Understanding Utah's General-Season Elk Hunts

To make the most of your elk hunting experience in Utah, it's essential to understand the different general-season elk hunts available. Here's an overview of these hunts and the important details you should be aware of:

Archery Hunt

  • Scope: Open to archery enthusiasts.
  • Unit Access: Archery permit holders can hunt on all open bull and spike bull units across the state.

Any Legal Weapon Hunt

  • Scope: Allows the use of any legal weapon.
  • Unit Restriction: Hunters with this permit must stick to the type of unit specified on their permit. For instance, if you have a bull elk permit, you are limited to hunting only on any bull elk units.

Muzzleloader Hunt

  • Scope: Exclusively for muzzleloader hunters.
  • Unit Specifics: Similar to any legal weapon hunt, muzzleloader permit holders must hunt within the type of unit indicated on their permit.

Multi-Season Hunt (Spike Only)

  • Scope: Designed for those pursuing spike bull elk.
  • Flexibility: With a multi-season spike elk permit, you gain the unique privilege of hunting during archery, any legal weapon, and muzzleloader seasons. However, it's essential to follow the unit type specified on your permit and use the appropriate weapon type as per the season.

Permit Availability

If you're planning to participate in one of these exciting general-season elk hunts, keep in mind that permits will be up for grabs on different days in July 2023. For precise sales dates, please refer to page 15. Additionally, visit wildlife.utah.gov/biggame in early June to get the most up-to-date information on purchase times and locations.

Regulations for All Bull Elk Hunts in Utah

When participating in any of Utah's bull elk hunts, it's essential to be aware of the following regulations that apply universally to these hunts:

Hunter Orange

  • Compliance Requirement: Hunters are required to adhere to the state's hunter orange laws unless their hunt falls under specific exceptions.
  • Exceptions: For instance, archery and muzzleloader hunters are exempt from wearing hunter orange unless other hunts taking place in the area involve general season any legal weapon buck deer or bull elk. For more detailed information, please refer to page 45.
  • Youth Hunt: During the general season any bull archery hunt that overlaps with the draw-only youth any bull/hunter's choice elk hunt, or hunter orange is not mandatory for adults. However, youth hunters are still required to wear hunter orange during their hunt.

CWMU Bull Elk Hunts

  • Regulation Reference: Cooperative Wildlife Management Units (CWMUs) are private lands opened to a limited number of public and private hunters, regulated under Utah Admin. Rule R657-37.
  • Permit Requirement: You cannot hunt bull elk on a CWMU unless you obtain a specific bull elk permit for that particular CWMU.
  • Learn More: To gain further insights into hunting bull elk on CWMUs, consult the article on page 43 and visit wildlife.utah.gov/cwmu.

Special Restrictions

  • Area Closures and Special Restrictions: Some areas are either closed to hunting or have unique restrictions in place during Utah's bull elk hunt. To check the list of these areas, please refer to page 50.

Obtaining Other Elk Permits

  • Permit Limitations: If you have obtained any kind of bull elk permit, you are eligible to acquire only antlerless elk permits in addition.
  • More Information: For detailed information about antlerless elk hunts, please see page 38.

Utah's General-Season Archery Elk Hunt

Utah's general-season archery elk hunt is a thrilling opportunity for hunters to pursue elk using archery equipment. Here are the key details you need to know about this hunt, as per Utah Admin. Rule R657-5-28.

Hunt Dates

  • Spike Elk Hunt: The general-season archery spike elk hunt takes place from August 19 to September 8, 2023.
  • Any Bull Elk Hunt: The general-season archery of any bull elk hunt runs from August 19 to September 20, 2023. Note that this timeframe may vary on the state's extended archery areas, where the season extends later into the year.

Permit Privileges

If you obtain a general-season archery elk permit, you have the opportunity to use archery equipment to harvest one of the following animals based on the unit you are hunting in:

  • General-Season Any Bull Elk Unit: You can take one elk of either sex.
  • General-Season Spike Bull Elk Unit: Your options are to harvest either an antlerless elk or a spike bull elk.
  • Book Cliffs Unit: Here, you are allowed to take only a spike bull.
  • Extended Archery Elk Area: You have the privilege to harvest one elk of either sex.

Extended Archery Elk Hunts in Utah

For hunters who haven't harvested an elk during their regular archery hunt, there's an extended archery elk season available in specific areas. Here are the important details about these extended hunts:

Timeframe

  • Season Dates: The extended archery elk season runs from August 19 to December 15, 2023.

Eligible Areas

  • Designated Regions: You may continue hunting in the Uintah Basin, Wasatch Front, and West Cache extended archery elk areas during this extended season.

Additional Requirements

To participate in any of the extended archery areas, you must meet the following requirements:

Archery Ethics Course

  • Mandatory Course: Complete the Division's archery ethics course.
  • Certificate: Carry your archery ethics course certificate of completion with you while you're hunting.

