Top Utah General Rifle Elk Hunt Units

yearling and calf elkI’ve had more questions recently from non-resident elk hunters asking about the Utah General Elk Season.

Utah has plenty of elk and many units are above the population objectives, so why not hunt in Utah?

But not all general units are good bets for hunters not familiar with the territory.

Utah General (OTC) Elk Licenses

The General Elk licenses are sold over the counter  (OTC) an online in mid July. Utah does not use the term OTC like Colorado, but I sometimes use it because OTC is shorter than General Elk Season or General Elk License. But rest assured, you can buy the licenses over-the-counter or online while they last.

The number of OTC licenses for the Utah Rifle (or Any Legal Weapon; ALW) and Muzzleloader hunts are limited to 15,000 each in Any Bull and Spike only units. Since they are limited, they are “first come, first serve”. The number of General Archery licenses are unlimited.

These tags used to be available almost up until the seasons started, but the last few years, the Utah General Elk licenses have sold out in a few hours.

And remember, General Season elk hunters in Utah can hunt all three general elk seasons; Archery, Rifle (Any legal Weapon) and Muzzleloader.

See the bottom of this post for more details about the 2019 General Elk seasons and fees.

Utah General Any Bull Elk Rifle Units

I need to update this page, but in 2016 there was a total of 26,396 General Rifle hunters; 12,808 rifle hunters with Any Bull licenses and 13,588 hunted Spike Only units.

Now, there are 15,000 Any Bull and 15,000 Spike tags.

By comparison, only 1,360 hunted with muzzleloader in Any Bull Units and 1,092 hunted in Spike Only Units. There were 10,886 General Elk Archery Hunters in all units in 2016.

OK, back to the General Rifle or ALW hunt unit rankings.

Hunter Success also appears low due to the fact that more than half of the hunters (55% total; range 0% – 82.3%) in Spike Only Units also have cow elk (Antlerless) tags. These “Antlerless” tags can be used during any other season as long as the cow elk is taken in the proper unit.

So even if you harvested a cow elk during the general rifle or muzzleloader Bull Elk season, you were still unsuccessful at harvesting a Bull Elk. This is not an issue for Archery hunters since they are allowed to take a bull elk or an antlerless elk with the general license and the success is recorded accordingly.

For example, a few years ago I hunted four of the first five days of the General Elk Season and harvested a cow elk. I did not hunt the remaining eight days of the season because I didn’t need another elk. So, according to the statistics, I was totally unsuccessful after four days of hunting Bull Elk during the General season, yet my freezer was full.

There are 22 units in Utah where you can hunt with an Any Bull tag during the rifle season. All 22 of these units are ranked by the 3 year average for total bull elk harvest (Any Bulls) for the latest harvest data available (2014 – 2016) in Table 1.

Table 1. All 22 Utah OTC Rifle Any Bull Units Ranked by Average Harvest (2014 – 2016)

ranked table of utah any bull elk harvest

The Any Bull units are those that are not managed for Limited Entry hunts. The 3-year average bell elk harvest ranged from 377 Bull Elk taken on the South Slope – Yellowstone sub-unit to 3 elk harvested in three units. Just remember these units are basically desert habitats that don’t hold many elk and the Division Manages the Henry Mountain unit for bison and mule deer, and don’t want elk there.

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The top four units are two South Slope Units and two North Slope sub-units that accounted for over half (54.0%) of all Bull Elk harvested in all Any Bull units in Table 1. So without knowing anything else about Elk Hunting in Utah, you should consider hunting the North and/or South Slope of the Uinta Mountains.

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

I’ve changed the tables to show an average of the last 3 years instead of the last year to be more consistent and be less susceptible to temporary increases and decreases. I also added new data to the columns this year; Average “Days Per Harvest” and “Harvest Change”.

Average Days per Harvest is simply the total effort of all Hunters divided by average bulls harvested in each unit. So in Table 1, that ranges from a low of 13.2 days in East Canyon to a high of 112.5 days in Montezuma Creek. The State-wide Average in all Any Bull Units (2014 – 2016) was 28.1 days. Now obviously, every hunters effort is not equal. The state only asks how many days did you hunt, so 15 minutes of driving around is the same effort as hiking in 7 miles.

