Nonresident Western State Big Game Limited Quota License Allocation

By Mountain Pursuit

Colorado has the most liberal non-resident, limited quota unit allocation for deer and elk, but Wyoming has the most limited quota nonresident allocation for moose, mountain goat, Bighorn Sheep and Antelope.

The chart below breaks down the limited quota allocation by species and state. Sources include state regulations,, and various presentations.

Note especially for deer and elk, the figures below only refer to limited-quota units. Nonresident deer and elk tag allocation for general hunting areas and leftover licenses can be greater and the specifics by state complicated and difficult to parse out.


Wyoming regulations, for example, allocate a total of 7,250 full priced elk licenses to non-residents per year. However, in 2017, non-residents purchased a total of 12,571 elk tags. The 5,321 elk tags above the 7,250 tag allocation were either reduced price cow/calf tags, or leftover tags.  Of the total 70,593 elk tags sold in Wyoming in 2017, non-residents purchased 12,571 or 17.8%.

Idaho, Montana, Colorado and Arizona all offer nonresident, over-the-counter tags for one or both species (deer/elk) for general hunting units. We're working to parse out these numbers to find the total number of nonresident vs. resident tags sold.

Colorado is known to have the most liberal nonresident elk tag allocation, partly due to it's large number of elk (approx 278,000).

Wyoming sticks out for its very liberal nonresident tag allocation for moose, mountain goat, bighorn and bighorn sheep - which averages double the percentage of other states. Specifically for bighorn sheep, in 2017 a total of 217 tags were sold, of which 56 went to non-residents, or 25.8%. This included 5 bighorn sheep "Governor Tags" which are allocated outside of draw quotas.

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  • Steve Gili
    commented 2019-01-11 15:17:01 -0700
    I believe MT is “up to 10%”. Meaning that they don’t even have to give 10% to NR’s regardless of how many tags are available. I believe it is based off the order drawn. If there are 100 tags available then they stop issuing tags to NR names as soon as they hit 10 names. Since they mix res and NR names together they can and do get all 100 tags drawn without ever hitting the 10% max. Last I remember MT sheep, moose and Mt Goat were routinely less than 10% NR for this very reason. I could be wrong or it may have changed. I stopped applying for these tags in MT a while ago due to the horrible draw odds and will stick with waiting out the Wyo sheep draw.