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2019 Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah & Wyoming youth hunting information

Youth hunter with his Wyoming antelope

My oldest son with his first ever big game animal taken in Wyoming. All photo credits: Trail Kreitzer

Jump to: Nevada New Mexico Oregon Utah Wyoming

Like we stated in our last youth application strategy article, getting youth involved in the outdoors and hunting is very important to us! We are excited to announce that later in January, we will be offering youth draw odds for the states/species that offer youth-only hunts. This will allow our INSIDERS to seek out and apply youth for those hunts while they are still young enough to take advantage of those opportunities.

Continuing with this article series, we are outlining the youth opportunities in the 10 states we cover on INSIDER, application and permit costs, and some strategies to hopefully help you draw a youth tag or two. This second article covers Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. If you missed the first article, you can check that out here.

Note: At the time of article completion, 2019 state rules/regulations were not available. Please refer to current regulations before applying.


Age and hunter’s education

Youth must be 12 years old to hunt big game in Nevada. Youth can apply if they are 11 years old, but they must turn 12 prior to the opening day of the season they are applying for. Hunter education is required for anyone to hunt big game in Nevada. Before you apply for the first time in Nevada you must email a copy of your hunter’s education certificate or apply via paper and include a copy of your certificate there. Be aware, you must take care of that step at least six days prior to the application deadline so do not delay when processing your youth applications.

Permit transfer

An adult cannot transfer a hunting permit to a youth hunter in Nevada.

Weapon information

Bows must have a 40 lb minimum draw weight and a maximum of 80% let off. Muzzleloaders must use open or peep sights and smokeless powder is not legal. Sabots are legal. Rifle hunters may hunt big game with a centerfire cartridge of .22 caliber or larger.

Youth-specific hunt opportunities:

Nevada sets aside approximately 3,000 deer permits that are available to resident youth. Successful resident youth applicants for those permits can hunt the archery, muzzleloader, and rifle hunt until they harvest a deer. There are no youth specific hunts for other species or for nonresidents.

Strategies for youth in Nevada

Nevada requires every applicant to purchase a combination license, which for youth (12 to 17) is only $15 for both residents and nonresidents. This is extremely cheap compared to the $155 license an adult must purchase to apply. In essence, it pays to begin applying your kids for hunts as soon as they can. In addition, Nevada’s draw system is based on a random draw. Applicants have their bonus points squared, thus giving applicants a statistically better chance of drawing; however, an applicant could still draw on even their first year of applying. Use the Draw Odds and other filters within your INSIDER account and apply accordingly. Do not apply for points only unless you cannot afford the time or permit. Apply your youth for any species they are interested in and make sure you include all five hunt choices; you never know when they might draw a tag. Also, be sure to get your youth’s hunter’s education verified and their account set up with the Nevada Department of Wildlife well in advance of the deadline.

Nevada youth application, license and permit costs (10 to 17 years old)

Youth combination license$15$15
Application fee (elk)$1$15
Application fee (all other species)$10$10
Bonus point only fee$10$10

* Note: All other license costs for youth are the same as they are for adults.

New Mexico

Age and hunter’s education

New Mexico is one of the best states to apply for your kids. There is no minimum age to apply for permits and hunt in New Mexico. New Mexico does require youth under the age of 11 to be accompanied by an adult. Youth must have completed a hunter’s education course to apply or purchase a license and carry it with them in the field if they are younger than 18.

Another opportunity for first-time hunters at least 10 years of age, but younger than 18 years of age, is the Mentored Youth Program. Youth can pass an online quiz and receive a Mentored Youth Hunter number. This number enables a Mentored-Youth Hunter to hunt under the supervision of an adult mentor, purchase a hunting license, and apply for or purchase hunting licenses for deer.

Permit transfer:

Adults cannot transfer permits to their youth. The only exception is that an adult can transfer a permit to a youth who has been approved through a non-profit wish-granting organization.

Weapon information:

There is no minimum let off or draw weight for bowhunting. Modern muzzleloaders are also allowed, including in-line ignition, magnified scopes, sabots and belted bullets.

Youth-specific hunt opportunities:

New Mexico has youth only tags for every species except Barbary sheep and several of the youth hunts also have separate favorable hunt dates. Youth hunts also have their own tag allocation, except for a few elk and bighorn sheep hunts. Those hunts have their own hunt dates. Youth must be 17 or younger on the opening day of the hunt to qualify for the youth only permits.

New Mexico has rifle, muzzleloader and some archery youth deer hunts. Youth elk and antelope hunts are restricted to rifle and muzzleloader hunts only.

There are some great youth-only hunting opportunities in New Mexico. Review the current set of state rules and regulations to find those hunt codes.