Looking at this a different way, if hunter success was 20%, that means the average hunter gets an elk once every 5 years. On a 13 day hunt, that is a total of 65 possible days to hunt. But again, that is average and the average hunter hunts less than 5 days of that 13 days season. As I’ve said many times before, don’t you think you can do better than average?

I’ve heard it said many times before that 10% of the hunters harvest 90% of the elk. I have never seen actual data to prove this, but the 80-20 rule (Pareto Principle) applies to many different things may be more accurate.

The other new column in the table; Harvest Change is simply the percent change from the 2013 – 2015 average harvest to the 2014 – 2016 average harvest.

Until the 2016 season, elk populations were growing quickly in Utah. Even to the point that many units were above objectives. So lots of cow elk tags were given out and even special antlerless elk control tags and some of the units have lower populations now so harvests are expected to be reduced some and hunter success will be less until fewer hunters come to these units.

My comment above about hunters taking cow elk on separate tags also applies in the Any Bull units, because lots of hunters stop hunting when they fill the cow tag.

When the 22 units are ranked by Hunter Success (Table 2), average success ranges from 28.8% in the East Canyon unit to 6% in Montezuma Creek.

Table 2. All 22 Utah OTC Rifle Any Bull Units Ranked by Average Hunter Success (2014 – 2016)

ranked table utah any bull elk harvest

The Statewide Average hunter success for all General Rifle Any Bull units combined (2014 – 2016) is ranked between the 11th and 12th place units.

The Top 10 units ranked by Hunter Success account for just under half (54.7) of all Bull Elk harvested in 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 Rifle Units

There are 25 units in Utah where you can hunt with Spike Elk (only) tags during the General rifle season. All 25 of these units are ranked by average total harvest (Spike Bulls) in Table 3.

Table 4. All 25 Utah OTC Rifle Spike Bull Units Ranked by Average Harvest (2014 – 2016)

ranked table utah spike elk harvest

The Spike Bull units are managed for Mature Bulls by the Utah Division of Wildlife (UDWR) for Limited Entry hunts.

By total harvest, the units ranged from 339 Spike Bulls taken on the Central Mountains – Manti sub-unit to 0 (zero) elk harvested in the San Rafael – South unit.

The top five units accounted for over half (52.4%) of all Spike Elk harvested in all Spike Elk units in Table 3 and in addition to the Central Mountains – Manti, includes two Wasatch Mountain sub-units and the Book Cliffs unit.

For the first time in many years, there was a decrease in spike elk harvest in Utah. As I mentioned above, the Wasatch Units are some that has issue lots of cow elk tags to reduce the population. As you can see in Table 3, though the Wasatch – Current Creek unit is tied with the Book Cliffs Unit with a 3 year average of 160 spike elk, that is almost a 30% decrease for Wasatch – Current Creek from the 2013 – 2015 average. The Book Cliffs on the other  had is still on the increase.

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

When the 25 units are ranked by Hunter Success (Table 5), the 3-year average for success ranges from 23.8% in the Book Cliffs to 0% in the the San Rafael- South unit.

Table 4 shows the 25 General Rifle Spike Elk units ranked by average Hunter Success.

Table 4. All 25 Utah OTC Rifle Spike Bull Units Ranked by Average Hunter Success (2014 – 2016)

ranked table utah spike elk harvest

The Average success for all General Rifle Spike Bull units combined is ranked between the 14th and 15th place units at 12.8% hunter success.

The Top 12 units ranked by Hunter Success account for just under half (48.4%) of all Spike Elk harvested in all Spike Elk units in Table 4.

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

Why Hunt a Spike only Elk Unit?

Most first time DIY Elk hunters want a chance at a nice bull, but will be happy to harvest a cow. So consider applying for a cow tag (called antlerless license in Utah) so you have that chance. But why should you consider hunting in a Spike Only Unit?

What better way to learn about a unit than to hunt it? If you hunt a spike unit with general tags for many years (or if you hunt several spike units over several years), you will learn which unit you want to apply to get the Limited Entry Tags. I can’t tell you how many mature bulls I have seen while hunting during the general rifle or muzzleloader elk (or mule deer) seasons.

