Hunt Elk in Wyoming with Over-the-Counter Tags

wyoming archery any elk units over-the-counter with public land

Figure 1. Wyoming Archery Any Elk Over-the-Counter Hunt Units.

Wyoming is another state that offers Over-the-Counter (OTC) elk tags, but has now been limited to residents only. Wyoming has 112 wildlife management units (hunt areas) and 84 hunts in 77 of those units have general season (OTC) elk tags available to residents. Non-residents can buy general tags for $591 for Bull Elk or Any ELK and $302 for a cow/calf (antlerless) license, but have to apply to get them, but many units in Wyoming have nearly a 100% chance of drawing a tag.

Over-the-Counter Elk Tags Available to Wyoming Residents

  • Elk Archery – Any Elk can be hunted in all 77 hunt areas (See Figure 1)
  • Elk Rifle – Any Bull Elk can be hunted in 5 hunt areas (See 28, 36, 68, 68 & 87 in Figure 2)
  • Elk Rifle – Any Bull Elk except Spikes can be hunted in 9 hunt areas (See 56, 59, 70, 71, 73, 81, 82, 83 & 84 in Figure 2)
  • Elk Rifle – Any Elk can be hunted in 34 hunt areas (See Figure 3)
  • Elk Rifle – Antlerless Elk can be hunted in 24 hunt areas (See Figure 4)
  • Elk Rifle – Any Elk except Spikes can be hunted in 5 hunt areas (See 12, 59, 60, 85 & 110 in Figure 5)

Key to Wyoming OTC Elk Hunt Map Images

wyoming rifle antlered elk units over-the-counter with public land

Figure 2. Wyoming Rifle Antlered Elk Over-the-Counter Hunt Units.

In all of the map images (Figures 1-5), I superimposed public land on top of the Wyoming elk units that have OTC tags available. Public Land is shown in orange/yellow and private land is shown in white. Grey areas indicate no OTC tags or no hunting areas. National Park Service and Military lands are shown in black. Red indicates Wilderness Areas (also public land).

Elk Habitat and Wyoming Ecoregions

wyoming rifle any elk over-the-counter units with public land

Figure 3. Wyoming Rifle Any Elk Over-the-Counter Hunt Units.

Most elk in Wyoming are found in the rocky mountains, but elk also occur in the higher hills and low mountain ranges within the Wyoming Basin and even in patches in the Northwestern Great Plains between the Black Hills and the Bighorn mountains and in the High Plains east of the Laramie Mountains. Wyoming consists of the Great Plains in the East and the Wyoming Basin and the Rocky Mountains in the West.

wyoming rifle antlerless elk over-the-counter units with public land

Figure 4. Wyoming Rifle Antlerless Elk Over-the-Counter Hunt Units.

In Wyoming, the Southern Rockies ecoregion occurs in the south where the Laramie and Medicine Bow Mountains extend north from Colorado. The Middle Rockies cover most of the north western corner of Wyoming in the Yellowstone region, but also includes the Bighorn mountains (north central) and the Black Hills (north east) along the border with South Dakota. The Wyoming Basin is the largest ecoregion in the state and covers most of the south western and central parts of Wyoming. The the High Plains is found in the southeast portion of the state and the Northwestern Great Plains in the north east corner of the state.

Hunting on Public Land in Wyoming

wyoming rifle any elk except spike over-the-counter units with public land

Figure 5. Wyoming Rifle Any elk except Spike Over-the-Counter Hunt Units.

As with most western states, there is plenty of public land to hunt in Wyoming. There is over 9.2 million acres of US Forest Service land and 18.3 million acres of BLM land. In addition, there is over 3.8 million acres of state lands open to hunting for a total of over 31.4 million acres or about 50.5% of the state. If we only considered the 9.2 million acres of forest lands as elk habitat and with 57,331 elk hunters in 2012, that equals 160 of public land per elk hunter (worst case), since we know many of those elk hunters never hunt public land and we know the hunting pressure is spread out between the various archery and rifle seasons and there are millions of acres of BLM and state lands that also hold elk. For you eastern hunters, just think about having nearly one square mile to hunt all to yourself. You just have to get off the roads to find it.

