In this episode you get all the meat and potatoes of Big Game Hunting in Utah and around the western US in the coming years. Dax Mangus Utah DWR Big Game Coordinator and Wildlife Biologist sits down with the crew and dives into what this year and coming years will look like for deer herds as we pull out of the drought season and what efforts are taking place to ensure survival and longevity of our Deer and Elk herds.
Disclaimer: this text was produced through an automated transcription service and likely contains errors. Please listen to the original audio for exact content.
00:00:01:05 –> 00:01:15:02
Anything to do with Western Big Games. Welcome to the Epic Outdoors Podcast, powered by Under Armour. Hey everybody. Jason Carter, Adam Bronson, Josh Pollock coming at you from Southern Utah. This is gonna be a pretty awesome episode. Before we get started though, we want to give you an update. We are doing the Devon’s deals, right guys? We’re doing those Devon’s deals. Yeah. Yep. You better get in here fast. You better call us (435) 263-0777. If you want anything, vortex, call Devon. He’ll make you a deal. And we’re down, we’re down to a few left is all, announce that on the other broadcast, they, they’ve been blowing out. I’m afraid they’re gonna have to pull up another UPS truck, but hey, whatever, flying out the door, bring it. I like to see the brown truck once in a while. All right. Anyway, pretty awesome. We’re excited. I don’t know, it feels like spring boys. It just feels, it feels good out there, believe it or not. So when I left last night, it does, when I left last night, my car said 49 degrees. I know it kind of takes a minute, but after I hit the freeway, well, the, the heat radiates off the hood a little bit, but it said, it said 46 going down the freeway. And I feels good. I swear. I don’t know whether it was just my mind playing tricks on me or not.
00:01:16:04 –> 00:02:25:20
I could start to see hint of green, the base. I urge you to take a drive out, out by past Enoch. That’s the land of milk and honey, from what Devon says, drive, just past there, there was a hint of green at the base of the, of the freeway grass. It’s the fake grass and greenery from some wedding that was occurring. And it flew off the truck and it sprinkled out through the brush. There’s still, there’s still Christmas tree needles that blew all over the brush. That’s to do. I may call wreck, but I’m gonna get a picture tonight. I mean, there is no green up. But anyway, it was probably the first time we broke 45 since about October 22nd. Oh yeah. I had a guy call from like North Dakota, and he says it’s the first day above zero. Feels good out there. Yeah. Well, I was like, where yesterday was, it felt good out there. Yeah. So I know it’s, it’s always worse than Cedar City. We, we are reminded by people all the time from Alaska and the Dakotas and Minnesota in Wisconsin. It is, Hey, we we’re spoiled. We, we like it above 40. I don’t know what else to say. And there’s people in Arizona that think we’re too cold. So it was 77 down there. The guy yesterday I talked to, they’ve got, and they’ve got real green up, Josh. They’ve got real green up. I’m kidding, Josh. Oh, whatever.
00:02:26:11 –> 00:03:33:17
All right. So anyway, today we’re gonna, we’re gonna, this is like the second podcast in two days. It’s like, it’s pulling teeth to get a podcast done around here because we, it’s just quite frankly, it’s busy and it, they’re hard to do. There’s a lot. I mean, you’re kind of exhausted when we get done with ’em. But anyway, but this one’s a goodie. This one is, we’re gonna have a lot of questions about what we’re about to talk about today regarding Utah Elk. That’s right. Yeah. We’re gonna center this one all around Utah. The application period’s March 23rd to April 27th. But even with that e everybody’s just excited about it. They’re just excited. Utah came out online with all the, well, basically their application booklet. And then of course we’ve got it published in our magazine. It’s out and about and we’re getting a lot of questions on it, and people are just kind of preparing. Utah’s one of those. You can kind of tell when you can get drawn as well as they got the random element to it as well. You can draw with zero points in, in the best areas. So, so anyway, there’s a lot of excitement. We’ve got a lot of excitement here in the office. And so as such, we wanna, you know, we’ve lined up old Dax Mangas here, big game, the, the big game coordinator here in Utah to visit with us.
00:03:33:27 –> 00:04:48:29
We’re gonna be giving him a call, of course, Adam, Josh, you guys having a, you know, former career in the Utah game and Fish, Utah fishing game, whatever. And that Department of Natural Resources have dealt with Dax a variety of aspects and, and different situations. Adam, you as well, you know, dealing with, you know, being a former president of Utah f Nas or the Wild Sheep organization here in Utah. And, and of course done that over the years as far as also just being, just living here and, and being interested in just taking up space and breathing. That’s right. That’s right. So anyway, it’ll be a good conversation. I think there’s gonna be a lot of questions, if you’ve had a chance to crack the magazine yet, there’s been a lot of talk and hype and discussion about the Utah elk hunting structure, what that’s gonna look like. Obviously the seasons have been switched. We’ll get into that. We’ll talk about why some age objectives have been dropped and season shortened, and then also gonna be some splits, you know, in terms of numbers of permits being shifted out of certain seasons, most notably to September hunt. So it’s gonna make a lot of strategy decisions, hopefully clearer for y’all when deciding how you’re gonna apply in Utah.
00:04:49:02 –> 00:06:09:28
And I still think it’s been gonna be clear as mud at times, because like you said, well, we’ve got where they’re adjusting the ages, which means they’re gonna want to kill more elk, more tags than certain. But then we’ve got new seasons, you know, a lot of these units have mid rifle as well as a late archery. And then the, the short early rifle. And how does that affect ages? Well, and the new tag allocation. With the new change, you’re gonna be able to know permit numbers in early April, at least recommended permit numbers. So that’s the biggest reason for that change right there, is you’re gonna know, if you zig one way thinking you’re getting a bonus tag and they take it away on the proposal, now you can amend your application. You can do that for free in Utah. Don’t have to plug and play. Yep, that’s, that’s right. I was waiting for you to say it ’cause that’s your No, it’s not my thing thing. Anyway, but let’s call Dax. So let’s dive into it. Yeah, lots of moving parts, lots of skews and, and who knows, there’s intangibles. We’re not gonna be able to, we’re not gonna have the perfect answer here. So there’s a lot of intangibles to think about and everybody’s got their own opinions and we’ll continue to have their own opinions, but Dax is the man behind the madness. Let’s talk to him. Hello?
00:06:10:17 –> 00:07:19:18
Hey Dax, it’s Jason Carter, Adam Bronson and Josh Pollock. How are you? Good, good. How are you guys doing today? Doing good. I’m just wondering if you’ve got a monster. You have you got a drink? ’cause we’re gonna be talking about some stuff here. Oh, man, I, I saw the, the text you sent me with everything you wanted to, to talk about. So I, I got a big drink and I charged my phone and I’ve got three pages of notes. All right. Three pages. Maybe we just start going through your notes. We poked, we poked fun at DAXs a little bit in text form, just about what could be on the docket today and made him sweat a little bit of some flashbacks from rack meetings and some controversial subjects. But hey, we’re not gonna be that hard on you. Dax, have you had any rough rack meetings? Oh yeah, I’ve had a couple over the years, yeah. Okay. Just wondering. Well, alright, this’ll be a breeze then today compared to that, so, but well, we appreciate you taking time to be with us today. I think maybe before we’ve introduced you already as the big game coordinator for the state, and want to just maybe have you spend a few minutes before we dive into, talk about some of the things we’ve got teed up with you today.
00:07:19:21 –> 00:08:24:18
Talk about yourself, your background, where you came from, you know, most, we’ve all known you working for the division for, you know, a number of years, 15 plus or 20, whatever it’s been. I’m getting old, so it, that means Dax was getting old. Well, he was young. I remember when he was young. Yeah, so tee all that up, where you’re from and where you’ve been and how you got there. All right. Yeah. Oh, it’s true. I, I do, I do have known you guys for a long time. So I, I, I’m a Utah native. I grew up in Utah. I grew up in southern Utah in Santa Clara, just down on the west side of St. George. And, you know, love, love southern Utah. I grew up, my dad, my dad loves to, loves to hunt. I think my dad loves to shoot more than he loves to hunt. My dad was always super into, you know, building rifles and reloading and all that type of stuff. And, and I grew up hunting and, and we loved it. But we were kind of your, kind of your typical general season Utah deer hunters. Like, we’d go out, we’d go out, we’d hunt on the Pine Valley and we’d shoot like the first two point we saw. And I thought it was awesome. You know, when I was 14 or something, I was like, wow, this is, this is the best. I love it.
