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More hunters will be hunting on some of Utah's best big-game units this fall.

In their last meeting, members of the Utah Wildlife Board raised the number of permits for many of Utah's big-game hunts.

The one exception was the Northern Region. Board members cut 1,000 general season buck deer permits for this fall's hunt.

"This is a great time to hunt big game in Utah," said Anis Aoude, big-game coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

"Utah's big-game herds are doing well, and the state has a wider variety of animals to hunt than ever before."

Hunters who applied for a 2008 permit will know by April 30 whether they drew out or not.

After last fall's hunting seasons, biologists found an average of 18 bucks per 100 does on public land hunting units in the Northern Region.

Even though the number of bucks was on the high end of the 15 to 20 bucks per 100 does objective, the biologists recommended 1,000 fewer permits.

"We want to be cautious," Aoude said. "The deer herds in parts of northern Utah had a tough time this winter.

"When we do our after-winter surveys later this spring, we'll know better how many deer were lost. But our big-game permit drawing happens in April, so the board had to set the permit numbers before we completed our surveys."

Limited-entry elk and deer and once-in-a-lifetime moose permits are among permits board members increased.

The reason is that biologists manage Utah's limited-entry elk units so those who hunt the units have the potential to take a bull that will fall into one of four age categories: 6 to 7 years old, 5 to 6 years old, 4 to 5 years old, or 3 to 4 years old.

The age of the bull a hunter might take depends on the unit hunted.

Utah has 28 limited-entry bull elk units. On 26 of the units, hunters are taking bulls that are older than the age objective for the unit.

"For example, a hunter who hunts a unit managed for 5- to 6-year-old bulls can often end up taking a bull that's one or two years older than the objective for the unit," Aoude said.

"The board needed to increase the number of permits so hunters could take more bulls. Taking more bulls will allow the herds to get closer to their age objectives."

Biologists manage Utah's limited-entry deer units so there will be plenty of big bucks for hunters each fall.

The Paunsaugunt and Henry Mountains units are Utah's two premium limited-entry units. Biologists manage these units so at least 35 bucks per 100 does are left in the herds after the hunts are over each fall.

The rest of Utah's limited-entry units are managed so at least 25 bucks per 100 does are still in the herds after the fall hunts.

Only two units in southern Utah aren't meeting that goal. On the rest of the state's units, the number of bucks biologists are finding is higher than the buck-to-doe ratio for each unit.

"We have plenty of bucks on these units. And that's great news for hunters. It means more of them can hunt some of these units this fall," Aoude said.

Utah's moose herds are also doing well. In many of the herds, there are almost as many bulls in the herds as cows.

PERMITS APPROVED

General Buck Deer — 95,000 (2007) and 94,000 (2008)

Limited-entry deer — 1,014 (2007) and 1,082 (2008)

Limited-entry bull elk — 2,090 (2007) and 2,447 (2008)

Pronghorn antelope — 853 (2007) and 945 (2008)

Moose — 151 (2007) and 184 (2008)

Bison — 145 (2007) and 172 (2008)

Rocky Mountain goat — 90 (2007) and 91 (2008)

Desert bighorn sheep — 39 (2007) and 36 (2008)

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep — 18 (2007) and 23 (2008)


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