Are western draws making you crazy?
General Topic
Contributors to this thread:
Pat Lefemine 03-May-17
Bake 03-May-17
Scoot 03-May-17
brettpsu 03-May-17
Keith in colorado 03-May-17
Brotsky 03-May-17
Kurt 03-May-17
sticksender 03-May-17
Mad Trapper 03-May-17
Zim1 03-May-17
brettpsu 03-May-17
Bigdan 03-May-17
sticksender 03-May-17
speedgoat 03-May-17
Kodiak 03-May-17
hillbender 03-May-17
DarrylDunsloppy 03-May-17
Beendare 03-May-17
elk yinzer 03-May-17
Huntcell 03-May-17
Missouribreaks 03-May-17
IdyllwildArcher 03-May-17
willliamtell 03-May-17
loesshillsarcher 03-May-17
Sage Buffalo 03-May-17
Deertick 03-May-17
MS Bowman 03-May-17
Treeline 03-May-17
Mike Turner 03-May-17
JohnB 03-May-17
manitou1 03-May-17
JL 03-May-17
Huntcell 04-May-17
BULELK1 04-May-17
Bowboy 04-May-17
kscowboy 04-May-17
Chief 419 04-May-17
samman 04-May-17
bigbuck 04-May-17
Zim1 04-May-17
LaGriz 05-May-17
LaGriz 05-May-17
Irishman 05-May-17
Zim1 05-May-17
Pat Lefemine 05-May-17
ground hunter 05-May-17
sean s 05-May-17
wild1 05-May-17
INbowdude 05-May-17
IdyllwildArcher 05-May-17
Yellowjacket 07-May-17
HamStrung 07-May-17
Bill Sansom 08-May-17
Bill Sansom 08-May-17
Piebald 13-May-17
willliamtell 14-May-17
earlyriser 14-May-17
WapitiBob 14-May-17
sticksender 14-May-17
Drnaln 14-May-17
TreeWalker 14-May-17
Horniac 14-May-17
Mint 16-May-17
spike78 16-May-17
YZF-88 16-May-17
Willieboat 16-May-17
WapitiBob 17-May-17
elkstabber 17-May-17
BagginBigguns 17-May-17
Zim1 17-May-17
'Ike' (Phone) 17-May-17
Bigdan 17-May-17
BIG BEAR 17-May-17
YZF-88 17-May-17
Jaquomo 18-May-17
BIG BEAR 18-May-17
Pat Lefemine 18-May-17
AkBowhntr 23-May-17
stealthycat 23-May-17
huntingbob 11-Jun-17
From: Pat Lefemine
03-May-17

Pat Lefemine's embedded Photo
Does it really need to be this complicated?
Pat Lefemine's embedded Photo
Does it really need to be this complicated?

Pat Lefemine's Link
Every year experienced hunters mess up on applications, lose points, forget to check a box, or use all their bull points on a cow tag by mistake.

Other industries are taking a hard look at process re-engineering, automation and simplification so we ask the question - why not Big Game Draws? In this article we discuss this complicated state processes and suggest solutions for improvement.

From: Bake
03-May-17
Nice article Pat.

I agree with a lot of it. Missouri has a license app now. You can't use it to apply for the very few draw hunts Missouri has, but you can use it to buy all licenses and check animals in. It's stupid easy to use. Extremely easy to buy licenses, check in animals, etc.

Surely other states can do things like that.

From: Scoot
03-May-17
Interesting read. Look at WY and NM- both have very simple websites and really well run systems. MT is an excellent example of a ridiculous, complicated, and poorly done website and application process. Why other states can't use WY as an example and work towards that as a goal is beyond me. I agree with much of what you said in the article, but not all. Most of your concerns would be fixed if all the states use an application process and website as well done as WY.

From: brettpsu
03-May-17
I completely agree with you Pat. My Colorado sheep and goat apps are not even showing up even though they cashed my checks two months ago. I probably screwed something up when doing the stupid paper application but I did triple check them before sent in.

03-May-17
Non res applications in Colorado do not show up via the back door unless you drew, does not show apps.

From: Brotsky
03-May-17
Amen Pat! Great article! I've always thought my home state of SD had a super easy website and process, especially after navigating other states!

From: Kurt
03-May-17
Pat, Great recommendations in your link. Now if only the states and provinces would follow through and implement a new system. That said, BC did update their old manual one post card per LEH species drawing system last year to a computerized application that works very well. It saves me hours of filling in the same personal info over and over on each application, saves postage and rejects you immediately until all the boxes are filled in. You could still screw up a management unit, but it goes a long way to eliminating these problems, and you get a receipt of payment with a listing of hunt codes/species/units applied for.