New Elk Hunting Opportunities in Utah for 2019

The new multi season general hunt was a hit last year, so it will continue for 2019. Utah allows elk hunters to hunt all three general elk seasons; Archery, Rifle (Any legal Weapon) and Muzzleloader.

The Utah Division of Wildlife has made this change due to the high elk populations that are above objective in many units and to reduce hunter crowding.

Only one elk can be harvested with the new multi-season tag and Elk hunters will still have to choose to hunt either the Any Bull Units or the Spike Only Units, but all units of the same type are open for hunting.

utah general season elk unit map

Map 1. Utah General Season Elk Unit Map (click to see larger map)

In Utah there are 18 Any Bull units and 21 Spike Only units (see Map 1). (changes coming, some units are being converted to Any Bull)

Archery tags allow either sex harvest, and archery hunters can hunt in any General Season unit, but you still can only talk mature bulls in an Any Bull unit and you can only take Spikes in Spike Only Units.

Also new for this year, The General Archery Tags will also be valid during the Extended Archery Season in specific locations.

Check out guidebooks, maps and gear to help you explore our public lands:

Utah General (OTC) Rifle Elk Hunts

If hunting during the rifle or muzzleloader seasons in Utah, you have to choose to hunt either the Any Bull Units or the Spike Only units. You can not hunt both (except Archery).

Utah General Elk Hunts Not Limited to One Unit

Hunters are not limited to one unit, so it is possible to hunt one unit in the morning and another unit in the afternoon. Utah hunters can (and do) hunt more than one unit, which explains why the numbers of hunters in each unit doesn’t match the total hunters in the state.

This ability to hunt more than one unit also affects Hunter Success in each unit. If you hunt more than one unit and did not harvest an elk, you add 0% success to all the different units you hunted. If you did harvest an elk, you would contribute 100% success to one unit, but 0% success to the other units.

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

You will need a hunting license ($65 for age 18+ and $25 for age 17 and under) and the General Elk License costs $393 (and they throw in a fishing license) for a total of $458. It is less expensive to hunt elk with general tags in Utah than other “elk states”, but they don’t cut much of a price break for youth hunters.

Table 6. Utah Non-Resident Cost for General Season Bull Elk

License/Fee  Cost
General Hunting License $ 72
General Bull Elk Permit $593
Total Cost General Bull Elk $665

(Current as of Nov 2023)

You will need the Hunting License and it costs $10 to apply for the cow tag and $251 if you get one. You will draw a cow tag in Utah about every other year. If you wanted to only hunt Antlerless elk, the total cost (if you drew the tag) would be $10+$72+$251 =$333 .

Table 7. Utah Non-Resident Cost for Limited Antlerless Elk

License/Fee Cost
General Hunting License $72
Antlerless Application fee $ 10
Limited Entry Antlerless Elk $251
Total Cost Antlerless Elk Only $333

But why not apply for a cow tag as well so you will have a better chance to harvest an elk. The total costs for a General Bull Elk permit and a cow tag will be $926. Archery hunters only need the Bull elk tag to hunt either sex.


  1. Hello. Was wondering if you can spike camp, and use quads. Any info on this would be help full. Thank you for your time. Alan

    • Alan: You can set up camp almost anywhere on Federal lands for 14 days at a time, you can move and set up for another 14 days. You can also camp on many state lands, but not all. In Utah, you can camp on state lands except for areas that are posted (usually places where projects are going on and you wouldn’t want to camp there anyway.
      No motorized vehicles can enter into designated Wilderness Areas, but quads can be used on many Forest Service Roads. If the quad is street legal, it can ride on any Forest Service Road, so check the Travel restrictions for each National Forest Area you want to hunt.
      They usually have motorized trail maps you can download. Here is an example for the Dixie National Forest.
      Good luck on your hunt.

  2. This helicopter did not survive its run in with a wily elk HEBER CITY, UTAH — If I’m going down, you’re coming with me. A defiant elk took down a research helicopter trying to capture it in a remote corner of Utah, when the animal jumped into the chopper’s tail rotor, destroying the aircraft. The helicopter and its crew were working for the state Division of Wildlife Resources trying to sedate, capture and tag the elk in a mountainous region in the eastern part of the state when the crash occurred Monday, police said. As the chopper hovered about 10 feet off the ground, the crew attempted to throw a net over the elk, which reared back, striking the helicopter’s tail rotor and nearly snapping it off.

