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July 2024
Author: Stanton Upson

I’m the furthest thing from a turkey guy. In fact, I’d dare say most guys in the Huntin’ Fool office are far from turkey nuts. However, I am very impressed by those who have set out to harvest turkeys in all states or are chasing their royal slam. This got me thinking, can you do it with antelope? Now, I can get behind antelope and would almost consider myself an antelope nut. Most of you might think, whatever, antelope. They taste like crap, and they are easy to hunt. I’d say, you’re almost right. They can taste good if you treat them right, and they can be tough to hunt if they are educated and pressured, but nonetheless, I have an addiction to speed goats big and small. Most state antelope permits are very attainable, especially if you’re willing to go to an area with maybe less antelope, lower quality, or even pick up a different weapon.


This first state is arguably the hardest to obtain a permit in. When it comes to hunting antelope in Arizona, it may seem like a never-ending journey, and your feeling is right. The number of permits issued versus the number of applicants will never equate. That being said, there is a random draw opportunity every single time you apply, and it costs you just as much to be in the draw as it does to purchase their points only option. You do have to purchase a license to apply, so you may as well add the other species to your application that interest you. Inversely, if you are already applying for deer and elk, it is a no brainer to add antelope to your application portfolio. The quality and numbers are not what they once were, but make no mistake, trophy quality in Arizona is still top tier across the West. There are other opportunities outside of the state draw, including the states raffle tag program that essentially provides you a statewide governor type permit. There’s also the statewide auction tag where the permit has sold for $40,000-$50,000 for the last three years. There will be no more auction tags after 2025. There is no option for landowner permits in Arizona.


California could be considered harder than Arizona to get a permit, especially as a non- resident as they only issue one permit in the draw. Populations seem to be dwindling, but there are some opportunities on private land through their PLM (Private Lands Management) program in which you can hunt property with a landowner/private land only type permit. California does offer a multi-zone antelope permit, and the price is a little bit easier to swallow than Arizona, but it will still run you between $10,000-$15,000.


Now, hopefully you didn’t get too depressed after the first two states. Sorry, alphabetical order sorted them to the top. We are now into the more realistic opportunities to go hunt (minus Nevada). Colorado is known for its vast opportunities for hunting, and antelope follows suit. There are draw permits that already take well north of 20 points and will not come down (supply and demand), but that being said, there are still some archery muzzleloader and rifle draw permits that are well under 10 points. In a pure preference point system, that is easy on the eyes and a breath of fresh air. For example, I hunted a unit in 2023, a grasslands eastern unit that only took 5 points, with a rifle.

Speaking of grasslands, they are your friend in Colorado as you look into the next option as a self-guided hunter. Their over- the-counter archery permit encompasses most of the state, but its real bread and butter is the eastern half of the state where almost every single unit is wide open. However, you have to watch out as almost all of the eastern side of the state is private land. There is public land in the south as well as in the north along the Wyoming border. There is a lot of state land that is out there, but in Colorado, hunting on state land is controlled by those who have the state land lease. Most of the state land you come across will be state trust land with no public access, which leads to the next option. Colorado has a huge amount of landowner permits, and we work with great outfitters that have tons of private land tied up to operate on. Whether it be OTC archery or draw or skipping it all and booking a hunt with a great outfitter on a guaranteed permit, Colorado has a great option for you.


Idaho is one of the more overlooked states when it comes to antelope. Obtaining a permit here can be pretty tough if you are a rifle-only hunter. The odds are stacked against you in both the main draw and in the raffle tag program. However, if you are open to archery hunting, it is an absolute no brainer. They have limited quota draws that still fetch some long draw odds, but there are select units that are available on an unlimited basis. The catch is that you will still have to apply in the main draw for these hunts and they are first choice only. If you are already buying a license to apply for deer and elk, it makes sense to throw your name in. Another thing to think about is that even if you apply for moose, sheep, and goat, you can still apply for one of these unlimited licenses for antelope. There is no point system in Idaho, so you can try your luck and maybe strike gold your first try.


The first antelope hunting season in Kansas occurred in 1974. Nearly 500 hunters applied for the 80 permits available, and 70 antelope were harvested. Today, hunting is restricted to three management units that include parts or all of zones 2, 17, and 18. Firearms and muzzleloader permits are limited to residents only, and about 170 permits are authorized each year. Archery hunters can purchase antelope permits over-the-counter. Archery permits are valid during archery season only. Permits are unlimited (one per hunter) and may be purchased over-the-counter or online by residents and non-residents.


