Utah Big Game Draw 2023

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Update: The 2023 Utah Big Game Draw is now closed. If you missed it you can start tracking draw deadlines in the OnPoint app to never miss an application, available on Web(beta), Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Utah Big Game Draw Overview

The Utah big game draw is a limited-entry lottery system used to distribute hunting tags for species such as elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, rocky mountain bighorn sheep, mountain goat, and bison. The drawing is open to both residents and non-residents, and applicants can apply for multiple species with the same application. Most species in the draw use a bonus point system, and the number of bonus points required to draw a tag varies depending on the species, hunting unit, and the number of available permits. If an applicant is unsuccessful in the drawing, they are awarded a bonus point for that species. Hunters may also apply for a point-only. You must have a current Utah hunting or combination (hunting and fishing) license before you can apply for any big game permits, bonus points or preference points.

Species included in the draw

Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk, Bison, Moose, Mountain Goat, Sheep

When is the 2023 Utah big game draw?

Applications for the draw are due April 27th, 2023 by 11PM MST.

Online Application OpensMarch 23rd, 2023
Deadline to ApplyApril 27th, 2023
Draw Results ExpectedMay 31st, 2023

How the Big Game Draw Works

The state of Utah has created a unique drawing system for big game permits. This system prioritizes hunters who have applied for permits for the longest time, while still providing opportunities for new hunters. The drawing offers a variety of permits, but each applicant is limited to obtaining only one once-in-a-lifetime or limited-entry permit per year. Therefore, the order of the drawing can be significant. It is drawn as follows.

  1. Buck deer (premium limited-entry, limited-entry, CWMU and management buck deer)
  2. Bull elk (premium limited-entry, limited-entry and CWMU)
  3. Buck pronghorn (limited-entry and CWMU)
  4. Once-in-a-lifetime
  5. Dedicated hunter buck deer
  6. Youth general buck deer
  7. General-season buck deer
  8. Youth any bull elk

It is important to note that general season permits are drawn after limited-entry and once-in-a-lifetime permits. Limited-entry permits are considered before once-in-a-lifetime permits. However, the drawing can be complicated, and there may be situations in which a permit is unexpectedly drawn. Regardless of your goal, understanding the drawing process and being aware of the different types of permits available can increase your chances of success in obtaining a permit for big game hunting in Utah.

Limited-entry and Once-in-a-lifetime permits

During the drawing process, half of the permits for each hunt are awarded to applicants with the highest number of bonus points. The remaining half of the permits are then drawn from all other applicants. Bonus points increase an applicant’s likelihood of receiving a permit during this portion of the drawing as well.

General Season Deer Hunts

  1. The drawing process allows lifetime license holders to pick their unit first.
  2. Then, it figures out the percentage of Dedicated Hunters that will be allowed to enter the program.
  3. Then, it begins the drawing with up to 20% allotment for youth who are 17 years old or younger on July 31.
  4. The rest of the permits are issued to applicants that have the most preference points.

Utah Big Game Bonus and Preference Point System

Bonus Points

Utah’s Bonus Point System applies to limited-entry and once-in-a-lifetime hunts for specific species, including deer, elk, antelope, bison, mountain goat, moose, and both bighorn sheep species. If you apply but fail to receive a permit, you earn a bonus point for that species, with more bonus points increasing the number of chances you get for the permit drawing. Bear in mind that bonus points are not transferable, and you cannot apply for both a bonus point and a permit for the same species in the same drawing. The state issues 50% of limited-entry tags to hunters with more bonus points than other applicants. Bonus points are awarded per species, with separate points for Rocky Mountain bighorn and Desert bighorn sheep species.

Preference Points

The drawing process for hunting permits begins with the highest point level and considers the first choice of each hunter. If a permit is available, it is awarded, but if not, the next person’s first choice is considered. This process continues for each preference point level until all first choices have been considered. Then, second choices are evaluated and so on until fifth choices are reviewed. If a general-season buck deer permit is awarded, all preference points are lost regardless of whether it was the first or fifth choice. Group applications are awarded permits if enough permits are available for everyone in the group.

Options to Build Points

There are three methods that hunters can get bonus and preference points points.

  • Apply for hunts during the big game draw, and be awarded a point for each unsuccessful application
  • Directly purchase points-only during the big game draw
  • Purchase points during the antlerless draw

Additional Resources

You can learn more about how the draw application works from Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. You can also read further about the Utah regulations and other draws in our Utah big game hunting overview.

About the Author: Danny

Danny is an avid outdoorsman and hunter. He got into western big game hunting in 2016 and has been hooked ever since. He began hunting as a child in the bluff country of Western Wisconsin.

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