Epic snow season limiting hunting permits in northern Utah

Apr 6, 2023, 6:30 PM | Updated: Jan 5, 2024, 2:47 pm

hunting permits...

The Department of Wildlife Resources has implemented emergency state-wide restrictions for shed antler hunting to help protect Big Game in Utah. Two buck deer gaze in the direction of the camera. (Division of Wildlife Resources)

(Division of Wildlife Resources)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Division of Wildlife Resources wants to limit the number of hunting permits this year. 

DWR Once-in-a-Lifetime Species Coordinator Rusty Robinson joins Dave & Dujanovic to discuss how many permits the division is planning to reduce and where.

For his job, Robinson said he oversees the hunting of species that can only be hunted once in a lifetime: bighorn sheep, mountain goats, moose and bison, but he said he also helps by managing deer and elk.

He said because of the abundant winter, deer are struggling in the northern part of the state yet in other areas, animals are faring well.

“The southern half of the state is actually doing really well. We’re seeing some of the highest survival rates we’ve ever seen,” Robinson said. “It’s kind of a mixed bag. Some of the Wasatch Back, Heber Valley and areas of Morgan and Cache have had a hard time, but central Utah and southern Utah are actually doing pretty good.”

Fewer hunting permits in the north

“How many permits are you looking to reduce?” Debbie asked.

Robinson said overall there will be a 2% decrease in hunting permits, but added the DWR is recommending a 20% reduction in buck permits in the Northern Region, an 11% decrease in the Northeast Region, which includes the southern slope of the Uinta Mountains.

“But actually pretty big increases in the Southern Region. And so overall, it’s a net, like 2% decline, over what we recommended last year,” he said. 

Measuring a herd’s health

Dave asked how the DWR measures the health of a herd.

Robinson said that a GPS tracking collar is placed on deer in December and body-fat readings are taken.

“We get the animal in hand. We actually use ultrasound to measure their body fat, and so we can tell how healthy they are coming into winter,” he said.

According to Robinson, Utah is lucky to have had moisture last fall.

“So the deer came in really fat. . . . if it wasn’t for that, we’d see a lot more mortality losses,” Robinson said.

He said the collared deer are tracked. If they die, biologists hike in to determine the cause of death and if malnutrition played a part.

“We get an overall survival rate of adult deer and fawns,” he said. “That helps us have an idea how they’re going to carry over through the winter, what the population is going to look like as a whole for next hunting season.”

Hunters sound off on permits

“Rusty, what is the pushback been from hunters or those who want a permit? Have you heard any sort of negative feedback on this?”

He said his job is like being a referee: no matter what he does, he hears from one side or the other.

“The fact of the matter is, it’s getting harder and harder to draw a deer permit in Utah, and we definitely hear that sentiment,” Robinson said. 

He added the number of permits to hunt bucks is a reflection of the overall health of the herd.

“When deer populations are doing great, we recommend more permits. When they’re not doing so hot, we recommend a reduction. And so we hear from both sides,” Robinson said.

Animals built to survive winter

“You brought up the once-in-a-lifetime hunts. Let’s talk about those. What have the reductions looked like for the bighorn sheep, the bull moose, the mountain goats?” Dave asked.

“We really don’t see a lot of winter loss on things like bison and moose, even elk,” Robinson said. “They’re just built differently. They’re built to withstand the winter.”

Related reading

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


FILE: Joana Abeel holds her daughter, Penelope Abeel, at the Draper City Splash Pad during a heat w...

Alexandrea Bonillla and Simone Seikaly

Above-normal temperatures expected for Utah summer

Summer weather predictions point to a La Niña weather pattern which will bring warm temperatures and dry conditions to Utah.

2 hours ago

Weed block is used as a landscaping and xeriscaping project is installed in Layton on Thursday, Jun...

Allessandra Harris Gurr

Landscaping projects picking up pace as weather gets warmer

Jeff Mott, owner of Mott's Landscaping, said people often start big landscaping projects in the summertime. 

3 days ago

A car is filled at a gas pump in Sandy on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. Hurricane season could affect ga...

Britt Johnson

Hurricane season could mean bad news for Utah gas prices

Hurricane season is expected to be intense this year, and while none of them should hit Utah rising gas prices probably will. 

4 days ago


Alexandrea Bonilla

Utah storm adding to snowpack that melted over weekend

A storm passing through Utah will increase the snowpack that melted this weekend when the sun came out in force.

7 days ago

Valley Rain and mountain snow...

Adam Small

Utah getting big delivery of valley rain, mountain snow Monday

Utah will see valley rain and mountain snow throughout Monday with temperatures in the 40s and 50s.

7 days ago

sunshine on cherry blossoms shown, april temperatures will be a little higher this year...

Clayre Scott

Salt Lake City hit the 80s, ties date’s record high temperature

The last time it was this warm on April 12 in Salt Lake was in 1936.

10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

Epic snow season limiting hunting permits in northern Utah