00:08:25:09 –> 00:09:40:09
And so I, I grew up doing that and loved it. And I, when I got in college and moved away from home, I started thinking, well, I found, I found a big deer shed and, and I held it up to all like the little two points and three points we’ve been shooting over the years. And I was like, oh, I wanna shoot a buck like this. So, so what I, what I started gonna college, moved away from home. I started putting in for limited entry hunts and started getting a little more serious about hunter hunting. I, I still, I think I probably only identify as a trophy hunter. I’m not like killing 200 inch bucks every year or anything, but I love to hunt. It’s important to know what you identify as, by the way, it’s important to know what you identify as. I’m glad you’re not killing 200 inches. I I I, I can finally pass like the fores in the yearlings, but I still still get time. Yeah, I have a hard time pass passing like a 24 inch, like 1 61 70 bucks. Those are like, those are my curse. I, I struggle with those. So yeah. But I, I went to school at Utah State, got, got a couple degrees in wildlife biology. I actually met Adam first. I was working for the BLM in Canna, and Adam was the biologist on the ponant unit, and he kinda had like the dream job.
00:09:40:12 –> 00:10:53:05
And, and I talked with Adam about a sage grass project down there that I was looking at potentially doing for, for a master’s, master’s degree. And ultimately I decided not to do the masters with the sage grouse down there. And I did a, I did a study looking at elk on Det ranch in, in northern Utah. And that was more, more aligned with what I was interested in and ended up being a really cool experience. It’s a, a big, it’s the biggest largest private ranch, private ranch in Utah. And there were a ton of elk on there and it was a really cool place to study elk and, and work with wildlife. And so from that, I, I ended up going to work for the division and I, I was out in the northeastern region. I’ve been in the northeastern region. I was out there for about 15 years. I was the biologist in the book cliff unit and then I was the biologist over, or kinda like the lead biologist over the whole, that whole region. And then I became the big game coordinator just, just last year, just, I’ve only had that job for not quite a year now. Well, 15 years was flown by. I remember those, remember those days in the canna. I was pretty green back then too. So I, so what I gathered outta that whole story was when you said dream job and sage grout is the same sentence.
00:10:53:05 –> 00:12:00:09
Those, they can’t go in the same sentence. No, that’s how you know you’ve got a true bio on the phone. So we switched to something cool like elk because I always contended that if it doesn’t have 200 inches of bone on its head, why do we even worry about it? I was Sean, I’m with you. S sage identify with that. Sages are cool. They live where deer lived cool too. So they overlap. And a lot of money for sage brown GRS gets used for deer projects too. That’s a good point. So that’s true. Anyway. Yeah. But I, I just wasn’t pa passionate about ’em. I, you know, they’re cool bird, don’t get me wrong, but you know, maybe if they had little antlers or something. I think they were cooler, but Well that’s a, that’s good. You’re Utah native, you’re now in, you know, obviously one of the lead positions within the state agency, Utah Division and Wildlife Resources. And that’s partly why we wanted to have you on here today so that we could talk, you know, about a few big game issues. Maybe, maybe before we get into kind of what we really wanted to talk about today, which was a lot of the changes with the elk management plan and direction and implications of seasons and tag numbers and splits and all that, which we’ll get into a bunch in a little bit.
00:12:01:05 –> 00:13:19:21
Let’s talk a little bit about the, I guess the current status, you know, in Utah we’ve recently, obviously the agencies released a shed hunting closure until May 1st in response to, you know, a big winner that Utah hasn’t seen for quite a while. Maybe just talk about the, briefly the decision, how that came to pass and reasons why. And I know there’s, there’s a lot of people out there in some places that you feel like you’ve taken their, they feel like they’re first born child’s been stripped from them out of their arms. But talk about the difficulty of that decision, I guess, but then why, why it was made statewide versus not just maybe in the northern part of the state. And just talk with us about, about that briefly. Okay. Yeah, the last few weeks have been pretty wild. We we’re, we’re having a real winter. We’ve got, you know, 200% of the normal snow pack in a lot of areas. I I would say a lot of central and southern part of the state. It’s actually a really positive thing. It’s probably pretty good. We, we do have, you know, significant snow, but it’s not super deep and super cold on our auto deer, winter ranges. So, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s serious enough. We’re looking at it, but it’s not generally is in a pretty good spot. Northern Utah, different story. We’ve got really deep snow.
00:13:19:22 –> 00:14:27:09
We’ve had some really cold temperatures on a few units and to, to the point where on a few of those units we, we decided to go ahead and feed, do an emergency winter feeding. And we don’t do that very often. A lot of sportsmen, you know, anytime it snows very much they think, they think we ought to feed and they’re passionate about deer, which is great, but there’s, there’s some downsides to feeding. It can really increase disease risks. It can have a negative impact on, you know, on some of those critical winter ranges. It can change deer behavior and migration patterns. So we, we, we really look at it hard and take that stuff into consideration before we make a call to feed. But, but we, we hit that point. So in Rich County, I know at times the cash unit, the game and fish doesn’t, you know, generally don’t want people out just randomly feeding animals either hay bales or whatever. Yeah. Just ’cause they’re doing it doesn’t mean, hey everybody help us out and start chucking stuff out in your backyard. Yeah. Maybe talk about that. I mean obviously deer have to learn how to digest some of that stuff and maybe even can’t digest some of it maybe. I mean, what do you, what do you have to say to that as far as people out wanting to just feed, feed deer in their backyard?
00:14:28:22 –> 00:15:44:28
Yeah, it’s one of those things where, you know, people have the best intentions, they really wanna help. And I love that people are passionate about deer, but deer have pretty specific digestive systems and, you know, the, the bacteria in their gut that helps ’em to digest plant material is pretty specialized. And deer eat, they’re pretty particular about what they eat. And so, you know, we’ve seen deer that died of starvation with, with bellies full of food, but it was the wrong kind of food. Or maybe it was even a good food that deer liked, but their digestive system didn’t have an opportunity to adapt to it quick enough. And so it, it is pretty, it’s, it’s pretty precarious when, when you feed deer to make sure you’re feeding them the right things and the right quantities. And, you know, we generally discourage folks from feeding, from feeding deer because of that reason and all the disease risks, some of that other stuff. And I know sometimes sportsmen see that and hear that and think, well, geez, the division doesn’t care about deer. And the truth is we do care about deer and, and feeding deer is a tricky proposition. You gotta do it just right. And, and even when we feed deer, we know we’re probably still gonna lose a lot of fawns. The fawns a lot of times are, are gonna die anyways no matter what we try to do.
00:15:45:20 –> 00:16:51:27
But our focus is really can we keep those doughs alive, those adult doughs that are gonna have babies and gonna help us build this population back up. That’s what our focus is, is trying to keep those doze alive so so we can have more babies and, and grow more deer. Right on. That’s awesome. Well, good. And then of course we’ve just come out of a drought. There’s some things you can’t control as a biologist, I’m sure you, you know, it just is what it is, right? We want to control everything and coming out of a long, a long drought spell and then all of a sudden we’re dumped on by, you know, a load of snow and cold temperatures, like you said, it just, sometimes you wonder if you can win. But anyway, we’re grateful down here in southern Utah. So what’s is a feed mixture? Something like, let’s say some galas or some, some corn pumpkins, I don’t know, what do you feed those things? Come on, Dax, you don’t even have to answer this if you don’t want to. Go ahead, Dax. What do you, what do you got for us? I I was just gonna say, you know, we, we spent the last five years praying for moisture and now we got it, but we got it all at once. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
00:16:52:12 –> 00:18:15:16
And, and because of that, you know, especially in northern Utah, you know, everyone’s looking at these animals struggling and deep snow and, you know, deer antlers are starting to drop and folks are wanting to go pick ’em up. And this week has been pretty crazy. We’ve been watching it, talking about it. We had some meetings, we had a meeting with folks from Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico and Arizona to talk about shed antler. You know, shed antler gathering folks that, that hunt sheds in those states and what they do and how it’s worked and ’cause it’s been on the radar, especially since we started feeding, you know, folks are just thinking we gotta do something about shed hunting. And we, we did an emergency shed shed antler gathering, shed hunting closure back in 2017. And I don’t know if you guys remember, we, we closed just some portions of the northern part of the state and then a couple days later we expanded it and closed the rest of the state because a bunch of folks from southern Utah got super concerned that everyone from northern Utah was gonna go hunt sheds in their backyard. And since that happened in 2017, you know, Wyoming had some restrictions, some shed, you know, shed season dates and stuff in western Wyoming. They’ve expanded those. Colorado has shed seasons in western Colorado and Nevada has shed seasons in eastern Nevada.
00:18:16:02 –> 00:19:30:11
And so now at this point, if we don’t close the, the season statewide, you’re faced with, you know, potentially you’re gonna have, you know, all western Colorado, western Wyoming, northern Utah, and eastern Nevada in your backyard hunting antlers. The, the popularity of shed hunting has just gotten huge to the point where in order to avoid that, that crazy swamping and, and having, you know, just having everybody in the, in the one or two places that are still open, we, we made the decision to close it statewide. Crazy. Well, before we dive into a little bit more, and this is gonna, the bulk of our podcast is coming up and, and, and I’m gonna veer from the script just for a second, but maybe talk about the effects of drought predation, not just feed, but predation, antler growth, fawn recruit, you know, recruitment, things like that. Maybe just maybe just briefly touch on that, ’cause you’ve dealt with it Dax, you know, you’ve dealt with it for 10 years, last three years, man, the last two or three years. Yeah. Especially specifically growing deer has been tough in Utah. Maybe just touch on that. Yeah, well we, we have a really active deer survival study that we’re working on in Utah we’ve been working on for about the last 10 years. And we have a bunch of GPS collars out on deer. We have more collars on deer than, than any other state by far.
