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Western hunting opportunities for military members

When you start looking at hunting laws from around the world it’s pretty apparent that those of us here in the United States has arguably the most freedoms and opportunities available. This not only stems from the sheer amount of animals we can pursue, but also from the plethora of over-the-counter (OTC) tags and the massive expanses of public land. One area in particular that receives very little acknowledgment is the hunting opportunities for the men and women who protect these rights for us: the members of the United States Armed Forces.

Many of the western states offer opportunities for disabled veterans, but some even offer greatly reduced tags and special residency acknowledgments for current service members. In the following article, we will cover some of the most popular western hunting destinations and take an in-depth look at what opportunities are available for the brave men and women who we owe everything to. While we are only analyzing hunting benefits for active and present duty members, it should be noted that many of the listed states also offer fishing and recreational perks as well.


Arizona Game and Fish


Military members and their spouses who are currently listed as active duty can purchase licenses as a resident of Arizona if they are permanently or temporarily stationed in Arizona for no less than 30 days prior to the date of the purchase or application. It is important to note here, though, that the State of Arizona does not recognize dual residency when dealing with the purchasing of hunting or fishing licenses so anyone interested in participating in this program cannot hold resident licenses in any other state.

Arizona elk
Jim C. - United States Air Force

Disabled veteran requirements

Disabled veterans can apply for disabled licenses by presenting certification from the Veteran’s Administration (VA) illustrating 100% disability due to service in addition to residing in the state of Arizona for a period of no less than one year.


Colorado Game and Fish


Residency status for the state of Colorado is available to members of the military and their dependents who are under permanent orders within the state.

Preference point perks

Along with residency perks, active duty members who are stationed in Colorado, stationed in Colorado and deployed, or who are Colorado residents can purchase leftover licenses prior to the public sale of said licenses. Additionally, active duty members who are stationed in Colorado and currently deployed outside of the U.S. can apply for preference points to use in future draws. The application period for this is generally available in July and must be postmarked by the first Tuesday in January. The application form can be found here. For members who are deployed after drawing a tag or purchasing a license, they can apply for a full refund or request that preferences points are returned.

Colorado whitetail
Kevin M. - United States Army

Disabled veteran requirements

Military veterans who are disabled and residents of Colorado can apply for a lifetime fishing and small game combo license. This is available to veterans who can provide proof of a 60% service connected disability as rated by the VA. Purple Heart recipients are also eligible for application.

Wounded Warrior/Safe Harbor programs

The state of Colorado also sets aside a number of hunting licenses each year (100 of each: female deer, elk and pronghorn and 100 total of male deer, elk, and pronghorn) to be made available to members of the Wounded Warrior or Safe Harbor programs. A list of requirements can be found below:

  • Must be a member of the US Armed Forces and a Colorado resident or stationed in Colorado.
  • Must be returning from a post-Sept. 11, 2001 overseas contingency operation.
  • Must be assigned to a military medical treatment facility at the time of application.
  • Must be a member of the United States Armed Services Wounded Warrior or Safe Harbor Program.


Idaho Game and Fish


Any active duty full-time military member and their spouses/dependents under the age of 18 are eligible to purchase resident licenses/permits after living in Idaho continuously for a period of 30 days. Military members wishing to use this program will need to submit an affidavit and, once accepted, will have to purchase their desired licenses/tags within a 30 day period before the form expires.

Furlough license fees

Any military members claiming Idaho residency who are on a military furlough can purchase a combination hunting and fishing license for $17.50 (standard fee is $33.50).

Active duty raincheck

Any military members currently serving in an active military conflict are eligible for a raincheck or refund on any tags, licenses, or permits that they will be unable to use.

