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The pain and irony of point creep
A lot of us have experienced the pain of point creep when it comes to drawing elk tags. Several years ago I was doing some research and discovered a good Colorado unit that was somewhat under the radar. I drew that unit twice with 2 points in 2007 and 2010 and had very good hunts. My 2007 hunt was the best hunt I had ever had at that point in my elk hunting career. In 2013 I drew a different 2 point unit and killed a 360" bull.
Sometime around 2010 both Huntin' Fool and Eastman's discovered the unit that I hunted in '07 & '10 and published articles about it. It was no longer under the radar and started to experience point creep. I drew that unit again in 2020 with 6 points and in 2022 it took 8 points to be guaranteed a tag. Based on previous point creep I predict that it would have taken 9 points to be guaranteed a tag there in 2023.
I came to the painful realization that based on previous point creep, I'll never draw that unit again in my elk hunting lifetime. But just in case I was hanging on to any shred of hope, Colorado's reduction in non resident tags in any unit that takes residents 6 or more points to draw based on 2019-2021 stats put the final nail in the coffin for me. That unit will now have a tag reduction that I believe will contribute significantly to accelerated point creep.
Maybe I'm playing Chicken Little here but I predict that the reduction in non resident elk tags will have a profound affect on point creep. I don't think it will take long for non residents to realize that it's going to take too long to catch their desired units and they'll start cashing in points in lesser units that they hadn't previously considered. This will trickle down to all draw units.
I believe it's conceivable that units like my previously mentioned unit that would have taken 9 points to be a guaranteed draw in 2023 will quickly jump to 12-15 or more points to draw. I don't think it will take long for unit 76 to require 20 points or more.
So here's the irony in the situation... This may be a bit of a stretch, but let's say that because of the point leap caused by tag reduction, the previously mentioned unit jumps to 15 points by 2023 or 2024. Those applicants who started building their points 16 years ago probably could have drawn that same unit within a couple years of starting and could have hunted that unit at least twice in those 16 years. But now they may have few if any other options and they may have to cash in 15 points to hunt it one time.
I know there are guys who have saved points for over 20 years and who have drawn their desired units and are very happy they did so. Kudos to them for their patience and persistence. I decided early on that I would rather have multiple good hunts in 2-6 point units than build points for 20-25 years or more in hopes of having that one great hunt. It worked out for me because one of those 2-6 point hunts provided me with a bull that would typically be the goal in a 25 point unit.
I feel sorry for the guys who are in the 17-18 point range who felt like they were getting close to their goal but now may end up settling for hunts they could have gone on years ago and possibly multiple times...
I agree with you Mike, and it is there for residents too. My pronghorn unit took 5 like clockwork. Then the two media culprits published and promoted it, it got picked by social media when that came about, and now it takes 18-19.
This is a hunter problem and not a CPW problem. As such, there is no priority around revising the system besides possibly implementing point banking. That may level out the point curve in a few years, but will sure mess up the points needed in quite a few units.
I drew the CO dream unit in 2013 with 18. Now it's in the mid-20s and I know guys who continue to chase it, only "two years out". They may never live long enough.
I don't know if there's a right answer, but I sure like how WY treats residents....
You can also attribute point creep to the YouTube cowboys. Sure, they may not come outright and actually say what unit they’re hunting, (some do) but many know where.
But, it’s all good because everyone thinks they are ‘good for the outdoor community’. ;)
I’m sorry but the good old days of elk hunting are behind us, don’t get me wrong still lots of hunting to do. It’s the getting the tag that has become the hard part and I’m not talking about OTC tags. To much easy information out there and I’m sorry but it has had a negative effect on elk hunting.
These aren't the good old days but I guarantee you our kids and grandkids will call them that.
I have another theory. I hunted a unit with my 14 yr old this 1st rifle season. I've hunted multiple times a year for a long time. Until a number of years back, it could occasionally be drawn 2nd choice. It's taking a little more now. I usually had the backcountry to myself and a fee others. The backcountry has progressively gotten more crowded. It seems to follow points invested. And the quality of hunters seems to be high. A lot of stud elk killers I'm having to compete against. My theory is these areas are turning into an investment of points so hunters are making it more if a priority and making it their hunt of the year type vacation.