00:19:31:02 –> 00:20:45:12
And these GPS callers really any 200 inches really? You watching any 200 inches? They’ve already showed, you know, we have a 200 injured collar in northern Utah and he, he actually got harvested this year by a hunter, so, geez. That’s terrible. Yeah. Did you cite him? He had to have done something wrong, Dax. The, the, the funny thing is the guy who killed him was like an old timer driving an old pickup. He was wearing suspenders and classic love it. W Woodstock ran into him. He had it, he had it loaded hole in the back of his truck and it was skinned out up to the neck, you know, it wasn’t saving the cape or anything, got to the collar and didn’t know what to do. Yeah. And came, came to our office and said, what do I do with this? Yeah. Wow. That’s awesome. All right, well keep going on the collaring and, and whatnot. Yeah, so, so we’re following the deer every, every year in December, like before we really get into the winter, we catch a bunch of deer, we measure the weights of the fawns, we look at the body fat on the deer. We take a couple different measurements that lets us estimate the body fat percentage. And one of the cool things we’ve learned is that, you know, we were always focused on doing habitat work on winter range ’cause that’s where they die.
00:20:46:06 –> 00:21:53:02
And one of the things we learned was if you, if they don’t come into the winter in good condition, it doesn’t matter that much. Like if we’re, if our deer come into the winter range fat with heavy fawns, their, their survival is a lot, is gonna be a lot higher whether we have a severe winter or a light winter. So we were learning that even though they die in the winter range, what happens in the summer matters maybe more than what happens in the winter. And so we’re trying to focus on doing more habitat work on summer range and getting animals, get ’em to the winter fat, and then some of that stuff that we can’t control as much. You know, if we have a giant, you know, giant storms and, and big cold snaps, you know, biologists try hard, but there’s some things we can’t get. But a fat, a fat deer can weather the storm, so to speak a little bit better. Yep. So, yeah, I, I don’t think any of ’em are gaining weight in the winter. Maybe on like our extreme seven units when they get like a cheap grass green up. But pretty much nowhere else in Utah are deer gaining weight in the winter. So it’s just a matter of, you know, can they come in heavy enough that even though they lose weight over the winter, they still can survive. Josh says he’s seen green up right here.
00:21:53:07 –> 00:22:57:15
Oh, I did, I wanna get a picture. He said he saw green up and we’re just like, come on, I’m not talking about here. Flower bed under the eave there home, you know, where, where, you know where Josh lives, Dax and it’s not, how should we say it’s not the, not the, you know, banana belt of Southern Utah, we’ll just call it that. So he claims that last, last night driving home from Cedar City to that blessed valley. He saw Greenup and we’re just, we’re really struggling. We wonder what he had a, what he had to drink and B, whether he should have been driving, quite frankly, he’s a liar. Get his eyes checked. Yeah. But he said he is gonna document it tonight. So tomorrow we’ll find out. I’m as a biologist, I wonder if he was even doing the accurate counts or what if he was seeing bucks and dos. And if any of it is accurate, anything you ever do is accurate. You said there was a tinge, but maybe, hey, just before you leave town tonight, clean your windshield and then drive home. See, now you guys know the food true story while I was asked to leave. So anyway, Dax Well I back, back to just maybe tie up what we just talked about, about going into the winter.
00:22:57:17 –> 00:24:02:09
Well I I think if there’s one hopeful silver lining going into this winter, which we’re experiencing, you know, throughout all of Utah, but again, much more severe up north where it’s been colder, longer and deeper snows is that our, our monsoons the last two years, our deer have been going into the winters really, really good. It was off the charts wet from July through, you know, let’s call it October last year, 2022. Yeah. You know, from, from your standpoint, you know, I’m sure you would agree and that that whole heavy, that heavy fat deer is gonna help. And you probably, you probably have exact figures, but that should hopefully minimize, you know, hopefully the losses we might see if, unless things really take another turn for here in the next six weeks. Yep, yep. You’re, you’re exactly right. So it, it unfortunately our deer we’re not in quite as good a shape on some of those far northern units like the cash and like the, the south slope of the s which is where they’re having some of the harder winners. But the rest of the state, the deer were fat, the farms were heavy. I I’m really optimistic that, that they’re gonna do well.
00:24:04:02 –> 00:25:14:23
One of the other cool things with, with this study, you know, we, we can look at things like that and kind of have an idea, you know, make some predictions about what kind of survival we’re gonna have, which is, which is helpful and useful. We love being able to have d data that’s current from the units where we’re making recommendations rather than, you know, citing old studies done in Montana or Colorado when we’re trying to figure out deer survival and that type of thing. So it, it’s been a game changer. One of the other parts of the study has been, you know, when an animal does die and, and the collar stops moving, it notifies us, you know, it sends an email from the satellites and our biologists go out and respond on the ground. And on some areas we found that we had more predation than we had previously thought. And so we’ve changed our cougar management on a lot of units. We’ve converted a lot of units, units into predator management where there’s essentially, you know, no quota on how many lions can be killed on those units. And we’re, we’re using the data to do everything from direct, you know, how we plant our habitat treatments. We look at the movement patterns to identify migration corridors and try to work with udot to get highways fenced in the right places and over, you know, crossing structures.
00:25:15:10 –> 00:26:30:11
And we’ve been using it to identify units where predation is more of a limiting factor than we previously thought. And we’re, we’re making changes to how we harvest predators. So we can try to grumble here. And I know that lion management, that lion management, I mean just from layman’s terms and, and guys out on the ground, you know, in the field has worked in, in some cases we’re hearing about a, a number of, you know, big deer, which is what sticks in my mind, you know, versus other years and even general, general units. I’m not necessarily gonna vet that all, all all here on the podcast, but really we can No, I’d like to know where you’re talking about, but anyway, pretty, pretty impressive the results. I want some photographic proof. We’re talking photographic proof in here. I’d like to see this. Hey, I’m not a liar. So pr pretty imp. That’s enough Josh. Pretty, pretty impressive anyway. And I, and maybe you’ve seen that as well. I mean, I’m sure you kill some lions, you know, in the short term you’re gonna, you’re gonna have less deer die. That’s what’s gonna happen. Yeah. And, and, and it helps our populations that might be struggling to rebound quicker, you know, die-offs, having, having deer that die sometimes because of the hard winter. I don’t know if there’s anything you can do that’s ever gonna completely eliminate that from happening. Right.
00:26:30:12 –> 00:27:44:00
But if we are doing the right habitat work and we’re managing predators, they can bounce back quicker. But it’s, it’s a great time to be working for a fish and game agency in, in some regards. Like, it’s really exciting. It’s the, the coolest information that’s given us ability to do, you know, real world on the ground management to try to grow deer. Things aren’t perfect. We still have units that are struggling, but I feel like we have good information and we’re, we’re doing the right things in the right spots to put ourselves in the best, best situation we can be in public. Scrutiny’s always fun too, right? Ax. Yeah. We have a lot of passionate folks out there. Yeah. You know, I have to remind myself sometimes they won’t just, if people didn’t care That’s right. We wouldn’t have jobs. That’s right. Nobody cared. We wouldn’t have jobs. So today, today’s it’s, so today’s February 9th, are we having, are you seeing major winter loss to this point? No. So not yet. I think, like I said, most parts of the state we’re in a pretty good spot. We have seen a few fawns diet malnutrition, they dive, first it was fawn first, you lose fass first. We’ve seen just a few fas die of malnutrition in like the extreme northern portion of the state.
00:27:44:03 –> 00:28:57:28
Like Cash County, Ridge County, summit County, Morgan County, like our, our higher elevation winter ranges where it’s typically colder and we have deeper snow, we’re seeing a few fass start to die there. And that does correlate with other years when we’ve had bad winter loss on fawns, you know, unfortunately. So I, I think we’re gonna see some fawn loss probably in that, in those highest winter range, coldest parts of the state. The rest of the state we’re not seeing it yet. Well, and obviously the next six weeks we’ll probably tell how severe that gets or how much worse it gets. You know, fortunately I’m not, we’re not, we’re in a slight warmup. It’s not the deep freeze. It was the day daylight starts to get longer the longer we’re getting into February and then March. So hopefully, hopefully that minimizes things as well. But yeah, I applaud you guys for, you know, like some of these tools, the coloring data has been great. You know, it’s, it’s fun to follow along. There’s a lot of different places you can follow on Instagram and different things like that and the DWR, the webpages themselves about some of that data and just the ability to react much quicker back than a VHF caller back when Josh, well Josh you probably did with, yeah, I started off big great big antennas up on flying, but not me. I don’t even know what that was.
