It has been several years since I reviewed the mule deer hunting that's available in that area of southwestern Utah known as the Paunsaugunt, which also includes the Alton Cooperative Wildlife Management Unit (CWMU). Long famous for its outsize trophy bucks, the Paunsaugunt has been losing its luster of late. The problems here are declining trophy quality and, more recently, conflict within the landowner association that controls much of the hunting. Let me address the latter problem first. Seems one of the landowners within the Paunsaugunt Landowners' Association has fired off a letter to the Utah Division of Wildlife, protesting poaching and other problems and putting the Division on notice that he wants all deer removed from his property. For technical reasons relating to the agreement the landowners have with the state, the letter triggered a very serious situation that could have resulted in all the landowners being issued no permits this year. Thankfully, the state did not give into the pressure and, near press time, routinely issued this year's permits as usual. But there is more. The letter apparently gives the landowner who wrote it the right to kill all the deer on his property. At press time, it was unclear how this deadlock would be resolved but odds are nothing dramatic is about to happen. The angry landowner, after all, has reportedly done almost nothing in recent years to make his ranch attractive to deer. Last year, he received only one landowner tag - which insiders say is the real reason he fired off his letter: He was simply trying to get more tags. Stay tuned for an update.
In the meantime, exactly what is the situation as regards trophy mule deer in the Paunsaugunt? Over the last several years, outfitter friends, guides and other contacts I have in this area have repeatedly told me there are fewer big bucks available here than there used to be. Subscribers to The Hunting Report and U.S. Hunting Report have been telling me the same thing. For more information, I recently called Jeff Grandison, Wildlife Program Manager for the Division of Wildlife Southern Region. The truth........(continued)