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Utah big game hunters will have a better chance of drawing out for a deer hunting permit this year as the state's mule deer populations continue to increase.

The Utah Wildlife Board voted last week to increase the number of general buck deer hunting permits from 86,550 permits in 2015 to 90,950 this fall.

Biologists say Utah deer numbers have increased for the fourth straight years and the number of bucks compared to does is the best it has been in decades.

"the number of deer in the state is the highest it's been since the 1980s," said Justin Shannon, big game coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. "And a good percentage of those deer are bucks. The average buck-to-doe ratio across Utah on general season units that made up mostly of public land is 23 bucks per does."

The DWR cites numerous reasons for the increase including mild winters, precipitation received at the right time, intense work to make habitat better for mule deer, and efforts to reduce the number of deer hit and killed by vehicles.

Biologists estimate the state's deer population at more than 384,000 animals.

The board also offered 12,010 private lands only permits for cow elk on 15 units. The new private lands only permits are valid only on private property and July 21 is the first day they will be available. Written permission needs to be obtained from private landowners.

The other big news out of the board is that hunters will be hunting cow moose for the first time since 2011, with 20 permits available in the East Canyon and Ogden units.

Deer hunters can check to see how many permits they applied for by visiting the DWR's Hunt Maps web page at, and clicing on the buck deer choice under the hunt tables heading. The big game rules hunting guidebook should be available by May 16 in printed form or at