I wrote an article recently about how to travel in your state cheaply to hunt some new areas. The focus was on camping to expand your range without having to spend a ton of money. Perhaps you’re ready to start exploring some out of state hunts. This can open up many new areas and different species to hunt. It does mean, however, that you will need to buy non-resident hunting tags. In most cases, these will cost significantly more (as much as ten times) than what a resident hunting tag costs in your state. Also, and more importantly, for most of the out of state hunts you will have to enter a draw (or lottery) to try and get your tag. The most desirable hunts such as Colorado elk, Wyoming mule deer, and mountain sheep will take years of applying every year to eventually get a tag. There are some areas though, that still offer over the counter tags. Arizona is one such state.
Arizona OTC Hunting Opportunities
Now, If you want to rifle hunt in Arizona you are going to need to apply for the draw. These tags can take years of applying to build up enough points to hunt. However, some great archery opportunities in Arizona are over the counter. This means that you only need to buy a non-resident hunting license and then pay for the tag for each species and you can bowhunt without having to apply for a limited draw. For 2020, the non-resident combination fish and hunt license is $160. You must have this combo tag to hunt as a non-resident. Non-permit tags (over the counter) include rifle/archery elk, archery-only deer (mule, coues or whitetail), rifle/archery javelina, rifle/archery black bear, archery-only turkey, and rifle/archery mountain lion. While elk is the most expensive non-permit tag at $650, it does permit you to hunt with a rifle. With the ability to show up and hunt deer, elk, or javelina Arizona provides some great opportunities for a non-resident.
Archery only deer tags in Arizona will not be the easiest hunting you have ever done, but with the ability to target mule and coues deer the opportunities are enticing, albeit challenging. Arizona is not typically the first state people think of when planning exciting out of state hunts, but maybe it should be. For $560 in tags and licenses, you can be hunting javelina and mule deer. Throw in $350 for airfare, some money for meals and campsites, and you could feasibly do this trip for under $1500. Compared to the costs of traveling to “destination states” and targeting marquee species, it’s a great deal.
Each state has expansive and often confusing rules and regulations as to hunting licenses for out of state hunters. Start making lists of the top states/species you want to do and begin reading through the regulations. Some of the hunts may be things you have to plan for 5-10 years down the road, but you will probably be surprised at some of the tags you can get over the counter.