Four reasons to say yes to antlerless options

Why you should consider chasing cows and does across the West this fall

Jake Horton

Photo credit: Dreamstime

For many of us, our nightly dreams are filled with big bucks and bulls. We cannot wait for September to come around, allowing us to chase rutting elk and moose, and for November, so we can get after those whitetails and mature mule deer bucks. We all want to be successful at drawing tags, hunting and harvesting animals each year. I love wild game meat and the opportunity and accomplishment of harvesting it myself. That is why I apply for my annual bull elk and buck tags and also apply for antlerless options. Since my family primarily eats wild game, applying and harvesting antlerless elk, deer, moose and other species allows me to ensure a better chance at a full freezer. Some states allow you to purchase an antlerless tag in addition to your antlered tag or even use your tag for either sex. There are a lot of reasons you should apply for an antlerless tag this next year.

Back in 2018, GOHUNT launched antlerless draw odds on INSIDER. This opened the door to figure out what antlerless hunts you can draw. They recently just now expanded this offering to showcase all antlerless hunts on Filtering!

Filtering 2.0 allows you to identify a lot of antlerless options, look at draw odds and harvest stats for western states. Seeking out antlerless hunts is an excellent option for a new hunter, a young hunter or a hunter who is more worried about filling his or her freezer than the wall. If you know a hunter like this or are a hunter like this, then consider chasing cows and does this fall to increase your chances while reducing your costs.

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1. Tag availability

In most states out West, the antlered options for deer, elk and moose have become difficult to draw — at least in a good unit. Of course, there is always Colorado for over-the-counter (OTC) elk, but those seasons are often overrun with hunters, especially in the more popular units. However, when applying for an antlerless license, you almost always have a better chance to draw. You are nearly guaranteed to draw an antlerless license in most states if you put it as your first choice. This means that you can hunt year after year in the same or similar unit without having to have multiple backup plans. Even in states that offer fewer female sex tags than males, the odds are almost always better when applying for the female tag.

2. Harvest opportunity

The second reason you should say yes to an antlerless option this year and for the years to come is the harvest opportunity. Most males to female ratios out West are between 10 to 100 up to around 40 to 100. This means that there will always be more antlerless elk, deer and moose out there for you to find. While most hunters are trying to harvest the one bull or buck hanging out with a dozen females, you will be looking for one of those dozen females to put down. For a hunter hunting hard in a western unit, the odds of you harvesting a female animal are nearly always going to be better.

3. Cost

When it comes to applying and hunting out West, the cost of tags is getting ridiculous. Personally, I have spent so much money on nonresident tags that I could have bought a vehicle or put a down payment on a house. Here is another benefit of drawing and hunting female or antlerless tags: typically, in most states, they cost less. In Colorado, an antlerless elk tag is nearly $150 cheaper than an antlered bull tag. In Montana, the antlerless option is around $600 cheaper than the bull elk tag. The trend is similar for nearly all species in all states. Overall, this savings could be enough for you to hunt another species this year or in a future year or maybe enough to take your husband or wife out on a nice vacation when you get back home!

4. Meat

Since the draw odds are better, the harvest opportunity is better, which means that your odds of bringing home some meat for your family are also better. Not only are your chances to bring home meat higher, but you will also have better tasting meat. In my experience and many other hunters’ experience, female animals taste better. Maybe it’s just because they are often less mature than the bucks and bulls I harvest or, perhaps, it’s due to less testosterone rolling through its body, but I love the taste of female animals.


If you are looking for a western hunt you can draw every year, which has an excellent opportunity to harvest, has lower upfront costs and increases your chances of bringing home some tasty meat, look no farther than an antlerless hunt.

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