00:28:58:17 –> 00:30:00:22
I don’t even know what that was. I’m that old. I, I had VHF and if you flew ’em once a month and got a mortality signal you flew out and hopefully, you know, you could, three months later you get two, find it, figure out what was, what killed it. But it was a pile of bones and you know, it was just a whole lot different way to react now than some of this real time GPS stuff that you can get out there and a lot of times 24, 40 hours find a yeah, curled up fawn or a dough under a tree dead with no per no, you know, scavenging some, in some cases taking place. And so you can kind of chalk that up to yeah, take a malnutrition bone sample out of a femur or something and, and determine that. So anyway. Cool stuff. A lot of great tools so well, yep, no it, it, it’s great. Well let’s, if you don’t mind, I mean you guys went through a, I don’t wanna call it a bloodbath, but a long process I guess of revamping going through this elk management plan, which is always a, whether it be elk, whether it be muled deer, those two seem to be kind of very hotly debated.
00:30:00:22 –> 00:31:10:29
You know, some of the other once in lifetime species, not as much, but those two because it’s what most big game hunters in Utah have a chance to hunt on a regular basis or have input in when the, when those management plans come up for renewal. There’s a lot of input. And of course you guys have a big stakeholder group, the A committee with broad based constituents on that committee to bring forth a lot of proposals at the end result, which are proposals, I believe that are then made to Utah Division of Wildlife. And then you guys maybe modified tweak or put them into real life application. But let’s, let’s talk a little bit about that, maybe not necessarily about the guts of how it was amended, but just let’s talk about some of the highlights of this new change moving forward for this next five or 10 years. And then when we get to those specifics we’ll talk about, alright, what’s the implementation gonna look like in terms of some of these bigger changes? You know, at least in even my lifetime for an old duffer, you know, there, there’s some bigger changes back from when Jason and I first, you know, they first started drawing five limit entry elk tags here and 10 there. It was like, well just let ’em hunt, let ’em hunt right in the rutt, that’s cool. Let ’em put ’em right in the rutt.
00:31:11:00 –> 00:32:16:16
And it just, frankly, that’s honestly how it started. And they never got moved. And then archery hunts got put right before that, whenever we could add a few permits and muzzle loaders right after that, and then some late rifles after that. And we’ve outgrown it. It’s just created that now here we are from that system. Yeah. And we’re 20, 30 years now, you know, in into a system that I realized a lot of people have points and invested into it and, but it was, it was kind of set up, you know, not to maximize opportunity without affecting quality from the very start if you’re gonna hunt all of every day in September. But talk about a little bit about that and then yeah, let’s get into the highlights of what, what you guys, what’s changed for 2023. Okay. Yeah, there was a lot of stuff, you know, one of the things we spent a lot of time on was general season elks hunting in Utah. And, and, and I’ll just tell you what changed there pretty quickly, but that was a big driver and was a big part of a lot of discussions just because the, our our general season, any bull permits, they were just selling out quicker and quicker and quicker every year.
00:32:17:04 –> 00:33:25:21
You know, just a few years ago you could buy ’em, you know, e even a month or so before the hunt started and then after Covid it just, just flipped a switch and they would sell out in a few hours. So that was one of the big changes we did with general season, our general seasonal units. We added a few units that, that were previously limited entry units or part portioned of limited entry units into our, our general season, any bull hunt and we split the rifle hunt on that. Any bull hunt into two hunts instead of one 13 day hunt, it’s two seven day hunts. The first hunt has a quota on it that’s a little less than what we used to have. And then the second hunt, there’s no quota, so it’s a, it’s an unlimited over the counter rifle tag, but I think success rates are gonna be super low. It it’s designed to be an opportunity hunt rather than, than, than like a quality type hunting experience. So that, that’s probably the big change to general season stuff. We still have a spike hunt that, that overlaps on our limited entry units that we manage for, you know, bigger branch antler bulls, older branch out with bulls. But that, that’s probably the big change for, for general season. So for, for limited entry.
00:33:25:25 –> 00:34:31:24
And, and you touched on it, the, you know, the, the big, the big thing that everyone wanted was, you know, rutt dates, what are we gonna do at the rutt? We do more rifle rutt hunting in Utah than any other state by, you know, there’s a hunter two here, here and there in some of the other states. You know, if you’re like in the Jar bridge in Nevada or up in like the Frank Church in Idaho or something, or you know, a few special draw units in a couple states that where they have, you know, September rifle Rutt hunt. But in Utah we had, you know, September rifle rutt hunting and it was a substantial percentage of our overall out per on our limited entry units. And we had it pretty much on every unit. And we, we spent a lot of nights in that committee, you know, saying, do we keep doing this? And there was a lot of arguments, you know, and there’s different perspectives on it. Some folks were like, you know, well the system’s been this way for 20, 30 years, A lot of people have a lot of points, this is what they want, you know, and then other folks were like, well this isn’t right if we, you know, hunted help with the bow in September the way the good lord intended, we could give way more tags and you know, and, and everything in between.
00:34:32:19 –> 00:35:50:02
Ultimately what we, what we ended up doing was, was something of a compromise. So we extended the limited entry archery elk hunt it, it starts four days later, but it ends four days later. So four more days kind of into that peak rut timeframe. And then the, that rifle hunt, we still have a September rifle ru rutt hunt, but instead of a nine day hunt, it’s a five day hunt. So, and it’s only five days, but we’re looking at the harvest data and about three quarters of the hunters harvest within five days. So, and the folks who aren’t harvesting, I would imagine a lot of those are folks who have opportunities to harvest, but they’re just maybe being really selective. Oh yeah. So it, so it, it’s a five day rifle rutt hunt. Now the archery hunt has more rutt dates in it and, and then we changed our weapon splits too, so it’s kind of a compounding effect there. Now those early rifle hunts will only be 10% of the overall limited entry permits we give on a unit. So 25% of the permits will be for archery, 15% for muzzle loader. And that’s not, not a change from what we’ve done in the past. And then 3% are the multi-season where the folks that draw those, they can hunt all of the available seasons on the unit and then that other, that other chunk of tags.
00:35:50:27 –> 00:37:01:17
So 10% of the overall permits will be for the early rifle, 30% will be for mid rifle hunt. It, it takes place kind of in early October and then 17% will be for that late rifle hunt that we’ve, we’ve had that on a lot of units for a lot of years. A lot of units didn’t have the mid-season hunt that that, and we’ve added that mid-season hunt to almost all of our limited entry units now. And then what’s the remaining balance that’s going to the late archery? So the late archery hunt is kind of like a kind of experimental, maybe I’ll call it, and it’s kind of a little one-off thing. We, we made the commitment in, in the plan that we’re gonna, it’s, we’re gonna start with a really small number of permits, like 1% of the number of permits available for the whole unit with a minimum of five. So on most units it will be five. We’re gonna recommend five permits. So four resident, one non-resident. Yeah. Gotcha. And the only, the only hunts that will have more than five I think will be like the Manti and the Wasatch. It’s 1% of the available permits for the unit. Yeah. With a minimum of five. And those are, and those are like add-on permits. They’re not part of the, of the other Yeah.
00:37:01:17 –> 00:38:25:12
Those, the other percentage and breakouts of permits, this late archery, it’s a couple weeks in in early December, they’re kind of an add-on experimental type hunt. Gotcha. Well, yeah, and that, so you’ve gone, you know, so you, you’ve, when I say you the state of Utah, this is obviously a collaborative proposal that then went in front of the regional advisory councils and ultimately the wildlife board and you know, now is, was approved and ratified and in, in place for 2023 applications. So you’ve got the archery hunt, a five day early rifle, I believe 12 day muzzle loader hunt followed right after that, a very short break of a few days. And then I think October 7th you’ve got a, you know, a mid-season rifle hunt. And then what, early October, or sorry early November, you got the traditional tent to 18th or whatever it is, November 11 to 19, 11 to 19 late rifle hunt and then the late archery December 2nd to the 17th. Yeah. So, and that’s interesting because initially when they were talking about it, everybody was talking about, there’s just rumors that you could give a, a couple hundred tags on some units and not do a lot of damage on that late archery. And quite frankly, people were a little nervous. Those elk can be vulnerable in some of the units and it, and it could be a pretty incredible opportunity really in some of the units and some of the units.
00:38:25:14 –> 00:39:01:01
That’d be tough to kill an elk, you know? Yeah. But to put people’s mind at ease, five, you’re, it’s gonna be a very, like you said, you ease, it’s almost experimental. They’re easing into it. Get a few years of data to before you know, whether, hey, this is truly something we can add even more opportunity of and have very little effect on the resource or not. Or like, well they’re, that’s a hundred percent kill and it’s not, it, it’s additive. It’s not just kind of, you know, people out there chasing elk with some sticks and snow and not killing anything. So you’ll, you’ll learn something. There is a lot of seasons. It does make, it does, there’s a lot of seasons, there’s no question about it.
