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Western States with 2019 Over-the-Counter Elk Tags

Submitted by:  Backcountry Press Outdoor News 
Published on: 05/14/19

Disclaimer:  The views expressed on this site are that of the authors and not necessarily that of TBC Press
News # -10670
2019 North America Sportshows
By now, it shouldn’t be a secret that you can do a DIY elk hunt without winning the lottery in several western states.

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 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. Backcountry Chronicles  has taken alot of time and research to provide this information.
Western States with 2019 Over-the-Counter Elk Tags
Wyoming and Montana no longer offer OTC tags to non-residents, but chances are still good to hunt elk in those states. California, Nevada and New Mexico do not offer any OTC Elk tags, so all elk tags in these states are limited entry only. 

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.

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 at These tags are best for locals that have knowledge of the area and elk movements.

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.