From: sticksender
03-May-17
They're all improving.....maybe not at the speed we'd like, but getting better. By the way, Arizona fixed their "zero-tolerance" issue a couple years ago with the Point Guard option. Colorado is switching to 100% on-line apps next year which will simplify their system for nr's. Honestly I'm just grateful for all the western states that still let us apply & hunt as NR's. Other than a few states gigging us on fees, I have no real complaints. But it is my sincere hope that many of you will get more & more frustrated with these pesky draw systems and begin to drop out en masse ;-)

From: Mad Trapper
03-May-17
Great article. I agree with everything in it. I am quickly approaching that magical 20 year mark in Colorado for BH sheep. I am about ready to toss in the towel as well. It is clear to me that the game and fish departments for the most part want to fill the non-resident application process with traps. Take Colorado for example, non-residents must apply in paper. I never understood why they make non-residents apply in paper when they have an electronic system already in place for residents. If not to discourage non-residents then why? In conclusion, it was a good article, but I am of the view that nothing will change.

From: Zim1
03-May-17
Yes 20 years of this is wearing on me. And it all started due to Bowsite 1996. All my applications were paper back then. Was exciting as I was a fitness fanatic, but not so much any more as the wheels fall off. I keep a simple one page Word document that lists all my apps, and one Excel document that charts potential hunt overlaps. This helps. I appreciate some states who keep their online forms the most simple and idiot proof. But it's an advance research project when I got one question and must search proclamations.

From: brettpsu
03-May-17
"Non res applications in Colorado do not show up via the back door unless you drew, does not show apps"

Thanks Keith. Is that just the big 3 (sheep, moose, goat) that don't show up? Deer, Elk and habitat stamp are showing up. 9 years I've been applying and never realized that.

From: Bigdan
03-May-17
I think in this day and age it takes to long for the results to be out we need to know so we can make plans. But any time the government takes charge of anything its screw up. I just turned off fox news when members of the senate were asking questions They pay people to do that.

From: sticksender
03-May-17
Brettpsu, it's any paper app, NR or res. As mentioned above, those are gone, starting next year.

From: speedgoat
03-May-17
How about all of add on fees and the buttons you have to push to say "Yes I will pay the fee to apply in your state, or yes I want to archery hunt for the extra fee." Let's just get a one time fee that covers everything and call it good. Every year it seems like states add little nit picky fees for something. Look at Idaho. They just added a $10.00 fee for managing landowner depredation. Wyoming has a special feedground fee if you are hunting in certain areas. Colorado requires a habitat stamp in addition to your license. Wyoming requires an additional license to hunt the archery season. Why can't we just have the option to pick either archery or. Then if we want to add the opportunity to hunt with a rifle, pay the additional season fee. Or just add a couple dollars in the beginning and forget the add on's. You also have to get a habitat license in Wyoming after you get your big game tag; and don't you dare forget it! There are more fees in other states too. Let's just get to a one time one fee system. It's like they are trying to make us forget something so they can make honest people wrong and penalize you again with an expensive ticket. While I haven't had it happen, I have seen others it happened to. Especially the older crowd who was used to a much easier system. Rant Over!

From: Kodiak
03-May-17
Luckily I have a brother that takes care of all my applications. All I have to do is pay him. Works out well because I'm inherently disorganized.

As Dan said, anything the govt touches is FUBAR.

From: hillbender
03-May-17
Good point about point creep putting folks on the mountain in their later years when its tougher to get around at elevation. As far as how to play CO points as a longtime NR hunter and point collector in CO I prefer to hunt some of my favored units every 2nd or 3rd year. CO is always my "plan b" state as I can alternate between a OTC unit we have good luck in with a draw unit we enjoy that we can cash in a point or two and draw every couple years (the draw unit has easier topography). I love CO elk hunting can I can find elk and can hunt every year if I choose but I apply to WY ID MT and UT for more trophy centric tags

03-May-17
Pretty sure your state labels are swapped for that first picture of codes.

Good points all around. As with anything, follow the money.

From: Beendare
03-May-17
"Complicated"

Maybe they are trying to keep the Riff Raff out? grin

If you can't figure out their system....then they don't want you carrying a weapon around in their state.

From: elk yinzer
03-May-17
Good article. I like these rare gems when solutions are proposed as opposed to just whining.

On the other hand, I think while we're at it, why not look at the unsustainable nature of preference point systems? Preference points are clearly one of the worst ideas ever conceived to allocate tags. Bonus points can work in certain situations, and random lotteries are the gold standard.

