How preference points affect drawing odds for moose and bighorn sheep
by Wyoming Game and Fish Department
February 23, 2013
"Should I apply for a moose or sheep license for this yearís drawing or is it better to just buy points and wait until I accumulate more points before applying?" Both resident and nonresident hunters ask that question numerous times each year. They are looking to bolster their chances for drawing what are arguably the most-coveted licenses Wyoming has to offer.
The preference-point system for moose and bighorn sheep was implemented 18 years ago and was designed to eventually improve an individual hunterís drawing odds for licenses. By now, most hunters who began accumulating points 18 years ago have drawn licenses for these species. In many areas, those who have several points fewer than the maximum have also drawn licenses. To make an informed decision about 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.
Applicants with the highest number of preference points receive priority in the preference-point draw with at least 75 percent of the license quota. The remaining 25 percent of the quota is allocated to a random draw. All hunters, without regard to preference point totals, are placed in the random draw.
For example, 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 the four nonresident licenses, 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 has a total quota of four licenses, three would be issued to residents and one to nonresidents. Because the total resident quota is three and the nonresident quota is one, 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 wants at least a mathematical chance of drawing a license in the random draw, he or she should select an area with a much larger quota.
For many hunters, drawing a moose or sheep license is like winning the lottery. 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 bear 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 hunterís record. The application period to purchase preference points is July 1-Sept. 30.
Drawing odds and quotas for the previous year are available at wgfd.wyo.gov. Select "hunting," then "drawing odds." Hunters with questions on drawing odds and the application process can call 307-777-4600.