General-Season Any Legal Weapon (Rifle) Bull Elk Hunt

Utah's general season any legal weapon (rifle) bull elk hunt, as outlined in Utah Admin. Rule R657-5-29 now offers two separate seven-day hunts for added hunting opportunities:

Early General-Season Any Legal Weapon Hunt

  • Dates: October 7–13, 2023

Late General-Season Any Legal Weapon Hunt

  • Dates: October 14–20, 2023

Permit Requirements

To participate in the general-season elk hunt, you must obtain either a spike bull permit or any bull permit.

Weapon Choices

  • If you obtain a general-season any legal weapon bull elk permit, you may use any legal weapon to take your bull elk.
  • Permissible weapons include crossbows, airguns, draw locks, or muzzleloaders.

Spike Bull Elk Permit

  • Holders of a spike bull elk permit may take a spike bull elk on a general-season spike bull elk unit.
  • Hunting on any bull elk units is not allowed.
  • Note that some limited-entry bull elk hunts overlap with the general-season spike elk hunt.

Any Bull Elk Permit

  • Holders of any bull elk permit may take a bull elk of any size, including a spike bull, on a general-season bull elk unit.
  • Hunting on spike bull units is not permitted.

Special Youth Permits

  • In 2023, there will be an unlimited number of general-season bull elk permits (any legal weapon, muzzleloader, or multi-season) available for youth who will be 17 years of age or younger on July 31, 2023.
  • Please note that these permits are not valid for the draw-only youth on any bull/hunter's choice elk hunt that runs from September 16 to 24, 2023. Visit wildlife.utah.gov/biggame in early June for purchase times and locations.

For reference on the locations of spike bull units and any bull elk units, consult the general-season bull elk hunt reference map on page 64 and the boundary descriptions at hunt.utah.gov.

General-Season Muzzleloader Elk Hunt

Utah's general-season muzzleloader elk hunt, governed by Utah Admin. Rule R657-5-30 offers an exciting opportunity for hunters. Here's what you need to know about this hunt:

Hunt Dates

  • Season Dates: The general-season muzzleloader elk hunt runs from November 1 to 9, 2023, within the general-season elk units.

Permit Requirements

To participate in the general-season muzzleloader elk hunt, you must obtain either a muzzleloader spike bull elk permit a muzzleloader, or any bull elk permit.

Muzzleloader Any Bull Elk Permit

  • Holders of a muzzleloader of any bull elk permit may use a muzzleloader to harvest a bull elk of any size, including a spike bull, on a general-season bull elk unit.
  • Hunting on spike bull elk units is not allowed.

Muzzleloader Spike Bull Elk Permit

  • Holders of a muzzleloader spike bull elk permit may use a muzzleloader to harvest a spike bull elk on a general-season spike bull elk unit.
  • Hunting on any bull elk units is not permitted.

Multi-Season General Spike Bull Elk Hunt

Utah's multi-season general spike bull elk hunt, governed by Utah Admin. Rule R657-5-29 provides a unique hunting opportunity with specific regulations for the 2023 hunting season. Here are the key details you need to know:

Changes in Permits

  • Elimination of Multi-Season Bull Elk Permits: The Utah Wildlife Board has eliminated multi-season permits for any bull elk hunt.
  • Multi-Season Spike Bull Elk Permits: There is still a multi-season spike bull elk permit option, capped at 4,500 permits issued for the 2023 hunting season.

Hunt Season and Area Variations

Your hunting season dates and designated areas vary depending on the season and are listed on your multi-season spike bull permit:

Archery Season

  • Dates: You may take an antlerless elk or spike bull elk on any spike unit from August 19 to September 8.
  • Book Cliffs Unit: Only spike bull elk can be taken on the Book Cliffs unit during this period.
  • Any Bull Elk Units: You may take any bull elk on any bull unit from August 19 to September 20.

Any Legal Weapon Season

  • Dates: October 7 to 19.
  • Weapon Choice: During this period, you may use any legal weapon to take a spike bull elk on a general-season spike unit.

Muzzleloader Season

  • Dates: November 1 to 9.
  • Weapon Choice: You may use muzzleloader equipment to take a spike bull elk on a general-season spike unit.

Extended Archery Elk Hunts

If you haven't harvested an elk by the time your multi-season hunt ends, you may continue hunting in the Uintah Basin, Wasatch Front, and West Cache extended archery elk areas during the extended archery elk season, which runs from August 19 to December 15, 2023.

Additional Requirements

To hunt any of the extended archery areas, you must complete the Division's archery ethics course and carry your archery ethics course certificate of completion with you while you're hunting. For more information, see page 7 or visit wildlife.utah.gov/extendedarchery.

Reminder

If you are hunting in an extended archery elk area during the extended archery elk season, you may harvest any bull elk or antlerless elk. This applies even if the extended archery area overlaps a spike bull elk unit.

