Hunt Elk, Moose, and Bighorn Sheep in this Fine Western State

by Erik Schell
Location: Utah

Big-game hunting opportunities in Utah garner a lot of attention, for good reason. With 8 big-game species to apply for and two separate mule deer tags, the state offers a variety of tags likely to align with every hunter’s wishlist.

But the time to act is now. The 2022 draw deadline is March 3.

How the Draw Works

Utah is a first-choice state, meaning they examine every applicant’s first choice before looking at the second choice. So your first choice is the only one that counts on each application. Tags are split evenly with half of the tags awarded to those with the most points and the remaining 50% awarded to all other applicants on what can be termed the “random” element of the draw. If you apply for a hunt with five points and you are not awarded a tag, your name will be entered into the random draw five times. Obviously, these extra names in the hat offer immensely improved draw odds.

The Big 5:

Rocky Mountain Bighorn, Desert Bighorn, Shiras Moose, Rocky Mountain Goat, Bison

Utah’s topography, elevations, and climates are so vast and varied it allows Rocky Mountain bighorn, desert bighorn, Shiras moose, Rocky Mountain goat, and bison to thrive in different portions of the state. Hunters can apply for all five species. These hunts are managed for 100% success on mature animals. Utah is one of only five states that offers true free-range Boone & Crockett-eligible bison tags. If drawn for any of these five species, you can expect a memorable experience. 

Mule Deer

Over the last decade Utah has experienced a regression in average trophy size coming off the premier hunting units and a decline in terms of total herd numbers. In response, Utah has formulated a plan to revitalize the herd in conjunction with an aggressive predator management program. These programs, coupled with the current moisture outlook, should encourage mule deer enthusiasts for the near future in Utah.

Limited Entry versus General Season

Utah offers two deer applications: limited entry and general season. Both allow applicants to select from archery, muzzleloader, and rifle hunt options. Utah’s top limited-entry units rival the finest units across the West in terms of trophy production and historically high hunter-satisfaction ratings. Tag numbers are extremely limited in these areas, so we highly suggest applying with the most primitive weapon you feel comfortable hunting with to increase your draw odds.

But the general deer hunting opportunities should not be overlooked. These tags are ideal for enjoying time in Utah’s grand outdoors and can provide a great opportunity at representative bucks, specifically when hunting with an outfitter very familiar with the area. True trophy-minded hunts do exist within the general season offerings but are few and far between.

Rocky Mountain Elk

The quality of elk hunting in Utah rivals any state in the West. Just take a look at a B&C record book and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Although certain units offer higher odds of taking a 380+ bull, nearly every limited-entry unit produces 360+ bulls each year. If you are set on drawing one of the premier units, strap in, you will typically be in for a long wait. I encourage you to look at applying for the muzzleloader, archery, and late rifle hunts instead of the September rifle hunt during the heart of the bugle (which everyone else wants ) to improve overall odds. These hunts are still phenomenal opportunities, and your draw odds will monumentally increase.


Antelope thrive across the state, but tags are extremely limited. If you are currently applying, and have points, stay the course and continue to apply yearly. If you have not started, I would encourage you to speak with one of the WTA TAGS consultants regarding opportunities outside of Utah that may offer better hunting quality without the wait that has become the norm for an antelope tag in Utah.

If you are currently applying in Utah and question your current application strategy or are simply considering applying for your first tag in the West, do not hesitate to contact WTA TAGS. The expert consulting team will give you sound advice gathered through first-hand experiences and relationships built over the last 20 years with the finest outfitters in the state.

Dial 1-800-755-8247 to speak with a consultant or click here to email.

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