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Wyoming Elk Harvest and Hunting Success

According to Wyoming Game and Fish data, total elk harvested the last 10 years years has ranged from a low of 20,941 in 2008 to a high of 26,365 in 2012 (Table 1).

In 2017 (latest available harvest data) 24,535 elk were harvested by 56,505 total hunters in the field for 35.3% total active hunter success rate.

Table 1. Wyoming Total Elk Harvest 2008 – 2017

Year Bulls Spikes Cows Calf Total Elk Total Hunters Non- Res Hunters Hunter Success Days Per Harvest
2017 10,618  955 11,006 1,916 24,535 56,505 12,571 35.3% 18.0
2016 11,007 1,332 11,526 1,954 25,852 58,159 12,687 36.4% 18.3
2015 10,015   934 11,526 2,274 24,749 58,959 12,068 34.3% 19.5
2014 10,021   955 12,567 2,362 25,905 58,266 12,037 36.0% 19.2
2013 10,012 1,264 12,536 2,156 25,968 57,785 11,673 36.6% 17.8
2012 10,284 1,365 12,582 2,134 26,365 57,331 11,183 37.5% 17.6
2011 8,955 1,284 10,919 2,031 23,189 55,258 10,646 34.9% 19.0
2010 9,312 1,683 12,270 2,407 25,672 53,780 10,056 39.6% 16.7
2009 9,096 1,739 10,099 2,047 22,971 53,148  9,869 35.6% 17.9
2008 8,699 1,500  8,819 1,923 20,941 52,163  9,530    NA 18.9

Mature Bull Elk Harvest has ranged from a low of 8,699 in 2008 to a high of 11,007 in 2016.

Elk hunting success rates in Wyoming are very good, ranging between 34% to almost 40% total success rate between 2008 and 2017, considering all elk harvested from all methods and all units. This high rate is mainly due to the high success rate from the limited quota draw hunts, but still, the overall success from the general licenses (OTC) I calculated back in 2012 was 28.9%, with the overall archery success rate of 15.6%.

I replaced the column in Table 1 that showed the average number of days hunted to the Average Days per Harvest because it is more meaningful do the average DIY elk hunter. The Average Days per Harvest is simply the total number of recreation days divided by the total number of elk harvested. This number has ranged between 16.7 and 19.5 days.

If Average Hunter Success is 35%, that means it takes the average elk hunter 2.9 years to harvest and elk. If you hunt 7 days per year, that is 20 total days (compare to 16.7 to 19.5 Average Days per Harvest).

Wyoming Law Requires Non-residents to have a Guide to Hunt in Wilderness Areas

If hunting Wyoming as a non-resident, be advised you can not hunt in designated Wilderness Areas without a guide. Wyoming Statute 23-2-401. Guides required; exceptions; issuance of resident guide license. (a) No nonresident shall hunt big or trophy game animals on any designated wilderness area, as defined by federal or state law, in this state [Wyoming] unless accompanied by a licensed professional guide or a resident guide. Read the full law here (§ 23-2-401) If you have a friend that lives in Wyoming, they can be your guide if they follow certain rules: Any Wyoming resident can act as a guide if they also have a hunting license and apply for a resident guide license (no charge). They must sign an affidavit stating:

  1. The names, addresses and license numbers of the nonresidents to be guided
  2. The game to be hunted
  3. The area to be hunted
  4. The resident has not or will not receive any compensation

The resident guide can not guide more than two nonresident hunters in any calendar year. I’ll be damned if that’s not big brother getting involved in your personal business.  I can understand the need to require people going into Wilderness Areas to post a bond in the event they need to be rescued, but in my opinion, it is a scam to require hunters to hire a guide to hunt on public land, but more about that later. At least there are plenty of elk outside of the Wilderness Areas.

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Hard to find Information at Wyoming Game & Fish Website

A friend of mine that lives in Oregon suggested we try to draw an Any Elk tag to hunt in western Wyoming. My friend used to live in Wyoming, so is familiar with many of the units there and should be familiar with the Wyoming rules and regulations. I suggested we look for OTC tags in case we didn’t draw, but he was sure non-residents can not buy OTC elk tags in Wyoming. Since he is a reasonably intelligent guy and he is my friend, I believed him.

