Out-of-state deer hunters are pursuing big bucks in Kansas. Should it let more of them in?

With deer hunters from other states increasingly targeting Kansas, a state senator suggests more of them be allowed to hunt here.

Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, said at a legislative committee meeting last week that the state should raise the percentage of deer hunting licenses available to out-of-staters above the current level, which is 29%.

"Each one of those deer hunters comes in, they spend time at the hotel, they purchase at least two meals a day," Tyson said. "It does make a difference to our communities."

The word is out: Big deer are being shot in Kansas

Kansas saw a 34.35% increase in applications it received for non-resident deer permits between 2020 and 2021, from 22,240 to 29,880, Nadia Marji, chief of public affairs and engagement officer for KDWP, told The Topeka Capital-Journal. The state's number of applications rose slightly in 2022, to 29,973, she said.

Thousands of out-of-staters who sought permits to hunt deer in Kansas in 2021 didn't get them because their names weren't drawn in a lottery, according to an article published in October 2021 in Outdoor Life magazine.

In explaining the Sunflower State's rising popularity as a "big-buck destination," Outdoor Life noted that whitetail bucks with huge antlers had been shot in October 2021 in Kansas by a 10-year-old girl and a 27-year-old man.

Bowhunter Brian Butcher in October 2019 in Chase County shot a whitetail buck that was confirmed to have the second-largest rack score of any hunter-taken buck on record.

Kansas non-resident deer hunting license costs $442.50 for adults

This trail camera image shows a deer shot three days later in Cowley County by 10-year-old Ella Perkins.
This trail camera image shows a deer shot three days later in Cowley County by 10-year-old Ella Perkins.

Non-resident hunters may obtain permits to hunt deer in Kansas either by lottery draw or by purchase over-the-counter, online or by phone, Marji said.

But the lottery draw is the only method through which an out-of-state resident — who doesn't own land and/or doesn't qualify for a relative/tenant permit — may shoot an antlered deer in Kansas, Marji said.

"Regardless of residency status, hunters are only eligible for up to one antlered deer per season," she said.

The percentage of overall deer hunting permits the state issued to out-of-state residents was 28.97% in 2021, Marji said.

Before that, she said, it was 28.45% in 2020, 29.71% in 2019, 28.98% in 2018 and 28.19% in 2017.

Non-resident hunters needed to enter this year's lottery drawing between April 1 and April 29 in order to be eligible for it.

To take part, the applicant must buy a non-resident deer hunting license. Those cost $442.50 for hunters who are 16 and older and $117.50 if they're 15 or younger.

In addition, those who apply for a license to specifically hunt deer here must also purchase a hunting license, which costs $97.50 for non-residents 16 and older and $42.50 for non-residents 15 and younger.

Hunters whose names aren't drawn in the lottery receive a refund check and are issued a preference point for a future drawing, Marji said.

More information about Kansas deer hunting licenses can be found on the KDWP website.

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Landowner frustrated hunters weren't picked in Kansas deer license lottery

Tyson suggested allowing for more deer hunting permits to be issued to out-of-state residents during last week's meeting of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and Regulations.

That body hears reports from state agencies regarding changes in rules and regulations. Committee members can't do anything about those changes except make comments about them.

She said she'd coincidentally gotten a call that day from a landowner who was upset none of the five out-of-staters who normally hunt deer on that person's property would be able to do so this year.

None of the five hunter's names were picked in the lottery, she said.

Tyson suggested Kansas should do more to encourage economic development and economic opportunity linked to its issuance of deer licenses.

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'The process has not changed'

Dan Riley, chief legal counsel for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, told Tyson the state hadn't made any changes over the past year to its process for issuing licenses to out-of-state deer hunters.

"We adjust it annually based on the number of deer that are available, based on the methods that we use to count those," he said.

Tyson asked Riley to provide committee members a written "five-year history" containing information about out-of-state deer hunting licenses, in-state licenses and why applications for licenses might be rejected.

Riley agreed to do that.

Some Nebraska hunters are 'really pretty rude,' legislator says

Brian Butcher, of Andover, used a compound bow in October 2019 to shoot this whitetail back, which was confirmed last month to have the second-largest rack of any hunter-harvested deer on record.
Brian Butcher, of Andover, used a compound bow in October 2019 to shoot this whitetail back, which was confirmed last month to have the second-largest rack of any hunter-harvested deer on record.

Kansas Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, said while he understands Tyson's concerns about the business aspects of deer hunting, "I'd just as soon cut the number of out-of-state tags at least in half."

Carmichael no longer hunts deer, though he used to, he said.

He said when he hunted deer, he wished the state would issue fewer deer licenses to Nebraska residents, because they shoot deer that Kansans should be getting.

Some of those Nebraskans are "really pretty rude," Carmichael added.

Meriden-based business sees some clients get shut out

Andy Petesch said he and his wife, Katie Petesch, would feel "tickled" to see Kansas offer more deer hunting licenses for out-of-staters.

The Petesches for 17 years have operated Meriden-based Muddy Creek Whitetails and Gamebirds, a business that outfits and provides guides and properties on which to hunt — some of which they own and some of which they lease — to visitors, mostly from out of state.

About 30% of those who make plans to take part in Muddy Creek's deer hunts end up not doing so because their names aren't drawn, Andy Petesch said.

"So from a business standpoint, it can be hard to get everything lined up," he said.

Hosting more out-of-state hunters would be good economically for Kansas, as Muddy Creek's clients during their time here tend to spend a lot of money on fuel, groceries and other needs, Petesch said.

Contact Tim Hrenchir at 785-213-5934 or

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Should Kansas allow more out-of-state deer hunters to boost economy?