Five Western States have Over-the-Counter Elk Tags for Non-residents for 2020 (2022)

By now, it shouldn’t be a secret that you can do a DIY elk hunt without winning the lottery.

So, if you want to hunt elk in the West, why does everyone tell you have to start building points in the various lottery or draw systems?

Sure, in order to get tags for a trophy bull in the best units and to hunt during times when there is less competition and when elk are bugling and distracted by the rut, you will have to draw a tag and you usually need a lot of points to do it. But that is a different article.

There are many units with general season tags or Over-the Counter (OTC) tags that offer a good chance at getting an elk, especially if you get an any sex elk tag.

Every year, it takes me about a week to navigate through 11 state websites and regulation pamphlets trying to find all the information that should be easy to find. What a pain, but hunting is an activity where we have no choice but to deal with the state bureaucracies.

For years, I have been gathering information about the different hunting seasons and elk tag combinations. It would be nice to have all this information in one place to help decide which hunts work best for us.

But each state has different regulations, terminology and hunting seasons, as well as different wildlife management histories and hunting cultures. On top of that, some states have changed the data they report. I will be lucky to condense all the data into 11 spreadsheets. More on that later.

When Table 1 was first published, I included eight states that offer various OTC elk tags to both residents and to Non-residents. But Wyoming and Montana no longer offered OTC tags to non-residents, but chances are still good to hunt elk in those states. I’ll explain below.

(Video) DIDN'T DRAW A TAG - OTC Opportunities Across The West

Table 1. General Elk Tags for Non-Residents in Five Western States for 2019 Elk Hunting Season

StateAny Bull ElkBrow-tined /3-pointSpike OnlyAny Sex ElkAntlerless/ Cow or CalfTotal Non-Res. Costs
Colorado R A A$672 Bull/Any Elk, $507 cow/calf
Idaho A-M-R ALW A-M-R A-M-R A-M-R$582
Oregon A-R A-R A-R A-R$167 + $571 = $738
Utah A-M-RA-M-Rincluded w/Archery only$65 + $339 = $458 ($700 multi season)
Washington A-M-R A-M-RA-M-R A-M-R A-M-R$593.80
Arizona is a special case. Their only OTC tags are in areas where elk are not wanted; Non-Res cost is $825 (probably best left for locals)
Montana# no longer offers OTC tags for non-residents – but many units have 100% draw; Non-Res Bull Elk $888 or $1,045 for Any Elk & Deer Combo; Cow Elk $275
Wyoming no longer offers OTC tags for non-residents – but many units have 100% draw and leftover tags may be available; Non-Res Elk $692 (cow/calf $288)

A = Archery, M = Muzzleloader, R = Rifle, ALW = Any Legal Weapon; info in the table is accurate to the best of my knowledge as of Jan 2020, but some changes may occur later.

California, Nevada and New Mexico do not offer any OTC Elk tags, so all elk tags in these states are limited entry only.

Some of the OTC tags are not limited except in certain units, while other tags may be limited state-wide. In that case, it is first come, first serve, so you might guess the best units will sell out fast, but many of these tags do not sell out until the hunt starts. In some states (like Idaho) if tags don’t sell by a certain date, anyone can buy them as a second tag.

I suggest getting a couple of buddies together and start planning a hunting trip. I’ve even done the budget for you (read here).

Surely, you know someone that lives in one of these seven states. If so, you will have a base to operate from. Even if you came to scout and didn’t hunt, you would have a blast, but why not get an OTC tag? It makes the hiking and scouting a little more interesting.

*Arizona has special Over-the-Counter Nonpermit-tags for Elk

These tags are very limited and are only offered for specific locations where the Arizona Game and Fish Department do not want elk. Why wouldn’t the state want elk? Because they are mostly on private land and they cause problems for local ranchers. The areas and times of the hunts are subject to change (read more here). These tags are best for locals that have knowledge of the area and elk movements, so unless you have a friend that has that local knowledge, it is best to leave these tags for the locals.

#Montana Offers Combination Big Game or Elk Tags

Over-the-counter (OTC) tags are no longer available for non-residents. You will have to apply for what they call Combination Elk, Big game Combos (Deer and Elk) and Combination Deer licenses.

In past years, there were more people applying for these tags than the 17,000 quota, so they had a drawing to decide who got tags. The sale of these tags have been down for several years, partially because of rumors that the Montana elk populations are down because of wolves. Not true according to Montana biologists and according to harvest reports and elk populations objectives. Listen to what people say (or write), but look at the harvest reports for yourself.