From: Huntcell
03-May-17
Once the Don appoints me National Big Game Draw czar I will address your issues concerns and gripes and will streamline and standardize the draw process. I will make the draw process so unbelievably easy even a deplorable can do it.

I hope to get this done before its found out I have been drawing multiple sheep goat and moose tags every year.

03-May-17
Not only is Montana somewhat complicated, their wording is oftentimes ambiguous and inconsistent.

03-May-17
Yes!

Great write up Pat. Hopefully someone somewhere will get the memo.

I've ranted about this extensively on Bowsite over the years. You really summarized the issues well.

On the website issue, I don't understand it why more websites can't design their websites for the draw like UT, NV, or WY. It seems all states have some issues with difficulty in applying or navigating their websites, but AZ, CO, MT have some striking issues with difficulty in applying that could cause confusion and AK, OR, CO, NM, AZ, ID, and MT's websites all could be more maneuverable to find the information you need in order to apply - which adds to confusion that can cause errors and make NRs throw up their hands.

The learning curve is extensive. I apply in 13 different states and have dropped out of 3 more - I feel like I should have a degree in Western State Applications after all the time I've put in to just learning the systems and the odds - it's certainly more difficult than it needs to be.

And I also couldn't agree more on the timing of the draws. I've said before several times: California, with all of its dysfunction, has their draw results posted in under two weeks from when the app period closes. Some of these states take over two months (NM/NV). Some break up the different species over several months (MT/WY/AZ). Some take 1 month to do one specie and then 3 months to do another (WY). It's ridiculous!

In modern times, it shouldn't take this long. If you feel the need to still do some paper apps, then move your paper apps deadline up because these draws should be able to be done a week or two after an internet deadline. And in all honestly, several states have gone to online only and there's no reason that this can't happen. It's 20friggen17. If you can't handle an online application, then get anyone you know to help you because the vast majority of people should have no problem doing this.

And with a streamlined process, we can cut down these ridiculous periods of time between the deadline for apps and when the draw takes place. When that happens, it would be possible to get all these draws done by the end of April or May and one after another so that we wouldn't have to have 20 different apps out for hunts that run at the same time.

From: willliamtell
03-May-17
Beautifully laid out, Pat. What would you charge if the seas ever parted and some of the States with the lamest websites were to ask you to consult on an upgrade? Of course, one of the problems with government is they rarely if ever ask customers what they prefer, or go to an expert who can actually deliver that.

Every single person on this site is unhappy with the States that have klugey, complicated websites, and breathes a sigh of relief when they apply in Utah, Wyoming, and Nevada. Five minutes and done! A big THANK YOU to these 3 States for their good work. Pat Lefemine for hunting czar!

03-May-17
I hate having to pay up front for the licenses. Need thousands of dollars to just apply. It should be at the very least a nominal fee to apply and pay for the license should you draw.

From: Sage Buffalo
03-May-17
Great article and agree with a lot of it.

The only problem I don't have is the cost of tags. Now I hate that they can get away with it against NR and think they should charge residents more (I mean guys are dragging thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars in the field - no reason a resident can't pay $200-$300 for a tag).

I do think kids 18 and under should have their own tags (I know it could be abused and segmenting even more is frustrating but think it's important for kids and their parents to have these special opps).

My biggest pet peeve you covered - the lack of some states to not use basic technology that if you brought a company who specialized in building such sites would make it so much easier.

From: Deertick
03-May-17
Great article ... basically, this is the difference between Government and Amazon.com. Amazon wants to make it easy to be a customer, Government thinks it's a "privilege" to be a customer!

As they say: If the Government owned the Sahara Desert, there'd be a shortage of sand within 2 years.

Cost of tags is not consistent with "free market" principles. Price never is cost when the government is involved. I am lucky -- I can afford tags about anywhere, and I certainly can afford to pay more in my home state. We are changing the future of hunting with these costs -- just wait and see what hunting in 2040 looks like. (It's not too far away, boys.) We all need to be more welcoming, and more generous of our own states resources.

Why can't a state text you your draw status? Because they don't care about your draw status. They care about your credit card. States are poor at business.

I agree, Pat. States have, overall, done a poor job at the "front counter".

Are there other examples? I know some rafters have to apply for permits to raft certain sections of river. I don't know how that "draw" occurs. Anyone?

From: MS Bowman
03-May-17
The worst are the states that have different application periods for specific animals. It would be so much easier to deal with it all at one time.

From: Treeline
03-May-17
Hell, I missed the MT sheep, goat and moose. -2 off the top now... Kinda makes me want to cry.

From: Mike Turner
03-May-17
I have oftened wondered if Game and Fish folks make them complicated for a reason..... Ever notice how all the guys with pics of sheep and goats are old goats themselves....... It's extremely frustrating, but just like bowhunting itself, You have to remain persistent!!

