Arizona Non-Resident Elk Application: How to Save $160 Every Other Year!

arizona elk non-resident hunting license tip to save money

I just kicked myself for not figuring this out sooner, but I learned from a friend (thanks Jamie!) how to save $160 every other year on the Arizona non-resident hunting license! I always was told you must buy a new Arizona non-resident hunting license every year.

The rules are, you must have a valid non-resident hunting license on the date of the application deadline, which is always the second Tuesday in February. When you buy a non-resident hunting license, you are asked to enter a “start date” (effective date). The trick is to enter the date of the application deadline as your effective date. This way, when the deadline hits, your license will be valid, AND, next year when the deadline hits (the deadline will usually* be 1 day earlier the following year), your license will still be valid so you won’t have to buy another one!

I’ll walk you through this in a little more detail:

Arizona’s non-resident hunting license costs $160. You must purchase a license and have a valid hunting license number in order to apply because that hunting license number has to go on your application. Up until now, I’ve always just bought my license and made it effective that day figuring it needs to be effective in order to apply. Not the case. As long as your license is effective when the draw deadline hits, you’re good to go.

Example scenario when applying for Non-Resident Arizona Elk

  1. Buy your hunting license and apply for hunts on January 20, 2018 (random date example)
  2. Set your non-resident hunting license’s effective date for February 13, 2018 (current year’s application deadline date)
  3. Your license will be valid until February 12, 2019.
  4. Next year, in 2019, the application deadline date is February 12, 2019. So your license will still be valid and you do NOT have to purchase another license in order to apply! Boom, you just saved $160!

But what about when the actual draw happens…don’t I have to have a valid license at the time of the actual draw too?

No. You can still be drawn for a tag. If you are successful in the draw, THEN you will need to buy a current year’s Arizona non-resident hunting license. I encourage you to read the printed Arizona big game hunting regulations and Arizona Elk Draw Info books, and call Arizona Game and Fish if you doubt me or have questions. Read more information about Arizona’s big game draw.

*Usually – “You said the deadline is usually 1 day earlier the following year. Please explain.”

So remember, the deadline to apply for Arizona non-resident elk (and pronghorn antelope) is always the 2nd Tuesday in February. This usually means that the following year’s deadline will be 1 day earlier than the current year. But, if the 2nd Tuesday falls on the 8th, then the following year’s deadline day will be the 14th (or 13th if a leap year) so it won’t work and you’ll have to plan on buying another license that following year.

Who Can Best Take Advantage of this 2 for 1 Hunting License Structure

The ability to apply for big game in Arizona by only purchasing a non-resident hunting license every other year really only affects you if you only apply for 1 of the available big game draws. Arizona has only certain species in its 3 non-resident big game hunt draws:

  • Elk & Antelope – deadline is 2nd Tuesday in February
  • Bison, Deer, Sheep & Fall Turkey – deadline is 2nd Tuesday in June
  • Spring Javelina, Bison, Bear & Turkey – deadline is 2nd Tuesday in October

So, if you apply for something in more than one draw, you will be forced to buy a non-resident hunting license for Arizona every year, and this 2 for 1 trick will not apply to you.

When This Doesn’t Help You – Other Species Besides Elk

If you are a hunter that also applies for other species besides elk or antelope, like deer & sheep (deadline is second Tuesday in June), then this little 2 for 1 trick I’ve described won’t apply to you. You’ll have to buy a new Arizona non-resident hunting license every year either way.

Tired of Missing Important Hunt Application Deadlines?

I was too, so I wrote an app that sends free text and email reminders of important hunting lottery dates across the country. You can sign up to receive these free reminders here on my website. Please let me know of any other lotteries not on there that you’d like me to add reminders for!


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