Idaho Mule Deer
Nevada G. - United States Air Force

Disabled Veterans Special Big Game Tag Program

The Disabled Veterans Special Big Game Tag program allows qualified nonprofit organizations to apply for special big game hunt tags on behalf of a disabled veteran. This program is not limited to organizations based in the state of Idaho. Each year the Idaho Department of Fish and Game makes five tags available for disabled veterans for any deer, elk, pronghorn, mountain lion or moose hunt. An additional five tags may also be available during the year. Participating in this program nullifies any prerequisite licensing requirements. Participation is also based on a first come, first served and once-in-a-lifetime basis. The application form can be found here.

Resident disabled American veteran (DAV) reduced fees

Idaho residents who are disabled veterans may be eligible for special pricing on hunting licenses and tags.

  • DAV License: $5
  • Deer: $10.75
  • Elk: $16.50
  • Bear: $6.75
  • Turkey: $10.75

Nonresident DAV reduced fees

Nonresidents who are disabled veterans may be eligible for special pricing on hunting license and permits.

  • DAV hunting and three-day fishing license: $31.75
  • Deer: $23.75
  • Elk: $39.75
  • Bear: $23.75
  • Turkey: $19.75

Disabled veteran requirements

In order to qualify for DAV reduced pricing, veterans must supply a copy of their official VA disability percentage letter, which must certify a service-related disability rating of 40% or greater.


Montana Game and Fish


Any military members and their family members who are currently stationed and active duty in Montana may purchase tags and licenses as a resident after residing in the state for a period of 30 days.

Discounted license opportunities

Montana residents that are members of the National Guard, federal reserve, or active duty who participated in a contingency operation outside of the state for two months after September 11, 2001 and have been released from active duty or discharged are eligible for a free conservation license or a sportsman without bear package for a fee of $10. The only stipulation to this clause is that the program is only available if you receive the license in the year you return from military service or the year after.

Montana mountain lion
Tony - United States Navy - Wilderness4warriors

If you'd like to see the video to this hunt the link is here. 

Half price licenses

Veterans with certain combat-related disabilities may be eligible for half-priced licenses for deer and antelope. Montana sets aside up to 50 licenses annually for this. Any interested persons must contact the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks License Bureau at (406)444-2663.

goHUNT Gear Shop

Disabled veteran or active duty license donation

Anyone—resident or nonresident—can purchase or draw a hunting license, tag, or permit and donate them to a disabled veteran or disabled active duty service member. The donator cannot choose the individual or organization the donation will go to. Participating veterans and service members must be a Purple Heart recipient and have a disability rating of 70% or greater. More information on how to donate can be found here.


Nevada Game and Fish


Any service members on permanent duty in the state Nevada as well as their spouse and dependents under the age of 21 will be granted residency immediately and can purchase tags and licenses accordingly.

Serviceman’s hunting license

Nevada residents who are currently permanently stationed outside of the state may purchase a Nevada hunting license for $15.

Nevada Antelope
Brian A. - United States Navy

Disabled veteran specialty combination license

Any disabled veterans who have resided in the state of Nevada for a period of six months or longer and are certified from the VA with a service-connected disability of 50% or more are eligible for a combination license for $15.

Disabled veterans requirements

Disabled veterans can apply for special allowances by presenting a certified letter from the VA certifying service-connected disabilities of 50% or greater.

New Mexico

New Mexico Game and Fish

50% discount for resident active duty and veterans

New Mexico residents who are currently active duty or veterans are eligible to purchase all licenses, permits, and stamps at a 50% discount.

Military only draw hunts on Fort Bliss

Special draws are available only to active duty service members stationed at Fort Bliss.

New Mexico
Ryan G. - United States Air Force

Resident pricing for nonresidents for Fort Bliss

Any active duty nonresident service member currently stationed at Fort Bliss will receive resident pricing on any draw hunts on the Fort Bliss military reservation.

Returning Iraq/Afghanistan resident veterans-only oryx hunts

Once-in-a-lifetime draw hunts have been established for oryx in the White Wand missile area. This drawing is only available to veterans who served active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan.

One time free game hunting and fishing license

New Mexico residents who are National Guard or a member of the Armed Forces who was called to active duty on or after April 3, 2003, are eligible for a one-time free hunting and fishing combination license for the year following their deactivation and return to the state.

