansion will be in place for next year’s sales days and will help improve the online buying experience.”

2022 big game hunting season dates and new hunts

The wildlife board approved leaving the five-day extension on the archery any bull elk hunt until the 2022 season. This extension was a recommendation from the public that was approved last year for a two-year period until the statewide elk plan is revised in 2022. The board also approved adding an additional two days to the end of the youth any-bull elk hunting season.

A few new hunts were also approved for the 2022 big game season:

  • A new late-season, limited-entry muzzleloader deer hunt in the South Slope, Myton Unit from Nov. 12–27. This hunt will primarily be held on private property to help control the prevalence of chronic wasting disease in this area by targeting mature bucks, which are twice as likely to contract and spread chronic wasting disease.
  • An extended archery deer hunt in the Box Elder, West Bear River Unit from Sept. 17 to Nov. 30. This hunt will also primarily be held on private lands to help alleviate depredation issues.
  • A pronghorn muzzleloader hunt in the South Slope, Vernal Unit from Sept. 28 to Oct. 6. This area has a growing population of pronghorn and already offers an archery and rifle hunt — a muzzleloader hunt would expand the weapon-type opportunities.

The board also voted to have the DWR look into using a two-to-three-year cycle for the big game hunting season dates, rather than one year. The wildlife board also voted to have the DWR evaluate the requirements to wear orange while hunting and to see how Utah’s current requirements compare to those in other western states.

(Photo credit: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)