Montana is a great opportunity for antelope. With a great population and a vast amount of permits, it is surely an easy one to check off your list. Montana has two types of antelope hunts – rifle and archery. Both have a separate point system, so you may build points for both annually, but you may only apply in the draw for one or the other. The 900-20 archery antelope tag may be one of best opportunity hunts in the West. This hunt is becoming more popular by the year among both resident and non-resident hunters. One of the best things about this hunt is that archery hunters who draw the 900-20 tag can hunt every unit in the state, with the exception of units 215-20, 291-20, and 313-20. The 900-20 archery season runs August 15-November 10, and all of the rifle season hunts run October 12-November

10. Hunters who draw a rifle antelope tag can also hunt during the regular archery antelope season within their unit beginning on September 7th if they buy the $10 bow and arrow license. Rifle hunts can be a little tougher to draw, some are limited to just single management units and others, like the two 007 permits, hold large unit clusters but can still be drawn with little to no points. You don’t need to be applying every year to build points as there is an extended points only period each year where you can purchase points to use in future years.


Through the years, Nebraska has made it harder and harder on non-residents to obtain a permit. What was once an over- the-counter unlimited permit became a quota over-the-counter permit to what is now a draw. The permit drawing is a true preference system, so if you want to check Nebraska off your list, you better build a few points. On top of ultimately moving the permit into a draw, it has always been restricted to archery only. There are a few opportunities, such as the Super Tag and combo tag lotteries, that allow non-residents to obtain a permit as well. Another far stretch is that if you are a non-resident landowner, you may also be able to apply for an antelope permit.


Nevada is another hard one to bite the bullet on, much like Arizona, to draw, but once you have purchased the license, it’s a no brainer to have your name in the hat with good antelope populations and great quality to punch your tag on. The hardest part is obtaining the permit. There are some good options for all weapons across the state, but with a bonus point system, there is no telling when your number will come up as a successful applicant. There are other options like their statewide permit in the draw as well as an abundance of landowner permits. The one catch with landowner permits for antelope, like the other species, is that they are usually tied up. Linking up with an outfitter through Huntin’ Fool Adventures might prove to be fruitful for you. The auction permit is a little tough to track as the price has been all over the place the last few years from $19,000-$32,000.


While many people’s dream hunt lies in some foreign land or chasing bugles in September, a giant New Mexico antelope is at the top of my list! New Mexico issues unlimited antelope private land tags. For those who are willing to hire an outfitter that has access to private ground or if you yourself have access to private ground, this is a great option if unsuccessful in the draw. We highly recommend that you don’t wait until the last minute to book an outfitter as most of them are already booked. It is a great idea to get on their list a year or two ahead of time. If you obtain access to hunt antelope on a private ranch in New Mexico, you can then purchase a private land antelope license, which is available over-the-counter from a Game and Fish office or a license vendor. This license will only be valid on the private deeded land of the landowner who has granted permission. In addition to a valid private land antelope license and carcass/horn tag, hunters must have and carry with them written permission from the landowner. The private land antelope tag is valid on any private land within the hunting unit that you can obtain access to during the corresponding season. For the self-guided hunter, most tags have poor draw odds, but if you are lucky enough to draw a tag, you should have a good hunt. The best odds and the most tags available are for the archery season.


Currently, non-residents are not eligible to hunt antelope in North Dakota. If you are a resident, there is an established bonus point system and oodles of applicants, which is not favorable for you either. In addition to their draw, there are two special allocation permits that are issued to organizations throughout the state.


The antelope hunting opportunities in Oklahoma are about as interesting as you would assume. Currently, you may harvest two antelope but no more than one may be a buck. This includes antelope archery and antelope gun seasons. Antelope taken in January seasons count toward the previous year’s combined harvest limit. Non-residents are eligible to hunt archery with an over-the-counter permit. Rifle permits are issued through their controlled hunt drawing. Open areas for antelope are restricted to Cimarron County and a portion of Texas County west of state highway 136. Currently, the Rita Blanca WMA is the only “public” access in the area and is only open for archery antelope. For rifle antelope, you will need to receive written permission from a landowner to hunt on private land.