But while searching the Wyoming Game & Fish Department (WGF) website for information about elk tags we could draw, I found some information that led me to believe we could buy tags OTC. Why is this fact so hard to find? Probably because WGF wants you to enter the drawings.

To make sure, I called WGF directly and was told by a friendly employee, I could buy OTC  tags to hunt elk or deer in Wyoming. When I told my friend this, he still didn’t believe me and was so adamant that he convinced me that I must have misunderstood the woman at WGF. So, I went online to try to buy an OTC tag. After registering as a non-resident, I was assigned an ID number at the WGF website. With that ID number, I was able to see all remaining tags that were available to buy immediately (Full Price or reduced). Just have your credit card number handy.

All of the The “Any Elk” tags were sold out in the unit we wanted to hunt, but we were able to buy cow/calf tags in the same unit. But non-residents can buy tags OTC if that have not sold out. The Website says tags are shipped in 10 days. That was easy, so easy to buy tags on-line, so why is it such a big secret? Remember that most OTC tags have a quota, so first come first serve. Just check at the website to see if any tags are left.

I’m not sure what Wyoming is trying to pull or what they are trying to say to out of state hunters with the law requiring non-residents to hire guides to hunt in Wilderness areas. I guess we could all just hunt in another states. Maybe that’s what they want in the first place, or state legislature have a stake in outfitting. If Wyoming residents can hunt in my state without requiring a guide, I say “screw em”. Hunt elk in Wyoming and stay out of the Wilderness Areas until that ridiculous law is repealed. Just thinking about logistics, if you’re not bringing horses with you, you’re not going to hunt anything but the edge of a Wilderness Area anyway.

Wyoming Hunt Type Codes

Another bit of information you need to know to hunt in Wyoming is their hunt type codes. The regulations and draw odds pages all show the hunt types, but with no explanation. You can find the codes on Wyoming Game and Fish Website, but it ain’t easy. So here are the Wyoming Hunt Codes:

  • GEN General Full Price Fees
  • Type 1 & 2 Antlered or Any Full Price Fees
  • Type 3 Antlered or Any White-Tailed Deer, Elk or Antelope Full Price Fees
  • Type 4 & 5 Antlerless Full Price Fees
  • Type 6 & 7 Doe/Fawn, Cow/Calf elk or Ewe/Lamb Reduced Price Fees
  • Type 8 Doe/Fawn White-Tailed Deer, Cow/Calf Elk or Doe/Fawn Antelope Reduced Price Fees
  • Type 9 Archery Only Full Price Fees
  • Type 0 Other Specialty Weapon Only (excluding archery) Full Price Fees

To hunt Bull Elk in Wyoming with rifle, you are looking for Type 1, 2 or 3 hunts.

To hunt Any Elk in Wyoming with rifle, you are looking for Type 1 or 2 hunts.

To hunt cow or calf elk (antlerless elk) in Wyoming, you are looking for Type 6, 7 or 8 hunts.

In Wyoming, archery hunts are Type 9 hunts.


  1. So .……what areas can a non resident hunt elk without paying for a guide? Please help me out, as I want to follow the laws.

    • Jack: The only areas that require a guide are in the officially designated Wilderness Areas. All other BLM, Forest Service and State lands are available for non-residents to hunt without a guide. There are plenty of areas to hunt outside of the Wilderness Areas.

      Here is a list of Wilderness Areas in Wyoming with maps. You will not accidentally drive into Wilderness because there are no roads and it is usually very hard to accidentally walk into a Wilderness Area.

  2. Ok. But how long does the elk hunt last? I’m just curious because there are two birthdays I don’t want to miss. Sep 15 And Oct 29. It’s been 4 yrs since I’ve been hunting with my bow. So I need some refreshments.

    • Kayla:
      Wyoming is a state that makes it hard to find all the info you need to hunt. They have just redesigned their website, but the info we need is still hard to find.

      To answer you question about actual season dates, I assume you are talking about the General Season (OTC) hunt, but you need to know which unit you are hunting. (This page) shows the 2015 elk season info, but still lists dates as tentative with no closing dates.
      (This pdf download) shows dates and closing dates for all elk hunts limited entry and general.

