Contributors to this thread:
Planning for the Future.
I'm relatively new to this site. But ever since I was a little kid I have always dreamed of going on a bighorn sheep hunt, I had the opportunity last year to tag along with one of my friends but I wasn't able to go. But it got me thinking about getting my butt in gear and to start purchasing preference points in multiple states if I ever wanted to go. My ideal place to draw would be in Montana as I have lived their in the past and have more experience with the land out there. That being said, I would like some suggestions on what states/units/areas to apply for preference points for so I have better odds in the future. I appreciate any input.
I'd stick with Idaho, New Mexico, maybe Nevada. That's it. Are you a young guy?
I should be clear Orion.... non of my options offer preference points. Most would agree that it's too late to build up enough preference points to successfully draw. New Mexico and Idaho Offer drawings without any point accumulation. Nevada or offers up bonus points system with a chance to draw every year, even if it's very small chance. Wyoming offers preference points with a few tags going in the open draw . Very slim chance. Idaho will give you your best odds , I think.
Yessir, I'm 21. Can you explain why it's too late to build up preference points? I appreciate the info and I'll start looking into Idaho.
Well at 21 I wouldn't want to discourage you. But there are just so many variables. I just drew a bighorn in Wyoming last year. I was at maximum points minus one year. I just missed getting in on the ground floor by a few weeks. It took about 18 years before I could draw my tag.
Wyoming is the most friendly state there is... for non residents drawing bighorn tags.
I would have to check but there might be 20,000 guys that have more points than you do today. And they are only going to issue maybe 6,000 licenses in the next 30 years + or - a thousand or so.
You see the math is against you. But.... then you have the variables! At 21 you might outlive most of those guys..... and outlast most of them. Lots will give up. ( maybe).
But, Wyoming might change the rules on you.... maybe eliminate the point system or make it less advantageous. But.... then again you might not always be a non resident. Maybe you'll move to Wyoming some day..... you get the picture, right?
That said , I love that you have an interest in sheep hunting at your age and I would rather encourage you than discourage you. Hell if I was 21 again I'd apply everywhere I could. You never know what the future holds. And every year I read about someone, somewhere that draws a tag very first year he tries.
It's certain that you won't draw if you don't apply. Colorado after 3 years your in and have as decent a shot as those who have been playing a long time. Start a separate account just for hunting tags, taxidermist expenses and such for the future when you have a wife or family, this will save a lot of grief
Montana Ewe tag Montana Unlimited tag Colorado Idaho
All the rest are really really low odds starting out now but it depends on what other states you are applying in for other species. I'm more than double your age and have been putting in for sheep tags for a long time--so in the states I apply for sheep I put in for many other species and I pick up some great tags along the way.
Do yourself a favor; start an account and start putting $20-50-100 out of every check into that hunting fund. Don't skip and don't dip into it for anything but a hunt. Anything you get extra, or application refunds, put it in your hunting fund. You will be in good shape for the future.
Apply because someone has to draw. Just know you may never draw a sheep tag in your lifetime no matter how many points you have. Make a plan, stick with it and just maybe you'll get lucky.
Up your income steam 10-15k a year put all the money in your Bighorn fund and in 3 years or less you could be hunting bighorns in Alberta.
I appreciate all the input so far, I just set up an account with the Wyoming game and fish online system. They sure are proud of their preference points at 100 dollars a pop. Gotta pay to play I suppose. And I did one thing right, I already set up an account for the sole purpose of hunting trips!
Colorado has the best system for drawing archery tags IMO. I personally don't like the MT or ID systems because you potentially aren't even in the draw depending on the unit you apply for.
I would certainly stick with the states that give Bonus points instead of Preference points (with the exception of Wyoming as they have a Random draw option in some Sheep units)
Mont, Nv, Az, Ut, all top my list of applications for Sheep
Some years Idaho too.....
Good luck, Robb
A second option Is to become very successful at your career and then buy a hunt in your 50's! Good luck! C
Your best odds might be to buy raffle tickets. If you want to hunt sheep, move to Alaska or BC.
