Finding Over The Counter Hunts In Every Western State

Why OTC?

For many hunters, simply having the opportunity to chase after deer, elk and other big game annually is more important than harvesting a trophy animal. The experience of being in the mountains or glassing sage brush and juniper with family and friends becomes a tradition more important than the meat. Though there need not be a tradeoff between these desires some hunts do provide better odds of success. That said, hunters often value their time in the field as much or more than killing an animal. For these hunters, hunting over-the-counter tags (or OTC tags) is a great choice. Several states offer OTC elk and OTC deer tags to both resident and nonresidents alike! OTC nonresident elk tags and OTC nonresident deer tags are a great way for neophyte western hunters to gain experience.

After all, being a hunter means building a skillset around and gaining knowledge about the natural world. Knowledge of how to glass, hike mountains, build camp, find sign, etc... takes time. Building that experience with OTC tags instead of limited entry draw tags is just plain smart. In many cases, one could actually go out and scout, locate animals and then head back to town and pickup a tag. So you don't necessarily need to spend money until you are certain there are animals in the vicinity. But how do you pick an OTC unit to hunt? What states have OTC elk hunts? How about deer hunts?

HuntScore makes it easy to find OTC opportunities in every state we cover. For every state and species we cover, we analyze regulations to identify OTC tags. Best of all, HuntScore also includes hunter success, public access, terrain, pressure and other stats for every unit all in spot. So you can quickly pick out which units have the hunting experience you are after.

Finding Tags

Finding OTC hunts is as easy as selecting a state and species and visiting the units page. Then select "table mode" icon (see image above) to see if there are any OTC hunts available in a unit. Paid subscribers can access all filtering capabilities and will be able to see the OTC hunt opportunities when visiting any specific unit page. Below is a table of all the over the counter hunting opportunites by state. We'll update this ad we add more states (Kansas, Alaska and California are coming soon). Keep reading below to see how to work the table filters to narrow in and find your hunt!


All - resident and nonresident tags, Res - resident tags only, Nonres - nonresident tags only
Antelope   All       All        
Bear All All All   All   All   All All
Barbery Sheep           All        
Deer All All All All All All All   All Res
Elk All All All   All Res All All All  
Ibex           All        
Javelina All         All        
Mountain Lion All   All       All   All All
Turkey All     All            
Sheep         All          
Wolf     All              


Find Your Hunt

Table mode allows hunters to filter and sort based on any of the 9 characteristics of a hunt. In addition, you'll see the method of take and sex of animal that can be taken. So if you are only interested in archery, you can filter to archery only hunts. If you only want to hunt a bull elk, you'll be able to see if an OTC tag exists for males. After that, you can filter on characteristics to dial in on the experience you seek. For example lets find the hunt that fits the below criteria: 

  • cow elk archery hunt in Colorado.
  • we want a good chance of killing an elk
  • we want to have access to a bunch of public land
  • we prefer hiking in steep country

In the image above, we've applied our filters, and we can see that GMU 31 has a good success rate, has a decent amount of public land and reasonably difficult terrain. If we navigate to GMU 31, we can scroll down to the OTC hunts section to view the dates, manner of take and so on. The unit page contains additional detail on the terrain, weather and information from state wildlife agencies about access, species and hunting information where available. So that's it! It's that easy to find your next OTC hunt with HuntScore.


Posted: August 26, 2021

Written By: Matt Habiger

About: Matt grew up running around the oaks, pines and birches in central Minnesota. He spent his youth hunting, fishing and riding bmx. For better or worse he's a restless hunter, prone to wandering the reaches of public land. Many youthful days were spent dreaming about chasing elk, deer and bear across mountain sides with a butterscotch maple Interarms 300 Weatherby from his father. 25 years later he still has the same dreams they just happen to come true every Fall and Spring.

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