Strategies for youth in New Mexico

New Mexico is unique in that they do not have a minimum age to apply and hunt. Evaluate the maturity and ability of your kids, get them through hunter’s education and start applying as soon as possible. The cost of a youth hunting license, which you can elect to have refunded if you do not draw any permits, is only $15. New Mexico has a completely random draw with no point system, which means that every respective applicant is on an equal level to draw.

There are some very good youth elk hunts, including muzzleloader hunts in Units 15 and 17 and rifle hunts in 16C and 16E. For 2019, we have included the youth-only hunt draw odds and INSIDERS should review those hunt odds and unit profiles to find the best selections for their youth. Remember New Mexico evaluates each of your first three hunt selections before moving to the next applicant. Stagger your hunt selections with the worst odds (best hunt) first then down toward better odds (lesser hunts) as your subsequent selections. The same goes for antelope hunts. Rifle antelope hunts for youth are also unit wide versus ranch only. Review the trophy potential, Unit Profiles, and harvest data for additional information to aid in your selection.

Deer hunting in New Mexico is generally considered as “opportunity” rather than “trophy.” There are many good youth-only deer hunts designed to give you a chance to get into the field and allow your youth the opportunity to harvest a buck. There is one unit, 5B, which can produce bigger mule deer bucks and a few others that regularly produce 100” plus Coues deer like Units 23 or 27. Review the youth odds, unit profiles, and other information to help you select the right hunt.

New Mexico is a must apply state for youth as long as you can afford the cost of the permit and the time. You have to front the cost of the permits when you apply. Specifically consider applying for elk, antelope and the exotic species like oryx and ibex. One thing to be aware of is that although the hunting license is only $15, the permits themselves are the same amount as an adult license and can be pricey. Also noteworthy is that you cannot return a drawn permit in New Mexico.

New Mexico youth application, license and permit costs (under 17 years old)

Youth hunting license$10$15
Application fee (per species)$7$13
Youth deer (standard)$29$283
Youth deer (quality or high demand)$29$368
Youth elk (standard)$58$548
Youth elk (quality or high demand)$58$773

* Note: All other license costs (antelope, ibex, oryx) for youth are the same as they are for adults.


Age and hunter’s education

Youth must be 12 years old to hunt on their own permit; however, youth can apply when they are 11 if they will turn 12 prior to their hunt beginning. Youth 9 to 11 years old can apply for points only. Generally, youth are required to have completed a hunter’s education course and, if you are between the ages of 14 and 17, you are required to carry a copy of your hunter’s education card with you in the field.

Permit transfer

Oregon has a hunter Mentored Youth Program that allows 9 to 15-year-olds to hunt without having completed hunter’s education. This program allows youth to hunt and fulfill an adult mentors tag. The mentor must be 21 years of age. There is no limit to how many permits a youth in the program can fulfill. For example, a 10-year-old could hunt with this grandfather and father who have deer tags and the youth could fill both of their permits.

Weapon information

Bowhunters must draw a minimum of 50 lbs draw weight for elk, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat. They must draw at least 40 lbs for deer and antelope. Muzzleloaders are primitive; no scopes, sabots, jacketed bullets or centerfire primers. Round balls and open ignition systems are required.

Youth-specific hunt opportunities

Oregon offers some quality hunting opportunities for youth. One program is called the Youth “First Time” Program. For this program, a youth must be 12 to 17 and a resident of Oregon. They must have applied and been unsuccessful in the controlled hunt drawing for a hunt in the 100, 200, or 600 series that year. They must have also never drawn a permit for that respective series. If they meet those requirements, they can apply beginning July 1 and possibly receive a 100 series buck deer permit, an antlerless elk 200 series permit and an antlerless deer 600 series permit. They can obtain all three in one year or space them out year by year.

Oregon has elk, deer, and antelope youth controlled hunts with some very good dates. For deer, they have both mule deer and blacktail youth opportunities with the rut happening in November and December through January hunt dates. For elk, all but one youth hunt is for antlerless elk only. Antelope hunts are typically early to mid-August.

Strategies for youth in Oregon

Oregon is a tough state to justify applying for as an adult, but, for youth, it’s an easier pill to swallow. You have to purchase a hunting license to apply which is only $10 for 9 to 17-year-olds. Application fees are only $8 per species. It’s likely worth applying your child for the youth antelope, deer, bighorn sheep and mountain goat tags if you can afford the cost of the licenses (same as adult costs) and the time to hunt. For Oregon residents, you may also consider the elk youth options, but, for nonresidents, there are probably better options out there.

