If you’re like us at Ehuntr you grew up hunting your home state, and even though it was western hunting most of us just considered it hunting. For many of us, It wasn’t until we got older and made our own money that multiple western hunting opportunities became an option. Our goal in the following article is to give you the reader an idea of western hunting opportunities, whether you are like us and were born in the west or if you’re planning a trip from back east we hope this helps you plan your first or next trip out here.
First, we will discuss hunts that are easily available, after that we will transition to some dream hunts, and lastly, we will discuss a few that fly under the radar.
1. Colorado OTC Elk
One of the greatest western hunting opportunities is Colorado OTC elk hunts. Colorado offers OTC hunting permits in over 60 units. These hunts are a great chance for hunters to experience Colorado and western hunting. Success rates vary depending on the season and units that you pick. Another benefit of this hunting opportunity is tags go on sale on August 2nd and can be purchased all the way up until the season starts. Likewise, you can check out more about these hunts by clicking here.
2. Idaho Mule Deer
Idaho’s mule deer opportunities are offered in a type of hybrid OTC hunt. While the permits are still considered OTC, nonresidents will need to apply for the unit they want an OTC permit in. If there are no permits available for your desired unit you may be able to get a permit for a different unit. These permits go on sale on December 1st each and they sell out rather quickly. That means unfortunately these permits are not an option for this year. However, it’s a good opportunity to keep on the calendar and schedule a trip. Due to not needing points, and as long as you get to the website in time to buy a permit, this hunt can be a yearly occurrence. You can learn more by clicking here.
3. Wyoming Pronghorn
Wyoming is the best place to look into for pronghorn hunting opportunities. Pronghorn hunting in Wyoming straddles the gap between the high opportunity hunts and dream hunts. Units on the eastern side of the state can be drawn with low points. However, many of these units have minimal public lands, and contacting a landowner may be needed. In the western units, public land is abundant and you enter the territory of a dream pronghorn hunt. Many of these western units can take a nonresident between 7-12 preference points to draw a tag. Hunting pronghorn is a great introduction to western hunting. The animals typically stay up and moving most of the day and the terrain is typically milder than what you find while hunting deer and elk. The application process for these hunts takes place from Jan. 3rd to May 31st. You can check out the pronghorn hunt planner by clicking here.
4. New Mexico Elk
Elk hunting in most of New Mexico is squarely in the dream hunt camp. The draw odds are low but they are the same for all applicants. New Mexico’s big game draw process doesn’t use preference points, so, basically, it is a true lottery system. As stated above this makes the draw equal for everyone. However, it will make drawing a tag a rare occurrence. Likewise, New Mexico is home to some true trophy-class bull elk. You definitely won’t be able to hunt here every year, but if you get a permit you are in for one of the best hunts the west has to offer. The application process for this hunt typically ends in the middle of March. Sadly, that means you’ll have to wait until next year to apply. Check out the New Mexico Game & Fish website by clicking here.
5. Montana Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn sheep hunting anywhere in the west is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. As a result, if you are a younger person you better start applying, and if you are older, you may never get a permit. Montana, like many other western states, allows limited bighorn sheep hunting. These permits allow hunters to chase trophy-class rams in historic locations like the Gallatin Yellowstone, the South Absaroka, and the Missouri Breaks. This type of hunt is definitely not something everyone will get to do but if you don’t apply you won’t draw the permit. You can learn more about bighorn sheep by clicking here.
6. Oregon OTC Deer
Oregon oftentimes gets left off of the hunting opportunities’ lists. However, this under-the-radar state has some great chances for deer hunters to get a permit. We say deer hunters because Oregon offers hunting opportunities for both blacktails and mule deer. Archery-only OTC tags for mule deer are available in nearly two-thirds of the state. Likewise, hunters can buy OTC permits for both archery and rifle permits to hunt blacktail deer in the northwestern portion of the state. Blacktail hunting is a great way to get out and hunt as there are several different season dates that are OTC. Click here to learn more about hunting deer in Oregon.
7. South Dakota Pheasants
This under-the-radar hunt is a little different from all the others listed. Firstly, many would argue that South Dakota is in the Midwest, not the west. Secondly, this hunt is the only one listed where you’d be targeting small game instead of big game. Both of these items can be overlooked when you realize what a quality hunting experience it is. South Dakota is well known for pheasant hunting and you won’t be the only guys chasing birds. However, because of the number of birds and hunters, there are a lot of private landowners offering hunts for every price range, you can also find public walk-in access and CRP lands that allow bird hunting. It is our feeling that every hunter should experience South Dakota wing shooting at least once. Click here to read more about pheasant hunting in South Dakota.
These are just a few of the western hunting opportunities available and we know we could make this article the longest one ever if we included them all. If you have any questions about other hunts ask us in the comments or send us a message via our social media platforms. You can also check out more of our hunting articles by clicking here.