    • Wow, thanks for the comment Kate.
      Your comment did not contain any links, so I found the report and photos of the incident here.

      I hope they process captured elk farther away from the helicopter in the future. A good example if something can go wrong, it eventually will.

  3. Colby Johnston says

    What units are limited draw hunts? What’re the units where an OTC carrier can’t hunt?

  4. mark zwyghuizen says

    Would you happen to know of a reputable spike camp operator for the ALW Utah Elk season? We have our tags and would like to do the DIY thing but with a little help, was thinking a spike camp in a good area would go a long ways.

    • The General Elk rifle season (or any legal weapon; ALW) covers almost the entire state. Your choice will be to choose between Spike Only or Any Bull units. The tag will allow you to hunt all applicable units and both types of units are found all over the state.

      I have considered setting us spike camps myself, but that now requires a license in Utah and I have not jumped through the hoops to get a license (make sure the outfitter has a license).

      I have also considered offering a spike camp as a promotional prize, where I would put up camp at the end of the road and offer it to a prize winner to use during the elk hunt, but do not know if that would also require a license.

      I know several guides and outfitters, but I am a DIY guy and promote DIY hunting. I suggest you search online for elk outfitters in Utah (I see 10 on the first page with a google search) and look at their references to find an outfitter that fits your budget and your needs.

      You can get guys to pack you in deep with horses (and pack you and your elk out) or just to set you up at the end of the road and you hike in and out every day.
      Good luck on your hunt.

  5. Shannon Turner says

    I am interested in taking vacation from my firehouse and trying to elk hunt Utah. Any information you could give me would be appreciated

  6. Brett Barney says

    How does anyone know where people with general season elk tags actually hunt? I have hunted general season elk quite a bit but have never told anyone where I’ve hunted. How can the stats be accurate?

    • If you hunt in Utah, you can either go online and fill out a post hunt survey, or they randomly call people. One of the questions they ask is about which units were hunted.

      Are you saying you’ve never been surveyed? or that you do not tell them where you hunted?

      I keep good records, so I know which units and how many days I hunted, but I am sure everyone is not 100% accurate. But statistical methods are used that provide 95% confidence intervals. Everyone is not surveyed and it is well known that everyone does not tell the truth. That compared with actual survey data (also 95% confidence) is good enough for management decisions to be made about elk populations and it’s good enough for you to make decisions about where to hunt, especially for general seasons.

  7. You responded to Shannon with the question why Utah?
    I am all about DIY hunting, I finally have all the gear I need for a successful backpack Elk hunt. My I’m 55 yrs old and would like to go yearly for the next 5 to 10 yrs. I Live in southern Minnesota. If you were me on your first DIY Elk hunt what state would you concentrate on knowing I’m willing to put in 5 to 7 years hunting before I bag a trophy?

    • Hi Kevin, I could also have asked Shannon why not Colorado or Idaho? Choosing a state for an elk hunt is usually about logistics for most folks.

      Colorado is closest state to a large segment of the non-resident elk hunting population. Makes sense, plus, I ask myself many times why do I drive past elk to find elk? Part of that answer is to learn about new hunting areas. Nothing replaces your personal knowledge of an area unless it is your personal knowledge of several areas. That is why many people hire a guide. To shortcut the learning process. But for me, that is the fun part.

      You can hunt elk every year without winning the lottery in Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington on General licenses (called Over-the-counter; OTC in Colorado). Depending if you plan to hunt with rifle or archery (or both; three including ML) in some states…

      You can also draw tags most years in Wyoming and Montana if you don’t choose the most popular units.

      You mention taking 5 to 7 years to bag a trophy. I don’t know what defines a trophy for you, but good luck with that.

      I have a friend that did not draw a limited entry tag with 20 points. He finally drew with 21 points last year. So you also need to decide what type of hunts you want to with those general tags while you wait to draw a limited tag. By that I mean what age/sex hunts such as Any Elk, Mature Bull Elk, Spike Elk or Antlerless Elk hunts.