Nonresident disabled active duty and veteran licenses for rehabilitation enrollees

Nonresident active duty or veterans who are involved in a rehabilitation program that involves hunting are eligible to purchase tags for deer, elk, javelina, turkey, oryx or antelope at resident costs. The program must be sponsored by the federal government or be a nonprofit organization authorized by the federal government and it must be under the direction of a military or federal VA rehabilitation center.

Resident disabled veteran game hunting and fishing

Resident veterans who have a service-related disability of less than 100% are eligible to purchase a discounted hunting and fishing license for $10.

Disabled veteran requirements

Resident veterans with a disability rating of 100% due to service-connected injuries are granted a free lifetime hunting and fishing license.



Discounted licenses for active duty members

For Oregon residents who are currently active duty, hunting licenses can be purchased at half price. Nonresident active service members are able to purchase hunting, fishing and shellfish licenses at resident costs.

Oregon Elk
Zak A. - United States Marines

Controlled deer and elk tags for active members of Armed Forces on leave in Oregon

Oregon residents who are stationed out-of-state, but have returned to Oregon on leave can purchase controlled hunt tags for deer and elk. Each district can issue up to 20 each of deer and elk tags though this number cannot exceed 10% of total hunt tag numbers. These tags are distributed on a first come, first served basis.

Resident disabled veterans license

To qualify for the resident disabled veterans license, individuals will have had to live in the state permanently for at least six months and have a disability rating of at least 25% due to service-connected injuries.


Utah Game and Fish


Service members who are on permanent duty in the state of Utah are granted residency for the purpose of purchasing licenses. This includes their dependents as well.

Disabled veterans

The Utah Division of Wildlife does not currently offer any DAV programs though they do extend some special inclusions for any residents with a recognized disability.


Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife


An active duty military member can receive resident rates even if they have a driver's license or identification card from another state. The member must provide documentation of their military ID and deployment papers showing they are stationed in Washington State.


Washington State allows active duty military members and spouses to have resident hunting and fishing licenses even if they have resident licenses in their Home State.

Spouse and dependant perks

Active duty military spouses and dependents under age 18 can purchase licenses at resident rates. They must provide their military ID and their spouses/dependents deployment papers.

National and State Guard hunting licenses

Members of the Washington National or State Guard are eligible to receive a free annual hunting license package that will include deer, elk, bear, and cougar licenses as well as a small game license and migratory bird permit. This program is available to Washington state residents who are active, full-time members of the National and State Guard or who will participate in drill training with these military units on a part-time basis.

Disabled Veteran requirements

Disabled veterans, both resident and nonresident, are eligible for reduced tags if they meet any of the following criteria:

  • Resident veterans with at least 30% service connected disability as verified by VA letter.
  • Resident veterans 65 years of age or older with a service-connected disability as verified by VA letter.
  • Non-Resident veterans with at least 30% service connected disability as verified by VA letter.
  • Non-Resident veterans 65 years of age or older with a service-connected disability as verified by VA letter.


Wyoming Game and Fish


Any service member and their dependents who are permanently deployed to Wyoming for a period of 90 days are eligible to claim residency for the purpose of purchasing hunting tags, license, and permits.

Active duty resident in combat zones license

Any Wyoming residents who are serving on active duty in a combat zone will be issued resident general elk, resident general deer, resident game bird/small game and resident daily fishing licenses when home on military leave.

Wyoming Mule Deer
Sam N. - United States Army

Disabled veteran/US Military Purple Heart Medal recipient

Any veterans who have received a Purple Heart Medal or are rated as 100% disability will be awarded a free lifetime game bird, small game, and fishing license.

