Didn’t draw a tag this year? Perhaps you just couldn’t plan a 2021 Western hunt in time, or maybe you just weren’t sure you could get away from work or family. You must be feeling some major FOMO right now as you scroll through the socials, liking all your buddies’ grip-and-grins from their Western hunts. Well, not all hope is lost. It’s almost November, yes, but here are a few ways you can still get out West this fall or winter for a much-needed hunting trip.
Nebraska: Mule Deer and Whitetail
Nebraska is a closely guarded secret. I feel dirty even writing about it. There aren’t many Western states that offer as long a mule deer season. The $285 non-resident statewide archery tag for either sex or species (mule deer or whitetail) starts on Sept. 1 and ends on Dec. 31. You must have completed an archery-specific hunter safety course — you can take one online. Not an archery hunter? No problem. For the same price, you can purchase an either-sex, either-species muzzleloader tag that lasts the entire month of December.
Want to rifle hunt? Nebraska’s November firearm tag is a great option that allows you to hunt for the state’s nine-day firearm season starting on Nov. 13. You have two choices here: a unit-specific limited-number permit for $285, or a statewide buck tag issued in unlimited quantity for $698.
The statewide buck tag does not allow mule deer hunting in the state’s Mule Deer Conservation Areas. Although Nebraska doesn’t have the abundant public land that Wyoming, Colorado, or Idaho do, there’s still plenty to comb through. And after the firearm season ends, door knocking is an effective way to gain permission to hunt private land.
Colorado has several options for squeezing in a last-minute hunt. When it comes to elk hunting, Colorado is one of the last Western states that still offer unlimited over-the-counter tags.
Unlimited OTC tags are available for the state’s second and third antlered elk rifle seasons. The second rifle season runs from Oct. 30 – Nov. 7. The third rifle season runs from Nov. 13 – Nov. 19. These are bull-only tags and you will need to consult Colorado’s big-game regulations and be familiar with their 90-plus different OTC rifle units. At a cost of $688.26, it is still one of the least expensive bull-elk tags in the West.
Colorado also offers a list of leftover and turned-in licenses for deer and antelope, as well as limited elk licenses, that are available for reissue. Be aware that if you do not purchase a tag before the start of the season, you can only buy them in person at a Colorado Parks and Wildlife location.
Arizona: Muleys and Coues Deer
After most Western states have closed their big-game seasons for the year, Arizona comes through with archery-only non-permit OTC deer tags. Depending on the unit, there are four possible seasons, but the most popular and longest is the final season that runs through the entire month of January.
You will need to buy a $160 hunting license and a $300 deer tag, but you have the whole month to hunt mule deer, and guess what? Muleys in Arizona generally rut in January. This tag covers any antlered deer meaning you can chase coues deer as well.
In addition to deer, you can also purchase a non-permit tag for javelinas, which are a lot like wild hogs and very entertaining to hunt with a bow — their poor eyesight makes javelinas a great animal to stalk with a stick-and-string.
With Nebraska’s archery deer season, Colorado’s unlimited OTC bull-elk tags, and Arizona’s late-season deer season with rutting mule deer, you have some solid options for last-minute hunting opportunities. So if that November wedding got canceled or your big work trip was rescheduled, these are some great ways to fill that open time with hunting.
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