00:39:02:08 –> 00:40:04:15
Yeah, no, and that you’re exactly right that we, we left, it kinda left the door open for ourselves in the plan that if that hunt works well, you know, if it’s, if it’s well received by sportsmen even and has low success rates and we can increase permit numbers without having a major impact on, on what we’re trying to do with kind of our other standard seasons, then we could, we can increase permits in the future, but we want to get, get a little data on it and see how it works, see how it’s received and then at that point, you know, make a decision Maybe on some units it, it, it could work really good and maybe on some units it won’t work well. So we’re, we’re just gonna kind of dip our toe in the water and see what happens and then, you know, make additional follow-up recommendations after we get some info. One other thing I wanted to bring up as well is the age objectives altered slightly in the plan as well. Could you go over those three age objective categories? Now, I believe you know that and, and what they went from to what they are now. I know the very highest age objective got lowered, I believe a full year and may have the biggest impact.
00:40:04:16 –> 00:41:17:11
But could you go through those age objectives for each unit and what, what an age objective means, what we’re talking about here and, and even with slight adjustments in the age objective, that could mean quite a difference. More permit in tag numbers, quite a difference. You know, ’cause to drop a full year might be pretty significant. So it it, it is, yeah. So in the old plan, you know how we were managing before we had four and a half to five age objective. And, and what that age objective is, is we have successful hunters send in the two bottom front incisors from their bowl and we cut ’em at the lab and the age of like, like counting growth rings on the tree. When they have a period of nutritional stress, they put down a ring, a growth ring inside, inside that tooth. And so the, the Cementum Ann ui and so we’ll, we’ll send the teeth in from successful hunters. Folks who draw a tag are given a little envelope and we ask them to send us in teeth. So we get those eggs to the lab and they tell us how old the bull is. It’s pretty darn accurate. And then, and then we look at the average age of har harvested bulls. And that’s, you know, that’s what we shoot for when we are given permit numbers. If we’re below our target, our our objective, you know, we’ll cut permits.
00:41:17:11 –> 00:42:16:24
If we’re above that, we’ll increase permits. So in the past, in the old plan, we had units that were managed for four and a half to five units that were managed for five and a half to six, six and a half to seven and seven and a half to eight. We had those four age classes. We looked at those and, and looked at at how it was working, what it was doing. The four and a half to five units were not working very well. Our h data was kind of all over the map. Success rates were low, people weren’t super happy. We actually got rid of the four and a half to five units. So we, we converted some of those to any bull. And then the remaining ones, we bumped ’em up into the five and a half to six, the five and a half to six tho that seems to be kind of a sweet spot where there still are some really good bulls available. But it also lets us give a, a pretty decent amount of opportunity like the manti unit, Wasatch unit, fish lake, you know, those are like the three big ones that have like really large hub populations. We manage those for that five and a half to six objective.
00:42:17:14 –> 00:43:30:01
And not everyone kills a giant bull, but there’s always a few good ones available for, for guys that really put in the time and the work or get a little bit lucky. And then, and we left that one alone, the five and a half to six we left alone. And then the, the seven and a half to eight, which was our oldest age objective, we lowered it a full year. And that included like some of our, you know, the premium units, you know, beaver, Pavan, Boulder, San Juan, you know, the roadless area, the book Cliffs, some of those, some of those units that are, I, you know, pretty known for producing big bulls. I think they will still produce some really good bulls. But by, by lowering that age objective year, it, it does a couple things. It’s gonna allow us to have more, a more productive elkert on those units and it’s gonna allow us to give more permits to bulls to, in order to have your average age be, you know, seven and a half to eight on bulls, you have to carry a giant surplus of bulls in your population. Mo most bulls, and and this is pretty interesting, you looked at this big study over 5,000 elk that were scored Boone Crockett score an age taken on them over a 20 year period from Montana to Arizona and all in between there.
00:43:30:14 –> 00:44:42:29
And the average bull scores three 20 and and it’s there by seven, you know, and by six and a half it’s like 90% there. And by seven years old it’s, it’s a three 20 bull, which is kind of interesting. Like the, the average average guy in North America is five 10 or something, you know, the average pull up score about three 20 and that’s at their prime. You’re figuring prime is seven. Yep. Prime is seven. Yep. And, and there’s exceptions there. There definitely are like individual animals that sometimes grow more after that age, but generally on average, most bulls are about as big as they’re gonna be by six or seven and that is about three 20. So, you know, a 400 inch bull is a, is a real, you know, exception to the average. And, and for every 400 inch bull there’s probably like a two 60 bull out there too, you know, kind of on the opposite end of that spectrum. Deviating from prime at prime, yeah. That at prime is two 60. Yeah, I see. Yeah. Yeah. The, you know, a 10-year-old bull or something and, and I know guys that have shot those bulls that, you know, they bull that didn’t break 300 and it was, you know, 8, 9, 10, 12 years old and it didn’t break 300 and that, that bull probably never broke 300 in its entire life.
00:44:43:07 –> 00:45:49:09
You know, like, no, you know, no matter how much more I eat or how much older I get, I’m not gonna get any taller than the six foot two I’m right now. So, you know, and those bulls can hit up against that same kind of a threshold. So, so when we manage for really age class bulls, what it really means is we’re building up a giant surplus of bulls in this population so that hunters can be really selective and select those really big bowls and, and then just generally you end up with the, the age will go up a little bit, but if we cut the age objective by a year, we ran through all the data, look through all the numbers, you could increase permits by as much as 50% if you have a stable population. So by cutting one year, you know, if we had a unit where we gave a hundred bull tags and we cut the age by one year, you know, theoretically we give 150 bull tags and meet the new age objective that’s a year lower. Wow. So, and it, it’s, it’s, it’s pretty linear. So on the, on the, we raised, we lowered the seven and a half to eight to six and a half to seven, and then we lowered the six and a half to seven to six to six and a half, so just a half year there.
00:45:49:19 –> 00:47:02:23
So on those units we could potentially increase permits 25% and on the, the units that are now gonna be a six and a half to seven, we could potentially increase permits by 50%. We’re not gonna do that all at once. We’re gonna, you know, we’re gonna, we’ll be recommended increases on units where, where we’re meeting or exceeding those age objectives, but we’re not gonna do like 50% in one year. So, but with the new mid-season, so to speak, and you know, I mean obviously you’ve done it a little bit, say Wasatch or whatever, you kind of have an idea of what the harvest would be, but you’re, I mean you are, you’re lowering them, but then you’re also kind of having to guesstimate basically what your percentage harvest would be on these other seasons. A five day early rifle, the longer archery. And so there’s a lot of moving parts into obtaining this new, which like you said, you’re, you’re kind easing into it and you’ll be able to tell more as a year or two, you get a year or two under your belt of this new season structure. Yeah. And, and that was the idea is that kind of all these different parts will work together to allow us to still, and, and one of the, kind of the themes from, from this elk committee and this elk plan revision was can we increase opportunity and still maintain quality?
00:47:03:01 –> 00:48:04:25
We still want there to be good bulls out there, but we’re gonna, we’re gonna push our hunters to where maybe they can’t be quite as selective. I think our success rates will still be pretty high, but they maybe won’t be able to be quite as selective. So we’re hoping we can, we can still have good success. There’ll still be some really great top end bulls available on all the different units, but hunters are gonna have to work a little harder or come in a little more prepared. Or maybe they’re gonna hire a guide, you know, that they’re gonna have to probably put a little more effort into getting some of those top end bolts, but they’ll still be there. So the idea is to increase opportunity and maintain quality. Well, yeah, so you’ve got lowering, well except for the lowest, the five and a half to six that didn’t change, but the mid one okay. Lowered by a half a year on average and the upper one’s lowered by a year, then you have yep, the shifting of the bulk of the rifle tags from the heart of September, now you’ve got only 10% of them. So on a hundred tag unit, 10 total early rifle tags, the rest of the rifle shift to October and November.
00:48:05:00 –> 00:49:19:11
So it’s gonna be, there’s gonna be, it’s gonna be really interesting to see, you know, the idea is to maximize opportunity without dramatically whatever that word dramatically really means and is interpreted as, it’s gonna have a lot of different meanings to different people, but without dramatically improve compromising quality of bull hunting or elk hunting in general. Some people though that three 20 bull steps out, doesn’t matter what unit, they’ll shoot it every time and other people have waited 26 years and they wanted one of those quote old seven and a half to 8-year-old units, they are gonna have a decision to make. Now, now you’re going with very few permits in the early September hunt or are you gonna pick up a bow or are you gonna pick up a bow or, or muzzle? What’s your motivation or, or multi-season on a, on a three tag, six tag, six to six and a half year old unit, maybe you’re gonna switch to multi-season so you can hunt for four months and hopefully still have a, a marriage when you’re done with all that. A multi-season hunt. It’s, we’re not, depends on the marriage, but there’s a lot of things to weigh out. This is a, this is a, and we’ve talked about it in our, in our February magazine, but it’s, there’s gonna be a lot of unknowns, I guess a little bit on what drawing odds this does to drawing odds.
