2022 Big Game Hunt Application Deadline in Western States

cow bison with calf

Bison cow and calf on public land

This is another reminder so you don’t miss the application deadlines to hunt your favorite big game animal in your favorite Western State again in 2022.

Different states have different species of big gameand I listed the most common North American ungulates (Elk, Deer, Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat, Moose and Bison) and a few unique or exotic species that can be hunted in Table 1.

Table 1 lists the big game species that can be hunted in each Western state, the application deadlines for limited entry drawings and the date the results should be published.

There are still seven western states (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming) that have general elk hunts with over-the-counter tags (read more here) Five of these states also still have OTC or General Tags for non-residents as well.

Table 1. 2022 Western Big Game Application Deadlines (still waiting on some states)

State Species Application Deadline Results
Arizona Elk, Pronghorn Feb 8, 2022 (2nd Tue in Feb) Mid Feb
Deer, Bighorn Sheep, Fall Bison June 7, 2022 (2nd Tue in June) Mid Jun
Spring Bison, Javelina  (Spring 2022) Oct 4, 2022 (2nd Tue in Oct) Mid Oct
California Elk, Deer, Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep June 2nd each year June 17
Colorado Elk, Deer, Moose, Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat Apr 5, 2022 (1st Tues. in April) June 1
Idaho Elk, Deer, Pronghorn Jun 5, (last year) Aug 25
Moose, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat April 30, (last year) July 10
Montana Elk, Deer April 1, 2022 Apr. 15
Antelope, Elk B Deer B Jun 1, 2022 June 15
Bighorn Sheep, Moose, Mountain Goat May 1, 2022 May 15
Bison May 1, 2022 May 15
Nevada Elk, Mule Deer, Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat Mid April (last year) June 10
New Mexico Elk, Deer, antelope, Bighorn sheep, Barbary Sheep, Ibex, Oryx, Javelina Mar 9, 2022 Apr. 25?
Oregon Elk, Deer, Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat May 15, 2022 (same date every year) June 20
Utah Elk, Mule Deer, Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep, Bison, Moose, Mountain Goat Mar 4, (last year) May 31
Antlerless Elk, Mule Deer, Pronghorn Jun 18, (last year) July 11
Washington Deer, Elk, Mountain Goat, Moose, Bighorn Sheep May 21, (last year) June?
Wyoming Resident Elk May 31, 2022 June 16
Resident Deer, Antelope May 31, 2022 June 16
Resident Bighorn Sheep, Moose, Mountain Goat Feb 28, 2022 May 5
Resident Bison Mar. 31, 2022 May 5
  Non-Resident (All)
Jan. 31, 2022 May 19

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Several states still has not published their 2021 hunt regulations and have not set deadlines for their hunts.

You may not know this until you go to their websites and they are ready to take your application (or not). Remember, these are state bureaucracies, not private businesses. If you want to hunt in their state, it’s up to you to learn the rules, jump though all their hoops and find the information you need.

Some states stipulate a particular time of day applications must be received on the deadline date, so make sure you don’t miss that deadline in case it ends before midnight.

When Table 1 was first posted, not all states had published their application dead lines. The table will be updated as application dates are finalized. The table shows some 2020 dates until the 2021 dates are available. The deadline and results dates usually don’t differ by a few days each year.

Do not worry if you can not find information about the application deadline for the state you want to hunt this year. None of the states will be accepting applications until the deadlines dates are published (includes big game brochures).

Both residents and non-residents can apply for licenses (AKA tags or permits) 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.

Which Species of Deer to Hunt?

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 addition to the Rocky Mountain Mule Deer and White=tailed deer, California also has other subspecies of mule deer such as California Mule Deer, Inyo Mule Deer, Burro Mule Deer and Southern Mule Deer). Arizona has the Coues, which is another subspecies of White-tailed Deer. In some states that have plenty of deer, you may be able to hunt any deer species and other cases, you will be limited to only one species.

Which States to Hunt Elk?

Elk can be hunted in any of the Western states if you draw a Limited Entry tag. But elk populations are still high enough in seven western states that tags can be purchased over the counter. Five states still allow non-residents to hunt elk without winning the lottery (learn more).

Hunt Unique Game Species in Arizona and New Mexico

Arizona and New Mexico offer opportunities to hunt unique species like Barbary Sheep, Ibex, Oryx, and Javalina.

Hunt Bison in Four States

Believe it or not, there is a small chance you can draw a tag to hunt Bison in Arizona, Montana, Wyoming or Utah.

Arizona has both Spring and Fall hunts, which have different application deadlines. Bison are found in two wildlife areas (WA) managed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The Raymond WA is east of Flagstaff and the House Rock WA is east of the North Kaibab area. In 2016, the fall hunt awarded 16 out of 2,282 total applicants (1:143).

In Montana, bison hunts are in units 385 and 395 where bison move outside of Yellowstone National Park. Montana apparently does not show drawing odds for bison.

