The Utah Wildlife Resources Division hopes to encourage stockmen to let more deer use their rangelands by setting aside 75 hunting permits for landowners near Bryce Canyon National Park.
The division has approved 450 buck-only hunting permits for the so-called Paunsaugunt Unit, west and south of the national park, and 75 of those tags will go to private landowners, division spokeman Garth Carter said Monday. "This is a unique situation and it's on a one-year experimental basis" for the trophy buck hunting ares, said Carter.
The Paunsaugunt Unit is a limited entry hunting area "to provide a trophy-quality experience for hunters," said Carter. "By allowing only a few hunters in the ares, we hope to maintain it as a area where the hunter can expect to find mature bucks.
"This was done to provide an incentive to landowners who have big fame on their private property, to allow hunting in areas that otherwise may be closed," he said.
To quilify for the draw for the 75 permits, landowners must be Utah residents, own at least 5 acres within the hunting unit, and gross more than $1,000 from the land.
"The landowner can't sell the permit, but he can give the permit to another hunter and sell access to his land. This is a first in Utah for a big game hunt," Carter said.
Many hunter have opposed the plan to give private landowners control over the permits, he said. But the division believes it will create less pressure in other hunting areas and open up some hunting on private lands.
"We believe these are lands that wouldn't otherwise be open to hunting," Carter said. "If a hunter gets his deerp on another man's ranch, then he won't be hunting on public lands. We see it as a way to reduce the pressure in other areas and increase hunting oppurtunities for others."
If the experimental project is successful in the Paunsaugunt Unit, he said, the division will consider expanding it to other areas in the state in future years.