(Video) How to Hunt as a Non-Resident in Oregon | Mastering the Draw

Anyway, for the last several years, every non-resident that applied for a tag got one (read more). That has not been true for several years, but odds are still good for most units.

It has been over 25 years ago since I left small game hunting in the southern Piedmont and moved to live in elk country. For this transplanted southern boy, there is nothing like seeing big elk in the backcountry unless it’s seeing elk with a tag in your pocket.

I still get a kick from just watching a herd of cows and calves and compared to most white-tailed deer, even the calves look big. In fact, the average elk calf weighs more than a 4½ year old mule deer buck (read How Much Meat to Pack Out on an Elk or How Much Meat to Pack Out on a Mule Deer).

Like everyone else, I am building points trying to draw one of those coveted limited entry bull elk tag here in my backyard.

But we still hunt every year with General Elk tags. We put meat in the freezer and we get to spend time in beautiful country and have a great time. We usually see lots of game and few other hunters. So why do OTC tags still seem like a big secret?

Even Locals don’t Know about OTC Elk Tags

A few years ago, I met one of my neighbors for the first time after his dogs followed us home from a walk. I called the phone number on the dog collar and he came to pick them up. We talked for a while and when he mentioned he had horses, I asked him about using his horses to help pack out my next elk. He got pretty excited when I mentioned elk hunting, but said he hadn’t been able to hunt in the state since he moved here five years earlier because he hasn’t been able to draw a tag.

He was very surprised to learn our state has OTC bull elk tags plus a 50% chance to draw on several nearby units for cow elk hunts. I did him two favors that day. I know it’s a pain to carefully read your state’s (or any state’s) Big Game pamphlet, but you may be missing out if you don’t.

And Check out My DIY Elk Hunting Guide - 3rd Edition

(Video) How Do I Get an Elk Tag in Idaho? | MASTERING THE DRAW

More Related Outdoor Tips, Reviews & Info:

FAQs

What state is the easiest to get an elk tag? ›

Wyoming: Best State for Affordable and Available Elk Hunts

First, there are elk, about 110,000 of them. Second, a non-resident bull elk tag is under $600 (with a cow/calf tag at half that price). Third, many hunting units here have a 100% drawing success rate. That puts Wyoming high up on the elk hunting bucket list.

When can you buy over the counter elk tags in Colorado 2022? ›

Available Tuesday, August 2, 2022 at 9 am MT

Some licenses for elk, pronghorn, and bear are available without needing to enter the draw(s) and are not restricted in quantity (unlimited). Find more information on over-the-counter licenses in the Big Game brochure.

Can you buy elk tags over the counter in Wyoming? ›

The elk application deadline is February 1st. There are no “over the counter” opportunities for nonresidents to hunt elk in Wyoming and in most cases points will be required. However, we will take care of figuring all of that out for you and make the application process easy for you.

Can a non-resident buy an elk tag in Montana? ›

Nonresident Licenses. Montana offers three general hunting packages to nonresidents through a random computer drawing: General Deer Combination. General Elk Combination.

What states offer over the counter elk tags? ›

General Elk Tags for Non-Residents in Five Western States for 2022 Elk Hunting Season. Colorado tags are called OTC (Over-the-Counter). In Idaho, Utah, Oregon and Washington they are called General Season Tags/Permits/Licenses. All can be bought over the counter as long as the limit has not sold out.

Where is the cheapest place to hunt elk? ›

Idaho has historically been one of the lower-priced states for a NR to hunt elk in, and for the remainder of 2020, it is still just $586 for an archery elk license/tag.

How much is a non resident elk tag in Montana? ›

This is an unlimited first choice permit area that is valid for all three seasons. If you hold the 270-45 elk permit, you may hunt elk in unit 270 as well as the general units.
...
2022 Montana Non-Resident Elk Hunting Fees.
Licenses & PermitsFee
Elk Combination License$971.50
Youth Big Game Combination License$584
8 more rows

What states have non resident over the counter elk tags? ›

Table 1. General Elk Tags for Non-Residents in Five Western States for 2019 Elk Hunting Season
StateAny Bull ElkTotal Non-Res. Costs
ColoradoR$672 Bull/Any Elk, $507 cow/calf
IdahoA-M-R$582
OregonA-R$167 + $571 = $738
UtahA-M-R$65 + $339 = $458 ($700 multi season)
4 more rows

How much are non resident elk tags in Colorado? ›

​​Payment Deadlines
​​​License Type​​​​Fee - This is the fee you will be charged if you are successful in drawing your license, or get an unsuccessful option.
​Nonresident​ adult/fishing combo​​*$ 420.23
​Nonresident​ youth/fishing combo​​*​$ 107.43
​​​ELK​ ​ ​
​Resident cow, bull or either sex​$ 57.90
20 more rows

Does Arizona have OTC elk tags? ›

Arizona offers Over The Counter Elk Tags for special hunts. These tags are for "Any Elk" and the season is almost year round! Timberland Outfitters normally 100% harvest success on these hunts!!!! You do not have to apply for the lottery draw to buy one of these tags.