00:49:19:12 –> 00:50:26:21
I mean, I can speculate and tell you right now, the early September rifle hunts are gonna be terrible. They’re, they were, were, they were terrible. They’re gonna be really bad. And in most cases, Dax, a lot of cases you’re gonna have maybe one non-resident permit, which I’ve had a lot of lawn residents ask me about that. Because if you’re having, you know, five to 10 total permits, they’re, you’re probably gonna be one in many cases. And that goes random. And it’s a random tack. So there’s, those are real. Don’t just look at last year and say, it took 25 years to draw. I’m gonna, I got 26 this year, I’m gonna draw it. You’ve gotta under, that’s why we’re talking with you today, because these, these hunt tables and our odds and last, what happened last year to a large extent, irrelevant to a degree. Yeah. Maybe the archery Yeah. You could say is similar, could be somewhat comparable. Even the muzzle loader, I would contend because it’s now a 12 day chunk in the, in the rutt. Josh, what do you think that it’s more desirable than a five day rifle for a lot of people? Yeah. Especially where it’s still a modern muzzle loader for guys. You know, I, i talking to guys at the expo, I’m getting a feel that there’s gonna be some guys that are gonna bail on that early rifle and more lean more towards a, a muzzle loader.
00:50:26:22 –> 00:51:32:17
And, and it’s funny, like you said, with the, the archery odds, I also talked to some guys and I, I told them, they said, well, what do you think? Can I draw the muzzle loader? Can I draw this? And I said, we really, you don’t know, but I bet you could draw the archery with that. And, and they’re, yeah, I can shoot a bow, I can shoot a, but mentally it’s hard to go when you’ve waited 20, 20 years thinking you’re going to have an early rifle hunt in the rutt. And now I really have to mentally go push through an archery hunt to try and kill a bull. A lot of guys aren’t willing to do that. And guys with 20 plus points aren’t as young as they once were. Right. You know, and most of them could have already had an archery tag had they wanted it in the past. Yes. Or they wouldn’t have 20 plus points in most units. That’s a hundred percent right. But the positive is, is you do have that extra four days in the, you know, right. And closer to the mid rut, so to speak. Long season. And you go first. So lot to weigh out here. D Dax. And one thing, one, well, go ahead. One thing I, well, go ahead. I was just thinking, you know, people are similar to this Wyoming, everybody’s rushed to make something happen this year. People are nervous.
00:51:33:04 –> 00:52:44:23
Dax, Adam, Josh. People are nervous that this is the last of the good years in Utah because there’s so many seasons on paper. They’re just scared. They just, they’re scared. You guys have reduced the ages. Skis everywhere. Skis everywhere. Hunts everywhere. Kids, women and children flying about everywhere. You know, and people are just nervous. Right. And, and I don’t know if that’s necessarily the case, but there, there’s, people are nervous. Feels like, you know, I could say one thing I, I always loved this time of year, you guys are probably getting your age data back to X right now. I always love to go through the big bulls that were killed in the state that year and just go look and see how old they were. The age thing doesn’t, doesn’t bother me. Them dropping those older age classes down just a little. So you went and compared so-and-so’s bull. Yes. Would to the age of So-and-sos and I would do it, I would do it every year and I would can, can I go do that? No, no. But Josh as a biologist, I can’t do it now. So what, what did you find, what did you find? I would say 99% of the giant bulls that were killed were 7-year-old bulls. Just like what he’s talking about. Yes. I mean, some of these, few of them were six known names. Six to eight. I usually not nine or 10 or 12, what you think?
00:52:44:25 –> 00:53:57:19
No, no, no. Hardly ever named bulls were seven years old. The name bulls. Yeah. The special Bulls 6, 6, 6, 7, 8. That’s where your biggest bulls. And it surprised you how it surprised you. How many of ’em are only six? Six or seven. Yeah. But I know these guys in Nevada picking up sheds, they picked up four or five or six sets of 400 inch sets that one bull threw over the course of his life. You know, now he’s 12 years old or whatever. So like you said, Dax, it may continue to be that big and, and, and maybe there’s a, a length of quote his prime Well and being four years beyond seven or whatever. But, and there’s also differences I think across state lines. I mean, and Nevada is a general rule has lower Yeah. Statewide elk numbers than we do. So from a resource consumption standpoint, I mean, they got maybe more to go around per for elk in places Yeah. Than like Utah. A lot of ours are at objective or above objective. And so yeah, you, you got areas with low, low elk numbers in certain places. Not all in Nevada’s like that, but I would say densities has something to do with that as well in places versus stuff where it’s over objective and Yeah, you can’t just keep growing more elk because when you grow more elk on top of more elk, usually there’s not as much to go around.
00:53:57:26 –> 00:55:15:22
I’ve always heard that three 20 was the number, but I guess I’m starting to believe it. I don’t know if I believed it before three, you know, over, over over 5,000 elk over two decades that were scored and aged. And the average bull was right at three 20. So it, it’s a pretty big sample size. This isn’t like 10 bulls scored on one ranch or something. We’re talking 5,000 bulls over two decades. Yeah. Pretty crazy. Well, and I guess one thing that, and this is, this gets into the reason rationale, why Utah moved its application season or application period from March 23rd to April 27th. It, it, it seems like perfect timing. I know you, and we got it, even when I worked for the state, people wanted, they wanted to know what permits they were giving. And if they ever got cut and cut a bonus tag or something crazy got out, you know, got dropped, they would’ve amended their application had they known that was gonna happen. Well now you’re gonna be able to do that. Now it’s gonna take some vigilance on the part of these, of, of everybody this year. And maybe we’ll get into that Dax, when you anticipate, I believe it was posted maybe early April sometime, that the proposed permit numbers would be out to be able to analyze those through the month of OC or April.
00:55:15:25 –> 00:56:21:24
I know there’s gonna be some public meetings and there could be some adjustments and all that. But what we’re talking about now, you’re, you’re gonna be able to, you know, see what’s proposed and see, add that other layer of information before you have to pull the trigger and apply by April 27th. Yeah. You, you know, you made a great point. There’s a lot of changes. There’s a lot of new stuff. There’s a lot. It, it’s gonna be a little wild for a couple years until everything sorts itself out and we can kind of wrap our heads around it again. But, but I really think this is a, is a good thing. I’m really excited about this new timeline where folks are gonna be able to at least see proposed numbers before they make, make a decision. One of the things that’s, that’s tricky that we’re always trying to balance is we want to use the best available data and information. The most current stuff we have when we make, when we make hunt recommendations, and we’ve got Antoni hunts that go into January, we’ve got guys that are doing elk survey flights right now, we’re still waiting on, on tooth age data from some of the bulls on the late hunts. You know, we’ve got our, like our buck to dough ratio information compiled and stuff.
00:56:21:24 –> 00:57:32:22
But we’re, we’re trying to get all these, all these different pieces of data together so we can make the best possible recommendation. And it takes time, it takes a minute to get all that information from all those different sources. And so, you know, we, we’ve gotta balance that with everyone who wants to be able to put in early and know their results and plan their vacation and all that. And so it’s, it’s a little tricky and I feel like we’re getting better. It still might not be perfect, but we’re getting better with this new timeline. The what we’re gonna recommend will come out the first week of April. Okay. So first week of April, like the presentations will be available on our website, the tables with, with the proposed permit numbers, you know, that’s all gonna come out the first week of April 2nd and third weeks of April we’ll have public meetings, you know, in the five different regions of the state. And then the first week of May is when the board, the wildlife board will meet and decide. So their final decision will be made after the draw closes. But, but typically by the time we’ve gone through, you know, those, those different regional meetings, if there’s a big appetite to make major changes, you typically know about it by then. Yeah. Well, it, it, there might be a change or two in the board. You never know.
00:57:32:22 –> 00:58:56:05
And we do have a board that sometimes makes a big changes at the last minute sometimes, but, but at least you’ll have a a, a better idea of what you’ve had in the past when you had to submit an application before the proposals even came out. Well, and my suspicion is now that the Wildlife Board knows that there’s even more eyeballs on the proposed permit recommendations and they go through the rack, if there’s not, like you said, some compelling overwhelming shift to, hey, we can’t do this there or this there or whatever the, they’re not just going to, you know, make some wild recommendation after the deadline’s closed as much now because that, that has, that defeats the purpose of kind of what what has been the intended, you know, rationale for moving the application period later. So anyway, I, I know Wildlife Board can do what they want. Of course it has the ultimate say, but I, I think with that April 27th did then, then meeting them, meeting a few days after that, it would have to be something that’s like incredibly compelling for whatever reason to to, to totally deviate at that point that’s right away from something that’s been already here. Veted hard, here’s, here’s the cheat code. Watch the southern region rack meeting. That’s right. Southern and Southeastern’s getting crazy. That’s right. Southeast if it, if it goes through as as presented, you’re good. Yeah, that, that’s probably a good point.