Utah has three hunting areas for Bison; Antelope Island State Park, the Henry Mountains and the Book Cliffs. As an interesting note, genetic testing showed the only genetically pure bison found in North America was found on the Henry mountain herd. Genetically pure; meaning no bovine (cow) genes. In 2016, 103 resident permits were issued from 9469 applicants (1:92) and 9 non-resident permits were issued from 4879 applicants (1:542) .

In Wyoming, Bison are primarily using Grand Teton National Park and move onto the Bridger-Teton National Forest, the National Elk Refuge and private property near Jackson. In 2015, 8 out 692 (1:87) non-residents were successful in drawing a Bull Bison tag and 53 of 192 (1:28) non-residents were successful in drawing a cow Bison tag.

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A Note about the 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.

Note: State hunting regulations are complicated. The information is hard to find and state websites are confusing, sometimes misleading and they constantly change the links on their websites. 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. If anyone has updated information, please let me know.


  1. Victor D Adams says

    I like to keep in touch on what changes

  2. Jeff Findarle says

    Great info, Thank you

  3. 2019 special permits deadline was June 16th. We are lucky to have the opportunity to harvest 3 species of Deer here (coastal Blacktail, Desert Mule deer, northern White tail). Also Coues deer occur here in a small population east of Portland, Or. / S.W. Wa. area (permit only)

  4. This small population is on an Island Wa, side in the Columbia river!

  5. There is a small population of Columbia whitetail deer (Odocoileus viriniaus leucurus), {A smaller species of Northern Whitetails} here but, not huntable as well… I believe they where brought here in the 1930’s! see wdfw.wa.gov
    look under Hunting TAB and download these regs. or look through them.
    Lots to soak up, lots of changes as well over the years I have been absent from the field…

    • Yes, the Columbian White-Tailed Deer is native to the Western Columbia River area of Oregon & Washington, but are currently listed as a threatened species. Then they found another population, which has since been de-listed in Douglas County-SW Oregon. As with all endangered and threatened species, the goal is re-established viable populations in the original range

  6. Spieden Island is in the San Juan Islands, Wa. and history says there was a BIG GAME advocate who owned this Island in the 1970’s. I have been there but not one the actual Island & just by boating around it! We where Shrimping and exploring back in the late 1990’s It’s suppose to have all sorts of big game species even from Africa as well. I’m sure the original owner is long gone now, and think it’s a sanctuary now but I wonder WHO & HOW they keep populations in check? Hmm…

  7. Spieden Island or Safari Island? From post by Debra Garland (see original post here)

    This post was edited by BC since it was copied from the original link above.

    The post explains how exotic big game animals and birds were brought to the San Juan Islands of Washington State. Species not only included some commonly stocked animals such as Mouflon sheep, Fallow deer and Sika deer, but also Lions, tigers, giraffes, rhinos and monkeys that people could pay to “hunt” (1960s) and have the “trophies” mounted by the owners.

    National attention finally forced the business to close due to inhumane treatment of the animals. Then the Island Institute was established as a marine conservationist center, but is now in private hands.

  8. I was hoping the pics of the Sheep and Sika (Asian deer) would show up? I cut and pasted it here but no go. Is there a way to post pics in comments? I see no options… please advise…

  9. Rodney Landreth says

    I would like to get on your email list for year 2020 to perchase points for all western states

  10. Leo McCormick says

    what are the dates for the mule deer rut this year, I know they are in Nov. but when in Nov.

    • The timing of the Mule deer rut depends on where you are. Rut is determined by the amount of daylight (photo period). The main part of the rut is Late November in Montana and Northern Idaho, Mid November in Colorado, Wyoming, Southern Idaho and Utah. If you know when most fawns are born in your area, subtract 205 days.

  11. This bonus and preference point system in multiple states takes constant research ! General tags have potential but mostly suck and are worthless. The quality of the hunt when it limits everyone and their brother makes it better. The other option and the one you ate seeing on all theses horse crap hunting shows are private land high dollar hunts. Hunting in USA is headed to super elite only like when I hunted in Europe while in the military. It took 3 years of going with a hunting agency and getting certified before I could even pull the trigger. Good hunt and fun but stupid as hell. I had shot 9 deer and 4 elk and 2 hogs in USA before I even was assigned in Europe an$ owned 5-6 guns. Didn’t matter. The hunts in England are for elite only – the kings deer. I have gone from free acces for waterfowl hunts to paying 8K a year for leases cause the public stuff is horrible ! If you get 4-5 nice animals in your life now thru drawing ur blessed. Only going down from here as the numbers of game will go up on private. Look at the joke hunting in Texas those clowns pay a lot to sit on corn feeder hunt. I have done TX hunts and it’s like hunting in a barnyard – let em go then shot em. No hunting at all, pull the trigger on the one u want. The shrinking backcountry is special as it goes away so fast.

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