As a 23 year old with only 2-4 points per state, I’m hoping that eventually it will start to reverse when people give up on putting in for tags due to it taking so long to hunt units. Will it happen? Probably not, but oh well
I've come to the realization I won't be elk hunting every year. I'm looking for other opportunities to hunt other stuff. It will be interesting to see what happens with these point systems in the coming years when people start realizing the juice ain't worth the squeeze.
We brought it on ourselves by saving a point and hunting in the same year. This was bound to happen. ANY initial tag for a species should require one point minimum.
On the Colorado change, a unit only moves to 80/20 when RESIDENT demand for 3 years is 6 points or more. 3 years. Keep that in mind, it may take time for some units to switch over. Nonresidents compete against alot of other nonresidents though.
yea, I remember back in the day (15 years ago) when I drew wyoming elk 5 years in a row, now I still put in(random draw) but don't buy points. Odds suggest I'll never draw.
Here is a work around, buy land in a landowner tag state that qualifies. Not all units are good for that, some units have extreme landowner demand, others don't.
Anyone want to partner up on some Wyoming or Colorado elk ground?
Lots of changes over the years everywhere. It really seems to have accelerated the last 2-3 years.
I’m pretty glad I have elk to hunt in Oregon. Things have even changed here a lot for archery deer and elk tags. I’m so glad I was able to hunt a “top tier” unit here for elk and deer, and am not chasing anything for those species anymore after using my points.Now I just have 19 point here for antelope.
I drew the Utah wasatch elk tag in 2012, so realistically probably don’t have much to look forever too in that state.
I think I’m at 11 points for deer in Wyoming and 13 for elk. I’ll probably try to use those up in the next 2-4 years.
For some reason on the way home from my 2012 Utah elk hunt I decided I really just wanted to learn a unit very well in my home state. I’ve really focused on that, and glad I have with what has happened in all the other states. My buddy and I have our chance at a bull pretty much every year.
Even in Oregon, where no one ever really discusses much the NE Oregon archery Elk tags have gone to a draw. Hopefully I’ll be able to draw the unit I have spent the last 10 years learning as a first choice moving forward.
I’m my 43 years on this planet I’ve learned one thing for sure.
The only thing that stays the same, is everything is always changing.
Grasshopper, seems odd to me that you won't spend the money for points (which will eventually guarantee you a tag) in Wyoming, but yet your work around solution is to buy land. I'm thinking the points might be a little cheaper...
I drew New Mexico 3 years in a row '08-'10 and I didn't realize how lucky I was and that it wouldn't last forever.
“Grasshopper, seems odd to me that you won't spend the money for points (which will eventually guarantee you a tag) in Wyoming, but yet your work around solution is to buy land. I'm thinking the points might be a little cheaper...”
Doing both would be the best scenario! :)
Land appreciates. Preference points cost increases and value decreases as time goes by.
I have land in Bayfield County in northern Wisconsin that I bought over 20 years ago for my deer camp. At one point it had doubled in value but it has depreciated to the point that it's assessed value is now less than what I paid for it because there's no demand for hunting camp land since the wolves decimated the deer herd. Maybe after that happens in Colorado I'll be able to afford some land ;-)
^^^^ Nah, land values will only increase with wolves. All the Californians love knowing there’s cute, cuddly lil wolf pups in them hills. So majestic.
@Cheesehead Mike, sounds like you and I have been on the same page with point systems. Always apply for mid-tier units rather than holding out for the gold. Would rather hunt than build high point totals.
Point creep is definitely a big issue. I drew a Colorado unit in 2002 and 2004 with one point. Took two points in 2007. Last drew that tag in 2018 with five points and I'm expecting it will take seven points going forward...and that's *IF* the unit doesn't wind up in the 80/20 pool.
Same thing is happening all across the west. I drew a WY tag in 2015 with six points. Took twelve to draw it in 2022. At 61 years old, I may never set foot in that unit again for elk. Arizona is killing me with their changes to the bonus tag numbers and hunter education points. I gain one point per year, but my target units are jumping two points per year. Drew Utah in 2010 and then sat on zero points for five years (waiting period). I'll never draw another preference tag there. Even Montana, which used to be a slam dunk annually, is getting tougher by the year.