Donate a license

The holder of any valid big game license in Wyoming may choose to donate the license or permit back to the department for reissuance to a disabled veteran. Qualifying veterans must be sponsored by a nonprofit charitable organization that provides hunting opportunities. The application for the donation can be found here. For a list of currently donated licenses, you can also visit this page.

goHUNT's INSIDER Research Tools


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Richard C. - posted 3 weeks ago on 07-30-2019 02:57:31 pm

These hunting opportunities are awesome. The only problem I have is I am 100% service connected from an illegal toxic burial we did in South Korea in 1979. I was medavaced to Walter reed hospital where my medical records disappeared. No Purple Heart for me cause it was in peacetime, so I can’t get wounded warrior status for hunts that require a Purple Heart.

George C. - posted 3 months ago on 05-17-2019 06:43:10 pm

I firmly believe other states should follow suit to what Idaho and Washington have done. I was able to hunt in Idaho last year for wolf, deer, and elk on a DAV tag and a youth tag with my 11-year-old son. It was a great experience. Disappointed to learn Utah as no benefits for Disabled veterans.

SETH D. - posted 8 months ago on 12-03-2018 10:38:52 am
Sunny New Mexico

I have noticed that several hunts that were open to resident disabled veterans and retirees now had different programs to open the gate and give opportunity. The primary one that I can't find any information on is Fort Hunter Liggett, they had a program for years allowing disabled veterans and retirees a cut of the tule elk tags. I worked on getting hunting for mule deer and quail open on China Lake Naval Weapons Center but had zero luck. The outlooking of hunting by base commanders is only as strong as the advocacy of those that are tied to that base. Keep pushing, so much public land that is locked away.

Dave B.
Dave B. - posted 8 months ago on 11-28-2018 03:24:27 pm
Cedar City, Utah
goHUNT Team

@Shay D- Thanks for the info! Washington was originally not on our list but I just added it with your info as well as some additional points. Thank you!

Shay D. - posted 9 months ago on 11-09-2018 09:38:03 pm
Medical Lake, WA

Washington State now offers free hunting (elk,deer,bear,cougar) for resident members of the Washington Guard (Air or Army).

Joseph R. - posted 10 months ago on 10-21-2018 04:41:01 am
Quarryville, PA

I must've missed this article when it was posted. Thanks for putting in the work to get this all in one spot. I was able to take advantage of Idaho's non resident DAV tags last year. I was able to purchase 5 different tags for less than 250 dollars. I'll be headed back out there again for sure. Keep up the awesome work you guys are doing!

Dave B. - posted 1 year ago on 06-22-2018 04:56:28 pm
Lolo, Montana

@Robert M- Thanks for the extra info, in the future I would like to do a follow up article with some additional states. I'll be sure to include WA!

Robert M. - posted 1 year ago on 06-21-2018 11:01:28 pm
Rosholt, WI

Late post and after just now reading this, I would like to add that Washington also had some great benefits including reduced fees for non-residents similar to what Idaho offers.

Matthew R. - posted 1 year ago on 04-17-2018 06:59:20 am

@Daniel E, Couldn't agree more. The western states definitely are limited on the perks they offer compared to eastern states. Kind of a bummer that the returning veterans Oryx hunt is limited to residents only, you would think with hunts on military bases they wouldn't require you to be a resident.

Texas is one of the most military friendly states by far, they offer free licenses to disabled and resident military members.. but another benefit they don't advertise much is resident license status for any military and their dependents, which will easily save you hundreds of dollars.

Michael B. - posted 1 year ago on 04-09-2018 06:28:14 am

Don’t forget the New Mexico Iraq/Afghanistan Returning Oryx Hunt is only open to resident active duty/veterans.

Matt B. - posted 1 year ago on 04-08-2018 09:18:31 pm

Awesome info! I’ve used a few of these opportunities. Lots of other states make similar adjustments for those who are serving and or served.

Dave B. - posted 1 year ago on 04-06-2018 06:09:36 pm
Lolo, Montana

@Seth D, thanks for all of the great info!