From: JohnB
03-May-17
I have hunted CO for 8 years and have not tried the draw system because of it's complications. Wish it was better, thanks for the article Pat.

From: manitou1
03-May-17
I just applied for the first time in Wy this year. If WY is easy, I would never make it through another state. I spent weeks studying units, draws, processes etc. Almost gave up. Heck, I still don't know for sure if I did it correctly! Gov is organized crime in it's purest state.

From: JL
03-May-17
Me personally....I can work thru most draws. It's the high NR fees some of these states charge that gets my goat.

From: Huntcell
04-May-17
How about allowing one to pass their points to son or daughter when ya pass away? Some guys will be taking 40 plus years of sheep points to the grave.

From: BULELK1
04-May-17
Well done and very informative Pat.

Like most anything in life the more ya do it the easier it is to do it.

Back in the day with Paper Appl. and a check up front to cover it all was pricey, not at all uncommon to have $10-$12k 'floating' and waiting for results/refunds......that is when I started my Hunting acct. using all the refund money and a direct deposit monthly to my Hunting acct., it has served me well over the years.

Good luck, Robb

From: Bowboy
04-May-17
Hunt cell agree!

From: kscowboy
04-May-17
I remember a number of years back I graduated college and graduate school and was finally going to elk hunt. I applied for a muzzleloader permit in the unit where I currently live in CO, as I was certain to be covered in elk and likely to get my first one. I was a NR at the time and used their paper applications. Lo and behold, I didn't draw the tag that I had enough PPs to draw. I was dumbfounded. I finally called the DOW to inquire. They found 3 of me in their system. One used my middle name as my first name, one was me but one social security number off, and the other was the real me. They consolidated all of these but I still didn't get my tag. So much for that trip to reward myself for school and all that vacation I'd banked. So Pat, you get slapped for an error on your end but when it happens on their end, "It's just one of those things?"

From: Chief 419
04-May-17
Are western draws making me crazy? YES, they are. I feel like I'm somewhat stuck in an unhappy marriage with one state. If/when I finally do get my tag, I'm getting a divorce. My frustration will be become some other guy's gain or pain. There are too many other animals and areas to hunt out there that don't require the hassle of draws.

From: samman
04-May-17

samman's embedded Photo
samman's embedded Photo

samman's Link
Weighted points in Colorado are frustrating for sure. The link takes you to an explanation posted in a CBA magazine years ago. The picture is of my sheep application from last year where 15 people with more weighted points missed compared to the one who drew. Sure is luck to have such a big difference in random number to overcome a 6 point difference in the divisor. Sure makes it a crap shoot on drawing or not. You really can't count on a high number as a guarantee. Anyone know how to find the numbers used in the linked diagram?

From: bigbuck
04-May-17
Your points are spot on Pat,I feel like your friend that finally drew a tag and couldn't physically do the hunt.I have been in multiple state draws for many years and just have to much invested to get out now as I hope to someday to draw before I end up like your friend !!I am in my 60s now so there are some of those hunts that I may end like your friend not being able to physically able to do

From: Zim1
04-May-17
As if it's not bad enough dealing with all the schemes, you have these states cheapening your points after you buy in. Every western state has done this during my 20 years of applying. The worst example though is an eastern state, Maine for their moose permits, where they peddle all the ten packs of bonus points anyone wants for $55. Talk about a scam. It's all about easy money.

From: LaGriz
05-May-17
Preference Points and moving goal posts.

I got into Colorado point game in the early 90's. They were free at the time, and the "Ranching for Wildlife" was still in play for the non-resident. When these hunt codes were eliminated as an option to the non-resident, the LE hunts then became overwhelmed with applicants. Point creep was the inevitable result. I was facing the same issue as the 70 year old in your article. I burned the 17 points on a Unit 61 Archery hunt in 2012. (awesome experience though unsuccessful) I now have points for elk in Utah (10), Wyoming (4) , and 4 once again in Colorado. My 18 deer points are on hold while the heard recovers from another rough winter. With all the coin I have tied up in these points, I wish there was a mechanism to "will them" to a grandson. Even a 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 rollover would be appreciated as these points have been a significant investment. Would like to keep them in the family if My health declines or I check out. I'm careful with my comments on this issue. To be perceived as out-of-state wiener can get you some pretty ugly results. I find that when hunters complain, the opportunities get fewer and the fees seem to go high all the faster.

LaGriz

From: LaGriz
05-May-17
Eliminated Double Post

From: Irishman
05-May-17
At the start of this thread you posted what appeared to be regulations for Colorado and Montana. I didn't realize that Montana had muzzleloader seasons?

