This is a reminder so you don’t miss the application deadlines to hunt big game in the West again this year.
Different states list different big game species, but to simplify, I have limited the list to common North American ungulates (Elk, Deer, Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat, Moose and Bison) in Table 1.
Table 1 lists the species that can be hunted in each Western state, the application deadlines for limited entry drawings and when results will be posted.
In some states, dates are published when the application process will begin and in other states they are not, but the application process has begun for all states in the table except for Washington and Nevada.
Some states stipulate a particular time applications must be received on the last day to apply, so make sure you don’t miss that deadline.
When the table was first published, two states (Nevada and Washington) still did not have any information about the 2016 hunting season. I will update the table when exact dates are known.
It’s too late by now to apply for most 2016 hunts, so use the table as a guideline for deadlines to apply for next year. I will post a similar table again for 2017 when dates are published.
Table 1. 2016 Western Big Game Application Deadlines
|Arizona||Elk, Pronghorn||Mid Jan. – Feb. 9, 2016||Feb. 9|
|Deer, Bighorn Sheep, Fall Bison||June 14, 2016||June 14|
|Spring Bison, Javelina||Oct. 11, 2016||Oct. 11|
|California||Elk, Deer, Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep||April 15 – June 2, 2016||June 17|
|Colorado||Black Bear, Elk, Deer, Moose, Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat||April 5, 2016||June 1|
|Idaho||Elk, Deer, Pronghorn, Fall Black Bear||May 1 – June 5, 2016||July 10|
|Moose, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat||April 1 – April 30, 2016||July 10|
|Montana||Elk, Deer||Mar. 15, 2016||Apr. 18|
|Antelope||June 1, 2016||Aug. 1|
|Bighorn Sheep, Moose, Mountain Goat||May 2, 2016||June 13|
|Bison||May 2, 2016||Sept. 6|
|Nevada||Elk, Mule Deer, Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat||Apr. 18 1st Draw 2nd Draw June 27||June 10/ July 22|
|New Mexico||Elk, Deer, antelope, Bighorn sheep, Oryx, Ibex, Javelina||Mar. 23, 2016||Apr. 27|
|Oregon||Elk, Deer, Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat||May 15, 2016||June 20|
|Utah||Elk, Mule Deer, Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep, Bison, Moose, Mountain Goat||Mar. 3, 2016||May 27|
|Antlerless Elk, Mule Deer, Pronghorn||May 26 – June 16, 2016||July 7|
|Washington||Deer, Elk, Mountain Goat, Moose, Bighorn Sheep||Mid April – Mid May||June?|
|Wyoming||Resident Elk||Jan. 1 – May 31, 2016||June 21|
|Non-resident Elk||Jan. 31, 2016||Feb. 3|
|Resident & Non-res. Deer, Antelope||Jan. 1 – May 31, 2016||June 21|
|Resident & Non-res. Bighorn Sheep, Moose, Mountain Goat||Feb. 29, 2016||Apr. 15|
|Resident & Non-res. Bison||Feb. 29, 2016||Apr. 15|
Nevada and Utah only have one species of deer (mule deer), all other western states have at least two species of deer (mule deer and black-tailed or white-tailed deer). In some cases you can hunt any deer and other cases, you will be limited to only one species.
I did not search for application information about turkeys, bears or cougars, but include some information about bears because particular states listed bear with the other big game species.
Arizona and New Mexico offer opportunities to hunt unique species like Oryx, Ibex and Javalina, so I included those species.
Both residents and non-residents can apply for tags (some states call them licenses) to hunt elk, mule deer, pronghorn or other big game. Since some tags are limited, they are awarded through a lottery system. In some states these are call these Limited Entry tags or licenses and other states call them Controlled tags or licenses.
Bonus Point or Preference Point Process
All states except Idaho and New Mexico use preference or bonus point systems for the drawings. Each state’s draw system is slightly different, but it basically means every year you do not draw a tag, you get a bonus point. People with the most bonus points have the best chance to draw a tag, but beginners without any points still have a small chance to draw a tag. Read the regulations carefully, because each state is different.
Since Idaho and New Mexico do not use a bonus point system, everyone has the same (low) chance every year to draw a tag. Idaho has been considering a bonus point system, but have not yet adopted the new system. If they do change to a bonus point system, it will be good for those that get into the system early.
Hunt Elk, Pronghorn Antelope or deer without Winning the Lottery
Seven of the Western States have enough big game that tags are not limited, or the limits are so high that most people can get a tag every year (read more about OTC tags). These are called Over-the-Counter (OTC) or General Season tags or licenses. Table 2 shows when Over-the-Counter/general tags go on sale in those seven states.
Table 2. 2016 Over-the-Counter (OTC)/General Big Game Tag Sales
|State||Species||Weapon*||Over The Counter (OTC)/ General||Notes|
|Colorado||Elk||A – R||9 a.m. July 26, 2016||Some elk units unlimited tags, others have caps|
|Pronghorn||A||Unlimited pronghorn archery tags|
|White-tailed Deer||ALW||Unlimited tags, but white-tail density is low and most are on private land|
|Idaho||Deer||A-R-ML||July 31, 2016 or until sold out||Deer or elk tag can be used to take black bear, mtn lion or wolf instead of a deer or elk – 15,500 non-res deer tags|
|Elk||A-R-ML||12,815 non-res elk tags|
|Montana#||Deer Elk combo||A – R||Now – until sold out||17,000 non-resident elk and deer combo tags|
|Elk||A – R||Now – until sold out||included in 17,000 tags above|
|Deer||A – R||Now – until sold out||4,300 non-resident deer tags|
|Oregon||Elk, Black Bear, Deer||A – R||May 15, 2016 but prior to LE application if want both tags||Tag sale deadline is the day before the earliest opening day.|
|Utah||Elk||A-ML-ALW||July 12, 2016 – until sold out||Spike only units = 15,000 tags, Any Bull units = 15,000 tags, Archery not limited|
|Washington||Deer, Elk||Not ready for 2016 season yet|
|Wyoming+||Elk, Deer, Pronghorn||A-R-ML||July 1, 2016 (Residents only)||Non-residents can buy Leftover Full price licenses July 6, 2016 and Reduced price licenses July 13, 2016|
*A = Archery, R = Centerfire Rifle, ML = Muzzleloader, ALW = Any Legal Weapon
#Tags in Montana are no longer OTC for non-residents, so you have to apply, but the 17,000 elk tags have not sold out the last several years, so everyone that applies gets a combination elk deer tag or just the elk tag. The deer tags (only deer) will sell out.
+Only residents can buy General Licenses in Wyoming, but non-residents can buy Leftover Licenses (see notes in Table 2). But be advised, most Leftover Licenses will be in areas where access to public land is limited.
Note: State hunting regulations are complicated. The information is hard to find and state websites are confusing and sometimes misleading. I take the time to look this data up simply to help non-resident hunters to understand when to apply for tags and when OTC tags can be purchased. I do my best to make sure all information is correct, but make sure you check with the state you want to hunt so you won’t miss the deadline to apply for limited entry tags or to buy OTC tags.