      So, for example in unit 9, the general hunt is Any elk, spikes excluded, the hunt dates are Aug 15- 31
      Unit 10, (also Any elk, spikes excluded) – hunt dates Aug 15- 31
      But unit 21 (Any elk) – Hunt dates Oct 15 – 25 and the Antlerless elk hunt dates are Oct 26 – Nov 15.
      and unit 28 (Any elk) – Hunt dates Oct 1 – 9.

      I have links to all the important info for the 7 best western elk hunting States in my DIY Elk Hunting Guide. The guide also helps choose places to hunt and gives lots of information about logistical and survival issues out of state hunters may need.

      Anyway, you need to pick a unit, buy the tag and get to practicing…
      Good Luck

  3. Dave Jaeger says

    Hi there! I would like to know exactly what I need to do to come out there and bow hunt a bull elk with a over the counter license in 2018 for my 50th birthday. I have a cousin who has a horse ranch outside of Cody and would more than likely be willing to help me with guiding and or carcass removal.
    This will be my first elk hunt as there are few here in northern Minnesota. I have bow hunted, trapped and enjoyed the outdoors my whole life. I even spent 3 yrs. in Alaska and do have some mountain experience and extensive outdoor survival skills.
    I would be interested in hunting unit 56 Wapiti Ridge. Any suggestions, Maps or Tips would be greatly appreciated!
    Sincerely, Dave J.

    • Hi Dave: Sorry for the delay, but I’ve been outside fishing and scouting most of the week.
      If you have started looking at the hunting regs for Wyoming, you probably learned they are complicated compared to most states in the east.
      But the first thing I would do if I had a cousin in Wyoming would be to get their advice. You can analyze harvest data and look at Google Earth and maps until you are cross-eyed, but your cousin probably knows where you need to hunt and where he is willing to go and you also need to know if you can use his horses or not.
      If he hunts, your cousin can also walk you through the application process. He can also be your guide if you want to hunt in one of the Wilderness Areas (guides are required, but they can be friends or family if they are willing to sign an affidavit).
      My best advice is to go to the website and to read the Hunting Application booklet.
      By the way, unit 56 hasn’t allocated any bull elk tags to non-residents to take bull elk. See draw odds for 2016 non-resident and non-resident special (Archery is type 9).
      There is no guarantee you will get the tag you want for 2018, but you have several chances. The non-res special license means you pay more for a better chance to draw. Also, left-over tags can be purchased in early July, but I would know the exact date each year and would be ready to buy a tag first thing in the morning.
      Anyway good luck with getting the tag you want.

      • Ryan Kruger says

        So I was also looking at putting in for a Unit 56 type 9 hunt (in Wyoming). I called the WFG office in Cody and asked to talk to the area Biologist but he was out at a convention and had left a note with the nice lady I spoke with. She said that this unit is not recommended for a Non-resident archery hunt without a guide due to the fact that there are only small pockets of elk in the two 25 sq. mile areas of National forest that aren’t included in the Wilderness area.
        I find that hard to believe as these areas are very similar to the Wilderness area terrain etc. (Extreme and road-less). If this is the case I appreciate the WFG’s honesty but just wanted a second opinion on this to make sure it isn’t just a strategy to get a non-resident to hire a guide.
        Thanks Ryan

        • Ryan: I have not hunted that unit, but a few things come to mind that I would check. I know you are talking about the areas outside of the Wilderness Areas, but to be sure you understand, non-residents can not hunt in Wilderness areas in Wyoming without a guide.
          Second, let’s look at a few harvest reports from unit 56. In 2015 (2016 report not out yet) 173 elk were harvested, but only 1 elk was harvested with type 9 permit (25 permits). In 2014, 218 elk were harvested (11 archery/29 permits), in 2013 147 elk were harvested, but none (0/22) with archery, in 2012 133 elk were harvests, 5 of which were archery (out of 14 tags).
          So elk are in the unit, but they seem to be hard to hunt during the archery season (or it’s hit or miss’ up one season down the next). The biologists probably already knows what happened last year and we don’t. They don’t care if you use a guide or not, but it seems like a tough place to hunt if you don’t have knowledge of the area.
          Also, apparently no non-residents drew archery tags in unit 56 in 2016 (11 applied).
          Elk populations are up in many areas around the West. Some exceptions are areas that are getting lots of pressure from wolves and unit 56 (being so close to Yellowstone) is one such area. Even then, populations may not be down, but the wolves are changing their behavior and causing them to move around more. Elk are avoiding traditional areas and moving into new areas to avoid wolves. They spend more time on the move. If you hunt any unit close to Yellowstone, make sure to have a big can of bear spray.
          If you have time to scout the area, you will know as much as the locals. If not, you will be at a disadvantage. But half the fun is getting to learn a new area. Good Luck.