From: Zim1
05-May-17
"I find that when hunters complain, the opportunities get fewer and the fees seem to go high all the faster."

Haha it has nothing to do with anyone complaining. I assure you the NR opportunities will get fewer regardless! Throw in the SFW political "model" and you get a long term dumpster fire for DIY hunters.

From: Pat Lefemine
05-May-17
Someone pointed out that I mixed up CO and MT in the graphic above. No way to fix that without deleting the thread. So just make a note of it.

05-May-17
one reason I was lucky to hunt the 80's and 90's,,,,, some of he systems are ridiculous, easier to do my taxes..... as far as NR fees, hey, here is a tip, they don't want you there anyways.................

From: sean s
05-May-17
Pat - I think you missed what I believe the biggest issue is. You will never draw a premo unit in CO because for the most part they creep a point a year - you are actually not making any progress. Anyone who did not start accumulating WY Elk points the first year available will most likely never draw one of the premium units based on points in their lifetime. So I think the biggest issue is that most of the systems are really only helping people with max points, everyone else will most likely never draw a tag in their lifetime and are just making a contribution to F&G.

I think tag costs are ridiculous, especially for moose, goats and sheep. The dollars from the non-resident tags are tiny on these because there are so few tags. They could raise the same amount of money by adding a very small amount to the application fee and have tags be free. Outfitters need to realize that tag fees are taking money out of their pocket. If I have to pay $2500 for a tag, I am not using an outfitter. If the tag was $150, I probably would. Again, G&F can make whatever money they need from application fees, there is no reason to make the tag winners shoulder the cost.

In my opinion, preference point systems are great where the odds are less than 10 to 1, but it should be all random beyond that.

From: wild1
05-May-17
I couldn't agree more, with the general premise of your article!!

Basically, big game drawings are a government bureaucracy that is starting to look more and more like the tax code, with the customer service of the DMV.

From: INbowdude
05-May-17
As Pat pointed out, this game can be a young man's game with point creep. Like most of you, I'm in my upper, upper 50's and the body is starting to feel it. "It's not the years, it's the miles". If I draw a sheep tag in Wyoming, I'll never get another realistic shot in my lifetime. So, I'm doing more hog hunts, and exotics and not even worrying about those crazy western draws. Maybe when I retire, I can do an Alaskan trip. Best of luck to everybody waiting on those late date draws.

05-May-17
"In my opinion, preference point systems are great where the odds are less than 10 to 1, but it should be all random beyond that."

Right, where tags cost a less than 5-10 points and creep is very slow, preference point systems work well. I like the idea of PP systems till they get to a certain point number, then revision to a BP system; I wish G&F depts would consider that. Squaring BPs is great if there's plenty of tags - otherwise it shrinks your odds yearly if you get in after year 5 or so. Again, it works if tags aren't in super high demand.

I also agree that Maine's moose system is great and a model for how to do high demand tags (but without the 10 packs - that's just a ridiculous money grab and makes the points worthless).

From: Yellowjacket
07-May-17
1st, Having turned 60 this year I didn't like Pat's disparaging remark about 60 year olds! LOL

2nd, I only apply in my home state of Colorado but if you mistakenly draw a cow elk tag instead of a bull tag in Colorado and lose all your points you would have to either write or type an F into the hunt code instead of an M (or maybe an E). And well here's your sign!

3rd, I don't put my applications in until after my credit card billing date has passed in March so don't have to pay the credit card bill for my application fees until late May. Most years I'll have my desert sheep and mtn goat refund checks back and in the bank before I have to pay the credit card back for the free loan. However, would gladly let the state keep the money in exchange for a tag!!

From: HamStrung
07-May-17
YellowJacket, that's a good suggestion about the credit card billing date. I'll try that next time.

Even though you get the money back, it's a big outlay of cash for a working man like me. So I alternate sheep and goat each year. Just can't come up with all that at once.

For the question do they drive me crazy- the answer is YES! Such an easy fix too but these states are too dug in with career bureaucrats so I doubt it will ever change.

From: Bill Sansom
08-May-17

Bill Sansom's embedded Photo
Not Looking To Die
Bill Sansom's embedded Photo
Not Looking To Die
The draw process has become a complicated and costly mess - in every western state. I wrote an article for Bugle Magazine ( Nov/Dec 2016 issue) titled, "Hunting Around The Draw" as the article title hints, it is possible to hunt elk in most western states, (and a few eastern states) without going through the drawing process. Nevada, New Mexico, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah, and Washington State have elk hunts either thru Private Landowner tags, E-PLUS tags (New Mexico) PLM (California) CWMU tags (Utah). If you are unsuccessful in the draw check out these types of hunts. I changed live long residency in Montana to Arizona.... I lost all my special tag bonus points. and I am now in the 10% native non-resident pool.

