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What Happened in the 2016 WY Draw?


Hello, Colorado – you have company. The long and short of the situation is Colorado is not the only state experiencing the phenomena of “point creep.” The Wyoming deer draw has experienced massive amounts of point creep over the past few years. I took a small sampling of a few Wyoming deer areas from the 2011 MRS section of EHJ and then compared them to this year’s draw. The results are anything but comforting for nonresident deer applicants.

For instance, the famed Region G tag this year required 6 preference points in the regular draw and 5 points in the special draw. Compare that to the 2011 draw where the same tag only took 3 points regular and 1 measly preference point in the special draw. That’s a whopping point creep of double in the regular draw and 5X the point requirement in the special draw. Keep in mind, this tag is an over-the-counter deer tag for resident hunters and with the steep rugged country, I really believe this tag to be worth about 2 or 3 points to a nonresident hunter. But, but I guess a tag is as good as the demand it garners in such a system. They do kill some very good deer in there each year, but of the 800 nonresident hunters, I would guess that no more than 50 of them kill bucks in the 190+ category. It can be a very tough hunt, way too tough for most hunters to wait six years.

At first glance, you may think the increased pressure on Region G tags has eased up the pressure on some of the limited quota only areas in the state. After doing the same analysis on a few of these areas it yielded even more drastic results. Take Area 89 for instance, a very consistent blue chip area. In 2011 this hunt would take you about 3 or 4 points to draw at 100%. Now in 2016 that tag required an astonishing 9 points to draw at 100% in both draws. WOW!

Now let’s grab a solid green chip area like Area 34, which took only 1 or 2 points to draw in 2011. Today this area takes 6 and 9 points to draw a tag. With this said, even though Area 34 was this year upgraded to a blue chip unit, which didn’t really help its cause I’m sure, we are seeing point creep in the limited quota areas between two and six times the 2011 levels five years ago.

The cases for this are two-fold. First off, significant tag quota reductions. With the exception of Region G, which has had the exact same tag quota for more than five years now (800 NR tags), a vast majority of the limited quota deer areas in Wyoming have seen tag reductions so deep that it virtually destroys the mathematical models the state used to build the point system in the first place. As an example, Area 89 had a tag quota of 275 tags available in the 2009 hunt draw – contrast that with the measly tag quota of only 75 tags in the 2015 drawing. That equates to a total tag reduction of over 72%!!!! Area 34 has seen a 50% drop in tag quota over the past five years.

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The other factor causing point creep in the Wyoming deer system is what I call the “Colorado effect.” This happens when high point holders begin to panic and change their application strategy from “hold out for the very best tags” to a strategy of, “I just want to get out and hunt.” The net effect is high point holders who have not been applying for tags in the past, just sitting back and buying points, instead drop into the draw system and swoop up the available tags with more than the required points, which in turn disrupts the system substantially and makes the tag odds very hard to predict.

For instance, for Region G, in the regular draw there were 255 total nonresident tags available for preference point holders. Of those 255 tags, applicants with 7 or more preference points snapped up 107 tags, or nearly 42% of the tags. Deer applicants with 8 preference points or more picked up 20% of the tags.

There just seems to be a stigma for some reason at 10 preference points. Thanks to Arizona, Nevada and Utah, most hunters just don’t seem to want to gather more than 10 preference points for a deer or antelope hunt. Long and short of the story, once guys get close to 10 points, they get the proverbial itchy finger and really want to pull the trigger on a tag. And the really bad news is, there are still around 6,000 nonresident hunters in the preference point pool with more than 9 preference points to burn going into next year’s draw.

The name of the game here is, hope for a mule deer herd rebound in Wyoming in the near future and remain patient and stay the course in the meantime. In next year’s draw if you have 6 preference points, apply for an area that required 5 points this year, or buck up the extra cash and step into the special application. Consider the extra $240 as an insurance policy against point creep.


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About Guy Eastman, Editor-In-Chief

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Following in the footsteps of his father, Guy has taken up the reins and is now at the helm of the Eastmans’ Hunting Journal and the Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal. A fine hunter in his own right, Guy has taken several trophy animals and has become an expert in trophy hunting as well.