  4. I have an opportunity to hunt unit 7 September 2017 as a non resident with a resident that knows the unit well. I only have one preference point. Is there any chance I can get a tag in that unit? The Wyoming fish and game site is the most confusing state site I have ever tried to figure out. Thanks in advance!

    • Yes, all of the state websites are hard to navigate and to find the information you need. But we don’t have a choice, we use their websites or we don’t hunt. Get your buddy in Wyoming to help you figure it all out.
      If you look at drawing odds for 2016 (Non-res with preference points)…
      You will see for 2016 in unit 7, there were 82 any elk tags for non-residents. 65 of those tags went to hunters with at least 8 points and 17 tags went to applicants with less than 10 or 9 points. 1025 applicants with 8 points or less did not get a tag.
      But for antlerless elk, there were 96 tags and 87 tags went unclaimed. Everyone that applied for a cow tag got one, the remainder were sold during the left-over license sale that started July 6.

      You could try to improve your odds for an any elk tag by applying for the special hunt (costs more) (see drawing odds here)
      There were 56 Any Elk tags and 43 went to applicants with at least 7 points. 14 tags went to applicants with less than 8 points and 370 applicants with less than 7 points did not get a tag. There were 39 special tags for antlerless elk but nobody applied.
      These tags also would be sold during the left-over license sale that started July 6.

      So if you are willing to hunt antlerless elk only, you can be sure to get a tag. It will be difficult to get one of the any elk tags. Worse case scenario is you try for the any elk tag and don’t get one, you can still go on the hunt, you just won’t have a tag. The cow elk tag would be better than nothing. Make sure you get a cow tag, go on the hunt with your friend and gain the experience. Go on as many cow hunts as you can while waiting for a chance to hunt Bull Elk.

  5. Heading up to zone 7 for an elk hunt outside Laramie this week. Has the weather moved the animals down or are they still in the high country? Thanks for any tip in advance. This is our first hunting trip to Wyoming.

    • Scott: I have never hunted unit 7 (Laramie Peak) in Wyoming, but it looks like good country.
      There has not been any real Winter weather since early Sept. throughout the Inter-mountain West. Last week, I found elk at 9,400 feet, at 8,000 feet and saw fresh sign at 7,000 feet. So, some may be moving down for water or due to hunting pressure (or have been down all Summer depending on the area), but no, the weather should not have moved them.
      Good Luck.

  6. Cameron Rubio says

    I still have a few years before I would like to go hunt in Wyoming. I would like to hunt a cow elk, but just out of curiosity, how do I build up points? Do these points work for all species? I would rather just purchase a cow tag because I’m not really fond of the idea of a guided hunt and figured that any elk is a trophy, any major things I should start looking up?

    • First, why do you want to hunt in Wyoming? Sure it’s a beautiful place and has lots of elk, but other states such as Colorado, Idaho and Utah make it much easier for out of state hunters with OTC tags.
      But, to answer your question, You get a point every year you apply and don’t draw. An no, elk points are only for elk and antelope points are for antelope.
      But you don’t have to have lots of points to draw a cow elk tag (cow/calf) in most units.

      For example, I looked at units 31, 32, 107 and 124, which border Utah and Colorado.
      No non-resident drew an Any Elk tag with less than 10 points in units 31, 32 or 124 for 2016 (107 doesn’t offer the Any elk tag).
      But everyone (non-residents) that applied drew cow tags for units 31 and 32 (including people with zero points) and nobody applied for the 18 tags in unit 107. 13 non-residents applied for the 12 tags in unit 124, so everyone got a tag except for one guy with zero points. Ten people got tags with zero points.

