I’m sure I’m not the only person who has lists of places they would like to go hunt. My wife and I have a list slowly building of either species or states we want to visit. The anticipation of going somewhere new, finding new challenges, and all of the unknowns, makes the hunt even more exciting. Since we are residents of Utah, we are going to continue on with our series on what you need to know to come hunt in Utah. Since it’s still spring, this might be early enough to give some of you a chance to plan a trip out here and enjoy some of our hunting opportunities. We’ll go through the basics of what you need legally to hunt upland game and then what kind of game we have to offer and seasons. We’ll end with what to expect coming out here and why it’s worth your time.
Just like any other state, hunting is controlled by regulations and of course, there are fees and licenses and permits to obtain. If you plan on upland hunting in Utah, there are a few requirements to meet. First of all, you’ll need Hunters education. There’s no age limit for upland hunting but you must pass hunter’s education to be able to hunt upland game. The next thing is a hunting license. Utah is not that expensive to come hunt in. The best deal for residents is to get a combination license. It’s only $38 dollars and you can fish and hunt for a year. That includes big game and waterfowl. Nonresidents don’t get a bad deal either. A 3-day small game license is $32 dollars. To me, that’s a little pricey, but if you plan on coming back to Utah to do any other hunting or even stay a whole week and hunt more, then I’d say get a 365-day combination license. It’s only $85 dollars and it’s good for fishing and hunting. You’d need it to apply for upland hunts or a swan hunt, which the best time to hunt a swan is in the middle of the pheasant season. Just a hint. My other suggestion is to get a HIP number. This makes it so if you want to hunt any migratory birds, you are covered. It is totally free and you just apply online. The last thing I’ll throw in that isn’t upland specific or required is to get your duck stamp. It’s federal and these hunts come in during waterfowl season. This way you can make the most of your hunting trip to Utah.
One of the best things about living in Utah and hunting upland game here is that we have a lot of game without a ton of pressure. There are some that to me aren’t worth coming to Utah for and some that I’m indifferent about. There are 5 birds that you need a permit to hunt. 3 of which you need to put in and draw a permit, which is why to me it’s not worth coming to Utah for those birds. You can go to another state and with the total amount you’d pay to hunt them in Utah, you can go to another western state and buy a license over the counter. I’m sure it has to do with the number of birds in the state but to me, it’s not worth it. The three birds you need to draw for are Sage Grouse, Sand Hill Crane, and Sharp-Tailed Grouse. Sage Grouse are hard to draw, Sand Hill Crane is limited to only hunting in 3 counties and Sharp-Tailed Grouse is also hard to draw. Come to Utah if you want but I would go elsewhere. The other two birds you need permits for are Band-Tailed Pigeons and White-tailed Ptarmigan. White-tailed Ptarmigan would be an interesting hunt, we may have to get after them. They live way up in the mountains and look like quail but they like to live about the timberline in the Uintas. Just thinking about it makes my feet hurt.
The other game you don’t need a permit for. They have various seasons and areas where you’re allowed to hunt them. Here’s a quick list of what we have and some tips I can give for them. Doves are the first game to come into season. I like doves because they are fast and fun to hunt. It also helps that they are a good warm-up for the rest of the season. Chukar is next on the list. I wrote a how-to prep for chukar hunting post earlier in the year when their season was getting close to ending and after the waterfowl season. If you do your own research on chukar in Utah, you’ll find that they are released every year. Some of them do winter well but unfortunately or fortunately, there aren’t enough hunters to get a good number on the population so the DWR just releases some every year. Gray (Hungarian) Partridge are also fun to hunt. They like to be where the water is most of the time. That’s part of why I say, get a duck stamp too. Quail are also very prevalent in Utah. If you spend any time in the desert or in neighborhoods, you’ll see plenty of quail. Last but not least is Pheasant. To me, the Pheasant is the symbol of upland game hunting. The sad thing is that in Utah they aren’t are prevalent as they used to be. They don’t winter well in Utah anymore. There has been way too much development that has kept them from being able to build good enough nests that make it through winter. Because of that, the state releases pheasants into the wild every year. The nice thing about that is that they provide us with a release map, so during pheasant season, which isn’t very long, you can look at where pheasants are being released and go there to hunt. Before I get into seasons, it’s important to note that in Utah, Rabbits and Turkeys are part of the Upland Game regulations.
The confusing thing about Upland hunting in Utah is the seasons. The dates vary, to the point that I won’t go out without making double sure that what I’m hunting is in season. Every year the seasons mostly stay the same but they do change. As of right now, the season dates have not been released for 2019-2020 but They should be within about a month or so. Either way, I plan on Doves to start in September and to end the season with chukar in February. That mostly covers all of Upland season. The nice thing is that Utah has quite a few hunt clubs/ bird farms that allow the hunting of Pheasant and Chukar outside of the public season. Those farms set their own dates since they have to raise birds. The other thing is that you’re hunting pen-raised birds. This is a good way to start a hunting dog since you as a hunter, already know that there are birds in the area.
If you plan on coming to Utah, there are a few things you should expect. The upland season comes in the middle of waterfowl season. For this reason, I say, “get a duck stamp”. If you have followed our Instagram since we started it, you’d see that I run into lots of rooster pheasant in WMAs on my way to hunting ducks, just like in the picture above. This also includes Hungarian Partridge and Chukar. I’d get a duck stamp so you can get a mixed bag. You might as well if you’re in that area. The other thing, plan on hiking a lot. We have lots of tall mountains and birds love that. Chukar like the rocky ridges since it provides food, shelter, and an escape route. Grouse really like the thick covers high in the mountains too. This means hiking in some unfriendly terrain and lots of hiking just to get close to their habitat.
The nice thing about upland hunting here is that it’s in the middle of waterfowl season. We fall in the waterfowl hunter side more than the upland hunter. This creates a great advantage for die-hard upland hunters, not much competition. With that being said, I still suggest wearing hunter orange any time you’re out hunting. I do as a minimum a hat but I have a basic vest that is also orange. I also recommend having some waterproof boots. Last year Kaela’s feet got soaked during our pheasant hunt. If you’re going to have good boots and hike a ton, then I’d recommend some good socks too. These Darn Tough socks are a good way to go. They are a little pricey but they will hold tough and keep your feet comfortable. The other things to consider are a map and earplugs. Yes, I said earplugs, and yes I used to be very against earplugs while upland hunting. We have tried out these Decibullz earplugs and they are amazing. We can talk to each other and when we shoot our guns they dim the sound down and keep your ears safe. They don’t need any batteries and are completely custom without breaking the bank. Check it out if you want to protect your ears. For a map, you can try and find one at a sporting goods store but they are not that great. I’d suggest getting the Utah maps from OnXmaps. We’ll be doing a feature post on OnxMaps this month.
If you want to upland hunt in Utah, it is totally worth it. There isn’t much competition and there are lots of game to hunt. It won’t break the bank to come to Utah to hunt and if you’re up to it, Utah has an upland game slam. If you want more information on it here’s the link. There are 6 different coins you can earn and the money goes to conservation. Utah is really a great place to go hunt. Hopefully, this helps and if you have any more questions then feel free to comment below and ask or contact us through the contact page.
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