Can a non resident hunt elk in Wyoming? ›

Non-residents can hunt for elk in Wyoming, although these tags are doled out strictly by a draw system. Only residents can purchase over the counter elk tags and in limited areas. For new transplants, you must live in the state for 180 days before you can be considered a resident.

How much is a non resident elk tag in New Mexico? ›

Table of Draw Fees
License TypeResidentNonresident
Standard Elk License (Residents 18–64 years of age and all nonresidents)
A (Antlerless)$60Not Issued
MB (Mature Bull)$90$548
ES (Either Sex)$90$548
40 more rows
6 Jun 2022

Does Utah have OTC elk tags? ›

Utah Any Bull Elk or Spike Only OTC Permits

There are two types of General Season Elk permits that can be purchased over the counter (or online) for Archery, Rifle (or any legal weapon) and Muzzleloader seasons.

What do I need to hunt elk in Colorado non-resident? ›

Non-resident elk tags includes a fishing license and the cost for Non-residents in 2022 is $670.25 for Bull Elk (Antlered) or Either Sex Elk tags and $503.12 for cow/calf (Antlerless). The cost for Non-resident Youth tag is $102.78. Plus everyone 18 – 64 also has to buy a $10.40 habitat stamp.

What is the best unit to hunt elk in Colorado? ›

Look to the Routt National Forest where you'll find large elk numbers. The basic movement is from the higher to lower elevations in response to hunting pressure and elevation. With 48 percent of the land available to the public, hunters, over the past few years, have reported about an 18% success rate.

What Western states have over the counter deer tags? ›

Arizona, California, Idaho, Oregon, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Washington are states where you can purchase tags over the counter and hunt mule deer

mule deer
The mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) is a deer indigenous to western North America; it is named for its ears, which are large like those of the mule. Two subspecies of mule deer are grouped into the black-tailed deer.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Mule_deer
every year.

When can I buy 2022 Idaho elk tags? ›

Starting December 1, 2021 at 10 a.m. MST, a limited number of general season deer and elk tags go on sale for nonresidents for 2022.

What state has the highest success rate for elk hunting? ›

Wyoming claims an amazing overall 44.4% average hunter success rate (includes OTC tags), followed now by Utah at 26.4% (Utah is always late, so waiting on 2017 harvest data). Idaho dropped to third place followed by Montana.

How much do you tip an elk hunt guide? ›

The general consensus is 10 percent, and it does depend on the service. If the guide busts his but, he's savvy, and works hard, then tip him accordingly.

What state has the most elk population? ›

Today, Colorado has the largest herd in the United States, about 300,000 animals. Elk in Montana, Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming number between 100,000 and 150,000. New Mexico, Utah and Washington have 50,000 to 80,000 elk, and Arizona, Nevada, California and Kentucky have 10,000 to 25,000 elk.

What is the best elk unit in Montana? ›

Well Known Rokslider. 391, and 392 are probably two of the best elk units in the state. They are so great that FWP reduced the B tags in 392 to 25 this year, and adjusted the regulations in 391 so that no cows may be harvested on Forest Service land during rifle season.

Where is the best elk hunting in Montana? ›

Northwest Montana is where you will find the best Elk Hunting under Big Sky Country. Combine this with the high success rate for hunters, 17.4 success rate as reported by FWP, and it is easy to see why hunting in Montana is so desirable- there are over 132 outfitters in the state with many offering hunting trips.

How much does a guided elk hunt cost in Montana? ›

Rifle Hunts
Elk – 6 Day Hunt (very difficult draw)$5,750
Antelope – 3 Day Hunt$2,500
Big Horn Sheep – 6 Day HuntCall for Pricing
Cow Elk – 2 Day Hunt$2,000
Cow Elk added to Mule Deer Hunt$750
1 more row

Does Idaho have OTC elk tags? ›

Over-the-counter (OTC) elk tags are available for rifle hunters in most of Idaho's elk zones. When you purchase an elk tag in Idaho it is only valid for a specific zone so it is important to choose a zone that will give you the best chances of success.