      So how did hunters in those units do? In 2015, 80 hunters (res & non-res combined) harvested 52 cow elk in unit 31 (65%), 48 hunters harvested 16 cow elk in unit 32 (33.3%), 120 hunters harvested 58 cow elk in unit 107 (48.3%) and 99 hunters harvested 68 cow elk in unit 124 (68.7%).

      As you can see, there were opportunities for non-residents to draw cow elk tags with zero points and harvest an elk.

      You are the kind of person I wrote the DIY Elk Hunting Guide for.

      Major things to look up? Yes, if you’ve already decided to hunt Wyoming, then make sure you apply before the end of January. A cow tag is fairly easy to get, but try to get a tag so you can hunt Bull elk and have a cow tag as a back up plan.
      Good Luck and let me know what you decide.

  7. Hello
    I am thinking of purchasing the special Elk tag with no points as non resident. What are my odds of getting drawn?


    • Allen: The odds of drawing are dependent on the type of hunt and the unit you apply for.
      In 2016, for all Non-resident Elk Special Random Draw combined, the total quota was 409 tags and 834 hunters applied for 1st choice, 381 as second choice and 38 as 3rd choice, so overall 32.6% drew tags.
      But some tags are much harder to draw… Examples: 427 hunters applied for 18 tags in the unit 7 any elk hunt (1:23.7 or 4.2%) and 239 hunters applied for one tag in the unit 100 any elk hunt (1:239 or 0.4%).
      On the other hand, nobody applied for antlerless elk tags in over 30 units, so anyone that applied would have gotten one.

  8. Hi there, I have recently been given permission to hunt a private farm in unit 10 of Wyoming and have been doing tons of research and have found it difficult to get good information.

    I talked to a DNR guy (Wyoming Game & Fish) but he was not helpful at all and told me to apply for a special draw if I want to hunt. I didn’t see any stats for unit 10 in any of the charts you have posted or in these comments. Do you have any advice on how to go about obtaining the right tag to hunt unit 10 on private land as a nonresident?

    • Hi Donny:
      Yes, it is difficult getting information from state agencies. But they make the rules and you have to deal with them if you want to hunt in their state.

      Hunt Area (Unit) 10 in Wyoming has General Elk tags, but as a non-resident, you have to apply for them. Wyoming stopped selling Over-the-counter General Elk Tags to non-residents several years ago.

      Also, only cow-calf elk tags are available for non-residents in that unit. For 2017, 32 non-resident tags were available and 74 hunters applied as first choice.
      In Wyoming, you have to apply by Jan 31 for tags, so make sure you apply for next year to hunt in 2018.

      You can apply for left over tags between June 26-30 (2017), but it is not likely that unit 10 tags will be available unless someone returned them.

      Part of the reason I wrote the DIY Elk Hunting Guide to make it easier to find out the type of information you need to buy or apply for the tags you want.

      FYI, in 2016 (latest harvest statistics), in unit 10 (Rock Creek) 335 hunters (Limited 6 tags) harvested 136 elk (cows and calves) for a 40.6% success rate.
      The total harvest in unit 10 (includes general resident tags) was 1212 hunters harvested 372 elk for 30.7% success.

      • So the general elk tag would be the only way to hunt a bull elk in unit 10? And in order to obtain one, I would need to apply and most likely build a couple preference points? I wouldn’t mind going with a cow tag my first year to gain some experience, but my ultimate goal is to chase a bull elk during the rut.

        So if I’m understanding you correctly, I should apply for the general tag in unit 10 if I do want an opportunity at a bull tag? Thank you so much for your quick response and for helping with this difficult/overwhelming aspect. People like you are what make hunting such a unique and awesome community to be apart of!

        • Yes, the General Elk tag is the only way to hunt Bull elk in Hunt Area 10 in Wyoming. There are 3 options for cow tags.

          Here is a screenshot of available hunts in unit 10. To find the page on Wyoming Fish and Game website, go here.
          Then select hunt area 10, then click “View Detailed Info”.

          Since you have access to private land, you want to choose the first options for cow/calf “10-6 – Private Land” if you want to hunt early (Aug. – Sept.)…
          Or the 2nd option “10-6 – entire area” if you want to hunt later (Oct. – Nov.)…
          Or the 3rd option if you want to hunt Dec. – Jan. (10-6 – off National Forest).