00:58:56:12 –> 01:00:04:24
You know, maybe the southeastern too. But anyway. Well, should we dive into one more thing? Well go ahead. Yeah. Well, yeah, if, if you were changing gears then I was gonna ask him one more question real fast on, on Elk. Yeah. Okay, go on Elk. So just so everybody’s clear, Dax, let’s take a hypothetical 100 unit that is gonna have 100 elk tags, a big bold unit. It’s gonna have, have wonder, let’s go through the math of these, these seasons. We’re gonna ignore the late archery. We’re gonna sue, there’s five tags there. So there’s gonna be three to the multi Yep. Three tags to multi Is that 10, 10, 10 tags to the early rifle? Is that right? 2025 archery and then 15 tags would go to the muzzle. And what does that leave left? Is that 30 30 to the mid rifle and is it about, and then 2025 to the late or 17 to the late rifle. 17 to the late rifle and 30 to the mid rifle. So by far the bulk of the permit, the rifle permits right at the end of the, over half of the rifle tags are in that October hunt over the half of the rifle. Yeah, right at the end of the rut right there. Yeah. Did we, and some one, one of the, one of the things you guys brought up was like non-residents and how this might affect them.
01:00:05:14 –> 01:01:15:24
And if you’re, if non-residents are looking at early rifle hunts, they’re, it, it probably don’t, you know, it’s a bummer. Don’t, but overall, you know, a a rising tide lifts all boats. You know, if we, if we are able to give more permits because of these weapons split changes, age class changes season and date changes, you know, non-residents will still get about 10% of our permits. That’s what we, that’s what we do. That hasn’t changed. And so, you know, the mid-season hunt might be the place to look for non-residents that are looking for a rifle hunt. It’s your, your post rut probably most years and there’ll be spike hunters, potentially general season spike hunters on top of you. But spike hunters, I would say by, by Monday afternoon, like three four smoke gone home and, and it is a long hunt. It’s a 13 day hunt, 13 day rifle hunt. So the mid-season might be, might be one to look hard at. It’s harder, but it, but yeah, still might be one to look hard at. It’s a long season. You’re right. And I think the only real, it is kind of a tail end rutt post rutt, but it’s a tail end. The number one consideration and you know that DAX is, you gotta realize there’s going to be spike spike and in some case cow elk hunters during u during that hunt.
01:01:15:25 –> 01:02:35:11
It is not gonna be just you 30 elk hunters o you know, on a unit in October by yourselves. So that’s the number one thing to keep in mind. So, yep. Pretty interesting. So one thing I was wondering, they’re talking about some technology restrictions and of course vetting all that out and thinking about that. And of course if we limited muzzle orders, you know, Josh mentioned it earlier, of course right now we, we can use modern muzzle loader, multiple power scopes, we can die alter, its whatever you want to do for the most part with a few restrictions, maybe we can’t use smokeless powder, things like that. But anyway, I guess that would have an effect. I mean, if that were to pass down the road, which maybe for 2024 maybe, of course that would, that would have an effect on harvest rates and maybe even draws, you know, possibly, obviously people not everybody can use open sites. And so anyway, just kind of wondering your feeling on that or, or how far down the road they are on that and any considerations you could share with us? Yeah, so we, we had a committee that, that sat down and tried to work on some, like making some, some legal definitions for some weapon types that were more restrictive than what we currently have. And we, we took that around last fall along with the out plan and it kind of blew up on us.
01:02:35:12 –> 01:03:47:15
It, it was kind of a mess and we had a lot of, of negative feedback from the regional advisory councils and from the wildlife board and so that committee has reconvened and they’re still working through exactly what they’re gonna recommend. But there, there does seem to be a lot of appetite for making changes, taking scopes off. Muzzle loaders is, is probably one of the big ones. There seems to be at least a pretty vocal group of folks that really think that, that we should move in that direction. You know, from the division standpoint, looking at success rates, I don’t know if it’ll change success rates that much. We looked at our general season Deere success rates from, you know, prior to having muzzle motor scopes and, and then now with muzzle motor scopes and there wasn’t a huge change in success rates when we corrected the data. Looking, looking at success rates on other weapon types too. Maybe a three or 4% difference in success rate. I was wondering though, maybe, I think we could still use one power scopes though, right? Yeah. So yeah, we could red dots, red dot are one power reds red, red dots versus multiple power. I could see not being a huge change, but if we did straight up open sites, it might be a difference. Open sites. Yeah. I dunno. Yeah. Yeah.
01:03:47:17 –> 01:04:59:23
So, so that, that’s something this point that committee’s still meeting there, there’s not a, I don’t know what recommendation, I don’t know for sure what’s gonna come out, but that’s one that that’s on the table and that there’s a lot of discussion about if it does come out, you know, it wouldn’t be for this, this fall, you know, obviously it’d be starting in 2024 and there everything’s go through the public process and everything’s on the table. I mean, we’re talking muzz loaders, but everything, whether it be two-way radios, whether it be Yep, whatever, scopes on rifles, whatever, everything’s on the table, right? Yes. Yep. There’s been, yeah, two-way radios, muzzle loaders more talk about drones, you know, and all and all different kinds of technology. A bunch of stuff I’ve never even heard of before that I guess, you know, folks are, folks are, are interested in. So yeah, there’s a a, a big, it’s another committee, you know, that’s comprised of folks from a lot of different, you know, different constituencies, different interest groups and, but there there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of passionate folks that, that want to see some changes there with technology. Well, just to reemphasize this, Dax said it, but any of those changes would not take effect until at least 2024. This is, this is committees going through right now.
01:05:00:01 –> 01:06:06:28
It’s not like they’re gonna make some proposals this spring and summer and by this year’s falls hunts, everything goes into effect. It’s not gonna affect this, this falls hunts, right. That we’re not, we’re not gonna, you know, we’re not gonna have somebody put in for a muzzle loader hunt thinking they can use a variable power scope and then after they draw the tag we say, nevermind you have to use open sites. No, we’re not gonna do that. I I I dare you to try ’cause it’ll get ugly for some people. But yeah, that’s just wanted to make that, well I’ve had people call because they’ve heard this one in the background and I, they know that the, the application booklet comes out now the field regulation comes out in May or June, whenever that is. And they’re worried if that changes. Like no, that’s not, that’s not how the timeline works. So just making that clarification. So yeah, there, there, there’s a possibility they might change something. Like you can’t use, you know, artificial intelligence assisted glassing technology, something like that is possible could change, but they’re not gonna, they’re not gonna change your weapon type out from under you in the middle. Yeah. You know, in the middle of ation period. We’re not gonna pull the rug out from folks or, or pull a bait and switch on them. We’re not gonna do that. Yeah. Hey Dax, when’s the expo results coming out?
01:06:07:15 –> 01:07:16:19
He probably doesn’t know that I, you know what, I, I am not involved in that at all. I, I, yeah, I, our licensees do all that. I’m not, I’m just to apply. They don’t, they don’t let me anywhere near any of that stuff, so. Well, it doesn’t hurt asking. We are just kind of excited. All right. Okay. Well, anything else that we didn’t cover that you feel is noteworthy specific, I guess, to the elk plan, which I know we took a lot of time going over these were the, I guess the real implications of some of the changes in that plan that people are most interested in is it’s, it’s normally the time everybody’s supplying for Utah right now in February. So it’s natural everybody’s kind of amped up and talking about it, but they’ve got a little over a month before they can do that. But is there anything we haven’t covered you feel like is noteworthy or has that kind of nailed the biggest stuff, at least in your mind? I, I think we got most of the, the biggest changes. I think the main take home message from the whole process was we wanted folks to be able to hunt elk more often, but we also still wanted to have good quality bulls. And so that’s what this whole plan was focused on. How can we let folks hunt a little bit more often but also still have some quality bulls.
01:07:16:19 –> 01:08:26:27
And I, I, I feel pretty good about a lot of the different strategies we came up with and I, I hope it can help us do that. ’cause I’d, I’d like to hunt elk more and I’d still like to be able to hunt big bulls and I think that’s what most people when we did a survey, people want more bigger bulls more often in all the units and when they draw they want to be the only one out there with the tag. Yeah. What’s wrong with that? Yeah, tax. Come on, you’ve got the keys man. We wanna hunt 200 by ourselves every year. Yeah, that sounds good, doesn’t it? We’re working on it, but some of the things we get asked to do are pretty hard to deliver on. Yeah. Yeah. Well we really appreciate your time, Dax. I know you’re, you’re always busy, but it’s nice of you to take some time to go over with us. I think it’s, it’s important especially this year because of everything, all the moving parts like we’ve discussed. So thanks a lot. We’ll have you on again at some other point I guess with something else. We appreciate it. Okay, thanks you guys. Appreciate you. You bet. Talk to you later. Bye. Bye. I’ve got a question for you, Jason. Hypothetical, if you had come on, if you had why me if you had elk points right now, which you don’t. No, I’m not gonna answer your question.
