2015 Elk Harvest Data – 7 Western States with OTC Tags

The seven Western States with over-the-counter (OTC) elk tags have reported the 2015 elk harvest and are included in the table below.

The table is ranked by highest total elk harvested to the lowest. The table includes all elk harvest from all limited entry and general seasons combined.

Table 1. 2015 Total Elk Harvest from 7 Western States

State OTC Tags Bull Elk Cow Elk Total Elk Total Hunters Success Avg. Days Hunted
Colorado R&NR  22,558  22,294  44,852    221,274  20.3%       5.2
Montana R  13,703  17,218  30,924    113,959  27.1%       9.2
Wyoming R  10,949  13,800  24,749     58,959  41.9%       8.1
Idaho R&NR  13,094  10,753  23,847    103,213  23.1%       5.7
Utah R&NR   8,090  11,204  19,294      71,175  27.1%       5.3
Oregon R&NR  11,598   7,109  18,707    106,884  17.5%       ???
Washington R&NR   4,467   3,362   7,829     68,012  11.5%       ???
  • R&NR = Over-the -Counter (OTC) Elk Tags available for both Residents & Non-residents in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington
  • R = OTC tags only for Residents In Wyoming and Montana, Non-residents must apply. – see Table Notes below.

Most Elk were Harvested in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho

As always, Colorado had the largest elk harvest again in 2015, because they still have the largest elk population. Total harvest increased slightly over 2014 mostly because of an increase in the numbers of cow elk harvested. Colorado also still has more hunters than any other state, but the hunting pressure is spread over many different seasons.

Montana had a big increase in the number of elk harvested in 2015 over 2014, topping 30,000 elk and passing Wyoming for 2nd place. Montana was first place for the total number of hunters, but still has an overall success rate of over 27%.

Wyoming is now ranked 3nd for total elk harvest, but still claims an amazing overall success rate over 40% (including resident OTC tags).

Idaho was back down to about 2013 levels from the high numbers of hunters and high harvest in 2014. Remember that total elk harvest increased in 2014 by 26% to almost 33,000 elk up from 26,000 in 2013 and hunters increased by about 8.5% between 2013 and 2014.

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Utah Passes Oregon for Total Elk Harvest in 2015

Utah is always the last state to report and the harvest report was out later this year than normal. But Utah passed Oregon for the total number of elk harvested. In 2015, over 8,000 Bull elk and over 11,000 cow/calf elk were harvested in Utah. Since Oregon had more bull harvested, most of the difference was made up with the antlerless harvest. Most of Utah units are above objective for elk populations, so they are trying to reduce the herd by taking more cows. Unfortunately, they are moving many of the cow tags from public land to private land only.

2015 Elk Harvest in Oregon

The Oregon elk harvest was virtually the same as 2014, with a few more bull elk harvested and a few less cows. The total numbers of hunters were also about the same and hunter success stayed at 17.5% Unfortunately, Oregon never reports the total number of days spent in the field by elk hunters, so the Average Number of Days Hunted is unknown.

2015 Elk Harvest in Washington

Total elk harvest in Washington increased from 2014 to 2015 from 6,966 to 7,829 (12.4%), with most of the increase coming from bulls. There was about 1,400 more elk hunters in Washington in 2015, an increase of 2.1%. Washington usually has the lowest success rate in this group and reported the total success for 2015 at 11.5% (Archery success = 11.2%; Rifle success = 11.5% and Muzzleloader success = 11.9%). Washington also does not report the total number of days spent in the field by elk hunters

Table Notes – In the table, Bull Elk include all Antlered Elk (including spikes). Cow Elk include all Antlerless Elk (cows and calves). Total Elk Harvested, Total Hunters, Hunter Success and the Average Days hunted includes the harvest of all elk from all hunt seasons in all units by all hunting methods combined. Average Days hunted is the average of all hunters, not just successful hunters. I no longer keep track of elk harvest data of four states (Arizona, California, New Mexico or Nevada) that have only Limited Entry elk tags.

For comparisons to earlier years to see how the numbers harvested, the number of hunters and harvest success has changed click here for 2012, here for 2013 and here for 2014 harvest data.

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  1. Jerry Bleyenberg says

    I’ll be coming out for second rifle season in Colorado for over the counter tags. What are good units to hunt? We were thinking of unit 82, 85 or 851 since they have a lot of public land. This will be our first time hunting in Colorado. Would the elk be higher up in elevation? and what about bugling? Would that be still going on then?

    • Hi Jerry: Sorry for the slow response, but I have been trying to fill my freezer the last few weeks. You are probably already hunting by now. If you are thinking about next year, take a look at my page: Hunt Elk in Colorado with Over-the-Counter Elk Tags and read some of those comments and my answers. Pay particular attention to some of the special links that offer more information about specific units. Also look for my comments to Hunter and Dennis about some of the same units you mentioned.

      The peak breeding season and therefore time to hear elk bugling is around Sept. 21st. I’ve heard elk bugle until the 1st week in Nov., but that was in an area they were not disturbed much. If they are being chased, they will probably be quiet by the 2nd rifle season (Oct 16 – 24).
      Elk will be high and low by mid October. This week (mid Oct), I saw elk at 9,500 feet, 8,000 feet and saw fresh sign yesterday at 7,000 feet.
      Good luck.

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