Apply now or build Preference Points?
Improving your odds to draw a moose or bighorn sheep hunting license
by Wyoming Game & Fish
February 11, 2014
Is it better to buy a preference point or wait until more points are accumulated to apply for a moose or bighorn sheep license? That question is asked numerous times each year by both resident and nonresident hunters looking to bolster their chances for drawing one of these coveted licenses.
The preference point system for moose and bighorn sheep was implemented 18 years ago and was designed to eventually improve the drawing odds for licenses. By now, most hunters who got in on the ground floor have drawn licenses for these species. In some areas, those who have several to four or five points less than the maximum have also drawn licenses. To make an informed decision on whether to apply for a license or purchase a point requires a basic understanding of how the drawing works and information on the drawing odds for the different hunt areas.
In the drawing, the applicants with the highest number of preference points receive priority in the preference point draw with 75 percent of the quota. The remaining 25 percent of the license quota is allocated to a random draw. All hunters, without regard to preference point totals, are placed in the random draw.
For an example of how this works, suppose an area has a total quota of 16 bighorn sheep licenses. Under Wyoming statute, 75 percent of that quota (12 licenses) would go to residents with the remaining 25 percent (four licenses) issued to nonresidents. Out of the 12 resident licenses, nine would be issued in the resident preference point draw to those who had the highest point totals. The remaining three are issued in the random draw. For nonresidents, three would be issued in the nonresident preference point draw and one in the random draw.
If an area has a small quota, there may not be any licenses available for the random draw. For example, if an area had a total quota of four licenses, three would be issued to residents and one to a nonresident. Since the total resident quota is three and the nonresident quota is one license, all licenses would be issued in the resident and nonresident preference point draws and no quota would be available for a random draw. If a hunter wanted at least a mathematical chance of drawing a license in the random draw, an area with a much larger quota should be considered.
For many hunters, drawing a moose or sheep license is like winning the lottery. And like the lottery, you canít win if you donít play. If only a preference point is purchased, there is no chance of drawing a license, but it will build points to enhance drawing chances in future years. If an application is made for a license, there is always a small chance in the random draw providing there is sufficient quota. Hunters should keep in mind that failure to apply for a preference point or license for two consecutive years will result in deletion of all preference points from the personís record. The application period to apply only for preference points is July 1-Sept.30.
Drawing odds and quotas for the previous year are available on the Game and Fish website wgfd.wyo.gov. Click on hunting then on drawing odds. Hunters with questions on drawing odds and the application process can call 307-777-4600.