      Each of the Western Elk Hunting states have similarities and differences. As examples, In Utah, you can hunt either Any Bull or Spike Only with Rifle. You can hunt any unit you want, which is about half the state’s elk habitat for each type. If you apply for a cow tag, you will get one about every other year. Cow tags are for specific units (and specifies a season), but the cow elk can be taken any season you are legally hunting for other big game. That means while hunting during the general season with both a general bull elk tag (Any Elk or Spike – or mule deer) and a cow elk tag, if you are in the cow tag unit, you can take either.

      Colorado OTC 2nd and 3rd Rifle are for antlered elk (4 points in most units, but any bull in others). OTC can be hunted all over the state. Cow tags can also be drawn about every other year for specific units like Utah.

      There is much to learn about each state before you can hunt there. In my DIY Elk Hunting Guide, I try to make the info you need easier to find because the state websites and regulation pamphlets do not make it clear. I ran into a Utah hunter this past hunting season that has hunted his entire 40+ life without knowing the rule of taking a cow elk during the spike season.

      Pick any of the Western elk hunting states and start look at their website. They usually want to you pick a hunt unit (or gmu or zone depending on the terminology) to begin, but you need much more info than than to start with. Picking the unit is the last thing you need, not the first.

      Also, as a hunter from southern Minnesota you probably know that Minnesota is on the boarder of three main North American habitat regions; Eastern Deciduous Forest, Northern Forest and the Great Plains. Utah and Idaho have none of that. Colorado, Wyoming and Montana are on the other end of the Great Plains, so some of that country will look like “home cooking” for you.

      Elk live in a wide variety of habitats and it probably doesn’t matter much to an elk if they are hiding in a clump of Ponderosa Pine, Aspen, Jumiper or Lodgepole Pine or feeding out in the open sage, but they will be in different habitats at different times of the year.

      There are real differences in the mountainous habitats and terrain in Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Montana. Being from Minn., you are probably familiar with more detailed names and descriptions of the eco-regions I mentioned earlier, like Diftless Area, Western Corn Belt Plains and North Central Hardwood Forests.

      You will have to decide if you want to hunt in one or several more detailed regions of the Inter-mountain west such as the Wasatch/Uinta Mountains, Southern Rockies, Colorado Plateau, Cascades, Idaho Batholith or Northern Rockies. They all have elk. Early season in Utah and Colorado, you may have to hunt at over 10,000 feet. In late season Idaho, Oregon or Montana, you may hunt as low as 2,000. You will never hunt elk at less than 5,000 feet in Utah or Colorado.

      In North West-North Central Wyoming, Western Montana and Eastern Idaho, you will have to be aware of grizzly bears. In all areas, you will have to be aware of black bears and cougars. You will need to be careful above 8,000 feet if you have never been there before, at least until you see how your body reacts and you will need to take precautions about being out of cell phone range if you get hurt.

      Probably more info than you need now, but all of these things are covered in my book.

      I am 62 years old and hunted every day by myself last season and packed my cow elk (by myself after dark) about ½ mile to the road. At 55, if you stay in shape, you should have more than 5 or 10 years to elk hunt, but I suggest hunting with a buddy if possible. I may have to start taking my own advice.

      As to your question of which state would I recommend for you… Have you been to any of these areas before? Do you have a local friend that can help point you in the right direction?

      Part of your decision depends on if you want to deal with Grizzly bears and/or high elevation? Some of the closest areas to you would be Central Montana or Wyoming. There are some good elk areas at the edge of the plains in the isolated patches of Middle Rockies. These areas don’t have many grizzly bears, but you will have to draw tags in those states. Colorado or Utah are the closest states you can be guaranteed to hunt every year (at least for now)…

      Good luck on your hunt and let me hear what you decide.