All of that said, I continue to play the game. Can't win if you don't play. My backup plan for missing elk season used to be caribou in Alaska. No points necessary there, but lately I've found...even as a returning customer...there is no guarantee one will make the transporter's list. Much more demand than supply for the areas which remain open.
Agree with much of the above. Hoping my 2 to 3 point elk unit stays draw-able in that range, but not too optimistic that it will.
There’s a line in the Eagles song The last Resort “Call someplace paradise you can kiss it goodbye “ is so true. I’ve had two of my units here in Colorado that have been Listed as hot unites by publications, one I could draw ever other year now takes 5 points points the other is over the OTC and I can’t park at the trailhead any longer.
But guys...everyone tells me there's less and less hunters each and every day? How could this continue to be a problem? :)
My 2-3 point area now takes 6. very glad I got some good hunting in before it got to this level. Hell trying to get an "OTC" Idaho tag was harder than getting Tay Tay tix for my daughter!
We're all in the same boat. I helped a friend on a deer unit in Wyoming 6 years ago. Had a great hunt. Took 3 pts to draw as a non resident at the time. I started putting in that year. By the time I had 3 pts it was up to 6. I have 6 now and its up to 9. I hate to say it but all the podcasts, YouTube videos, Gohunt, On X, Randy Newberg (sorry man, I love ya but its true) and the like are all taking part in ruining a lot of these spots. They publicize them and sometimes even by name of unit!! After they go live with that stuff it's over.
Yeah a unit we have hunted was a zero point unit 15 years ago. We drew with 7 3 years ago and now takes 8. Another unit we hunt that isn't popular used to take zero as well. We drew last year with 2. Will be interested to see where it goes. Thankfully we should draw a deer tag this year (with 9pp) and hopefully be back in the other unit in 2 after that, but will see how it goes. Thankfully I rarely see "our " unit mentioned, and I plan to personally keep it that way. We also have 9 in wy, but holding out for a certain unit that currently takes 13+. Have a bunch in utah as well, so could hunt a lesser unit there if needed and have a bunch of rifle pts in SD for deer for a tag we used to be able to pick up on leftovers....(that unit takes 6pp to draw now) It's happening everywhere unfortunately. Just going to have to be flexible on locations and species going forward.
In many ways having something for years to then have it taken away is worse than never having it at all. You older fella's should count your blessings you had so many great experiences and opportunities. I began buying points to hunt the west in 2015 and went on my first hunt in 2016 haven't missed a year since. This year I'll burn 5 points on a first rifle Colorado tag that 10+ years ago was second choice and you could hunt it every year if you wanted. So people in my position have to wait a half decade for a mediocre hunt. Point system will eventually collapse under their own weight wouldn't be surprised if they then convert to bonus points (Nevada and Utah)to keep the scheme going a bit longer. What I'd love to see is every state go to a random draw like NM but without the outfitter pool and preferably a higher percentage of NR tags let's say 10- 20 percent. Furthermore if states only allowed NR to apply for one species a year I believe that would have a profoundly positive effect on draw odds. I applied for 4 species in NM, 5 in Colorado, 3 in Wyoming, and 5 apps for 3 species in SD (3 separate deer apps). That would change my 20 apps to 4 can you imagine what a 80% drop in apps would do for odds. Sure some youtubers wouldn't be able to have a 6-12 hunts to upload a year but I look as that as a added bonus.
Fewer hunters, but the ones who are hunting are hunting and applying in multiple states. This is a relatively new phenomenon enabled by the internet.
Before the web made identifying and applying so easy, and information on where to hunt so prolific and available, hunters hunted their own state with maybe an occasional big trip "out west" every few years. Now... PushCoArcher is a perfect example. Nothing wrong with it, but he applied for 20 tags in four states other than his own. Hundreds of thousands of hunters are doing this every year. I'm surprised creep isn't way worse, frankly.
"As a 23 year old with only 2-4 tags per state, I’m hoping that eventually it will start to reverse when people give up on putting in for tags due to it taking so long to hunt units."
