Qualifying to hunt most bird species in Utah is simple: buy a combination or small game license and head afield. However, some bird species also require a special permit in addition to a hunting license, including band-tailed pigeon, tundra swan, sharp-tailed grouse, greater sage grouse, white-tailed ptarmigan, sandhill crane and turkey. According to a press release from the Division of Wildlife Resrouces, the permits for band-tailed pigeon and white-tailed ptarmigan are available for free starting July 30 on the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources website or from any license agent. The permits for greater sage grouse, sandhill crane, swan and sharp-tailed grouse are available through the Utah hunt drawing. Individuals can apply for those permits until July 18.
“These permits provide a unique opportunity for hunters to pursue species that aren’t widely available everywhere,” Blair Stringham, DWR migratory game bird program coordinator, said. “Utah is one of only nine states that allows swan hunting, and sage grouse can only be found in the western United States. It’s a great chance for people to do something different and have an incredible outdoors experience.”
For those who hunt mourning doves, band-tailed pigeons, sandhill cranes, geese, ducks, coots or snipes, they are required to register in the Migratory Bird Harvest Information program. It is free to register and Utah has a simple, online HIP registration process. And if you are over 16 years old, you must purchase a federal migratory bird hunting and conservation stamp, often referred to as a “duck stamp,” if you are hunting waterfowl (ducks, geese, swan, coot and snipes.) Those can be purchased at your local post office, some license agents or by phone at 1-800-782-6724.
There are some changes to waterfowl and upland game hunts.
Individuals can apply for greater sage grouse, sandhill crane, sharp-tailed grouse and swan permits in the same hunt drawing. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved an additional 750 swan permits for the Utah hunts this fall, making a total 2,750 permits available.
Hunting for waterfowl will not be allowed on Antelope Island this year, as the state park has been designated as a no-shooting area.
While many upland game hunts typically begin Sept. 1, this year, they will begin Monday, Sept. 2. Per Utah state law, hunting season can’t begin on a Sunday, which Sept. 1 falls on this year.
To get an application into the drawing for permits, individuals must apply through the DWR website no later than 11 p.m. on July 18. Applicants should be notified of their drawing results before Aug. 5.
“If you’re not going to hunt swans, grouse or cranes this year, you can still apply for a preference point. Hunters with preference points have a better chance of obtaining a permit for the following year,” said a statement from the DWR.
If you have questions about applying for a permit, call 1-800-221-0659 or the nearest DWR office.
“If you are new to hunting and wondering where to start, you may want to try Utah’s Trial Hunting Program,” said a statement from the DWR. “This program allows you to tag along and hunt geese or ducks with a licensed hunter who is over 21. You can try this for up to three years before you are required to take hunter education yourself.”