  8. Thanks for the info, I purchased your book last night. I pheasant Hunt in North Dakota even though I’m closer to South Dakota the proclaimed pheasant capital of the world. The reason I do that is because there is half the hunters and lots of public hunting, land owners are fairly good about giving permission because they aren’t being asked so often. I tell you this because wherever I go I will have a lot to learn about the area. I’m leaning toward Utah because I feel there will be less hunting presser than Colorado. I also have a place in Scottsdale AZ so I feel it will be closer if I take time to do any extra scouting. In AZ i have been doing a lot of predator hunting and this January I did my first bow hunt for Coues deer. I’ve been accumulating Elk points in Wyoming, Montana, Arizona and Colorado.
    Although I’ve been deer hunting in Minnesota for years, my first western hunt was last fall antelope hunting with a guide in Wyoming. The hunt was OK, I prefer not hunting with a guide and learning on my own.
    My cousin who is the same ages as me is thinking about going along, he is more interested in meat hunting and the experience so he would be fine shooting a cow, I personally would like to go after a bull. Both of us would prefer to rifle hunt for now. we are thinking of finding two more people, and have two sets of two hunters so we can split up scouting and if we need help hauling game out or anything we have the manpower. We really need to pick an area soon so we can determine whether we are able to bring 4-wheelers or need to set up a base camp or will we be planning on a complete backpack camping trip? After hunting in Arizona and going on the antelope hunt I’m convinced like you said in your book most people never get a mile from the road. I would prefer not to be that guy and see more animals although I know that hiking in creates more challenges.
    Personally I think a base camp with the plan being over night trips from their would be ideal. With all this being said can you think of a area I should at least do my first hunt that applies? Where my cousin could also put in for a cow tag? Thanks, Kevin

    • Kevin you have the right attitude. You will enjoy learning new areas and hunting for elk in amazing country. Shooting an elk is just the transition from the fun part to the hard work… Postpone it as long as you can.

      You should probably consider an Any Bull Elk tag in Utah. Look at the Utah General Elk Unit map again.

      With the Any Bull Tag, you can hunt anywhere within the gray areas, but the best areas will be the North and/or the South Slope areas. Since you will be in Arizona, you could also look at Zion Unit. You could also look at Pine Valley and Montezuma Creek, but that will require a lot of scouting. You can find elk on the North and South Slope without scouting.

      As example, I helped a veteran’s group from Michigan get set up several years ago. I met them on the South Slope and they had already seen elk while they drove around waiting on me to get there. They did not get an elk the first year, but did take a 5×5 bull (archery) their 2nd year. But these guys worked hard. They were hiking in 5 or 6 miles down a closed road every morning. (Hint – in some places a mountain bike may be more useful than a 4-wheeler).

      The General Elk tags are limited to 15,000, but they do not sell out until August or September. They go on sale in July. I always buy mine the 1st or 2nd day. And now, you can buy a multi-season tag and hunt all 3 seasons (archery, rifle and muzzleloader). I only spend the extra money if I do not draw a cow tag, because if I get the cow tag, I have two seasons to hunt anyway (rifle and ML).

      As for bringing 4-wheelers, in most places on USFS lands, they will need to be street legal, meaning lights and tags or they will spend most time on the trailer. They are a good tool to get up and down the rougher roads, but not absolutely necessary. I use my ancient beat-up old Toyota truck instead of a 4-wheeler… But a truck is harder to get out if stuck. If it snows, I end up walking in on some roads that 4-wheelers can still drive.

      Definitely a good idea to hunt with your cousin. If someone gets an elk, a third or 4th person could be helpful if you can find them. I have friends with horses that I can call, but last year I decided it would be quicker to pack the elk out by myself than to leave the elk and hike out and then drive back to town where I could call. (Plus I like telling young guys that think you can’t hunt elk without horses, that I can still pack an elk out by myself). I think I will eat an elk burger today…

      It may not be necessary to spend the nights out away from base camp, but the Uintas (North and South Slope) are big enough to offer that option to get away from the roads if you want it (vs hiking in and out everyday). Personally, I don’t cover that much ground everyday. I usually try to hunt within ½ mile to 1½ miles from a road and move quietly (slowly) most of the day so I usually don’t cover more than 5 – 6 miles per day. Yes, but it is a good tired…

      You will be hunting high in the Uintas. It will snow before and during the rifle season, but does not always build up too much to limit access. Better count on snow by the Muzzleloader Season. I did not hunt the same part of the Uintas last year, but hunted in snow during ML Buck (early Oct) and Elk Rifle (Mid Oct), but it was dry by the ML Elk (Mid Nov) when I harvested my elk. At first, the snow was great; Soft and quiet and all deer and elk sign is fresh. But then it crusted over and was difficult to walk through and was too noisy. I had to move down in elevation just to move around quietly. As the snow melted, I moved back up in elevation.