As mentioned above drawing a sheep tag in most states in your lifetime is beating lottoish draw odds. The cost associated with applying for pref/bonus pts is going through the roof! Idaho and NM that don't offer pref/bonus pts charge and arm and leg for license fees just to apply. Most states charge $50 to $200/year to apply...and it continues to rise. As an example; $100/state x 5 states is $500/year. Multiply $500 x 20 years and that's $10,000 blown to the wind with horrific draw odds!
If it were me, I'd save up for poorman's goat/sheep hunt in New Zealand (tahr/chamois), Europe, Texas aoudad etc. that you are guaranteed a great time! I can go on fantastic self-guided fishing/hunting trips every year for the price I would have tossed to the wind in application fees!
If you are super serious about sheep/goats move to Alaska and hunt them every year! You can also hunt Montana unlimited sheep every year for the price of a tag.
Ten year plan. Put aside 6-8k a year and figure on going in 10 years. In the mean time apply to Idaho and NM and hope you get lucking in a draw, if it happens great if it don't you don't loose much trying. Skip any state with presence points as at this point your might as well just burn the money at least you'd get heat out of it. Going with the above you will have you big hint hunt in 10 year or less and you not locked into the ponzie scheme of points.
Apply everywhere you can and work hard to save money for future hunts. I was in the same boat years ago and now have several sheep hunts on the books. MX, Yukon and Alaska all in the next 24 months. I am 47 and only did my first sheep hunt at 45 years old. You could draw any year. My recommendation is to believe in your dreams and make them come true. Just be patient.
It may be worth checking out draw odds, draw systems, and cost of applying in multiple states before aimlessly tossing $ to the wind applying for tags. If you have $ to burn it may not matter? I live on a limited budget so this really isn't feasible.
You will likely find that most sheep draw odds are less than 1% and it may take a lifetime of applying to beat lottery-type draw odds. To make matters worse more applicants apply each year. Draw odds aren't going to improve much...even with a bonus pt system. As more people drop out of states with pref/bonus pts you can bet draw odds in states like Idaho or NM where there is no pt system will continue to spiral downward. You better have lots of $ to blow to the wind if you want to apply in multiple states. Keep in mind application fees tend to rise every few years!
As mentioned above, it's possible saving a large chunk of $ each year to devote to a sheep hunt fund. Just keep in mind that around 15 years ago sheep hunts in Alaska went for around $10k. Today it's tough to find one less than $17,000 and that doesn't include the license, airline ticket, and expenses. Your guess is as good as mine figuring out what the price will be 10 years from now? MX, Yukon, and NWT sheep hunts are currently running over $25k and rising!
I drew Arizona rocky bighorn this year. Wowza. It can be done
Colorado is a great long term goal, as noted above. Next year the rumor is that they will be taking credit cards. A good way to plan is to get yourself a credit card late this fall that is used entirely for hunting tag applications.
I'd recommend to think it over carefully and perhaps decide which of the following 2 categories you're in. This decision will then determine the action plan that would be required on your part:
1. It is acceptable to merely hope for luck sometime in your life, and beat long odds to draw a ram license. Knowing full well you may never hunt a ram. Just dreaming of a ram hunt is enough for you.
2. You must hunt a ram someday.
Under scenario #1 you'd then merely need to decide how much you want to spend each year on state drawings, state raffles, and private org raffles. Use a rule of thumb of $1000.00 spent per 1% odds of drawing. So if you were looking to get 3-4% odds to draw each year you'd need to spend 3-4 k per year (not counting refunded fees from the state game agencies). Doing the math, you will notice that you could repeat this exercise for 20 years, and still might fail to draw. But you certainly could luck out.
On the other hand, if you are in category #2 (must hunt a ram) and you are limited financially, then consider saving all those dollars and simply purchase your hunt in a decade or two. And that option provides the convenience of being able to plan the specific hunt date.
Of course, if you have the financial wherewithal, then you could do both. Most likely if someone had offered me this illustration 15 years ago, and if I could have foreseen the runaway point creep that was in store, and the non-resident price gouging that would be undertaken by state game agencies, I might never have gotten into the app game. I might have just elected to save all that money and gone on a couple extra sheep hunts.
