How To Apply for a Wyoming Elk Tag – 4 Important Terms You Need to Know

By Charles •  8 min read

Many people find the process to apply for a Wyoming elk tag confusing.  In fact, I know a lot of longtime residents that still have not quite figured it out, and they do not have it nearly as bad as the nonresidents.  If this is your first or your twenty-fifth time applying, there is no shame seeking out some help. After all, we are talking about going on your dream elk hunt.

Before I discuss the terms you will need to understand, I will briefly discuss the differences between how residents and non-residents apply for a Wyoming elk tag.

How Do Residents Apply for a Wyoming Elk Tag

Residents do not have to apply for elk tags if they choose not to (I find it more than all little exciting waiting for the draw result to be released myself).  Residents can buy a general tag over the counter if they choose and not worry about applying or they can apply for a full priced limited quota tag.  Since there is not a preference point system for resident elk tags, everyone has a statistically equal chance at drawing the limited quota elk tags.  This means that for some of the blue-chip units it is nearly impossible to draw a tag.  However, even if a resident does not draw in the limited quota draw, they can still buy a general tag over the counter.

How Do Non-Residents Apply for a Wyoming Elk Tag

For nonresidents, the application process for elk tags is much more difficult.  Nonresidents must apply for a Wyoming elk tag if they want to hunt.  There are no nonresident over the counter elk tags and it is not possible to buy landowner or outfitter tags in Wyoming.  I will focus on how the application process works, mainly for nonresidents, in hopes of clearing up some of the confusion.

Terms You Need To Understand

1. Regular Draw for a Wyoming Elk Tag

The regular draw simply means that the applicant pays the “regular” price for a tag when they apply.  Of the elk tags allotted to nonresidents, 60% of them will go into the regular draw. 

2. Special Draw for a Wyoming Elk Tag

Meanwhile, the special draw simply means that the applicant pays a higher “special” price for a tag.  The special elk tags account for 40% of all nonresident elk tags.  The theory behind the special draw is that higher price basically buys you better odds of drawing; however, in most of the blue-chip units your odds of drawing are still very low, even when paying a higher price.

3. Preference Points for a Wyoming Elk Tag

To make things even more confusing, there is a preference point system for non-resident Wyoming elk tags.  This means that the applicants with the most points have the best chance of drawing a tag.  Theoretically, a person with max points in the draw should have the best or a guaranteed chance of drawing but this is not always true, due to low numbers of tags.  However, to make sure that everyone that applies has a statistical chance of drawing, 75% of allotted elk tags go into the preference point drawing and the remaining 25% of elk tags will go into a random drawing. This applies both to regular and special draws.

If in a given unit the commission allotted 100 elk tags for nonresidents, the breakdown would end up as follows.

Regular DrawSpecial Draw
Total Wyoming Elk Tags In A Unit6040
Preference Point Draw4530
Random Draw1510
Example of how Wyoming Game and Fish allocates non-resident tags

4. Wyoming Elk License Types

In Wyoming, there are general tags and limited quota tags.  The limited quota tags break down further into different types.  License types mean there a limitation on the elk tag that may restrict the hunter to the taking of a specific sex of elk, a specific season, a specific type of weapon, or a portion of the area. This limitation defines, when, where and how that particular license can be used.

GENGeneralFull Price Fees
Type 1 & 2Antlered or AnyFull Price Fees
Type 4 & 5AntlerlessFull Price Fees
Type 6 & 7Cow/Calf ElkReduced Price Fees
Type 9Archery OnlyFull Price Fees
Types of Wyoming Elk Tags

General Elk Tags

Many of Wyoming’s Elk units are general units. 

Limited Quota Elk Tags

Type 1 & 2

These licenses are limited quota rifle units in Wyoming that offer you a chance of an elk hunt in a unit that is managed for more “trophy” animals with lower hunting pressure.  Type 2 licenses typically have different season dates or special hunt boundaries within the unit.

Type 9

There are some units in Wyoming that offer a limited quota archery tag. 

Type 4 & 5

There are a number of units throughout Wyoming that offer cow elk tags at full price.  These tags are usually during the prime migration times and/or offer extended seasons.  These tags provide an excellent opportunity for the hunter that wants to experience the wilds of Wyoming and some excellent wild game meat.  In addition, many times there are leftover tags for these types and provide an opportunity for the hunter that did not draw a tag otherwise.  These tags can be used during the archery in the units they are good in for antlerless elk with an archery stamp.

Type 6 & 7

That is not the end of the elk hunting opportunity in Wyoming though.  If you just want to come on an excellent adventure in the west, Wyoming offers a large number reduced price cow/calf elk tags. 


Charles is a man who loves the outdoors. He moved to Wyoming specifically to spend more time in the mountains and wilderness. A hunter and fisherman, Charles knows how to enjoy nature and all that it has to offer. He is an outdoorsman through and through, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Charles is the President of Absaroka Enterprises, an company focuse on outdoor entertainment and endeavours. He's also an Editor for Alpha and Omega Outdoors, an online hunting, fishing, camping, trapping, and all around outdoors blog.