From: Bill Sansom
08-May-17

Bill Sansom's embedded Photo
Not Looking To Die
Bill Sansom's embedded Photo
Not Looking To Die
The draw process has become a complicated and costly mess - in every western state. I wrote an article for Bugle Magazine ( Nov/Dec 2016 issue) titled, "Hunting Around The Draw" as the article title hints, it is possible to hunt elk in most western states, (and a few eastern states) without going through the drawing process. Nevada, New Mexico, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah, and Washington State have elk hunts either thru Private Landowner tags, E-PLUS tags (New Mexico) PLM (California) CWMU tags (Utah). If you are unsuccessful in the draw check out these types of hunts. I changed live long residency in Montana to Arizona.... I lost all my special tag bonus points. and I am now in the 10% native non-resident pool.

From: Piebald
13-May-17
Absolute craziness!!!! Just my two cents worth!!! It takes a large chunk out of my checkbook every year. My biggest peeve is trying to find HOW to apply for bonus points. Why in the hell don't they have ONE button that says "APPLY FOR BONUS POINTS"???

From: willliamtell
14-May-17
If I had advice to offer hunters in their 20's and 30's, it would be start saving thousands of dollars and applying now for every state and draw you can afford, and maybe by the time you are ready for retirement you will have enough serious points socked in to hit a high-quality district. And pay close attention to get through without mistakes the mess that many States are making of their application process. I suspect that well-informed and constructive criticisms such as Pat's will have some effect on at least a few states' application procedures. For one thing, many people in those F&G Dept's hunt, and they personally experience the sites that suck and work. Now to get to the IT Departments.

From: earlyriser
14-May-17
All I can say is that I am thankful to live in a state without a point system, NM. Yes, some years we may not draw anything and some years we might draw a few tags. Having apps in for MT, WY and CO, NM is by far the easiest process. Complete with fail-safe components and drop down menus for each species. Yes, some people make mistakes, but at least they are not out 15 points because of it. I feel the only reason why states make it so complicated is due to the need for someone to justify their job....bureaucrats. It would make way too much sense to simplify the process.

It makes absolutely no sense to me why someone would not choose hunting every year or every other year vs. waiting 15+ years to do it. Like mentioned in the article, many people are too damn old to get it done when they finally draw and becomes anti-climatic at best. There are many hunts out west that only take 1-2 points to draw and have consistently stayed there. Point creep will continue with the increase in hunter participation in western states and the stance that people take concerning the required size of the critter being hunted. What ever happened to enjoying time with family and friends in God's beautiful creation? Some of my most memorable hunts ended with nothing hitting the ground.

Sorry about my rant at the end.

From: WapitiBob
14-May-17
Everybody starts from the same place when applying out of state; zero knowledge of the process. Those who care more about the outcome will take the time to learn the process. It seems most have forgotten how to read the regs or how to use their phones to make a call to the draw dept and ask questions.

I'm not real sympathetic when I hear about an AZ cow tag getting drawn instead of a bull tag. The hunt code is right there for you to check when you applied, didn't bother to print a receipt and check it, and didn't care enough to go back the next day and dbl check your work. If a person had checked any of the above, the mistake is an easy fix.

From: sticksender
14-May-17
Best post thus far ^

From: Drnaln
14-May-17
Finally someone gets it right! I've been applying in as many state as I can afford for 25 years & always try to double check everything twice. In 2012 I got in a hurry & applied for the wrong Ibex code in New Mexico. I drew the hunt which was for Immature Billy or a Nanny. I only had 1 person to blame & that was myself. It was a $1610 mistake but I try to use that error to be more careful with all the draws since then! I keep the tag on my desk for a reminder to pay attention!

From: TreeWalker
14-May-17
I have been doing draws about as long as Zim1 and my observations overlap his. I do not think points should be for anyone but the original applicant. Why? Utah used to allow party operations where average points of all applicants. Sounds fair, right. Not at all when a relative builds points and applies with a group then can turn in tag to keep points while the freeloaders keep tags. As soon as can transfer points then this will be the norm where points are "green-housed" with no intention of being used by a non-hunting relative then down the road are gifted or willed to a hunter. This would merely create massive issues in preference point draws and what would you pay to move to the top of the list for a sheep tag? No matter what you would pay for points from someone else, Richie Rich would pay more since the market would push price to be similar to the cost to win a sheep auction or elk or deer, etc. You pay your money in a point scheme and you take your chances just as with Vegas.

