Washington hunters like Montana, survey of licenses reveals

Tom Kuglin

Visitors come from across the globe to pursue deer and elk in Montana, but when it comes to which state produces the most nonresident hunters, none come close to the state of Washington.

The Evergreen State accounts for about 17% of all nonresident hunters awarded Montana deer and elk hunting licenses over the last four years, according to data provided by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks through a public information request. That equates to nearly 17,000 of the more than 101,000 licenses distributed from 2019-2022.

The Montana State News Bureau requested zip codes for all nonresidents who received deer-elk combination, elk-combination and deer-combination licenses awarded through the annual lottery. Not included in the data are licenses sold through other programs or secondary licenses available over-the-counter, such as antlerless elk or deer licenses.

States producing the most nonresident hunters over the last four years varied from those with similar game species – such as elk, mule and whitetail deer – to states dominated by whitetails. Washington is followed by Minnesota with nearly 11,000 licenses at 11%; California with 8,750 licenses for 9%; and Wisconsin with about 8,500 licenses for 8%; followed by a cluster of states at about 5%,

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