SALT LAKE CITY, Utah If you're picking this issue up off the newsstand, you've got about a week to file for the 2006 Utah limited entry mule deer drawing. That's because deadline to submit your hunt choices is Feb. 17.
Here's the Department of Wildlife Resources' take on best units for big bucks:
Go South, young man
If you're looking for bucks that will score in the 200-plus range, look to southern Utah, tips Adam Bronson, assistant big game coordinator for the DWR.
"The Henry Mountains unit has some exceptional mule deer, but it's a huge area so the concentration of deer is fairly low. But it would be my No. 1 choice," Bronson said.
"My No. 2 unit would be the Paunsaugunt muzzleloader hunt. We've reduced the number of tags in the Paunsaugunt unit over the last three or four years and the herd has shown some really good signs of improvement this last year."
Last season Bronson said there were at least five bucks that went over 200 inches during the muzzleloader hunt.
There are some private ground issues in the Paunsaugunt unit to deal with especially during the archery and rifle hunts but the deer move onto public ground during the rut, which is when the muzzleloader season begins.
"There's plenty of public ground to hunt," Bronson said.
"But the density of deer on the private ground is much higher and those deer all leave the private land for the rut, which coincides with the muzzleloader season."
Several years ago the DWR closed the season on deer hunting in the Book Cliffs due to very low populations. That trend is totally reversed now, and the Book Cliffs are a top choice once again for trophy mule deer.
"This last year in particular, they had an exceptional deer hunt out there," Bronson said.
"There were some really exceptional deer taken in all three seasons. I know the Sportsman's permit deer hunter ended up taking his deer out there last year," Bronson said.
"Those three hunts are really good hunts, I wouldn't hesitate applying for any of those myself."
While there are only two premium limited entry units and six limited entry units, Bronson said that all the units are good if you can draw a permit.
However, other choices in Utah include the privilege of hunting private ground with limited public access.
These units, called Cooperative Wildlife Management Units or CWMUs, offer a limited number of public tags to hunt on private land that is managed by both the landowner or operator and the DWR to enhance the big game hunting opportunities in the state.
The best way to find out about the deer herd in these units is to call the CWMU operators that are listed in the DWR's hunt tables.
Again, the best areas in the state are in the south, so any CWMU's in San Juan or Kane counties will be good units.
Also try the Deseret CWMU in Rich, Weber and Morgan counties, which is in the northern part of Utah. It has the most tags available for public drawing, and there are some good bucks as well as some real trophy elk opportunities.
Pressed for time? Apply online at wildlife.utah.gov/index.php. Otherwise pick up an application at license dealers or DWR offices.
Results will be available April 28.
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