I'm all ears - any info on buying/building points per state?

bz_711

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May 7, 2012
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If anyone is willing to share the "nutshell" version to help me before trying to create my own state by state comparison...what kind of fees would I be looking at in different states if I want to begin building points for my sons and I?

I'd be interested in both "once in a lifetime" hunts that may take 15+ years of points, to the "best bang for your buck" points just to experience the west with a good chance to harvest, I'm a DIY'er and penny pincher. I love mountains, but want to experience all the West has to offer at some point - so any big game is of interest.

Any info you can offer: State, drawing costs, "net fee" after refund, quarry, approx points needed.

Appreciate any help!
 
Joined
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Matt...I've been applying through out the west for nearly 30 years.

Deer: Colorado is your best value for deer points for a quality deer hunt. It only takes a few years to draw a quality tag, with hunting during the rut. Colorado has enough good units that it tends to keep the point creep in check somewhat.

Antelope: Wyoming is the best place to buy antelope points, you can draw a high quality tag, on public land, with only one or two points in the special draw (higher cost tag than the regular draw).

Elk: Elk buy points in Wyoming. Arizona is actually a good place to apply if you like to bow hunt. You will have to buy a hunting license (about $150) to earn points though. If you are forking out the money for elk, you might was well spend the $7.50 per species (I believe) to buy a point for deer, antelope and sheep. You can either go for the top end tags (12-16 points) or the mid tier tags (5-8 points).
 
Joined
Jul 25, 2012
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New Orleans, LA
I've only been playing the application game for a few years, but here's my nutshell version (I'm sure I'll get some of this wrong...going mostly off of memory). There is a ton of information to digest when discussing all states and all species. Publications like the Huntin' Fool devote multiple pages of information to each state, so there are plenty of details a nutshell version will leave out. Here's some things I've picked up though.

States that charge up-front: New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, California (deer)
States that don't charge up-front: Arizona, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California (all other species), Washington, Utah, Nevada

States requiring you to buy a license up front: New Mexico, Idaho, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah. Licenses are typically in the $150 range for Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, California, and Arizona. They are typicall $60 or so in other states. In many states, once you buy a license it is only a bit more to apply for each species and it's recommended that you do it.

Generally non-refundable application (ie, not license) fees are typically $10-20 in most states per species.

The point systems and tag distribution for residents and non-residents is very different state-by-state. I'm not even going to get into the allocation, but you really need to research which state it's even possible to draw a tag in and which state isn't (it's different depending on the unit in most states).

Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, California, and Oregon (deer, elk, and antelope) all have some sort of preference point system in place (some giving a % of tags to the highest point holder, some giving all the tags to the highest point holders).

Nevada, Washington, and Montana have a bonus point system in place. Each of these states has implemented a bonus point squared system.

Idaho, New Mexico, and Oregon (sheep) have no bonus or preference point system in place. Your odds are the same as everyone else each year you apply.

In the limited units, it is possible to draw in Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, Nevada, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah (although the odds in some of those states and units is extremely low without bonus points). It is impossible to draw the top units in Colorado the first year you apply.

Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah are must apply for states for deer. Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico are must apply for states for elk. Apply for ALL sheep tags you can. Idaho you can only apply for one once-in-a-lifetime species (moose, goat, sheep) or one of elk, deer, antelope (you cannot apply for goat and sheep in the same year, or goat and deer, or deer and elk for example). I haven't really got into the moose or goat game in any state, but my recommendation would be to apply for all of those tags you can if you are interested. These last few sentences are just my opinion.

As far as points required it differs greatly amongst states, units, and species. Some take upwards of 20 points, some tags you can draw with zero as I mentioned before. It's really hard to answer that question without doing a detailed state-by-state, unit-by-unit breakdown.

Hope that helped some. My bill last year for all of my applications was somewhere in the neighborhood of $20k. Non-refundable license and fees were probably around $1,000 or so.
 

tstowater

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Agree with the prior responses. Best yet, get lucky and draw early and often. Some of the states are somewhat misleading as to cost and draw odds. If you are low on the points, it may be difficult at best to draw some of the states. I look at Wyoming sheep. I have about ten points and it might as well be none as those people have as good of chance to draw as I do. This is based on the seventy five percent max point preference numbers ahead of me. I have a better chance in Montana and Colorado. Add all your point costs in Wyoming together... it isn't cheap. Not picking on Wyoming, just using them as an example. You are going to invest thousands to draw good tags if you get lucky.
 