For deer, consider the Interstate unit or the Rogue or Applegate units for youth blacktail. Any of the antelope youth hunts can be good, particularly the Hart Mountain Unit. The Gerber Reservoir offers the highest number of permits. For bighorn sheep and mountain goats, there are very few permits, but as long as you are purchasing a license you might as well apply. There were six units that had a nonresident permit for bighorn and two that had mountain goat permits. There is no point system for those species. Once again, it might be worth applying for the minimal cost for youth.

Use the youth draw odds and unit profiles to decide on the best plan of action.

Oregon youth application, license and permit costs (under 17 years old)

Youth hunting license$10$10
Application fees (per species)$8$8
Bighorn sheep$138$1,469.50
Mountain goat$138$1,469.50


Trails son with his first mule deer taken in Utah

My oldest son with his first mule deer taken in Utah.

Age and hunter’s education

All youth hunters must have completed a hunter’s education course to apply or purchase permits in Utah. Utah does have a trial hunting program that will allow anyone over the age of 12 to try hunting while accompanied by a licensed hunter who is over 21. You can find more information regarding that program within the 2019 regulations.

Applicants must be 12 years old by Dec. 31, 2019 to apply for and draw a permit in Utah, which means you can apply your 11-year-old child as long as they turn 12 within the year and have completed hunter’s education. Youth can apply and build points for any and all species that they are interested in, including limited entry and once-in-a-lifetime species like moose, bighorn sheep, bison and mountain goat. Youth under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a legal guardian or qualified adult over 21.

For the purpose of big game hunting, youth must be 17 years or younger by July 31.

Permit transfer

Utah has a newly revamped hunter mentoring program for resident youth (18 and under). Any qualified adult over 21 (not just parents and grandparents) can mentor a resident youth as long as the youth’s parent or legal guardian has given written permission. Essentially, the program allows the mentor to share a hunting permit that they have drawn or purchased. A mentor can even share their permit with up to four youth, but only one youth can hunt at a time. For example, if I drew a general season deer tag, I could share it with both of my nephews; however, only one could hunt at a time and only one animal can be harvested, but it gives you the opportunity to get multiple youths involved. Almost any permit can be mentored to a youth. Mentors and youth must enroll in the program prior to the hunt starting. Youth can hunt on one mentored permit per year, but they can also draw and hunt on their own permit in the same year.

Weapon information

Bows must have a minimum of 30 lb draw weight. Utah allows for modern in-line muzzleloader setups, including magnified scopes of any power and the use of sabots.

Youth-specific hunt opportunities

Twenty percent of Utah’s general season buck deer permits are allocated to youth in the draw. If youth draw an any weapon deer permit, they may hunt the archery hunt, muzzleloader hunt, and then the rifle hunt or until they have filled their tag. Youth who do not draw a deer tag can likely purchase an archery deer tag OTC. Typically, the wildlife board approves those additional permits for youth and they can be purchased mid-July.

Utah also offers a draw for youth any bull elk permits. Those tags are valid for any of the “any bull units” during the prime rut dates, normally about Sept. 15 to 23. Not be confused, the “any bull” units are not the same as the limited entry units that Utah is known for. These units have lower elk numbers or tougher access, but the dates are very good. The best options are most likely the Uintas in northeastern Utah or the Zion in the central portion of the state. The Zion Unit will take some work to find access.

Twenty percent of Utah antlerless deer, elk and antelope tags are reserved for youth hunters. That application timeframe is typically in late May or early June. Explore the odds for those hunts within the standalone draw odds section of your INSIDER account. Cow elk hunting is a great youth hunt and Utah has plenty of public land and elk.

Strategies for youth in Utah

Youth should apply and build points for any species that they are interested in. Nonresidents can apply for all species while residents can only apply for one limited entry species, one once-in-a-lifetime species and a general season deer option. Half of Utah’s permits for each limited entry hunt are randomly allocated. Apply for hunts; do not simply apply for points unless you cannot afford the permit or the time off should your youth draw. You never know when they might draw a tag and, with point creep, youth may be many decades from drawing if at all.

For residents, it makes more sense to apply your youth for either limited entry elk or deer. In reality, there are many good limited elk units and very few quality limited entry deer units. If you hunt hard on general season deer units you can often harvest a good buck; however, that is not the case for any bull units. It makes the most sense to apply your youth for limited entry elk and hope they draw a permit. Explore the odds; there are some good units/hunts other than the top tier units that can provide a great hunt. In my opinion, antelope should only be applied for when waiting periods are in effect for deer and elk. There are better options to hunt antelope every few years in a state like Wyoming.

General season deer hunts are great for youth. Consider the any weapon tags, which will actually allow youth to hunt all three seasons: archery, muzzleloader and rifle. Consider the muzzleloader hunts if you want better odds. Muzzleloader hunting is good in Utah. The season runs from late September to early October and you can use magnified scopes, in-line ignition, and sabots.