Oregon is another state that isn’t exactly kind to non-residents, but if you get creative and/or would like to pick up a bow, there could be some easier permits to obtain. Most rifle hunts take 25+ points to draw. The biggest problem for non-residents who want to hunt Oregon is that they only issue up to 3% of tags to non-residents. If you are already applying in Oregon, you can add an antelope application for only $8. If you do not want to wait years to draw a tag, you may want to go after a premium tag as those odds are completely random. The premium application is $8. If you love hunting antelope, you may as well apply for both the premium and regular tags. In addition to the permits, throwing your name into the raffle program can be another good, cheap option to get your name in the hat. You don’t need to be applying every year to build points as there is an extended points only period each year that you can purchase points to use in future years.


Non-resident archery antelope hunting participation is now part of a draw with a set quota of 450 licenses. These statewide archery licenses are valid on public and private lands. As is expected, navigating land ownership is critical to a successful hunt. To be eligible in the draw for most of the top firearm antelope hunts, hunters need to have accumulated 2 or more preference points. Archery antelope licenses are also available through a draw and are valid statewide. South Dakota is a great state for antelope hunting, and the prospects for the future look promising. You don’t need to be applying every year to build points as there is an extended points only period each year that you can purchase points to use in future years.


Currently, 41 counties in Texas have some type of antelope season. A majority of permits are issued to landowners where there are huntable populations of antelope, and this is the easiest way to get onboard with an antelope hunt in The Lone Star State. Easiest being one of the hardest, most of the landowner permits are spoken for, as to be expected, so doing your legwork to find a landowner or utilizing Huntin’ Fool Adventures to get an outfitter might be the ticket. Aside from landowner permits, the state offers a few permits in their public draw that you can apply for, but they are hard to obtain, including the permit in the northern grasslands with just shy of 10,000 applicants for 12 permits.


Much like Arizona and Nevada, although they are draws, once you have purchased the license, it’s a no brainer to have your name in the hat with good antelope populations and good quality to punch your tag on. There are some good options for all weapons across the state, though for non-residents it doesn’t give you much relief as far as number of points to draw. Utah will issue a random tag no matter what, so it’s worth having your name in the hat. Permits are split 50/50 preference and random, erring on the side of preference if there is an odd number of permits. They will always allocate the permit randomly if there is only one permit available. Recently, Utah removed scopes off of muzzleloaders, so it will be interesting to see how the odds fluctuate as we move into a traditional muzzleloader season versus a single shot rifle. Much like all species in Utah, conservation, landowner, and raffle permits are all on the table to try to look outside the box and scoop up a permit.


Wyoming is the antelope Mecca, at least in my mind. There is a vast amount of permits and accessible land and a pile of antelope that both hold quality and quantity. When anyone asks if they should be building points in Wyoming, I say, “Absolutely! If I could have an antelope permit every year in Wyoming, I would.” A 1,000-foot view of the state is that your points buy you access. What I mean by that is as you look at the state from west to east, you can see how the tags get harder to draw as you get into areas with more public land. Your easier to draw permits tend to be on the eastern side of the state where there is very limited access. Now that is a general comment, and there are exclusions such as the western portion of the state, “red desert country,” where the biggest speed goats are being harvested. For the most part, access is attainable as Wyoming has worked well with their landowners to create access through HMAs and WIHA areas which are basically landowners allowing access to their property for a kickback from the state. Most of the time, their access ties up a bunch of checkerboarded public land you wouldn’t otherwise have access to or their walk-in areas. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that even out east where there is limited access, if you do some homework, there is more access than you think. You don’t need to be applying every year to build points as there is an extended points only period each year where you can purchase points to use in future years.


There is currently no antelope hunting in Washington state. Antelope disappeared off the Washington landscape decades ago, but they have recently been reintroduced to the Yakama and Colville reservations. As populations grow, there are now antelope both within and outside of the reservation land. The current minimum population estimate is 250 antelope.

At the end of the day, even antelope permits are getting harder and harder to obtain. Year in and year out, we continually get questions about some last-minute opportunities or filling your schedule. As you can see, those opportunities are there but dwindling. There are many reservations that offer antelope hunting as well, so don’t count those out. As we always say, not all reservations are created equal, so proceed with caution. A few great resources I would highly recommend you look into would be our raffle tag information in the January issue as well as taking advantage of Huntin’ Fool Adventures to get on the books for your next antelope hunt.