Top Utah General Archery Elk Hunt Units for 2017

bull elk aspen conifer habitatI get lots of questions from non-resident elk hunters asking about the Utah General Elk Season.

This post continues with the General Utah Archery Elk Hunt data.

Utah has an elk population of about 80,000 elk and the state’s population objective is currently 70,965, so elk hunting has been good in Utah.

The total elk harvest has been above 15,000 for 6 of the last 7 years reported (2009 – 2015) and in 2015, the total elk harvest was over 19,000 elk.

2017 Utah General (OTC) Elk Licenses

The General Elk licenses are sold over the counter (OTC – Utah does not use the term OTC like Colorado does), but sales start online and over the counter at 8 a.m. July 11 (2017). The General Archery licenses are unlimited, so everybody that wants one will get one.

In 2015 (latest available harvest report) 10,886 General-season archery elk hunters harvested 1,490 elk and spent 74,025 days in the field for an overall hunter success of 13.7%.

As I mentioned in the previous post about the Utah’s General Elk Rifle season, not all general units are good bets for non-resident hunters not familiar with Utah.

Utah General (OTC) Archery Elk Hunts

utah general archery elk units

Utah General Archery Elk Units

In Utah, you have a choice to hunt in any of the “Any Bull Units” or any of the Spike Only units, but not both.

The Any Bull Units are not managed for Limited Entry Hunting, so you can take any bull elk you want.

legal spike elk in utah

Legal Spike Elk in Utah Spike Only Units

The Spike Only units are managed by the Utah Division of Wildlife (UDWR) for Limited Entry hunts, so you can only take spike elk in those units.

Make sure to read and understand the legal definition of a Spike Elk.

In 2017, the Archery season in the Any Bull Units is Aug. 19 – Sep. 15 and the season is Aug. 19 – Sep. 8 in the Spike Only units.

Archery Hunters can also take Antlerless Elk in Utah

In Utah, Archery hunters are allowed to take antlerless elk during the General Archery hunt. That basically allows you to take any elk in the Any Bull Units or you can take Spike Bulls and antlerless elk in the Spike Only Units (except the Book Cliffs Units, where only Spike Bull Elk can be taken).

Hunters are not limited to one unit during the General Season in Utah, so it is possible to hunt one unit in the morning and another unit in the afternoon, as long as it the same type of unit (Any Bull or Spike Only).

Utah General Any Bull Elk Archery Units

There are 22 units or sub-units in Utah where you can hunt with an Any Bull tag during the archery season. All 22 of these units are ranked by total harvest for 2015 in Table 1.

Table 1 All 22 Utah OTC Archery Any Bull Units Ranked by Total Harvest 2015

2015 utah general rifle any bull elk harvest

By total harvest, the units ranged from 97 total elk (South-Slope, Vernal Sub-Unit) to 0 (zero) elk harvested in three units. The total of Bull Elk harvested by archers ranged from 77 (South-Slope, Yellowstone Sub-Unit) to 0 in three units.

The units with no elk harvested are basically desert habitats that don’t have many elk and/or areas where the units are managed primarily for mule deer. I would not recommend hunting those units unless you have specific knowledge of those areas.

The top four units are two South Slope Units, a North Slope sub-unit and the Zion Unit that account for over half (59.2%) of all elk harvested and 55.7% of all Bull Elk harvested in all Any Bull units in Table 1.

In 5th place was another North Slope sub-unit, so just as the General Season Rifle hunt, the most elk are harvested in the North or South Slopes of the Uinta Mountains for the Any Bull Units.

Notice the six hi-lighted units that are in the top 10 for both total elk harvested and by hunter success shown in Table 2 below.

When the 22 General Archery Any Bull units are ranked by Hunter Success (Table 2), success ranges from 23.5% in the San Rafael – North sub-unit to 0% in the three units without any elk harvested.

Table 2 All 22 Utah OTC Archery Any Bull Units Ranked by Hunter Success 2015

2015 utah general archery any bull elk unt success


The Average success for all General Archery Any Bull units combined is ranked between the 12th and 13th place units at 11.3%.

The Top 10 units ranked by Hunter Success account for over half (57.4%) of all elk harvested and accounted for 59.5% of all Bull Elk Harvested in in all Any Bull units (Table 2).

Again, notice the six hi-lighted units that were in the top 10 for both total elk harvested and by hunter success.

Utah General Spike Bull Elk Archery Units

There are 27 units/sub-units in Utah where you can hunt with Spike Elk (only) tags during the General archery season. All of these units are ranked by total harvest in Table 3.

Table 3 All 27 Utah OTC Archery Spike Bull Units Ranked by Total Harvest 2015

2015 utah general rifle any bull elk harvest

The total harvest in the Spike Only units ranged from 251 total elk taken on the Central Mountains – Manti sub-unit to 0 (zero) elk harvested in six units. The total Bull Elk (spikes) harvested by archers ranged from 85 (Central Mountains – Manti) to 0 in nine units.

Note that the in Book Cliffs unit only four Spike Elk were harvested because Antlerless elk can not be taken in that unit.

The top five units accounted for over half (56.3%) of all elk harvested and 51.1% of all spike elk harvested in all Spike Elk units in Table 3. In addition to the Central Mountains – Manti unit, that included two Wasatch Mountains sub units, the Monroe and the Plateau – Fishlake sub-unit.

Notice that six units (hi-lighted) are in the top 10 for both total elk harvested and by hunter success shown in Table 4 below.

When the 27 Utah General Archery Spike units are ranked by Hunter Success (Table 2), success ranges from 22.4% in the Filmore – Pahvant sub-unit to 0% in the six units without any elk harvested.

Table 4 All 27 Utah OTC Archery Spike Bull Units Ranked by Hunter Success 2015

2015 utah general rifle any bull elk harvest

The Average success for all General Archery Spike Bull units combined is ranked between the 12th and 13th place units at 13.8%.

The Top 11 units ranked by Hunter Success account for just over half (54.0%) of all elk harvested in all Spike Elk units in Table 4 and 65.7% of Spike Elk harvested.

Again, notice the six hi-lighted units that were in the top 10 for both total elk harvested and by hunter success.

Why Choose to Hunt in a Spike only Elk Unit?

Since most hunters want a chance to hunt mature bull elk, why should you consider hunting in a Spike Only Unit?

Since the Spike Only units are the Limited Entry Units, what better way to learn about a unit than to hunt in it? If you like the area and like the Mature Bulls you see, you can continue to apply for the limited Entry Tag there. If not, you can start applying in a different unit and a hunt there with General Season tags until you finally draw the tag. It’s tough to have to pass on a mature bull elk, but that is the rule.

Also, more total elk are harvested in the Spike Only units than in the Any Bull Units and Total Success is higher. In most Spike Only units more antlerless elk are harvested than bull elk, proving many hunters are happy to harvest a cow or calf elk.

What does it Cost for Non-residents to Hunt Elk in Utah?

For a complete breakdown of General Bull Elk Hunting costs (also considers a Limited Entry Antlerless Elk tag) look at the bottom of the page here.

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