From: Horniac
14-May-17
I really enjoyed reading your article and can relate to many of the issues with the draws you highlighted. I have a slighlty different viewpoint however. I started applying and building points in 1999 and have been applying ever since and now annually apply in 12 western states. I remember when Huntin' Fool was a paper newsletter with only a few pages. During those early years you had to have the application booklets mailed to you and had to fill out paper applications and send checks. For some states, you had to mail in a separate application in an envelope with a check for each species you applied for. In Colorado, this was six separate applications for me (elk, sheep, moose, deer, antelope, mountain goat) with six opportunities to make a simple mistake to have your application rejected. In some states, you had to provide a cashier's check as personal checks weren't accepted (i.e. Montana). All in all, it was very time consuming and expensive to apply and very easy to make a mistake. This burdensome and time consuming process somewhat limited applicants IMO and mostly only those serious and dedicated hunters with disposable income applied out of state. Information over the internet in those days was also somewhat limited. You had to call biologists, game wardens, etc to complete your application research. Looking at my spreadsheet in 2000 I applied for 10 western states and had to front the tag fees for every state but UT, OR, and my home state of CA. It cost me $15,646 to apply with $583 in nonrefundable licenses, points, and application fees. Most of the states back then required upfront payment by check and didn't allow the use of a credit card.

Fast forward to 2017. With the advent of technology and IT departments, all states have migrated to on-line apps which in my opinion has greatly simplified the application process. The big game booklets are all on-line along with draw stats, harvest reports, unit maps, google map files, etc. available for reasearch. In addition to Huntin' Fool, you now have Go Hunt, Epic, Eastmans, Hunters Trailhead, Toprut, etc to help with research and draw odds. There are many hunting websites such as this one to get help with applications, units, application strategy, etc. Social media has also accelerated the speed of information. There are no secrets anymore. Furthermore, I used a credit card for every state's application so far this year with the exception of Colorado as they were the last holdout for NR paper apps and checks (for moose, sheep, and goat) and even those will be on-line next year for NR. This has made the process easy for everyone who has a credit card with an untapped credit balance and ten minutes to apply who someday may want to hunt out of state. For comparison purposes, it looks like my upfront application costs this year are $19,008 with $1,920 (with some tags drawn out and no longer applied for) in nonrefundable licenses, points, and application fees so prices continue to climb. I was fortunate to draw a CO G7 tag this year and it cost me $2,149. In 2000 that same tag cost $753.25.

So although complicated, IMO the advent of on-line applications has simplified the application process for the majority of applicants and has led to increased competition for tags. I was lucky and got in somewhat early. As a result, I have drawn some great tags but in some states I feel like I will never draw the tag I have targeted and will never catch up. Some states are somewhat misleading with their draw odds and make it seem like you have better draw odds than you actually do. Points are both a curse and a blessing. Once your in the system you are trapped and if you miss a year, you fall even further behind, or if decide to bail, you lose your investment. If I was just starting out, I would certainly be leery of applying in any state with a straight preference point system without the ability to draw a random tag. For all but the top point holders, why a NR would buy points in WY for moose and sheep without actually applying for a random tag is a mystery to me. You may never draw a preference point tag in your lifetime unless they change the rules. Like Zim, I too have been the victim of changes to the system rules which were in place when I first applied adding years to the possibility of me drawing my targeted tag.

It is much harder to make a mistake with the on-line apps IMO with most being applicant carelessness by not reviewing your hunt choices. I think some states could definitely improve their on-line processes though by;

1) allowing an applicant to make a single transaction for all species apps/licenses instead of multiple transactions. 2) having a review screen showing all your hunt choices with corresponding hunt unit, animal sex, weapon, and season dates to allow you to double check everything before hitting the submit payment button. Perhaps they could even highlight cow/doe/ewe hunts on the final screen and make you check a box confirming this was your intent.

Yes, having drawings done so late in the year is hard for planning purposes but it is my understanding some of those states haven't set their tag quotas yet so I don't know the fix for that.

Anyway, I could ramble on and on about this subject...

Good luck to everyone this year!

Horniac

From: Mint
16-May-17
Great article Pat. I applied a few years and then gave up.

From: spike78
16-May-17
While visiting Maine I spoke to a waitress that drew a moose tag on her 3rd year trying. Her boyfriend still hasn't drawn one in 15 years. I think those preference points are a bunch of bull. No pun.

From: YZF-88
16-May-17
I saw a thread on another website where people are blathering about Utah taking so damn long to charge credit cards. It had over 46,000 VIEWS!!!!! Yes, I was a few of those. You can bet a good number of those folks are as frustrated as many of us here.