Can you buy over the counter mule deer tags in Wyoming? ›

General deer licenses are full-price licenses that allow the harvest of "any" or "antlered" deer depending upon the limitations for a given hunt area. General license deer hunt areas allow unlimited "over-the-counter" license sales for Wyoming residents.

Can you buy over the counter mule deer tags in Colorado? ›

You can purchase an “add-on” bear license if you're already planning an elk or mule deer hunt in Colorado this year. These add-on licenses are available over the counter in many units.

How much is a non-resident elk tag in Arizona? ›

A non-resident license costs $160 and is valid 365 days from the date of purchase. That's only 44 cents a day! As a reminder, your license can be used to apply for a 2017 elk or pronghorn hunt permit-tag before the February deadline (the application period opens in January).

How much is an elk tag in Idaho? ›

Comparison of 2021 tag and license fee increases for nonresidents in Idaho
Deer tag$301.75$351.75
Elk tag$416.75$651.75
Antelope tag$311.75$342.75
Bighorn sheep tag$2,101.75$2,626.75
19 more rows
17 Mar 2020

How many elk tags can you get in Colorado? ›

You can have more than one elk license if at least one is a List B license. You are only able to obtain a single license that allows you to take an antlered animal of any species.

How hard is it to draw an elk tag in Arizona? ›

Arizona is known for being extremely hard to draw, but that doesn't mean you'll never get to hunt it. There are plenty of other options besides the coveted early archery and early rifle tags. Don't forget that the application deadline is tomorrow February 11 at 11:59 p.m. Arizona time. You can apply online here.

How much is an elk tag in Arizona? ›

Hunting Licenses & Fees
NONPERMIT-TAGS These tags may be purchased over-the-counter at Department offices or license dealers.RESIDENTNON-RESIDENT
Elk Nonpermit-tag$135$650
Archery Deer Nonpermit-tag$45$300
Bobcat Seal(for sale or export)6$3$3
STAMPSRESIDENTNON-RESIDENT
8 more rows

Where is the best elk hunting in Arizona? ›

Arizona Unit 23

While Unit 23 may not always produce giant bulls in the numbers that Unit 9 and 10 do, hunters can't go wrong by applying for an elk tag in unit 23. With great genetics it usually has great rutting activity which makes for a very fun and enjoyable hunt.

Is it easy to get an elk tag in Wyoming? ›

2022 Wyoming Elk Draw

The general elk license is a great choice for someone who does not have many points. In 2021, the draw odds were 9% in the random draw and 43% with 3 points in the regular draw. The odds were 30% in the random draw and 24% with 2 points in the special draw.

How much is a elk tag in Wyoming? ›

Paying more for the special license may increase your draw odds. 60% of the tag allocation goes into the regular draw and 40% goes into the special draw. A regular full-price elk tag costs about $700. A special full-price elk tag costs nearly $1,300.

What tags can you buy over the counter in Wyoming? ›

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.

What are the odds of drawing a New Mexico elk tag? ›

In accordance with state law, the drawing attempts to distribute a minimum of 84% of the licenses/permits for each hunt to New Mexico residents, 10% to residents and nonresidents who have contracted with an outfitter and 6% to nonresidents who haven't contracted with an outfitter.

What is the best unit to hunt elk in New Mexico? ›

If you want a true wilderness hunt, the Gila is one of the best in the west. The Gila units in New Mexico have some of the toughest draw odds in the country for elk.

How much is a elk hunt in New Mexico? ›

This includes the fully guided hunt, meals and accommodations. What about an elk tag? Hunters who draw a tag can expect between $555 and $780 for the cost of their tag, depending on the unit and season they draw.

What state has best elk hunting? ›

The Best Hunting States
  • Best Elk Hunting States:
  • Arizona. Arizona is a state that takes years and years to draw and when you do draw, the hunting will be very good. ...
  • Nevada. Nevada has some incredible elk and you can buy landowner permits. ...
  • Montana. ...
  • Wyoming. ...
  • Washington and California. ...
  • Colorado and New Mexico. ...
  • Oregon.
20 Apr 2020

What state has the highest success rate for elk hunting? ›

Wyoming claims an amazing overall 44.4% average hunter success rate (includes OTC tags), followed now by Utah at 26.4% (Utah is always late, so waiting on 2017 harvest data). Idaho dropped to third place followed by Montana.