      Anyway, much to learn, but that is the fun part. Good Luck and let me know how you do.

  9. Hey BCC,
    I grew up here in Utah, just got out of the military and am looking forward to next month for buck deer and September for archery elk. First time I have ever been hunting and boy o boy have I been training and studying for it. Wanted to say thanks for your website. I have been rummaging around here from the beginning of the year and have learned a lot.
    Failure is not an option.

    So I say thank you.

  10. How does cow tags work in Utah? Specifically, the south slope. 3 or 4 years ago I did my first elk hunt ever on the south slope. During that year cow tags went on sale about a week after the bull tags went on sale. For 2019 I purchased my bull tag last week and I’m trying to find out if cow tags will be going on sale but I can’t find any info. I appreciate any info! Thanks in advance!

    • In Utah, cow elk tags are not sold over the counter (and have not been except for areas that have antlerless elk control tags). By bull tag, I assume you mean an Any Bull General Season Tag and luckily for you, Antlerless Elk Control Tags will be available July 23rd for the South-slope and Yellowstone sub-units. That tag can be used in either of those sub-units during your General Elk Season (Archery, Rifle or ML?).
      Good luck on your hunt.

  11. Thanks! I appreciate the info! Yes, what I purchased was an Any Bull General Season Tag. I’ll be sure to be signed in to the website on the 23rd for a control tag. And why not, if I’m going to drive 2400 miles I might as well. Heck I’d buy a hippopotamus tag if it was offered. Lol.

    I’m really looking forward to this years hunt. I have a lot more knowledge now than I did a few years ago on my first trip. I think my biggest disadvantage is my lack of real experience in the bush hunting these beasts. But I think my greatest advantage is my great physical condition. I’ve kinda put together a game plan on how I’m hunting this trip.

    Thanks again!

  12. DANIEL FREY says

    Hi, me and my brother are going to Utah for the archery elk hunt. Planning on buying our tags when we get out there is there. Anything special that we need? We’re from Ohio.

    • Yes, acclimation for high elevation. Do you know where you plan to hunt? Not many elk on the highest peaks, but most elk will be between 8,000 and 11,000 feet during the Archery Hunt. Be prepared for all weather between 90° and well below freezing… It will snow at elevation during September. Utah is dry, but the mountains get regular storms. You should also let people know where you are going and should probably buy a PLB. Don’t poke any bears and don’t pull any lion’s tail. I could go into more detail, but suggest you read my DIY Elk Hunting Guide. The main reason I wrote the book is to help people decide where to hunt. You have already made that decision, but the 2nd reason I wrote the book is so you can be prepared to elk hunt and survive in the Intermountain West.
      Good luck on your hunt. Let me know how it went.

  13. Vern Herrst says

    Thanks for posting this info as I will be going from WA to UT to hunt during the AWS and though it sounds strange decided to hunt the Spike only units, hoping the majority of the hunting public (Resident and non resident) wants the Any Bull units. I chose UT because my son and his family live there so this will be a father/ son hunting experience and after checking it was the most affordable.

    • Hi Vern… Since all 15,000 Spike tags sell out (same number as Any Bull tags), that tells you locals hunt spike units too. I do, since a spike unit is my back yard, and especially when I have a cow tag (like I do for 2019)… Will gladly take a spike, but am looking for that cow to fill the freezer…
      Lots of good country in either type unit. Good luck on your hunt.

  14. Vern Herrst says

    Thank You for the good luck wishes as I am sure they will be needed and I like you am mainly interested in just putting meat in the freezer however the additional $218.00 for the Non Resident Cow Tag is cost prohibitive at least for me this time.

