A buck, one of the subjects of the possible changes, poses for the camera.
While the general rifle hunt for deer has just begun, the Division of Wildlife Resources is alreay looking at changes for next year's big game seasons.
The following are among the ideas the DWR is considering. A calendar that shows when the proposed seasons would be held is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings/info/09-11-03.pdf.
General Deer and Elk Hunts
Four major general-season deer and elk changes could occur in 2011:
Two general rifle deer hunts.
The first idea would keep the number of general rifle buck deer permits the same as it is now (no more than 97,000 permits), but it would split Utah's general rifle deer hunt into two hunts.
Each hunt would be nine days long, just like the hunt is now, but hunters could choose to participate in an early hunt or a late hunt.
The early hunt would be held at the start of October. The late hunt would happen at the end of October.
Having two rifle deer hunts would reduce by half the number of hunters in the field at any one time.
"You'd still be able to hunt the same number of days you can hunt now, but you'd have fewer hunters in the field with you," Aoude says. "We think this change would make your rifle hunt even better."
Hunting deer and elk at the same time.
Another idea would let hunters hunt deer and elk at the same time. The DWR is considering holding the general rifle buck deer hunt and the general rifle bull elk hunt on the same days.
"This change would allow you to hunt deer and elk at the same time," Aoude says. "But you wouldn't have to do that. If you wanted, you could obtain a deer permit to hunt during either the early or the late season, and also obtain an elk permit to hunt during the season when you're not hunting deer.
"This change wouldn't take anything away from you. But it would give you another option you could take advantage of, if you wanted to."
Hold muzzleloader deer and elk hunts at the same time
In addition to holding the rifle deer and elk hunts at the same time, the DWR is considering holding Utah's general muzzleloader deer and muzzleloader elk hunts at the same time too. The general muzzleloader deer and elk season would be held in the middle of October, between the two rifle hunts.
The DWR is also considering adding a second muzzleloader elk hunt a general any bull elk hunt. That hunt would happen in mid November.
Same start dates every year.
A third idea is to start all of Utah's big game hunts on the same calendar days every year. For example, if Aug. 21 was chosen as the day to start the general archery elk hunt, the season would start on Aug. 21 every year, even if Aug. 21 didn't fall on a Saturday.
The only exception would be if a start date fell on a Sunday. Then the season would probably begin on the proceeding Saturday.
"This idea would keep the season dates consistent from year to year," Aoude says.
Limited-entry Deer and Elk Hunts
The DWR also has two ideas for Utah's limited-entry deer and elk hunts:
Dates for limited-entry elk hunts
One idea would change the dates of the limited-entry elk hunts. It would also give archers first chance at the elk.
Starting in 2011, biologists would like to start the limited-entry archery elk hunt in early September and end it in mid-September. That's when the elk are at the peak of their rut.
After the limited-entry archery hunt ended in mid-September, the limited-entry muzzleloader elk hunt would start the next day. Muzzleloader elk hunters would have the elk to themselves for four days. Then the limited-entry rifle hunt would also begin. Both the muzzleloader hunt and the rifle hunt would end on the same day in early October.
"Because they use rifles, rifle hunters have a better chance at taking an elk than archery or muzzleloader hunters do," Aoude says.
"Even if we move limited-entry rifle hunters to the latter part of the rut, they're still going to be successful," he says. "But allowing archery hunters to hunt during the rut would really increase their success. And their success rate would probably still be lower than the success rate rifle hunters find during the rut."
Hold the general and limited-entry rifle deer hunts at the same time.
An additional idea is to hold the limited-entry rifle buck deer hunt at the same time the general-season rifle buck deer hunt is held.
The hunt on some limited-entry deer units would happen at the start of October. The hunt on other units would happen at the end of October.
"Limited-entry deer hunts and general-season deer hunts are held on completely different units," Aoude says. "Holding the hunts at the same time shouldn't create any conflicts between limited-entry hunters and general-season hunters. They'd be hunting on separate units."
Bull moose season.
Utah's bull moose season is currently split into two hunts. The DWR is considering combining the two hunts into one hunt. The hunt would be held from late September to mid October.
The bull moose change is the only once-in-a-lifetime species change the DWR is considering for 2011.
"The ideas we have right now are a starting point to get our biologists and sportsmen talking about possible changes for 2011," Aoude says. "We're wide open to the suggestions hunters and other folks have."
Hunters who want to comment on the ideas will have a changes can do so at a number of meetings that will be held. Here are the dates and venues for those meetings.
Richfield High School
510 W. 100 S.
John Wesley Powell Museum
1765 E. Main St.
Western Park, Room #1
302 E. 200 S.
Springville Junior High
165 S. 700 E.