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Forgive my ignorance, I'm an easterner. When you guys apply for licenses in western state do you get a refund from the states if you don't draw? And if you have a bunch of points built up are you fairly guaranteed a tag?
Yes, you get a refund minus any application fees.
Points don’t always gaurantee you a tag, but they do increase your odds of getting drawn.
All of this information and more can be found on the state’s game and fish website.
In AZ you have to buy a non res hunting license for $160 every year to apply plus app fees for each animal you apply for. It cost me for just elk $175 non refundable this year. If you miss a certain amount of years applying you lose all the points you’ve accumulated.
Point systems are for selfish folks and hunters bad at math. The higher the % of tags going to only the folks with the Max Point pool then the inherently more discriminatory the system. CO deer, 100% to applicants with most points. WY deer, 75% to applicants with most points.
Well, you might say the MaxPoint guys deserve a reward for being so dang loyal. Look at WY sheep. 75% of tags go to applicants with the most points and the other 25% are random so everyone gets a chance at those tags. Take a kid too young to apply in Year 1 of the WY sheep point system for non-residents. Without a point system, every applicant had around a 1 in 150 chance to draw a ram tag. Apply for 5 years and your advantage was 5 in 150 or 5x the odds as anyone who did not loyally apply for those 5 years and only applied in one year. So, 1 in 30 odds cumulative over the 5 years of applying was a nice reward for applying all 5 years.
Back to the kid. He was prevented by law to apply in Year 1 but in Year 6 he gets to legal age and applies. Prior to the point system, he would now have 1 in 150 odds in his first year just like every other applicant but WY rewarded loyalty by launching a discriminatory point system so the kid's odds are 0/150 for 75% of the tags now. Max Point guy is at a bit better than 1 in 150 odds since some of his Max Point comrades drew in the first 5 years but everyone else was fighting over a handful of tags in the random 25% bucket. The Max Point guys get an advantage for around 20 years in WY sheep draws. Anyone applying even 1 year later than Year 1 gets a 20 year penalty Zone excluding them from drawing any of the 75% bucket of the tags. That is selfish and an odd way to reward a single year of loyalty.
F&G loves point systems. Remember the economic downturn in 2008-2010? I knew people who lost jobs and even homes. Predictably, some folks bailed on WY sheep and moose but not to the extent they did on NM sheep where stepping to the side in the game did not hurt you odds in future years if you skipped applying. Probably some divorces arose from applicants sending off money to WY in those lean years.
F&G now gets a lot of support shifting from a cost-plus approach to pricing of primo tags to market-driven price approach. Outfitters love a wealthy guy getting a tag as Richie Rich is more likely he will hire an outfitter so the outfitter hates Six Pack Steve and getting a bighorn tag because Steve is doing this with family and friends. F&G loves $1100 for a bull elk tag since could sell every primo elk or deer or sheep or moose or goat of bison tag 10x if had the critters for harvesting.
We should just be honest and start to support eBaying every tag as the only "fair" way to make sure F&G gets optimal market price for the tags. No reason to half way this revolution. I hope the Highway Dept sees the wisdom in this maximizing sales price of a public asset and will sell me a $5000 license plate so I can get access to the left lane. Any of you not willing or able to pay the $5000 a year need to stay in the right lane because no one has a right to the left lane and obviously letting everyone have an equal chance to use the left lane is a failure to optimize revenues, right? Just like WY and their critter application pricing and tag prices. Move that old vehicle over to the right, I am coming through in my Tesla.
In states that allocate a percentage of tags to max point holders, you will eventually be guaranteed a tag when you have enough points, which will depend on the hunt and those that also apply.
You can span 2 years with a license in AZ if you follow the deadlines in the app book.
If I start applying for moose as a nonresident in WY, what is the year I will be guaranteed drawing that tag? I was under the impression there were not enough tags for most of the folks at the back of the bus to ever draw a moose tag. Easy to calculate by looking at total NR applicants for moose and how many moose tags were awarded. That will give you the expected years to draw. Now, if that number is 50 or 75 years then seems less than a guarantee. But, a point system guarantees, right? That is the reason can favor Year 1 pool because everyone else eventually gets to front of the line. But what if the rest of the line prevented from access to 75% of the tags for decades is longer than expected lifetime?
Some states you have to send in the tag money with your application. Some you just have to pay the application fee. In states where you have to send in your tag money, you get a refund.
There's three types of point systems. Pure lottery, bonus point systems, and preference point systems.
While there's variances on all of them, they basically work like this:
Lottery is just that - a lottery. Everyone has 1 ticket in the hat.
Preference point systems - whoever has the most points, get the tag. If there's more people with the top amount of points, then those people all get 1 ticket in the hat. Several states with preference point systems give out a certain percentage of their tags to top point holders and a the rest to everyone who applies in a random lottery.
Bonus point systems - for every point you have, you get another ticket in the hat. So, like in AZ, if you have 3 points, you get your application + your 3 bonus points for a total of 4 tickets in the hat. Some states like NV square your points so if you have 5 points, you get your app plus 5 squared (25) for a total of 26 tickets in the hat.
You can't lump all points systems into one negative bucket. The example of WY moose is a good example of a poor points system for someone just getting started. The CO deer example is a very poor example for two reasons. First, you can't buy a CO deer license over the counter...those are draw only. Second, the vast majority of archery deer tags in Colorado require two points or less to get a tag.
UT has a bonus point system (we're not talking about general season deer and antlerless animals) where you still only have one ticket in the bucket that has a random number assigned to it.
