IDAHO BIGHORN DRAW ODDS – NOT WHAT THEY SEEM
The application deadline for Idaho Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and California bighorn is coming up Thursday, April 30.
Thousands of hunters salivate at the prospects of drawing a bighorn sheep tag in the Lower 48, realizing that a sheep hunt anywhere else – Mexico, Alberta, Alaska, the Yukon or NW Territories runs $14,000 – $25,000, plus thousands more for air fare, charter plane (usually), taxidermy and tips to guides, wranglers, cooks, etc.
So, Idaho has a straight-up random draw and the online odds look great, some as high as 1 in 7! I’m not kidding. That sounds exciting. No preference points, no bonus points. Wow! Sign me up – quick!
But, when something sounds too good to be true…
Here’s the scoop – and it’s the same ol’ story. Great for residents, not so great for nonresidents.
Yes, if you want to try for a Unit 26 early season sheep hunt deep in the Frank Church Wilderness where harvest success consistently runs just 25% for tight-curled rams you will find that last year only 29 hunters applied for 4 tags. That’s about 1 in 7 odds. Terrific!
Well, not if you’re a nonresident. You see, there’s this little thing called the nonresident tag cap.
In Idaho last year, there were 66 total sheep tags. By law, a maximum of 10% can go to nonresidents. That’s 6 total tags for 1,064 nonresident applicants, which comes out to odds of 0.0056 (6/1,064). That’s about 1 in 177, well under 1%.
It gets worse. After getting past the nonresident cap you still have to beat the 1 in 7 odds on that hunt, which is for good reason the easiest to draw in the state by far.
So multiply the 0.0056 nonresident cap odds X the 0.138 odds for Unit 26, Hunt 5006 and you get 0.0008, or 1 in 1,284. Those are close to your TRUE nonresident odds (ideally, you should adjust for other nonresidents who applied for that hunt). It’s close enough.
Idaho residents get a 1 in 7 chance and nonresidents 1 in 1,284 and much worse. Other sheep hunts can be almost 20 times harder to draw. Well, buy me a lottery ticket.
What’s worse is that guys that haven’t figured this out spend over $2,000 upfront to apply and then maybe don’t have enough money to put toward a hunt on another species with much better odds. Then, expecting a 1 in 7 chance to draw a bighorn tag, they wait anxiously for the draw results when their true odds are slightly worse than a high school senior football player eventually being drafted in the NFL.
It’s not that Idaho is trying to be deceptive. The info is all there, you just have to think about it and do the math. Sure, four guys will draw that tag (4 residents, probably). Just realize what you’re up against when you lay your money down.
- Dave Hoshour