          Good Luck and let me know how it turns out.

  9. Dalton Armstrong says

    Hi, I’m a sixteen year old California resident, and I have been saving for an elk hunt for three years, and since money is tight I have decided on Wyoming. I am going to have a cow tag and bull tag (I’m not a trophy hunter, it just doesn’t seem like my dream hunt without having that tag in case I see one).

    I’m having trouble deciding on a unit to apply for. I need one with easy to draw tags, because my dad and grandfather are going too and we are all non-residents. I would like somewhere with a good amount of elk, but really I’m looking for the experience of elk hunting so I would really like somewhere scenic. I would love any advice you can give me it’s really hard to pick a hunt unit when you’ve never even been to the state. Thanks for the advice and great article.

    • Hi Dalton: Good for you. There are lots of good units in the western elk states. But since you need to draw 3 tags, you may have to pick states that still have general elk seasons with Over=the-counter (OTC) tags. Wyoming requires non-residents to apply for elk tags. But there are many units that can be drawn every year.

      Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington all still have OTC tags.

      Also, from California you are driving past several of those good elk hunting states to get to Wyoming.

      Elk hunting is like trout fishing in one aspect. Trout (and elk) do not live in ugly places, so any place you elk hunt will be scenic.

      I like your plan to get tags for either sex, so you maximize your chances of harvesting an elk.

      I wrote these posts to help DIY elk hunters decide where to hunt:
      How to Choose an Elk Unit for a DIY Public Land Hunt – Part I & Part II

      I also wrote the DIY Elk Hunting Guide so you can find most of the information you need to choose where to hunt.

      Good Luck on your hunt and let me know what you decide.

  10. Dalton Armstrong says

    Looking back on what I said earlier I feel stupid voicing everyone’s dream, I just need some advice.

  11. Dalton Armstrong says

    Thanks so much, I’ll probably be back

    • Denise Mitchell says

      Dalton, I’ve been following your posts, and was curious to find out if you were able to get your Wyoming tags and go on your dream hunt! Your post is actually the dream of many hunters, Nationwide! I hope you got your dream come true, and have many more wonderful hunts before you!

  12. So what about for nonresident archery tags? Is there an application for that or is it all OTC?

  13. Hello what is your favorite unit for OTC hunting for elk in Wyoming? Hiking hard is preferred. Rifle.

    • Hiking hard is not the only way, but best way to get away from the roads… Have not personally hunted Wyoming since friend left for Oregon and since Wyoming requires non-residents to have a guide for hunting in Wilderness Areas. Your email gives me a hint you are not a Wyoming resident, so you will have to apply for General Season Elk tags in Wyoming.

      In 2018, 4,215 1st choice applicants (non-res) applied for 595 General Tags. But there are many units that have high chances to draw tags every year because not many people apply. These units will not be the “best” units, but worth exploring if you want to DIY elk hunt Wyoming (outside of Wilderness Areas).

      Example: Last year, unit 95 had 3 any elk tags and only 4 people applied… also had 7 antlerless tags and nobody applied 1st choice… It is a small unit with about half being Wilderness, but still has over 100,000 acres on National Forest lands…

  14. In Wyoming, we Hunt in Areas, there are no Units….
    Wyoming Resident Pet Peeve #1

    • I hear you… At first I thought you were responding to a comment because I generally try to stick with the official designations from each state… but I see that I got sloppy.
      I also have a tendency to throw around terms like tags and licenses and permits that are not completely interchangeable, but I think most people forgive me for making that mistake. You definitely have to learn the lingo for each state.
      Things must be good in Wyoming if this is PP#1… Good luck on your hunt.

  15. Paul Clancy says

    I cannot get over having to hire a guide to hunt wilderness in wyoming. I have over 1000 miles logged with a pack string all during back country elk hunts. Extremely experienced. I have this feeling that there are 18 year old kids fresh out of royal tine guide school who take several people into grizz country every year. It just doesn’t make sense. I can hike or fish in there by myself, just cant hunt.

    How could I hook up with a wyoming resident so they could guide me through the thorofare?