Sticksender, I've been thinking about it for a while, since I was probably 16 but just started getting serious about it recently, I'm absolutely in group number 2. It's just something I need to do in my life. I set up a different account dedicated solely to saving up for a trip, as much as I'd love to do it myself, I think an outfitter would be a good option for this. Especially on the pack out. I'm still in college now so I'm only depositing less than 50 bucks a week, but its a solid start. And hopefully sneak in an application every year along with that in a state or two just for the sake of my sanity. I appreciate all of the sound advice guys, this website is one of the best around.
When I was about 35 I decided (just like you) that I was going to hunt sheep come hell or high water.
I have been applying in every state that offers Bighorn sheep tags for 17 years. When I started, annual application costs were about $400. Today, they are about $1500.
I drew an AZ desert tag in 2014 - and was fortunate as heck to do so. So I got lucky.
Also, I began saving and went to the Yukon and took a beautiful Fannin (Stone) ram in 2006. That hunt cost $15,000. Today, that same hunt is over $35,000.
I am leaving for my third sheep hunt (Yukon Dall) in 6 days. I have been blessed.
Honestly, if I were 21 today, I would take the advice given above and apply in 4 states every year: Wyoming - because they have by far the most tags available and 25% of those tags are allocated to the random draw where anyone has a chance. Idaho and NM - because the odds are the same for all. CO - again, lots of tags and anyone has a chance after accumulating 3 weighted points. If you can swing five, the 5th would be Nevada.
You state bighorns are your goal. That makes your task difficult if that is true. AB Bighorn hunts are the only ones available to buy - and they are spotty success, generally smaller rams, and VERY expensive.
If you want to hunt sheep and won't be denied, start saving for a Dall hunt. I would save until I could swing a Yukon or NWT hunt. AK is cheaper, but AK is getting tougher every year. DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE BOOKING ANY HUNT. You don't want to save all that money and not get the right outfitter/right hunt for you.
You have the passion I love to see. It can happen. You will make it happen. Just get a plan, work it, and don't quit until those dreams come true! Good luck!
Orion, give serious consideration to moving to Alaska. Spend a few years up there and kill some sheep. Also, consider becoming a resident of a lower 48 state that has decent resident sheep odds. Colorado has archery only tags, so odds should be a bit better. I drew a California Bighorn tag in Idaho about ten years ago. Unfortunately, demand for tags has increased since then. What's your major?
Arizona is a very expensive CRAP SHOOT for a sheep tag even as a resident as I am living proof with my 27 points and praying, oh $hit, maybe some day, maybe not.
If you want a sheep hunting experience consider applying for ewe tags. They are a lot easier to draw than ram tags and you still get the full sheep hunting experience.
W, I have been considering moving up there for a little while now in all honesty, for the sole purpose of it being a sportsman's paradise. But it all depends on where I find work after I finish school. I should've worded it better, I'm in tech school, not necessarily college, but my "major" is Powerline Construction and Maintenance.
Your odds are so bad it is difficult to grasp. In WY you'll have to literally wait for people to die. That will increase your odds more than people drawing ahead of you. There will be several thousand people for each tag that have some or many more points than you.
I drew a low-end unit in Nevada your odds there if you applied this year would be over 100,000 to 1
Plan to apply for OVER 30 years and it's worth it.
Otherwise better odds and better tags going for supertags or raffle tags.
Not trying to be negative just realistic
I would think you could find a linemen's job in AK. Probably pay pretty darn good too. Make it happen Orion! I wish I would have known at your age what I know now.
I would also vote for move to AK if you can. If I didn't not have a wife who both of us have good professions close to home I would have move up right after college. Now I am saving for a dall hunt in NWT. She has been very understanding and knows what the price is...shocked but said do what you have to do
Orion, sounds like you are planning well for your work and hunting career. New Zealand is another option for mountain hunting.
DonV the odds for WY non-resident tags in the random draw range from about 200:1 to about 400:1, depending on the area.
That's bad but not unimaginably bad. Far better than most other states and nearly every raffle out there.
Of course, the WY preference point draw odds are virtually insurmountable. For that reason, I expect WY will do as other states have done and convert to a bonus point state in a few years.