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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.