    • Yes, the way the law is written, you can have a “resident companion” to hunt big game in wilderness areas. For most people, that will be a friend or family member. They have to get a non-commercial guide license (free) from Wyoming Game and Fish.
      So yes, if you can find someone willing to guide you, that will be legal…
      If you stay out of the official designated wilderness areas, you do not need a guide. Much of the true wilderness areas (not all) are high elevation habitat that is better suited for mountain goats than elk anyway…

  16. Dave Thompson says

    Enjoy your posts!

    South Dakotan looking for a cow elk unit in Wyoming that has a good success rate. Any thoughts? I’ve also been plagued by the difficulty in understanding the state website.
    Any help is appreciated!

    • Welcome to the club, everyone is confused by all the Western DNR/DWR websites…They know what they want to tell you, but don’t care what you need to know… Since you have to play by their rules, you will do the work so they don’t have too.

      I put all the important links to the websites in MY DIY Elk Hunting Guide, but you are still going to have to find the info and decipher it…

      As a non-resident, you have to apply for the draw tags by Jan 31.
      There will be a left-over license draw in June (dates for 2020 not set yet).
      You can also buy leftover OTC tags starting around mid July…

      In fact, I looked just to see and there are still tags in unit 3 & 6 (plains around Cheyenne)available now…
      The fact they are still available should tell you something…

      I know you don’t know what a type 6 license is… and it is not easy to find on their website (Reduced calf/cow elk)… but what does reduced mean?
      I assume it is a ALW hunt, but that would also have to be verified.

      If you look up Reduced Price, they will tell you that is a type 6,7 or 8 license, so they go around in circles. They also say that you have to apply for Full Price license if you want to hunt antlered (Bull) elk. But they also sell full price antlerless tags…

      I always call and talk to someone in person when I have specific questions that I can’t find in the regs. But be careful… I was told by two different things by two different Colorado employees.

      So have your specific questions ready when you call.

      Knowing the rules are important. I run into people every year that do not take advantage of opportunities, because they do not know the rules.
      Good luck on navigating the site, good luck on “learning the lingo” and good luck on your hunt.

  17. Would you mine suggesting good OTC general archery units for non-residents? I see the guys from Born and Raised Outdoors and Corey Jacobson but they never give any clue as to where they’re at. I have 5 points for Wyoming but would love to hunt there without waiting to draw a tag. Any input will help. Thanks!

    • Hi Chase. The problem is always what do you mean by “good”? Do you mean easy? No such thing on public land.

      Every year, I rank the units for hunter success and total elk harvest…here is an example

      Elk are on all National Forests in these states with OTC and General Elk tags… I could put you on my favorite units, but without knowledge of the area you wouldn’t do any better than if you chose a place randomly.

      You can hunt Colorado, Utah, Idaho every year with OTC tags. In Wyoming and Montana, you have to apply as a non-resident. Oregon and Washington also have general tags, but not as much habitat or elk as the other states.

      There are many units in Wyoming and Montana where non-residents can hunt every year. But they are units where most people don’t apply.

      Do your research, then go learn some areas. Your personal knowledge of elk hunting areas will be most important. Good luck on your hunt.

  18. Thinking of moving to wyoming. Have any good places to move to, for, hunting and fishing. Been looking at Casper and Larame. People are tell me to look at Cody. Thanks,Dick Lamping

    • Yes, you and everyone else wants to move to the Intermountain West… join the stampede before it’s too late. Most places within close proximity to public land has good hunting and many of the mountain areas, reservoirs and tail waters have good fishing… Good Luck.

  19. Ryan Kuper says

    Where in Wyoming can non residents elk hunt riding horses and mules and not get into the wilderness areas? Is it worth while to pack into these areas?

    • Yes, it is worth packing into many of the National Forest Areas that are not included in Wilderness Areas if you have or know horses. You know the terrain you want to hunt. Do your homework… look at lots of maps. Maybe look at areas like the Medicine Bow-Routt NF SW of Laramie… The Wyoming portion of the Ashley South of Mountain View or areas North of Kemmerer on the Bridger (Border with Idaho). Just stay off the Designated Wilderness (most of which is too high elevation for elk anyway). Good luck.

  20. Wyoming is a joke. Let the wolves and antis have it. That “wildlife task force” and government are running it straight into the ground.

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