I'm on the verge of losing vacations spots because I don't have plans/tags shored up. It's unnerving!

From: Willieboat
16-May-17
WapitiBob x2 !! Its really not that difficult

From: WapitiBob
17-May-17
I didn't say they were easy.

From: elkstabber
17-May-17
As with most things in life - if it were easy ANYBODY could do it. If the draws were simpler and required less money upfront then more people would apply. This is obvious from reading the posts above. When draws are more complicated and cost more to apply then the drawing odds go up. It is doubtful that any state will listen to what NRs (non-residents) want so the best we can do is to study the regs, statistics, and trends. The people who study the most will draw the most desirable tags (eventually). Drawing a good tag is like hunting, if you work at it enough you will get lucky.

17-May-17
What genius decided to incorporate both 0's and O's (see the difference?) in the Colorado hunt code system? They could begin simplifying the system by getting rid of that guy.

From: Zim1
17-May-17
"What genius decided to incorporate both 0's and O's (see the difference?) in the Colorado hunt code system? They could begin simplifying the system by getting rid of that guy."

Haha can't argue with that! :)

17-May-17
Gets crazy for sure, but always fun...Just part of the game!

From: Bigdan
17-May-17
I think the thing that's crap is when they change the rules once you buy in. The 5% rule in az is horse crap. and Making you buy an archery stamp in Montana before you draw a tag is More crap. If they made you buy the stamp after the draw would be a lot better. they could send you a notice to buy one before they send you a tag.

From: BIG BEAR
17-May-17
I have not applied for any tags out west and at my age (50).... no sense in starting now. As a hunter from the Midwest.... Michigan... If I wanted to go on a hunt out west I'd just book one. No waiting. No hoping for a tag. All my money gets spent on the hunt. Not the application process. So... what's the allure for hunters from the Midwest or the east of getting into western draws ?? Is it that you want a do it yourself hunt ? Do any of you who draw a tag use an outfitter ?? I can't see spending money year after year hoping for a shiras moose tag when I can simply book a hunt any time I want for bigger moose. I'm not trying to criticize applying for western tags.... just trying to understand the allure. If you live out there I get it..... I do apply for Michigan elk every year.

From: YZF-88
17-May-17
Good question Big Bear. It's hard to articulate the western hunting experience. Hard to even compare it to whitetail hunting. Even before moving from the midwest, I started hunting a general season mule deer hunt. Immediately I wanted more so I applied for limited entry tags and hunted generals as backups. So far I've drawn two good elk tags and they were better hunting experiences. If I add up all the tag and app fees for the last 5-7 years, the sum is still less than one outfitted hunt and the memories are priceless.

From: Jaquomo
18-May-17
Big Bear, you are confusing the premier draw opportunities with regular hunts. For example, you can hunt WY for elk every three years by just buying a point each summer. On the odd years you can hunt elk in CO or ID OTC, and generally in MT too. You can also hunt deer, bear and pronghorn in several states every year on your own without an outfitter with proper planning. AZ deer (Coues and muley) is OTC while you try to draw the "Strip" or other prime units. Many low or zero point units in all states can offer great hunting with a little homework.

Shiras moose, sheep and goat are different deals, but that's a choice to apply while hunting other stuff every year until you draw, vs. plunking down $15K (or more) for a guided sheep or moose hunt somewhere else.

I guess much of the allure is in the DIY aspect of being self-reliant in big wild country vs. hiring someone to cook your meals, wipe your hiney, stoke up the tent heater, and lead you to the animals with little effort on your part. (I've been an elk guide for an outfitter so I know how it works..) But whatever floats your boat is all good so long as it's legal.

From: BIG BEAR
18-May-17
Fair enough

From: Pat Lefemine
18-May-17
Guided hunts do take place in units with lottery drawings. In some states, if you draw a tag you will be deluged with cold calls from outfitters.

From: AkBowhntr
23-May-17
Good article, just shows you the increasing difficulty of drawing premier Units as time marches one. I have Max WY points for Lopes and in a few years I'll be able to draw a premier Moose Unit. Other than that I hunt exclusively in AK. Can't beat OTC Moose, Deer, Elk, Bear. A few years back I drew the coveted Unimak Brown Bear tag the first time I applied, about a 2% chance, so that was my luck, beside Etolin Elk, DC Caribou and Kodiak Mt. Goat......just gotta want to go and know where to go.....

From: stealthycat
23-May-17
I don't understand the difficulty with States conducting the draws quickly .... its a computer system, shouldn't be a 30 day process

From: huntingbob
11-Jun-17
Great article!

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