A guy with 15 pts has a better chance to have a lower number assigned. That lower number determines where he is in line for a tag. A guy with no points only has one shot to get a low number.
How else in UT can a guy with 4 pts out compete a guy with 12? The 4 pt guy was assigned number 2 and the 12 pt guy got number 3 as their lowest numbers when only two tags were available. So, really a lottery system with pt advantage.
AZ draw sucks, points or no points, it makes no sense what so ever!
Another thing you need to consider is you can apply for many years and the state can change the system any time they want to. So with point creep and changing the draw rules you may apply for a certain tag for say 10 years and you should draw the tag you have been waiting for on your 11th year then the state changes the way they do things (like AZ did) and it knocks you back 3 or 4 years and now your 10 year tag is a 13 or 14 year tag. You have to be willling to wait and spend money.
If you love to hunt you have few choices but to be patient and play the game even though they keep changing the rules. I have been doing this for many years and have points in many states. I give up a lot (and so does my wife) so I can apply. These are our vacations and my children were exposed to this lifestyle because of these allocation systems and they all turned out great. I have been fortunate to draw many good tags so maybe I view this differently. I finally drew a Sept AZ tag this year for the first time BUT I have drawn many good tags over the years. I drew my NV Elk tag last year, In NM I have drawn Oryx-Ant-Elk in the Gila, Elk in Northern NM, a 2B Jan Deer hunt. I've drawn UT, ID, WY, MT and CO ELk and Deer tags. I have lots of points in many states and just hope that I don't die leaving my 15 Utah elk points behind.
Pat Lefemine's Link
Thanks for the responses guys. Think I'll stay on my side of the Mississippi.
We wrote a feature about it. Mostly negative.
Anyone that is considering to start the application process in a preference point state should fully understand the definition of Point Creep before separating yourself from your money.
Rather than "point creep", understand the state's draw system - with and without points.
Anymore, CO is a pipe dream for most people...
I agree with most of the article pat. ...
Been playing point games for over 20 years in most of the western states.
Basically, if you just want to do western state hunting, there are tons of great opportunities that you can draw tags with low points.
The extremely limited species like sheep, goat, moose and bison or top end trophy areas are most likely going to take a very long time to pull a tag (possibly never) but you can pull good tags for deer, elk, antelope and bear every year in multiple states. And, you can hunt on your own (DIY) on public land without having to pay for a lease, private property access or guided hunt for all those species. It is the cheapest way to hunt western big game.
I look at the applications and licenses that I have to buy as a donation to the various state's G&F departments. Dropped out of a few because there was such a low probability of ever drawing and the cost did not justify the chance of drawing but have stuck it out on a bunch of them.
It does get very frustrating looking at how greedy many of the states have become, but they do have a commodity that people want and are willing to pay for.
Lots of ways to hunt out west with out playing the points game.
OK so there are not enough animals for everyone to kill one. Lots of negativity about how tags are issues. What's the solution?
So because a dozen guys on the internet tell you you can’t draw primo tags you decided to stay in Ohio and never hunt “west of the Mississippi”!?!?!? That is ludicrous in my opinion. I like in Oklahoma, not a western hunting Mecca by any means, but i would never dream of not hunting elk, antelope, mule deer, bears etc just because I can’t get prime tags! C’mon man really? There are literally thousands of opportunities for guys like us to hunt out west even on a budget. It does not take prime tags or hundreds of hours of learning points systems or thousands of dollars in app fees. It certainly can help, but there are lots of other options.
I play the points game in just a couple of states for elk/lope/deer, but I recognized early on that that my late entry to the big stuff (moose, sheep, goats) was pretty futal at best, and I certainly didn’t have the money and patience to play them out anyway, so I never really got into it. But I promise there are lots of stuff to hunt west of Ohio that don’t take all that.
Just gotta get out and do it. And no offense but when I hear a guy say —nevermind I’ll stay in Ohio cause the points system is all messed up— then I’m guessing he was probably never gonna go anyway. Just gotta go do it, life is too short for all the excuses.
I can only speak for elk, as its the only game I play. If a person only focuses on the most highly sought after units, then yes you'll be frustrated(or angry) and SOL. But there is good hunting to be had for FAR fewer points, or no points. If having just a couple of pref points simply gets me in a unit with less pressure, they are worth it. If having a few pref points gets me back to a unit I'm familiar with, they are worth it. No use in worrying about units you'll never draw. Plan and hunt the ones that you can. And there are a lot of them out there.
Killbuck it would be tough to pop in here with just one question and expect to get all the answers to western hunting. If you're really interested, spend some time on here reading about the hunting experiences other guys have had before making your decision. There's enough reading on here to keep you busy for months. Every question you have, and plenty more that you haven't though of yet, will be answered. It takes some effort....but all you need is the desire. By the way, you can hunt elk, deer, bear and antelope out west this fall if you want...no points needed.
What Jim said. You can do an OTC either sex archery tag in Colorado every year with no points. Ask for help here, you will get guidance. The first trip will be worth the experience, you will learn a lot, and maybe even kill and elk. Each trip will get better. There is no reason to not come out west.
I've had some really fun days in OTC units. So much so that I sort of regret building points in other states.
You could get tags for multiple states for those 4 species and spend several months out west hunting them if you were so inclined!
I say stay east of the Mississippi... we don't the competition for tags ;^)
Like Treeline notes, you can hunt multiple species in multiple western states every year and not even worry about the "point game". Just in CO you can hunt two elk, deer, bear, and pronghorn. If you want to do points for moose, sheep and goats, with three points you are in the draw and can draw cow moose almost every year in some units with zero points in some units.
It's all in what you want...