How to Get Out of State Deer Tags

By Brodie SwisherMay 9, 2023

If you’re thinking about an out-of-state hunting roadtrip this fall, but don’t know where to start, don’t worry. We’ve got the basics you need to know to get things rolling. The process is relatively easy, but there are a few things you need to know up front. 

Here’s a look at how to get out of state deer tags this season.

Research Your Options

If you’ve watched a fair share of outdoor TV, you’ve probably got some dream whitetail hunts in mind. Big buck states, like Iowa and Kansas, quickly come to mind for most hunters when daydreaming about the ultimate whitetail destination. But these, and many others, require non-residents to be drawn for a tag. And it could take you 3-5 years to do so. So it’s important to be realistic in your hunting plans, particularly if you’re looking for a place to hunt year after year. 

That’s why it’s important to research your options. Know where you can get an over-the-counter deer tag year after year without having lengthy waiting periods or limited draw options. Once you narrow down your options and figure out which states you want to tackle, you can proceed with the process of obtaining tags. 

How To Get Out Of State Deer Tags
Time spent in front of the computer will help you narrow down your options for an out of state hunt.

Know Your Prerequisites

As you begin the process for securing your out of state tags, it’s important to keep in mind there will be prerequisites that come with the purchase of a non-resident tag. And states can vary from one to the next, so don’t think just because they did it one way in Mississippi means they’ll do it the same in Minnesota. 

What You Need to Know:

State Deadlines – Make sure you’re meeting any deadlines that may be in place. Even over-the-counter opportunities may still have deadlines that you’ll want to be aware of. 

Preference Points – Make sure the tag you’re after doesn’t require any preference points. And if so, what’s required to secure a tag? 

What Licenses Will You Need? –  Most states have prerequisite hunting licenses (small game license, general hunting license, conservation stamp, etc.) you must purchase before buying the big game deer license. Don’t miss these. 

How To Get Out Of State Deer Tags
It's easier than ever to buy the licenses you need for an out of state hunt. Just be sure you have all the extra licenses that must come with it.

Hunter Education Requirements – Most states require hunter education certification for any hunter under the age of 50+. It varies by state. But this is one you simply can’t work around. You’ll have to have this before you buy a tag. 

In Tennessee, the rule states – “Every person born on or after January 1, 1969, before hunting, shall possess, in addition to all other licenses and permits required, proof of satisfactory completion of an agency-approved hunter education course.”

Regulation Changes By Region – Be mindful that regulations will likely change by region across the state. What may be acceptable on the west side of the state may land you with a fine if conducted on the east side of the state. The rules vary  by region. “Know before you go,” is a good rule to keep in mind here.  

Watch Out For Limited Tags - Buy Before They're Gone

Like with most any purchase, it’s good to shop early. Don’t wait until the last minute to buy your tag. Why? With non-resident hunting on the rise across much of the country, there’s a chance that states will soon begin to limit the number of tags sold. Don’t believe it? 

Nebraska sold out of non-resident turkey tags this spring. The hunter that waited too late to buy their tag had to resort to Plan B and hunt another state. That’s a big deal breaker! Don’t be that guy. Know which states are limiting the number of over-the-counter tags sold, and buy as early as you can. 

How To Get Out Of State Deer Tags

Buy Online or In-Person

For those states that truly offer over- the-counter tags, purchase options typically include buying online, in-person at your local sporting goods store, Walmart sporting goods department, etc. A growing number of states now offer a smartphone app for their fish and game department that allows you to purchase tags and report harvests right from the palm of your hand. It truly is  easier than ever to secure an out of state deer tag for the fall season. 

What about you? What states are you planning to hunt this fall? Comment below, and let us know.

Be sure to watch the video below as Tyler Barron shares some Must-Know Tips for hunting out-of-state this fall. 

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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