  15. Jay Jankowski says

    Good day. I’ll be hunting “any bull elk” in Utah again this year. Last year, our first hunt, we tried the Kamas area. After 3 days, we found a good area with elk, but had to end our hunt and head back to Wisconsin. This year I understand, they received so much snow last winter , the elk may not be there. My son lives in Salt Lake City, and drove up there in June. Still had up to 2 feet of snow in some areas and very wet, muddy conditions. Most trails closed. My wife will be joining us. She doesn’t hunt , but loves fly fishing. Do you know of any areas that offer opportunity for both of us? Thank you very much

    • Yes, we had lots of snow, but most has melted now. June is always too early to try to get into the high country. They don’t even open the Mirror lake highway until end of June or early July and that is a paved road… But just because it is too muddy to drive, doesn’t mean elk can’t get there. The Kamas unit has elk, but in my opinion doesn’t have enough open country or aspen habitat. Most of the high elevation spruce-fir there offers good cover but poor food. If you found elk last year, then that is where you should go again this year. That personal knowledge of the area is very valuable.
      Do I know a place to fly fish? You haven’t looked at the rest of this website…
      The Provo River (especially the Middle Provo in the Heber Valley (20 miles from Kamas) is a world class trout stream. We guide there and I may take a few days off from hunting to guide myself. There are also many high elevation lakes off the Mirror Lake Highway plus that is the headwaters of the Upper Provo.
      Here is our fly fishing trip Guide page
      Good luck on your hunt and bring your fly rod if you get a chance to fish.

  16. I hunt the gob ranch every year for spikes have filled my tags 8 of the last 9 years great hunt lots of fun

  17. It was a great hunt for us this year on the south slope. We saw 7 elk the first 3 days and took a 5×5 and a spike. They were high and away from the forest road. Set up a drop camp about 2.5 miles in and at about 10.5k elevation. I’ll be back! Now for the long drive back to Ohio.

  18. After having spent 10 days hunting the Nebo Unit for a Spike I truly wish UT DWR would close the area to Dirt Bikes during the hunting season, after hiking for over 2 hrs to get away from the roads and into the higher country and finally finding a small herd <20 and while glassing the herd hoping to spot a spike along come four of those dam ring a ding Dirt Bikes scattering the herd over the next ridge.
    Yea I know that 2 hrs for most isn't that much but at 71 and having a form of Leukemia it was a life challenge only to have it screwed over by inconsiderate Asshats on Dirt Bikes. Non Resident Tag Soup for me thanks to the dirt bikes.
    One thing about the Nebo Unit is there are some DAM BIG BULLS in that unit, a 7 x 7 that could scratch his own as- with the tips of his antlers

    • I feel your pain. Since the US Forest Service owns the land, they would have to do the closing… Multiple Use… The opportunity for a DIY public land hunt is there, but also chance for someone else to show up at the wrong time… Had a similar thing happen several years ago… there was a section of very rough road local kids used to ride their bikes… It was annoying as hell to hear them… Guaranteed no elk were in the area, but harvested a little mule deer buck that day… he must have been used to the noise.

  19. We hunted and took our bulls on the south slope, chepeta lake area. The lower elevation had a lot of 4 wheelers and side by sides. But we were up way high where only “highway legal” vehicles were allowed. No way I’d wanna be around that stuff.

  20. Justin Heath says

    Hi I’m looking to go hunting for bull elk I live in Texas and will be coming from the south and the less I have to travel the better what units would you say has the best odds and population of elk? Any info will be greatly appreciated

  21. Great info! Me and a buddy of mine are planning on hunting the Uinta south slope in Utah next October. Neither of us has elk hunted before so we plan on being there a day or two early to try and find some elk and get a good starting point for the season. I was wondering, what elevation do elk hang out at in mid October?

    • Hi Seth… In October, elk can be anywhere…
      I have seen them on the South Slope of the Uintas everywhere from the low PJ country (6,000 feet) and all the way up in the lodgepole at over 10,000 feet in October…
      Lots of ground to cover, but the good news is lots of options for people to spread out and hunt.

      Word of advice for your first elk hunt…
      Eeveryone obviously needs to learn the country where they want to hunt, but spend more time shooting to prepare…
      More sad stories are from failure to train for making good shots than failure to scout.

      One day this hunting season, I heard at least 5 people empty their guns and miss (hopefully)… My buddy shot one time and we put and elk in the back of the truck…

      When we got back to the trailhead where everyone had parked, we talked to at least 3 of the other hunters that shot and missed… They had no good explanation.

      But I know they were too excited and under trained… If someone can’t hit an elk while it is standing broadside, what makes them think they are going to hit it after they miss and it starts running? Everyone wants to be the hero, but we all fall to our lowest level of training.

      Good luck on your hunt.

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