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  1. Michael Weigand

    I am 66 years old and reside in Colorado. I knew early on that sending the state of Wyoming $50 each year for points was a total waste of cash. It gets worse each year and you never catch up. Its like a carrot being waved in front of a hungry horse. It would be interesting to know the amount of total cash to the state considering the number of hunters donating each year just for points. Something the state will most-likely never want to go away. We need to become creative in solving the problem. As for me, I’ll consider landowner tags and other venues in order to snag an occasional premium tag before I am too old to do what I love. In the mean time I will settle on the easy draw tags.

  2. It looks like I’m a perfect example of this. I have 6 points now and 7 after this year and just keep buying points each year. I know nothing about the Wyoming hunting units and just figured I’d get around 10 and do a little research and then pull the trigger.

  3. I’ve told hunters for many years, if you want a good trophy trophy room, all it takes is a lot of money and a very good outfitter. If your an average guy, all it takes are points. The hunting world media has the average hunter buy promoting such “needs” as a $5,000 rifle, $2500 spotting scope and a $1700 rangefinder. God forbid if your not wearing $275 pants, you’ll never be able to get a 140 muley w/o them. I played the waiting game and drew an Area 67 antelope tag and may hunt Region G for deer next year, but it took a long time. I’ll be lucky enough to get to apply for a sheep tag here in CO for my 22nd time, next year. WY draws are still easy and make more sense than some of the CO draws! When herds and tags numbers are down, points required to draw go up. That’s common sense, if you want to keep the herd populations and health up.

  4. Richard Irvin

    I’m thankful i live in Idaho,and we don’t have points YET. The S F W bunch in Utah is trying to spread the disease though and they will be pressing more than ever to gain a foot hold in Idaho. We have a totally random draw, and it has worked just fine for over 40 years! I’m a meat hunter, and we eat elk or whitetail almost every night, and i usually put in my first choice for a tough demand bull, and second for a cow,and i have killed an elk every year for over 30 years. And you are right about increasing point creep, i have 8 points for elk in Wyoming,and and a unit that took 5 points 3 years ago now takes 9 in 2016. I would like to kill a 330 plus bull before i die,and Idaho doesn’t have as many as Wyoming. I’ll probably go guided if an when i draw. Oh and talk about luck my son in law drew a 45 buck,48, bull,and a extra cow tag in Idaho,and my grandson and i drew cow tags,going to be another fun year with family. Here’s to a great 2016 hunt to all!!

  5. With a point system, creep is inevitable. I don’t know a better way than a point system, but this will always happen. For those that started accumulating points at say age 50, they see what’s happening and start to think, if it takes 10 points, I may not be able to hunt where I want to by then. Also, the herd numbers are declining and my chances are getting slim to find that good buck. So I’m going to cash in now while I still have an opportunity to find a buck. I started to collect points for CO to hunt in area 61, where I used to hunt before it became a “trophy unit”. The points needed to draw were going up faster than I could accumulate them. By the time I had 5 points, 10 were needed. I’m not sure the point system is a good herd management tool for animal numbers. May be more of a tool for the States to collect money. Example; CO has many units with over the counter tags and the elk numbers seem to maintain just as well there as the limited draw units. I’d say the biggest problem facing hunters is the wolf population and what they have done to herd numbers of elk and deer. Far too many predators, lions, bears, coyotes, wolves that need to be controlled. CO DOW estimates there are approx 5000+ lions. If each lion kills one deer or elk every two weeks, that’s 130,000 dead game animals. Then add in bears, coyotes, and wolves. It’s a wonder there are any elk or deer to hunt.

  6. I dislike point systems. They are never the answer and create major headaches if the demand for tags greatly exceeds the supply. If you put in for a 1 in 60 odds tag without a point system then you should, on average, draw that tag only once in 60 years. If your neighbor puts in for a 1 in 3 tag then do not bitch when he hunts several times in a decade and you claim a point system is needed as a way to make it fairer. Math is what it is and point systems are demanded by people bad at math.