01:08:27:10 –> 01:09:27:24
No, I’m not gonna say where. But would you, let’s say if you had zero elk points, let’s say you drew a deer tag and went to zero. So you’re, all of these skews that we’ve been talking about are at your disposal now. So I drew a deer tag, which you put in and you say this because as residents I have to choose, I can’t do deer now. Yeah, we can’t. Do I have deer points? Yeah. Are you putting in for a December but zero points a December Archery just, well, it’s only five tags. I’m a little bummed actually. Yeah. Not gonna draw. I thought the the draws are gonna be terrible. I thought didn’t you, I mean the theory should followed. I should had opportunity, but I I I’m glad to hear because we all know a few units, we think they’re gonna be super vulnerable. Well there’s been people throw out, hey, you guys should 200 tags generate a bunch of revenue and not hurt the elk. And that’s just not true. No, it’s not true. People are, ’cause Logan here’s gonna wound three or four of ’em before he gets one. Well, Logan, you wanna speak up then you’re gonna It’s not true. Jason. Tell, tell him I’m a liar. Okay. Yeah, you’re a liar. Good. You and Josh, you and Josh both know. Yeah, I’ve already been called it why not told around, but I do. I’m like you Adam.
01:09:28:01 –> 01:10:35:29
I’m like thinking and Josh, well you’ve, you’ve echoed the, I mean you’ve said it yourself, some of your favorite units would be extremely affected. Vulnerable. I’ve seen, I’ve seen the late rifle hunt effect units though. Oh yeah. You know, it, it strictly, it moved elk from winter ranges those first couple years on some of these units. Those guys were hunting bulls that have been down there just chilling all winter long and guys whacking three 70 bulls off the highway. ’cause bulls were just up there eating mahogany. We, we scored, we had one scored here, it went it netted book. Yeah. In the three eighties gross. Yeah. And was a late rifle. Yeah. You know, and so there’s, when you add a whole new season, you know, something like that, you, you may uncover something. You didn’t realize that. Well and you’ve, you’ve had units like Wasatch, remember the Wasatch when they tried to just have a uniform percentage of permit numbers on all units and the Wasatch didn’t work good on the late rifle. They crushed a lot of bulls in November. So they backed off and that’s when I think that mid-season was born a lot more for a unit like that. And they had a very kind of a, a unique split. Yeah. For of, of rifle permits. Put a lot more in October, very few then.
01:10:36:13 –> 01:11:39:19
And that same premise, some of those units like that on the front, you get a bunch of snow. I mean they could be vulnerable there even though they’re on steep flat, but they’re oak brush, mountain sides elk, possible elk stick out like plywood, you know, out there. These yellow school buses like Mount Dutton was one of those that we had, you know, we, we looked at that one and we’re starting to manage it. And it historically had the late rifle hunt had the oldest age. If you just looked at individual hunts, it always came in. You know, you’d have an average age of five and a half to six across all the hunts. And then the, the late hunt would be eight. Crazy because you’re killing bulls that are coming from the boulder, the Monroe beaver, the beaver that are all later, or excuse me, an older age class unit, those bulls are wintering on the Dutton. And so those bulls are getting killed. And so then at the same time, Sportsmans, were getting sportsmen, were getting a little fired up about it because you have a bull that makes it, you know, Adam sort of the boulder a lot. He knows how thick and flat that is. Yeah. You know, a bull can survive up there and then he goes and turns into a, a big yellow school bus on Dutton where it’s burnt. Right. Nothing around it.
01:11:40:01 –> 01:12:41:09
And guys are killing bulls that had kind of made the hunts and they were hoping next year maybe he’ll be in there. And so they on there are some of those units. I know Dutton’s one of those that actually gives a lower percentage of rifle permits in the late rifle line. The compared to the, because it’s an incredible late, huh? Yeah. Quite frankly super glass trophy wise. Trophy wise. Yeah. Super glass. It it’s not easy. No, but elk are easier to find there because it’s, that’s, I mean, trophy wise lots, some people hate it. You get Monroe and Boulder bulls load up on there and so there’s some vulnerability that they, they’ve made it and then all of a sudden they don’t, they’re dead. Yeah. So there may be some of that stuff that these, the percentages we talked about may get shifted a little bit on some of those type of units. Can see a few tweak units, see aing on some subtle things on that. Yeah. But I think the, the immovable parts are probably the archery percentage, the early rifle percentage, the muzzle loader and probably that October is probably immovable. Yeah. But then you may get some units that they actually pull a few more from the November rifle and push into October even because of what we discussed that. But those are, those are far more the exception. You know, it’ll be interesting.
01:12:41:15 –> 01:13:44:12
I think even the October 7th hunt, like that bull I killed, you know, out here muzzle. Right. Muzzle. Yeah. And he came in like we had him on truck cam back in the day and I mean he would start running like September 23rd. Yeah. So, you know, by October seven he’s probably still looking around for a minute. I just think that might be better. Better. Well and like, and some of these units than a guy thinks, we’ve cautioned people to remember that that occurs during the general season spike hunt. But, but like Dax alluded that mid-season rifle hunt is October 7th to the 19th. How many spike hunters are crushing that thing for 12, 13 days? They don’t, they, they’re weekend warriors for the most part. You know what I mean? It it, the, the first three days is gonna be, it’s just to make, make you aware you’re gonna show up and there’s gonna be orange everywhere and you’re gonna be wondering, what did I miss? Well they’re all hunting spikes. Yeah. Yeah. And some of the units, there’s also a midseason rifle, deer hunt, an early season, you know, that’s going on there too. So you’ll have some deer hunters to contend with. That’s right. Yeah. You got that doesn’t, but they call an early rifle. Yeah. Which has deer in, what is that one? Is that opener here? Early rifle, general deer. Yeah. It usually falls on like the Wednesday.
01:13:44:21 –> 01:14:43:00
So you could see an uptick of guys come in on that Wednesday. Saturday that opens on the 11th this year. So if you’ve got the seventh to the 10th, got four days with, yeah. And, and then you’ve got some deer hunters showing up. So there’s a few units with those mid-season deer, you know, not a lot, you know, but, but there are some, just something to think about. There could be a lot of guys out and you’ve waited that long, you’re not gonna have it yourself. They’re obviously not gonna be chasing the same bulls as you are, but but they’re hunting the same elk. Well same thing during the archery general. You got general archery, you got general muzz, you got it. I mean it’s just bringing up to people’s awareness. ’cause that’s a brand new hunt that’s never existed. That’s right. And you just look at it on it dates alone and you’re thinking, well that’s not bad. And then you just gotta remember there’s other hunts going on. Yeah. But the biggest portion of guys that hunt general season spike elk hunting are a rifle. So Yeah. And they’re probably hunting the first three to five days and they’re done. And the second weekend, yes. Potentially they’ll hunt the weekends and that’s it. Good stuff. A lot of good stuff. Well, any everybody epic outdoors here coming at you. Southern Utah. We produce a monthly publication December through June.
01:14:43:00 –> 01:15:39:28
Talk about all the Western states, drones, kill percentages, our comments on the units. You can see all the changes and things that we talk about in our February, 2023 issue. February issue of Epic Outdoors contains New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah. A little bit on the Nevada Guide draw, if you have any questions, give us a holler. If you want to join, go to epic outdoors.com. You can join on there. It’s $150 a year, it gives you an unlimited help in, in whatever it is you need Western big game. So a lot of other member benefits as well. It won’t, won’t spew ’em at the moment, but anyway, you can go check it out on epic outdoors.com. Well, and if you haven’t joined our service and it’s a time to do it, I mean it’s, this is, you still got time to get the January Feb February magazines out. As we’ve alluded, we’ve broken down Utah already in the February magazine. We had all of this information that was passed and approved before we went to print. So you have that to make your informed decisions on, on Utah. And that is in the February magazine.
01:15:40:08 –> 01:16:17:17
If you wanted to join, we’ve got a Epic member hunt giveaway going on right now where you can either join or refer somebody that joins and get their name in the hat for either Stone Sheep, Alaska Mountain Goat, Nevada Elk Hunt, Nevada Deer Hunt, New Mexico Elk Hunt, or Utah Deer Hunt or an optics package. So keep that all in mind. You can either join, join [email protected] or give us a call like, like Jason said, (435) 263-0777. All right everybody, good luck. Go out, find some green up. It snows Mountain. It’s, it’s spring grass green up. It’s springtime, right Josh? Yeah. Birds are doing what birds do in the spring. Yeah. Anything else? Come on, don’t touch a shed. Alright. Yeah.