A proposal is being presented that would make deer and elk hunting seasons the same statewide.
What it would mean is hunters would have more days to hunt.
Many hunters believe that taking a few days off a hunting season means fewer deer will be taken.
But Division of Wildlife Resources surveys show that's not always the case. On average, Utah deer hunters take more deer during five-day hunts than they do during nine-day hunts.
That's why the DWR is recommending that the general rifle season in both the Southeastern and Southern regions return to a nine-day hunt for the 2008 season.
The DWR is also recommending that the statewide general spike bull elk hunt return to a 13-day season. That would make the spike season the same length as the general any bull elk season.
Information regarding deer and elk management in Utah will be discussed at a series of upcoming public meetings.
The meetings provide an opportunity for sportsmen to learn more about the proposals and to provide biologists with their input and suggestions.
Members of Utah's five Regional Advisory Councils will take the public input received to the Utah Wildlife Board when it meets in Salt Lake City on Nov. 29 to approve Utah's 2008 Big Game Guidebook.
Meetings will be:
• Nov. 6 Southern Region meeting at 5 p.m. at Hurricane High School, 345 W. Tiger Blvd.
• Nov. 7 Southeastern Region meeting at 6:30 p.m. at John Wesley Powell Museum, 1765 E. Main in Green River.
• Nov. 8 Northeastern Region meeting 6:30 p.m. at Western Park, Room 2, 302 E. 200 South in Vernal.
• Nov. 13 Central Region meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Springville Junior High School, 165 S. 700 East.
• Nov. 15 Northern Region meeting at 6 p.m. at the Brigham City Community Center, 24 N. 300 West.
The proposal is intended to provide hunters with more opportunity.
"It might be hard to believe, but our harvest data shows that more deer are typically taken during five-day hunts than during nine-day hunts," said Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the DWR.
The attached chart compares five-day hunts in Utah to nine-day hunts. The chart begins in 1999, when Utah's first five-day deer hunt was held in parts of the Southeastern Region:
The reason, he noted, is: "I think it might have something to do with hunters putting in more effort during a five-day hunt. They know the hunt isn't going to last long, so they put some extra effort in. Because the hunt is fairly short, I think they're also willing to take one of the first deer they see.
"During a nine-day hunt, I think hunters are more selective. If they don't see a deer they want the first weekend, they know they can come back and hunt the second weekend. But, despite their best intentions, most hunters don't make it back the second weekend."
Aoude said Utah deer hunters hunt an average of 3 1/2 days during a five-day hunt. During a nine-day hunt, they hunt an average of four days.
"If Utah stays with a five-day hunt in southern Utah, four days including a weekend will be taken away from hunters. Most hunters wouldn't take advantage of the extra days, but those who would like to hunt some extra days could if we went to a nine-day hunt.
"That's very important for young hunters who are in school during the week and for those who have jobs that allow them to hunt only on the weekends."
Another DWR proposal would give hunters more time to hunt spike bull elk.
The DWR is recommending the general spike bull elk hunt return to a 13-day season, instead of the nine-day hunt held the past few years.
The general spike bull hunt would run from Oct. 4 -16. Those are also the season dates for the any bull elk hunt.
"The length of the spike bull elk hunt was shortened a few years ago when the age objective for bulls taken on limited entry units was lowered on most of the units," Aoude said. "Lowering the objective allows more permits to be issued and more bulls to be taken. The idea behind shortening the season was to save more spike bulls so they could grow into mature bulls."
Since that time, Aoude said the age objective on most of the elk units has been raised. Raising the objective means fewer bulls will be taken.
Even if there was a need to protect spike bulls, keeping the season at nine days wouldn't make much of a difference.
"The elk situation is the same as the deer situation," he said. "Even if the season is lengthened by four days, most hunters won't take advantage of the extra days."
Hunters who hunt nine-day elk seasons in Utah hunt an average of five days. That number goes to 5 1/2 days when the season is 13 days long.
Other big-game proposals include:
• Change the Fillmore, Oak Creek South bull elk unit from a limited entry unit to a general any bull elk unit.
"The habitat on the unit isn't very good for elk, and there aren't many bulls on the unit," he said. "If you draw a tag for the unit, there's a pretty good chance you'll take a bull. But we can't offer many permits for the unit, and we don't believe it meets the requirements to be a limited entry unit."
• Change the Plateau, Fishlake-Thousand Lake buck deer unit from a limited entry unit to a general season unit.
"This small unit rarely meets the minimum objective of 25 bucks per 100 does that each of Utah's limited entry deer units is supposed to meet," Aoude said. "The unit is surrounded by private land, and deer move in and out of the unit a lot. General season hunters on the private land surrounding the unit take a lot of deer as they move to and from the unit."
• Create a new general any bull elk unit in southeastern Utah. The unit would be on the east side of U.S.-191, just east of the San Juan limited entry bull elk unit.
"The elk in this area could cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to sunflowers that are being raised for biofuel," Aoude said. "We're hoping general season elk hunters can help reduce these losses by taking some of the elk."For more information about the meetings, call the nearest DWR office or the DWR's Salt Lake City office at 801-538-4700.
Deer Hunting season lengths
Year ... Season ... length* ... Deer taken**
1999 ... 5 days ... 3.2 ... 470
... 9 days ... 3.9 ... 321
2000 ... 5 days ... 3.3 ... 480
... 9 days ... 3.8 ... 326
2001 ... 5 days ... 2.9 ... 330
... 9 days ... 3.6 ... 275
2002 ... 5 days ... 3.2 ... 317
... 9 days ... 4.0 ... 237
2003 ... 5 days ... 3.0 ... 224
... 9 days ... 3.7 ... 241
2004 ... 5 days ... 2.8 ... 367
... 9 days ... 3.5 ... ... 329
2005 ... 5 days ... 3.1 ... 282
... 9 days ... 3.5 ... 229
2006 ... 5 days ... 3.0 ... 441
*Average days hunted
** per 1,000 hunters