Obtaining Bull Elk Permits

General-season bull elk permits and multi-season spike bull permits will be available on different days in July 2023. For exact sales dates and locations, please refer to page 15 and visit wildlife.utah.gov/biggame in early June.

Bull Elk Hunt Opportunities for Youth

Youth hunters in Utah have exciting opportunities for bull elk hunts as outlined in Utah Admin. Rule R657-5-31. Here are the key details for youth interested in participating in these hunts:

Unlimited Youth General-Season Elk Permits (2023)

  • Eligibility: Youth who will be 17 years of age or younger on July 31, 2023, are eligible.
  • Minimum Age: Remember that you cannot hunt until you are at least 12 years old.

Permit Sales

  • Dates: The general season any bull elk permits for youth go on sale starting July 11, 2023. For permit purchase times and locations, visit wildlife.utah.gov/biggame in early June.

New: Extended Validity

  • The unlimited youth general-season elk permit will be valid during all general-season dates on both any bull and spike units.

Draw-Only Youth Any Bull/Hunter’s Choice Elk Hunt

  • Exclusion: The general-season bull permits mentioned above are not for the draw-only youth any bull/hunter's choice elk hunt, which runs from September 16 to 24, 2023.
  • Permit Availability: Permits for the draw-only youth for any bull/hunter's choice elk hunt were only available through the big game drawing.

Draw-Only Youth Elk Permit

  • If you drew a permit for the draw-only youth for any bull/hunter's choice elk hunt (September 16–24, 2023), you may use any legal weapon to harvest a bull elk or antlerless elk of any size on any general season any bull elk unit in Utah.
  • While you can take a spike bull elk during this hunt, hunting on a spike bull elk unit is not permitted.

Lifetime Limitation

  • Youth hunters should note that they may obtain only one draw-only youth elk permit in their lifetime.

Limited-Entry Bull Elk Hunts

Utah's limited-entry bull elk hunts, governed by Utah Admin. Rule R657-5-32 offers a unique hunting experience with specific regulations. Here's what you need to know:

General Information

  • A limited-entry bull elk permit allows you to use the weapon listed on your permit to harvest one bull elk of any size within the area and season specified on your permit.

Multi-Season Hunts

  • There are multi-season hunts that permit the holder to hunt bull elk during all three seasons (archery, muzzleloader, and any legal weapon) on select limited-entry units.
  • For these hunts, you must use the appropriate weapon type for the season.

Handgun-Archery-Muzzleloader-Shotgun-Straight Walled Rifle-Only (HAMSS) Bull Elk Hunts

Utah Admin. Rule R657-5-47 introduces changes and specifications for HAMSS bull elk hunts:

  • New Weapon Type: Straight-walled rifles are now allowed as an allowable weapon type for HAMSS hunts.

2023 HAMSS Hunts

The 2023 HAMSS hunts will take place in the following units:

  • Cache, North
  • Plateau, Barney Top/Kaiparowits
  • Southwest Desert, North
  • West Desert, Deep Creek

Communication Restrictions

  • Electronic communication to receive real-time information on hunter or game location to aid in stalking a specific big game animal is prohibited on a HAMSS hunt. This rule does not apply to general electronic communications in the field, including calls or communications relating to public safety.

Weapon Specifications

  • No weapon-mounted scopes or other optics are allowed on HAMSS hunts.
  • Detailed weapon specifications are listed in Utah Admin. Rule R657-5-47, available online.
Handgun
  • The handgun used must be legal for bull elk, with no attached scope.
  • It must have no more than a single barrel 15 inches or less in length, including the chamber.
  • The handgun can be no more than 24 inches in overall length.
  • New: Any currently legal handgun without a scope is allowed. No electronics may be attached, except for illuminated reticles.
Archery Equipment
  • Archery equipment used must be legal for bull elk.
  • New: No electronics may be attached to the bow or arrow, except for illuminated nocks and cameras. However, a camera cannot aid in the taking of wildlife.
Muzzleloader
  • The muzzleloader used must be legal for bull elk, with no attached scope.
  • New: No electronics may be attached, except for illuminated reticles.
Shotgun
  • The shotgun used must be legal for bull elk, with no attached scope.
  • New: Semi-automatic shotguns are not allowed in a HAMSS hunt. No electronics may be attached, except for illuminated reticles.
Straight-Walled Rifle (New)
  • Any straight-walled cartridge with a minimum bullet diameter of .35 caliber and a minimum case length of at least 1.16 inches may be used.
  • No semi-automatic rifle, scope other optics, or electronics are allowed.

Extended Archery Elk Hunts

Limited-entry archery elk hunters who don't harvest during the limited-entry season will be allowed to hunt the extended archery areas after completing the online extended archery course. Details can be found on page 7 or by visiting wildlife.utah.gov/extendedarchery.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.