Antlerless elk and deer are also perfect for youth. Check out the odds and be sure to apply in the early summer application timeframe.

Finally, the youth any bull elk hunts may be worth considering if you are a resident or have some time to put into research and scouting. The dates are great, during the September rut, but the units are less than desirable for the most part. It may be worth considering an OTC elk hunt in a neighboring state like Colorado or Idaho where there are more elk on those types of units and the quality is a bit better.

Utah youth application, license and permit costs (12 to 17 years old)

Youth hunting license (13 and under)$11$25
Youth hunting license (14 to 17)$16$25
Youth combo hunting/fishing$20$29
Youth application fee (per species)$10$10
Youth any bull elk$50$393

* Note: All other license costs for youth are the same as they are for adults.


Trail and his son Wyoming antelope hunting

All smiles while hunting with my oldest son in Wyoming.

Age and hunter’s education

    Youth can apply if they are 11, but will turn 12 prior to the start of their hunt date for all species except bison. Youth may apply for points also during the July 1 to Oct. 31 point only timeframe if they will be 12 prior to Dec. 31 of that year. For bison, hunters must be 14 prior to Sept. 15 to hunt. All applicants must have completed a hunter’s education course to apply and hunt big game in Wyoming.

    Wyoming also has a hunter mentoring program similar to other states where a new hunter can try hunting without having completed a hunter’s education course. The youth must be accompanied by a mentor that is 18 or older and who has completed hunter’s education and has a valid hunting license. See the Wyoming Game and Fish hunter mentor program website for more information.

    Permit transfer

    An adult cannot transfer a hunting permit to a youth hunter in Wyoming.

    Weapon information

    A 50 lb draw weight for bows is required to hunt elk, moose, and bison. The minimum draw weight to hunt antelope, deer, bighorn sheep and mountain goat is 40 lb. Crossbows are legal to hunt with in Wyoming as long as they have a minimum 90 lb draw weight. A .22 caliber rifle is legal to harvest deer and antelope. Scopes, sabots, pelletized powder are all legal for muzzleloader hunting.

    Youth-specific hunt opportunities

    Wyoming has a ton of opportunity to hunt big game, but none that are specific to youth big game hunting. Youth do get a break on the cost; a youth hunting license is less expensive for the regular draw deer, elk and antelope tags. Be aware that if you apply your youth for permits in the special draw or for moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat or bison and they draw, they will pay the same price as adults.

    Strategies for youth in Wyoming

    Wyoming is a great state to get your kids involved in hunting, but be aware you will be fronting the cost of all the permits you apply them for and will only be refunded if they are unsuccessful in the draw. Wyoming has more antelope than any other state and it offers a fantastic first hunt for kids. The terrain is relatively mild and you’ll likely see a lot of game. Consider applying your youth for easy to draw permits or, perhaps, applying them for trophy units and explore the units that can be hunted as second choice options. Those units will require some research into finding access and public land, but it’s very possible to hunt a unit on a second choice tag and still build points. It may also be worth exploring the options to draw doe/fawn tags while waiting for a buck tag.

    Elk and deer are similar; the general season units can offer youth a great hunt with very few points. The antlerless elk hunts are another great way to draw permits as second choices while building a few points to hunt a better unit later. Use the antlerless Wyoming elk odds to research those options. There are good options to hunt deer in Wyoming with a few or even no points. Determine the type of hunt you are looking for, experience and opportunity or, perhaps, a future trophy hunt and apply accordingly. A couple of things to consider is that Wyoming deer, elk and antelope run on a preference point system for nonresidents. Those are coming up on 13 years and there are many applicants ahead of you if you are just starting to apply your kids. Most units also have a random component where some tags are allocated in a random draw with no respect to points at all. The best hunts in the state are most likely out of reach for youth, unfortunately. Consider your objectives and odds before applying.

    For mountain goat and bison, there are no point systems. If you can afford the cost of the permit should your youth draw one, you should be applying. For moose and bighorn sheep, there are point systems in place that are decades old. Those are true preference point systems where the applicants with the most points get the tags. I would not advise simply buying points for your youth for these species; they are highly unlikely to catch up. If you want to build points, apply your kids for a hunt that has a random tag available and hope they draw. If not, they will get a point. It’s expensive to float the cost, but at least they have a random chance at a tag.

    Wyoming youth application, license and permit costs (12 to 17 years old)

    Youth application fee (per species)$5$15
    Youth antelope buck regular draw$15$110
    Youth antelope doe/fawn$14$19
    Youth deer buck regular draw$15$110
    Youth deer doe/fawn regular draw$14$19
    Youth elk bull regular draw$25$275
    Youth elk cow/calf regular draw$20$100

    * Note: Most other license costs for youth are the same as they are for adults.

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