Bowhunting Application Deadlines Across The Country

By Joe MartinoFebruary 19, 2017

LAST UPDATED: January 7th, 2022

Want to go on an out-of-state bowhunting adventure this fall? Start planning now to have a chance at some great Western (and some Midwestern) non-resident bowhunts. Here’s a look at the fast approaching bowhunting application deadlines.

The fall hunting seasons are in the books and believe it or not it’s already time to start thinking about next fall’s hunts; especially if you plan on applying for an out of state or draw tag. Many of the deadlines are fast-approaching, so forget spooling your ice fishing rods or practicing your turkey calls until you get your application(s) in.

Bowhunter researching bowhunting application deadlines

It’s never too early to start planning and preparing for a potential dream hunt.

Western big game hunts are the stuff of dreams and are on most bowhunters’ bucket lists, especially those of us from the less mountainous regions of the country. But besides the work that must be done before and during the hunt to make sure you are prepared physically, there are also things to get done prior to going to ensure that you even have the opportunity in the first place. There are ample opportunities across the country to plan your dream hunt. But first, you gotta secure your tag. Here’s where and how to do it…


Species: Application Deadline/Draw Results

Elk: January 31st / February 28th

Moose/Sheep/Goat: February 28th / May 10th

Deer/Antelope: May 31st / June 21st

Wyoming offers a species few can for hunters in the lower 48; moose. But drawing a tag can make you feel as if you are playing the lottery, with odds at little over 4% for non-residents and slightly lower for residents.  For most bowhunters, drawing a Wyoming moose tag is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  And while the elk application deadline has already passed you still have plenty of time to get your application in for a mule deer or antelope tag.  Many areas require few or no preference points to get drawn.



Species: Application Deadline/Draw Results

Deer/Elk:  February 8th / April 13th 

Deer/Sheep/Bison: December 3rd / July 19th

Spring Bison/Javelina: October 10th / November 21st

Arizona has monster elk, which are nearly impossible to draw a tag for. They also have Desert Bighorns, Javelina, and Bison too. They are one of the few states to offer a bison hunt. It may take several years to get that tag, but it’s a bison hunt!

In the meantime, go there to hunt javelina. You can’t do that just about anywhere, and it would be a hoot.



Species: Application Deadline / Draw Results

All Species: March 3rd / March 28th

Elk, deer or antelope tags are your best bet in Utah. The odds are high for drawing a tag for any of these. Putting in bonus points for a mountain goat tag is also recommended for a chance at one of these unique hunts.


Species: Application Deadline / Draw Results

Deer/Elk: April 1st / April 18th

Moose/Sheep/Goat: May 1st / June 13th

Antelope: June 1st / August 1st

For a big mule deer, Montana is hard to beat. At a better than 50% chance of drawing a tag, be ready to pack if you apply. Although there are good odds of drawing an elk tag too, and with the possible new archery world record having recently coming from the state, elk isn’t a bad choice either.


New Mexico

Species: Application Deadline / Draw Results

All Species: March 16th / April 27th

New Mexico is a top destination for those seeking a trophy-class bull elk. 16% of allotted tags are available to non-residents, but drawing one does not typically take too many years. The quality of the bulls makes it worth it.



Species / Application Deadline / Draw Results

All Species: April 6th / May 11th

Colorado boasts the largest elk population in the country. While not the place to go for the best odds at a world-class bull, if elk meat is on your mind, it can’t be beat. Your odds of punching the easy to get tag is about 20%. Archery either-sex tags are also available over-the-counter for many units.  Although the harder units to draw tend to boast larger elk and less competition from other hunters.  Another Colorado must-do that is almost a given to draw; pronghorn.



Species: Application Deadline / Draw Results

All Species: March 7th / May 27th

Bonus Point: April 25th

Guided Draw

With Nevada, I think of the desert bighorn sheep. A unique animal with limited availability due to the terrain in which it calls home. Odds of pulling a tag around 60 to 1. Only a lucky couple get to hunt them each year, but with a 100% success rate, it’s a draw to put in for.



Species: Application Deadline / Draw Results

Moose/Sheep/Goat: April 30th / May 18th

Deer/Elk/Antelope: June 4th / June 24th

Moose are your best bet in Idaho. With a 10 to 20% chance at a tag for non-residents, you will fare better than if you applied for elk, sheep or bear.



Species: Application Deadline / Draw Results

All Species: May 15th / June 16th

Spring bear would be my go-to here for a real shot at a hunt this year, and depending on which area you hunt determines your needing any preference points to draw a tag or not. The lure of Columbian white-tailed and black-tailed deer, along with Roosevelt elk would be strong for me, meaning I would also start accumulating my points now.



Species: Application Deadline / Draw Results

All Species: May 26th / June 10th

Okay, regardless of the odds, I’d be trying to get in on a Roosevelt elk hunt here. There is something about hunting a different species in the Pacific Northwest rainforest that interests me. Columbian white-tailed or black-tailed deer and bear are also good bets.



Species: Application Deadline / Draw Results

All Species: June 2nd June 14th

Think deer here for your best odds of going. The Golden State boasts six different species of them in fact; The California mule deer, Rocky Mountain mule deer, feral mule deer, Southern mule deer, Columbian black-tailed deer and a cross between a black-tailed and a mule deer.



Species: Application Deadline / Draw Results

Non-Resident Deer:  June 10th / May 13th

No brainer here. If you are going to Kansas, you are probably seeking to hunt whitetails. It is not all that difficult to draw a tag in the state that once didn’t allow non-resident hunters. You have a 70% chance or so of scoring one.

If it were me though, I’d go for turkeys. First off, because I love turkey hunting, but secondly, because parts of Kansas have both the eastern and Rio-Grande sub-species, as well as the hybrid mix between the two.



Species: Application Deadline / Draw Results

Whitetail:  June 6th / June 24th

If there’s one state that rivals Kansas for whitetail deer, it’s Iowa. Everyone knows that truly giant whitetails and Iowa go hand in hand. It can take a few years to draw a tag here, but when you do, you know you’ll be hunting the greatest whitetail state there is.


Drawing a Western bug game tag is not always easy. But depending on what species you’re going after you very well could draw a tag the first year you apply. Keeping track of the dates and deadlines – especially during a time when our minds are focused towards spring-time activities – can often be the most difficult part of making your dream hunt a reality. Mark your calendars and obtain all the necessary information to make sure you dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s to make sure you have the best chance possible of drawing a tag for the hunt of a lifetime.

Joe Martino
Media Contact at River Cleanup conservation group
Joe is a true outdoorsman who writes articles based on his experiences and knowledge of fishing, hunting, trapping and conservation. While Joe does occasionally fish and hunt throughout the country, many of his experiences come from pursuing the great outdoors throughout the Midwest.
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