If you’re asking, “What are some good states for public hunting opportunities” let Georgia Landsource help you. Undoubtedly, if you’ve never been out west as a hunter, you’ve dreamed about it. There is no better place to hunt game animals in the plains or mountains than on publicly accessible land. Hunting opportunities in the West are dwindling, however. It has become increasingly difficult for non-resident hunters to draw big game tags in several states that have restructured their allotment systems.
The number of opportunities for non-residents will continue to decline as hunter numbers increase and state residents push back. While there are still plenty of Western hunting opportunities, you won’t be able to experience them forever. The following list ranks western states according to their public hunting opportunities so you can decide where to start. Public land acreage, animal population density, and ease of obtaining tags were used to select them. We’ve rounded up the best Western opportunities for you!
11. North Dakota
The big game population in North Dakota is relatively low, and the state’s public land is somewhat limited, but it represents an excellent hunting destination. North Dakota may be outshined by its southern neighbor with a similar name, but it still offers excellent opportunities for hunting pheasants and whitetail deer.
Approximately 62 million acres of public land are in Nevada, making it one of the top states in terms of public land. Residents will benefit from this, but non-residents only benefit if they draw tags in the state. There is plenty of elk, antelope, and mule deer in Nevada, so it has a diverse game species population, but non-residents have had difficulty finding enough hunting opportunities.
9. New Mexico
Among the big game species in New Mexico are elk, antelope, black bear, mule deer, Coues deer, and whitetail deer. There is a high potential for quality trophy potential across the landscape because of the habitat and management practices. New Mexico does not have a lottery draw that is friendly to non-residents.
With over 35 million acres of public hunting land, Wyoming may be the most beautiful state on this list. The antelope population in Wyoming is the highest in the country, and the turkey, elk, and mule deer numbers are excellent. Tags for antelope and mule deer are easier to draw in the state’s eastern part.
Only one Spring black bear tag in Montana is available over the counter, and elk, deer, and antelope tags are drawn. It is possible, however, to find units with odds that are close to 100%. Montana’s 40 million acres provide great hunting opportunities once you obtain a tag.
A mild weather hunt in November sounds nice when you’re experiencing sub-freezing temperatures before Thanksgiving. A trip to Arizona could be ideal if you head not just west but southwest as well.
Getting to the top of this list will make separating the candidates more difficult. Louisiana has a relatively small amount of public land, measuring just 14 million acres compared to most other states on this list. However, they offer a variety of hunting opportunities.
Utah has 43 million acres of public land, and over-the-counter elk tags are available. In this state, mule deer and antelope tags take several years to accumulate, but the wait is worth considering the trophy potential. Its beautiful country and incredible trophy opportunities make Utah a perfect hunting destination.
It might seem surprising to some readers that Nebraska is ranked so high, but I think it’s deserved. With 2.4 million acres of public land available, Nebraska has a relatively low number of public lands but has made itself very non-resident friendly and offers various hunting opportunities. Several muzzleloader mule deer seasons are available in Nebraska, including muzzleloader and archery.
Many hunters would give Colorado the top spot on this list if it had a chance. In Colorado, you can get a license or tag almost every year for non-residents, so it’s an excellent place for a western hunting adventure. Colorado’s 29 million acres of public land are home to some of the nation’s largest elk and mule deer populations. Elk tags are available year-round (all methods), and antelope tags are available (archery) in specific areas.
This list would not be complete without Idaho at the top. The state offers over-the-counter tags for mule deer, whitetail, and elk. It is almost a given that pronghorn tags will also be drawn in some units. In addition to elk and mule deer, the state has one of the largest populations in the country.