Boggs, you may be on to something. It might take a decade, but with the ever-increasing number of unhealthy overweight and sedentary people, and the increasing number of biological males cutting off their junk or choosing to get pregnant, i could see the trend reversing in your favor, possibly.
what may throw a wrench into this is the expansion and protection of wolves and grizzlies which will reduce (or be used as an excuse to reduce) the number of tags and quality of hunt.
Go look at the Statistics and you'll see many are burning their high PPs on a way lesser unit - Im betting they arent rebuilding their PPs
Someone burned 19 elk points a couple years ago to hunt a really crappy zero point unit near me. He wanted to hunt with his son and a couple buddies, and knew he would never catch the 2-201-10 trifecta in his lifetime.
Lots of threats to hunting out there. Not sure which one will get us first. If you believe the author of The Fourth Turning, we're headed into a really bad time as a nation. Who knows what we'll look like at the other end. Hunting might be the least of our concerns, at least if it isn't to put food on the table.
What it’s forcing me to do is consider finding another big game animal that I’d enjoy hunting that for now is “under the radar”. Maybe take up predator hunting out west. I figure I can get depressed or I can adapt and make the best out of a disappointing situation. I’m one of those guys with 17 PP for elk and 13 PP for deer in Colorado…
I burned 13 deer points to hunt with my son in a 0-1 point unit. It was well worth it.
Brotsky I think what they mean is that there ate less whitetail hunters, less small game hunters, less turkey hunters. But I think the reason is because they are all elk and mule deer hunting!
Statistically, hunter numbers are going down overall. That's documented through data from the states. But more hunters are hunting (and applying) for big game in more western states than ever before. Just look at this little thread at the number of applications being submitted.
Thanks for this thread Mike. This is exactly why I'm bald! Cause I pulled all my hair out. lol I'm sitting on 24 elk points and feel like I would be wasting them on any units I could draw. My plan was to collect till I retire (that's 5-7 years out if I'm lucky) and then cash in the points on the "best unit" I can draw. I may be able to draw that same unit this year or collect for 5-7 years and then draw it. Not sure what to do!
I'd like to think the ~$1000 I spend every year for applications is going to conservation. Is it actually? Who knows, but it's worth it to me in hopes of chasing game in a bunch of states. Right now I'm planning to draw a 5-10 point unit in each of the states, putting in for a couple species/states each year that I think I have a good shot at drawing, and then after I zero out points for each species/state I will probably not rebuild.
I enjoy chasing ducks and whitetails too much, and am hoping to eventually complete a super 10. After drawing each tag, I'll likely just put that state/species' application fee into a "big trip" account and save up for a guided musk-ox/mountain lion hunt, something that I'll undoubtedly go guided on, in order to piece together a Super 10. Fully expecting, even at 23, to put in for some sheep/goat/moose tags my entire life and never drawing, though.
OTC stop collecting points and go hunt that's what you do! Anything can happen in 5-7 years your health could fail, they could change the system ( did this year for high point unit) that could make your prospects even dimmer.
Another pain compounded as a result of limited draw point creep is the value of general/otc tags. Two critical factors overvaluing 0-1 point general tags are the pressure to make the most of them before they become very limited, and of course certain groups racing to monetize those opportunities for "likes, subscribes, shares and podcast talking points".
Does hunting really need more hunter recruitment?
Had this bull in my yard this morning, in the last 5 years of the landowner draw, I have pulled 4 tags while collecting points too. I'm certainly not saying landowner tags are fair, ethical, or moral, but they are legal.
Would you rather have your money in a 401k where performance is based on what China Joe says and does, or in land where what you do to it, can improve the value? 3 or 4 guys going in together, get a tag every 3rd or 4th year, and then double dip in the public draw. Just sayin...if you can't beat them, join them.
But hey, try crypto, maybe that will work.
I know a good broker.
Can someone please direct me to the something that outlines the changes to the draw that CO is instituting? I've been flirting with drawing both elk and deer for the past couple years. My assumption is that this will hose me for a while or completely. I'm behind on this change, so I'd like to catch up and get informed/caught up.
Scoot - See link - Rule Making Notice - under Chapter W-2 Big Game.
It would be a good idea to follow the Commission Meeting Agendas [at the same link]