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Utah Elk Hunting


Utah Elk Hunting 2024

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Utah is still one of the top trophy producing states in the West for bull elk. Last year, Utah modified its statewide elk management plan to capitalize on harvesting bull elk while they are in their prime and not past their prime. They decided to lower the age class objectives slightly because all the data they gathered showed bull elk hit their peak antler size at age 6 and after that age plays a significantly smaller role in antler growth and other factors take over, like nutrition, body condition, and overall genetic potential. Utah also modified the permit distribution between the various weapons and hunts. They moved more of the permits out of the September rifle hunt when mature bulls are most vulnerable into later seasons in October when mature bulls are done rutting and got their wits about them a little more. This created a shift in permits last year, so read the tables carefully to see how many permits are in the hunt you are looking at.

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Utah has mandatory harvest reporting on all limited-entry big game species across the weapon types. This allows them to monitor the age of each animal harvested and increase or decrease tags if the average age is under or over the age management goal for that specific unit. However, this style of management is not without fault. Hunting in general is different for everyone, and trying to manage toward a certain age class is tough when age is a difficult thing to judge on the hoof. One hunter might be happy with any bull, and another is looking for the largest bull they can find. The impacts are obvious, especially in units where low numbers of permits are issued (which in Utah’s case is about 65% of them) and you have a few hunters harvesting 4 to 5-year-old bulls. This will bring that average age objective down under the level of increasing permit numbers, and before you know it, that herd of elk is backed into a corner of trying to maintain elk numbers within the population level while not being able to increase bull permits. Therefore, the only thing they can do is issue cow permits to bring the population down. The end result is a 1:1 bull to cow ratio that puts the elk herd in a tough spot and sets them up for big declines in future years. This was the reason for the big changes across the state on this new elk management plan.

Overall, it is still too soon to tell what impacts this new management strategy will have and if trophy quality will be impacted, but one thing is for sure, this shift allowed nonresidents to pick up 40 more elk permits in 2023. This will allow more non-resident hunting opportunities, which is what Utah desperately needs because the current projection is a never-ending point creep scenario for the next 30 years.


Utah’s elk herds are still in great shape with some units below objective, but the majority are looking better than last year with the reduction in cow permits in 2023. Overall, any elk unit that is in our list of tables will have a good population of elk, but some units, like the HAMSS units, will be a bit tougher to find elk in. These units have the best archery season dates, but that is because these areas also have smaller populations that require good dates to be successful. The actual HAMSS season is later in the year in November, and that is also by design but for different reasons. They intentionally placed these hunt dates when harvest would be very difficult to achieve, therefore, giving opportunistic hunters better draw odds if they were willing to have a much tougher hunt. The rest of the hunt areas have similar hunt dates across the board and has something for every hunter’s schedule. Also pay attention to the mid-April RAC meetings that will discuss permit numbers for all the hunts so applicants can at least determine what the UDNR is recommending and if there are at least two or more permits so that one can be issued in the preference draw to a high point holder. This is really crucial if you are interested in the early September rifle hunts.

Utah Elk Season & Dates

2024 Utah Elk Hunts Dates in Utah
Hunter’s Choice Bull Elk (Archery)
Spike Aug 17–Sept 6, 2024
Any Bull Aug 17–Sept 18, 2024
Any Bull Units
Any legal weapon Oct 5-Oct 11, 2024
Muzzleloader Oct 30-Nov 7, 2024
Multi-season Aug 17-Sept 18, Oct 5-Oct 11, Oct 30-Nov 7, 2024
Spike-Only Units
Any legal weapon Oct 5-Oct 11, 2024
Muzzleloader Oct 30-Nov 7, 2024
Multi-season Aug 17-Sept 6, Oct 5-Oct 11, Oct 30-Nov 7, 2024


Utah Elk Draw

At the end of the day, these new changes to elk management should help move applicants through the draw system, but overall, it just gives applicants more options to select from. There are still far more applicants than permits, and Utah is still going to be a 15-20+ year application strategy for most elk hunters. However, the quality remains strong, and for those lucky enough to draw, they will have an amazing hunt.

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Utah General Elk

Additional major changes happened to general elk hunts and season structures in 2023. Utah still has four options available for general elk permits – archery, muzzleloader, any weapon, and multi-season. The multi-season hunt is only available for the spike-only units, though. Spike-only hunting did not change much in 2023. There is still a 15,000 permit quota in place for the rifle and muzzleloader seasons, but there is a 4,500 permit cap on multi-season spike permits that can be sold. Most of the changes came in the any bull general hunt areas. There are now two seven-day rifle seasons that take place at the beginning of October. These hunts will be back to back starting October 5th, and the second hunt concludes October 18th. The permits for these hunts are still sold over-the-counter, but only the first hunt is subject to the 15,000 permit quota. The archery permit is still an either-sex tag and has an unlimited quota. New units were added to the general any bull areas across the state as well.

Another big change for general elk was the introduction of a youth general elk permit that allows youth to hunt all seasons and is good on spike and any bull units. The new permit also has an unlimited quota. We will cover the over-the-counter options for elk in Utah on a more in-depth level in our July issue.

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Private Land, Semi-Guided, and Guided Elk Hunts in Utah

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Utah Elk Application Deadline

The Utah Big Game application period deadline is 11:00 p.m. MST on April 25, 2024. The bonus point/preference point application period will be open during the antlerless application period.

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Our magazine, which is available in print and online, has everything in one location application info, draw details and odds, fees, hunter requirements, point structure, age restrictions, youth information, weapon restrictions, other tag opportunities, hunt planning, and much more. If you would like access to all of our research, join today!

2024 Utah Elk Non-Resident Hunting Fees


2024 Utah Non-Resident Fees
Non-Resident Hunting License $120
Youth (17 and younger) Non-Resident Hunting License $34
Application Fee per Species $16
Post Draw Fees (if successful)
Limited-Entry Elk $1,050
Multi-Season Limited-Entry Elk $1,855
Youth Draw-Only Any Bull Elk $613


Utah Elk Hunting Articles from Huntin' Fool Magazine