SETH D. - posted 1 year ago on 04-06-2018 10:57:24 am
Sunny New Mexico

It takes a bit of research, most military bases of any size have some sort of hunting program. Active and retired military usually get first shot, then MOH, POW and 100% disabled vets.

Idaho is a Godsend in the realm of what they do for retired military and hunting. Probably the best non-resident disabled veteran hunting program around.

Wyoming has a program for resident disabled where you can be put a roster to get special draw tags when people turn them back in.

New Mexico has a very good resident program for disabled veterans, and those that served in OIF/OEF.

But Eastern States really know how to treat vets.

Heck Texas has a great program for not making disabled veterans pay property tax if they are a high percentage.

michael h. - posted 1 year ago on 04-06-2018 09:21:25 am
Tijeras, NM

Get with the program Utah!

Dave B. - posted 1 year ago on 04-05-2018 09:23:02 pm
Lolo, Montana

@Chris B, I couldn't agree more!

Dave B. - posted 1 year ago on 04-05-2018 01:19:14 pm
Lolo, Montana

@Dan L- Thank you for your service and thanks for taking the time to check out the article!

Dave B. - posted 1 year ago on 04-05-2018 01:28:19 pm
Lolo, Montana

@Seth D- First off, thank you for your service! Secondly, I hear Idaho calling your name!

Dave B. - posted 1 year ago on 04-05-2018 01:17:59 pm
Lolo, Montana

@Yancee H- Thanks for reading it!

Dave B. - posted 1 year ago on 04-05-2018 01:27:14 pm
Lolo, Montana

@Daniel E.- Thanks for the information, I will have to check out some of the eastern and midwest states. Thanks for taking the time to read the article, much appreciated.

Chris B. - posted 1 year ago on 04-05-2018 12:27:19 pm
Los Angeles, CA

Thanks to the states that are helping out. However, truth be told, why are we not giving special tags, far deeper discounts, etc to the our veterans? To me there is no better place to recharge the human soul than in the mountains, where the earth approaches it's highest order.

Dan L. - posted 1 year ago on 04-05-2018 11:16:15 am
Corona de Tucson, AZ

Thank you for posting this. As a partially disabled vet I am extremely grateful of any states - western or otherwise - that show appreciation to military and veterans. They are not obligated in any way to do so yet they extend that privilege anyway. I foolishly forget to look into these programs outside my home state (Arizona) and my native state (Wisconsin) and this article was a great reminder. Another great resource from GoHunt. Thank you again.

SETH D. - posted 1 year ago on 04-05-2018 06:33:35 am
Sunny New Mexico

I am 90% disabled and retired veteran. Thank you for doing this!

SETH D. - posted 1 year ago on 04-05-2018 06:33:35 am
Sunny New Mexico

I am 90% disabled and retired veteran. Thank you for doing this!

Yancee H. - posted 1 year ago on 04-04-2018 10:25:54 pm
Saratoga Springs, Utah

Thank you for posting this article. It means a lot to me. As for the photo with mountain lion and the flag, I imagine there's a story behind it. That particular flag (and the man holding it) have probably seen and survived some rough days.

Daniel E. - posted 1 year ago on 04-04-2018 10:09:58 pm

Many eastern states are much more active duty friendly. States such as Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Illinois offer resident tags for active duty military regardless of duty location. Many of the perks mentioned require either you being from that area or permanently stationed there (meaning you live there). Not much of a perk at all. I'm glad the article is out but ultimately the west is far less military friendly than many eastern states.

Dave B. - posted 1 year ago on 04-04-2018 08:47:03 pm
Lolo, Montana

@ C B.- Withholding your feelings towards the photo I would highly encourage you to check out their organization, Wilderness 4 Warriors, and learn about their activities and the story behind that flag. Stand up organization ran by a vet who is doing some incredible things. Thanks for taking the time to read the article.

C B. - posted 1 year ago on 04-04-2018 08:15:16 pm

I love the picture of the guy disgracing "Old Glory" with a fairly ridiculous lion pose. Is this the best we can do?