SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is asking for the public’s feedback as it releases its proposed big game hunting permit numbers for 2024.

They area also seeking input on a variety of other proposals.

There are a few factors that impact deer populations in Utah such as weather and precipitation, predator balance, the quality and quantity of available habitat. Adult doe and fawn survival and production are also some factors to be considered.

DWR Big Game Coordinator Dax Mangus said harvesting buck deer does not drive deer populations.

“The most important factors that drive deer population numbers are the survival rates of doe deer (since bucks don’t have babies), fawn production and fawn survival after the winter,” he said. “The way we hunt buck deer in Utah doesn’t drive deer populations, but what happens with deer populations drives how we hunt buck deer.”

DWR specialists manage deer, elk and other wildlife using approved management plans to help maintain healthy wildlife populations across the state. The agencies biologists weigh additional factors and data in recommending hunting permit numbers for deer:

  • Buck-to-doe ratios established in the management plans for each area of the state (including the current estimates, three-year averages and overall trends). The buck-to-doe ratios are a good way to manage social preferences for hunting deer.
  • Current population estimates and demographics. (This data is collected through yearly surveys and classifications of deer herds.)
  • Data from GPS collars and body condition of the deer (measured during annual capture efforts), which helps estimate deer survival for the winter.
  • Hunter harvest rates from the prior hunting season (which can help with estimates for successful harvest in the upcoming year).
  • Habitat and environmental conditions across the state.

“Utah has 31 general-season deer hunting units that are managed for post-hunting season buck-to-doe ratios of 15-17 or 18-20 bucks per 100 does,” Mangus said. “The statewide average buck-to-doe ratio on public land, general-season deer hunting units was 21 bucks per 100 does after the 2023 hunting season. Good winter survival rates this year and high buck-to-doe ratios after last season puts us in a position where we can offer more buck deer hunting opportunities in 2024.” 

The DWR is proposing the following for general-season deer permits in the various areas of Utah:

  • Northern Utah: Proposing an increase of 150 permits (about a 1% increase from last year).
  • Central Utah: Proposing a decrease of 75 permits (a 1% decrease from last year).
  • Southern Utah: Proposing an increase of 5,375 permits (about a 44% increase from last year). 
  • Southeastern Utah: Proposing an increase of 400 permits (about a 3% increase from last year).
  • Northeastern Utah: Proposing an increase of 950 permits (about an 11% increase from last year)

Big Game biologists want to boost the total of 71,525 general-season deer hunting permits, which is a 6,800-permit increase from the previous year. 

“During our big game captures this last winter, we found that a majority of the deer throughout the state were healthy and in great condition with high body fat,” Mangus said. “Our animals with GPS collars are showing really high survival rates in both northern and southern Utah.”

He is anticipating excellent winter survival and is happy to see deer populations looking better after being hit hard by last year’s severe winter, especially in the northern parts of the state.

Deer populations in southern Utah are looking great with their third consecutive year of high fawn production and survival rates.

Elk permit recommendations

There are currently an estimated 80,600 elk in the state and ideally they like to have 80,000 elk roaming the state. Biologist would like to see a slight increase in public draw limited-entry bull elk permits and for the antlerless elk permits for the 2024 hunts. 

Big game permit recommendations 

The table below shows the permit recommendations for 2024, including those for the big game hunts, the once-in-a-lifetime hunts and the antlerless hunts:


2023 Permits

2024 Recommended Permits

General-season buck deer



Limited-entry deer



Antlerless deer



General-season any bull elk


  • · 15,000 for adults in the early general-season any bull elk hunt (for any legal weapon and  muzzleloader hunters). 
  • · Unlimited for youth
  • · Unlimited for archery hunters 
  • · Unlimited for the general-season any bull late hunt (sold over the counter)

General-season spike bull elk


15,000 (sold over the counter, with a cap of 4,500 multi-season permits)

Antlerless elk



Youth draw-only any bull /hunter’s choice elk



Limited-entry bull elk



Buck pronghorn



Doe pronghorn



Bull moose



Antlerless moose






Desert bighorn sheep



Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep



Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep ewe hunt 



Mountain goat



Antlerless permit recommendations

“Because reducing the number of female animals in a herd can reduce the overall population, all of Utah’s recommended doe deer hunts are designed to be very targeted to address localized areas of specific concern, conflicts, disease issues or public safety considerations,” Mangus said. “Currently, there are no doe deer hunts in Utah that are aimed at reducing the overall deer population on a hunting unit.”

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