How much is a non resident elk tag in Montana? ›

This is an unlimited first choice permit area that is valid for all three seasons. If you hold the 270-45 elk permit, you may hunt elk in unit 270 as well as the general units.
...
2022 Montana Non-Resident Elk Hunting Fees.
Licenses & PermitsFee
Elk Combination License$971.50
Youth Big Game Combination License$584
8 more rows

What state has the highest population of elk? ›

Today, Colorado has the largest herd in the United States, about 300,000 animals. Elk in Montana, Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming number between 100,000 and 150,000. New Mexico, Utah and Washington have 50,000 to 80,000 elk, and Arizona, Nevada, California and Kentucky have 10,000 to 25,000 elk.

Where is the easiest place to hunt elk? ›

Colorado is often at the top of the list for beginner elk hunters. The state has more elk than any other, with more than 280,000 animals. Colorado sells either sex and cow-only archery tags over the counter. For rifle hunters, bull tags can be purchased over the counter for the state's second and third rifle seasons.

What states offer non resident elk hunting? ›

Table 1. General Elk Tags for Non-Residents in Five Western States for 2019 Elk Hunting Season
StateAny Bull ElkTotal Non-Res. Costs
ColoradoR$672 Bull/Any Elk, $507 cow/calf
IdahoA-M-R$582
OregonA-R$167 + $571 = $738
UtahA-M-R$65 + $339 = $458 ($700 multi season)
4 more rows

Where do the biggest elk live? ›

Males are larger and weigh 178–497 kg (392–1,096 lb) while females weigh 171–292 kg (377–644 lb). The largest of the subspecies is the Roosevelt elk (C. c. roosevelti), found west of the Cascade Range in the U.S. states of California, Oregon and Washington, and in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Who is the best elk hunter? ›

Danny Moore is one of the most consistently successful elk hunters alive. A self-taught hunter and bugler who hunts on his own, the Montana resident has killed more than 40 bulls in a row and today hunts only Pope & Young Club record book elk.

Where are the biggest elk found? ›

The Boone & Crockett Club recently certified a Rocky Mountain elk killed by an Idaho hunter in September 2008 on public land in Utah as the largest elk ever killed in the wild. The elk's antler measurements totaled 478-5⁄8 inches to overtake the old non-typical American elk record by 13 inches.

How much is a nonresident elk tag in Colorado? ›

​​Payment Deadlines
​​​License Type​​​​Fee - This is the fee you will be charged if you are successful in drawing your license, or get an unsuccessful option.
​​​ELK​ ​ ​
​Resident cow, bull or either sex​$ 57.90
​Resident youth​$ 16.32
​​Nonresident​ cow/fishing combo​​*$ 526.17
20 more rows

What is the best elk unit in Montana? ›

Well Known Rokslider. 391, and 392 are probably two of the best elk units in the state. They are so great that FWP reduced the B tags in 392 to 25 this year, and adjusted the regulations in 391 so that no cows may be harvested on Forest Service land during rifle season.

Where is the best elk hunting in Montana? ›

Northwest Montana is where you will find the best Elk Hunting under Big Sky Country. Combine this with the high success rate for hunters, 17.4 success rate as reported by FWP, and it is easy to see why hunting in Montana is so desirable- there are over 132 outfitters in the state with many offering hunting trips.

What is the largest elk ever recorded? ›

After a second hunting trip, Austad was able to get within 180 yards and nailed the shot. When the elk was officially measured it did not disappoint and stands as the is the largest elk in the world with a score of 478 5/8ths!

What is the success rate for elk hunting? ›

When you take a look at average success rates for elk hunters, you'll find around 15% of elk hunters are successful each fall. However, when you neglect draw hunts and look only at OTC, public land, DIY elk hunts, the success rates drop to around 10%.

Can you buy elk tags over the counter in Colorado? ›

Elk tags can be bought either over-the-counter (OTC) or can be acquired by drawing through the lottery tag system. Both bull and cow elk licenses/tags are $57.90 for residents, and non-residents will pay $700.98 for a bull tag or $526.17 for a cow tag (prices subject to change annually).

Videos

1. Do You Have Any Chance of Hunting Elk in Nevada?
(Elk101com)
2. Hunt Elk Every Year: Colorado Elk "How To" with goHUNT INSIDER
(Randy Newberg, Hunter)
3. How To Hunt Colorado | APPLICATION SEASON
(Randy Newberg, Hunter)
4. Hunt Elk Every Year: Idaho Elk "How To" with goHUNT INSIDER
(Randy Newberg, Hunter)
5. Hunt Elk Every Year: Utah and the goHUNT INSIDER
(Randy Newberg, Hunter)
6. What to Expect From a Colorado Elk Hunt | Mastering the Draw
(The Huntin' Fool)

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