Contributors to this thread:
Getting Preference Points
Hello, I’m a young hunter with dreams of chasing all kinds of different big game, I would like to have some information on the best way to get preference points in different states for multiple species and putting myself in the best position to get drawn for hints the quickest.
What is your budget for points each year? Are you looking for short term hunts (next few years) or are you looking years down the road? If you are on a budget and assuming you can't put in for everything under the sun what animals are the most important to you?
$1500 budget every year. Both short term and long term hunts down the road. Archery elk, mule deer, bear, and antelope are short term and long term hunts include moose, mountain lion, bighorn sheep, caribou, and mountain goat.
Yea have to figure 1000- 2000 non refundables cost yearly, with several times in refundable costs
Some attainable critters on that list. Some I wouldn't waste a dime on in lower 48 (via PP path) Caribou (Not in lower 48 that I am aware of), mountain goat and BH Sheep. (I am not aware of any state that has a reasonable chance where an NR can pull a tag). With sheep and goats, you are likely better buying raffle tickets. (EX Sheep Foundation).
If you want to hunt elk, mulies, antelope fairly often. Focus on units that require less points or higher percentages of drawing. You can have good hunts and not be in the “top” units. If you chase the higher point units like northwest CO units you will be collecting lots of points and not going on many hunts.
So I have no idea of your age, Profesional (possible income), social situation (wife/kids/etc),or state of residency. All of which are important factors to be considered. You have listed a decent point budget, but as some stated there are other costs both refundable and no refundable. So here is my take on the deal, you have listed the basics, elk,deer,etc. then the big stuff, moose/goats/etc.
For deer/elk/lope your best bets are WY and CO. Maybe a point in MT. But don’t go over board, you will never get to the top tier units at this point, stick with midlevel stuff you can draw every few years and go hunting !
For the bigger stuff just save your $ and buy the hunts, the wait and cost to build points in multiple states really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me for a guy starting out at this point. Now if you are a resident of a western state I would change my mind for your home state.
If you are serious about multiple and consistent adventure hunts you really need to consider a small budget for points, but a real plan to pay for outfitted hunts. It sounds to me like you are just just getting started in thinking about these type of hunts (good for you), but I would suggest learning more about the different draw systems for each state, and what species you should really aim to draw (caribou don’t really have drag tags for example) and what hunts you should plan to pay for. I know the internet is a huge resource, but I would also consider subscribing to Eastman's or Hunt’in Fool for one year, more than that is not necessary IMO, but they can give a good foundation and explain with some accuracy the details of each state. Also get yourself a BSC catalogue and you can see what prime outfitted hunts are going for.
In my opinion (for better or worse) young guys with big hunting dreams really should prepare themselves for the costs of these hunts, not necessarily just getting a tag every few years If they are serious about the adventure type hunts. Of course I could be completely wrong and you should buy every point in every state and play the drawing games, everyone is different, but it’s not the route I would take starting my hunting foundation.
For $1500, you can put in for between 30 and 40 tags a year.
Here's your states: AZ, NV, UT, NM, ID, CO, MT, WY, and ME. OR and WA are not worth the money, IMO. The more tags you put in for especially in WY, the more expensive it is. Moose/sheep in WY are kinda pointless IMO. NM requires lots of up-front money for tags. I only put in for elk there.
You need to put the time in learning the state's systems and how they use bonus points, preference points, lottery and the units to apply for. It takes years to learn it all.
I need that “Like” button for JTreeman’s post. My sentiments exactly.
Idyllwildarcher knows the draws. Listen to him...
If you are looking for sheep, I agree Z Barebow. Probably better to spend $500 in raffle tags per year and/or go to the sheep conventions WSF and OVIS. If you are looking for moose, I would suggest picking a less popular unit in Idaho. For Desert Sheep, you may want to get in to NV and AZ and/or play the raffles. The other states have ridiculously low odds for desert sheep. For Mtn. Goats, probably best to save your money (lets say $400 for 20 years)and buy a $8-10K hunt. For elk, deer, antelope, the 3 I suggest are AZ, NV, and WY. At this point (being late to the point game), I would stay out of UT, CO, WA, OR. Possibly a point for elk in MT or a CO deer point. I think it would be more advantageous to play the raffle and convention raffle ticket game, pigeon hole some funds for a guided hunt, and go for it in 3 states than go for all the states. JMO and I am holding multiple points in virtually all the states.
Check with Nick Muche in a few years he has hunted nearly everything Alaska has to offer and most species multiple times plus outstanding fishing excursions. All at reasonable cost as seems mostly DIY. So First thing moved to Alaska 2nd network and get connected. Nick’s route sure beats the lower 48 draw game.
Or you could just move to a state that has multiple opportunities to hunt several animals every year with a limited investment in pp's. Wy, Ak, Co, or Mt
I'd recommend the first thing you might want to do is go hunt a few different North American species first, to find out what you like and what types of hunts you want to experience in the future. A common misconception is that "Getting Preference Points" is the magical gateway to hunting the west, and the only way. This is actually not the case. By that I mean, for example, that as early as next year, without owning any preference points, and without hiring a guide, you could hunt your choice of Mule Deer, Pronghorn, Rocky Elk, Coues Deer, Black Bear, Blacktail Deer, Barren Ground Caribou, Sitka Blacktail Deer, Alaska-Yukon Moose, and maybe a couple others. Depending on resources, you could also purchase hunts in Canada or Mexico for most other species on the list of 29 North American big game animals. So prior to launching headfirst into buying "Preference Points" all over the west, why not first find out what are the species and terrain you would most love to hunt. You will then be better informed about how to proceed. Meantime if you're dead set on "getting points", subscribe to Huntin' Fool or Epic Outdoors and start reading up on the various state systems. There is a lot to learn that can't be quickly explained in a few posts here.
One of the most important things to consider, that the OP hasn't mentioned, is what are his "trophy" ambitions. Are you willing to wait many more years for an opportunity at a really large animal, or are you looking for a hunting experience on each species with a representative sized animal?
Dan, your point "Goats, probably best to save your money (lets say $400 for 20 years)and buy a $8-10K hunt" is a good one, but much like point creep "cost creep" will make the hunt more than twice that amount in 20 years, so that $400 a year will need to be invested if it's going to buy a hunt down the road.
You can't look at a single specie and make a cost decision. Most of these states only make sense because you can apply for multiple species and one more specie only costs you another 10-15 dollars. This is why Wyoming is only worth it for certain species, but if you want to hunt elk in Utah, you might as well also apply for sheep, goats, bison, ph, etc.
And as Greg pointed out, points are not an automatic eventual gateway to hunting the West, but if you're in it for the long-haul, you will get some tags. As I stated above, if you want to hunt "this specie in this state," you cannot rely on the draws in most cases. You apply for 40 tags yearly and eventually you get "some" tags, but you're certainly not picking for the most part.
Sticksender has given solid advice above.