    If you do have a point system, cap the points at 10. This will help the Max Point guys who claim they should get a tag before some first year kid. There, you get an advantage for 10 years. Then the playing field levels. Think how CO would be different if you could only have 10 points. The guys with 22 points now would not be at top of line for the hot tags but rather be one of many in the max point pool of 10 and then the strategy changes since is not a sure thing to ride out the draw another year or two to pull that coveted tag. The new kid may have to wait 10 years to be max pool but that same kid will wait 40 or more years to be max point pool for WY sheep.

    Also, you get a tag for a species in a state then your points go to zero. Buy a landowner tag? You lose points unlike CO where you can buy your way to the front of the line and still keep your spot in the line.

  7. We got a big problem outdoors because every year there are more and more people,,just a fact of life..What we had 15 or more years ago is gone and not coming back..Another is outfitters leasing ground and charging prices that we’d be a fool to pay,,can’t blame the landowners..Big oudoor stores are not helping when they get in the booking business and hook you up with 2nd rate outfitters that charge a friggin fortune then don’t deliver half the time.Look at the price of some of the hunts advertised,lol..Of course you xpect something for this kind of money,,but that ain’t true hunting..Good old days ar gone..Best deals are now found in Africa if you do some homework for $6000 or thereabout including air..Several animals and no other hunters to contend with.

  8. IMHO The good days of hunting left about 5-10 years ago in most states. Due to the grey dogs and cats.
    Now its all about the points games and LO tags that cost more than the average joe blue collar hunter can afford to pay. When they charge 5-10% of a guys annual income it gets too steep for many to play the pay to hunt game.
    I have some points for WY but I am 90% a bow hunter so there is advantages to that as far as tags.
    The anti’s are getting their hands in the wildlife management in ways most cannot see. Its a round about way to reduce hunter numbers. You gotta look though the pages to see whats in between them and what’s going on.

  9. Colorado Resident so I feel the point pain…Max point holder in Wyoming and have still never drawn a Bull or Buck tag…pretty much given up ever hunting a unit in Utah worth anything, although I still fork over the App fees every year. Kinda like the way Nevada does it with the exponentially increasing odds of drawing every year that you don’t draw. At least you feel like you’ve got a fighting chance right up til the unsuccessful email comes every year…on the predator front I wish everyone would pursue a Lion tag, outta control, literally snagging little kids from there back yards here. (Literally look it up, happened last week). Still love it, and here’s too hunting hard with general over the counter type tags!

  10. Just experienced with my antelope license. I should have drawn with 4 and missed it. In one year I missed out.

  11. Edward Wright

    Well I have only a few points in WY, and I do think I will cash in before I want to because of this dilemma, and the problems caused by it. I saw the same thing caused by a point system in it;s first 4 years in another state. The point system I fear, is obsolete, or needs rethought. This level of dysfunction benefits know one. Thank you Guy for thinking of the non resident hunters in this, we all need to be aware of what hurts hunting.

  12. Region G had a tag reduction in 2012 and it’s stayed constant at supposedly 600 nonresident licenses. But if you look at the actual numbers you’ll see that the full nonresident quota is never actually given. 781 tags were given in 2011. 580 were given in 2012. 568 were given in 2016.
    In the past 5 drawings (2012-2016) we’ve seen point creep move from <3 to <6 points needed for 100% odds at a tag. So roughly .6 points per year.

  13. More applicants + fewer/same # of tags = point creep. Just have to keep on keeping on with continued conservation efforts. There’s no quick fix.

  14. BS! I hate the point systems. I try to get enough meat every season to feed my family without having to buy store bought meat and this just makes it harder.

  15. Yeah this sucks and I hate to say it but it’s the industry at fault by promoting hunter recruitment trying to pass it off like we need more hunters to save hunting, no we need the hunter we have to do more and the industry to quit worrying about getting more consumers, it’s not helping hunting to have a huge influx of new hunters each year, the reality is we only have a limited amount of public land and an animals and we’re not really adding any more in some cases we are going backwards. Mans greed will eventually be the death of this tradition.

    • The death of the tradition will be not passing it on. The truth is that more people are applying out of state than ever. It’s getting to be a lot more popular to branch out and hunt other places – probably due to the difficulty of drawing resident tags in places like Utah, Colorado, etc. More states are managing for trophy animals, and cutting tags, so people are forced to go to other states to hunt.

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