Joined
Jun 1, 2012
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Look into joining the Huntin Fool. Their December issue covers all the western states with species, draw odds and cost. They point out which states are a good value and which ones are not worth throwing your money at. Subsequent issues cover each state in depth as their draw deadlines approach. I am pretty new to this myself and found the first couple issues worth the $100 membership. Good luck.
 
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bz_711

bz_711

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Wow - thanks for the info guys!

I should have added I'm really only interested in bow hunting if that matters. With a tight budget I don't see myself getting too involved with buying expensive points, but would like to pick 1 (or 2 eventually) to start on, so we have some good options down the road.

I'm from IL, so CO and WY are always in my sights as they are the quickest drive for me. I've only hunted OTC Elk in CO at this point - and I love everything about it - antler score is not high on my list right now - the whole experience and opportunity at game are what matter now.

IL sure seems boring when it comes to bowhunting once you start exploring the west...
 
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Being a bowhunter helps some, but it is still difficult to draw some of the best tags. In Colorado, for example, the best deer units take more than 20 points to draw with a rifle. They take 10-15 to draw with a bow. However, you can draw some units that take 5 points or so with a rifle as a second choice with a bow. Arizona and Utah deer and elk tags are still hard to draw with a bow (for the best units). With the exception of Colorado, being a bowhunter won't help you draw a sheep, moose, or goat tag. Colorado has a few archery units for those species.
 

SDHNTR

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There is no nutshell. You just gotta jump in with both feet. My suggestion is to join a service like the Huntin Fool as they will summarize each state for you. Or, if you have the time and don't want to spend the money, go to each state's web page and print out their proclamation book and start studying.

Between my brother and myself, we have drawn numerous world class tags (Utah LE elk, Book Cliffs deer, Henry Mtns deer, CA desert sheep, NM oryx, etc.) in just the last few years and mostly without a boatload of points. You just have to put yourself in the game.
 

Gman

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Lots of Good advice. I also compile my own reference materials. I rip out the Eastman's MRS each year and put it in a binder so I can easily reference different areas. I cross reference with the point draw stats at the appropriate state website or Monster Muley's.com. I also have a spreadsheet with all the states, did I put in last year, what unit (1st,2nd,3rd choice....), total cost, did I get my refund, sportsman'siID or CID, etc. This way when the next year comes I know what I did last year and it makes the process much easier. I especially rely on the column "refund received" as I have all those refundable apps out and can never keep track if I was sent a refund check.

Create a folder on your computer and save everything! It helps tremendously in the long run.
 

Gman

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Colorado baby!
My spread sheets look like I have a masters degree in Excel!

Yep, you know if your spreadsheet has to update as it references several other cells and sheets you've got a good one going!

Oh, and I grabbed some of the pre-sales applications and forms from the websites of the tag management services that are available for free. They give a great 30,000 ft view of what's available in the states and why you should apply. Lastly, I took out an 18 month no interest VISA that I use exclusively for tags. This way I don't have to worry about paying of a tag until my refund comes and for those fees I have to bear I just throw a $100 or so at the bill every month until they are paid off.
 

Slim Jim

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That's a good idea with the credit card gman. Now I'm going to apply to more than just 4 states. Thanks, now my wife is going to kill me
 
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I put my fees on a Cabela's card. That way I got back roughly 1% of the fees as Cabela's bucks and it also allowed me to achieve Signature Black status so I get 5% back on all Cabela's purchases now.
 

Brock A

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Lastly, I took out an 18 month no interest VISA that I use exclusively for tags. This way I don't have to worry about paying of a tag until my refund comes and for those fees I have to bear I just throw a $100 or so at the bill every month until they are paid off.

I am in the same boat with the "Hunting Credit Card". Each check I have a portion direct deposited into that account. It works out sweet.
 

shanevg

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Yep, you know if your spreadsheet has to update as it references several other cells and sheets you've got a good one going!

Oh, and I grabbed some of the pre-sales applications and forms from the websites of the tag management services that are available for free. They give a great 30,000 ft view of what's available in the states and why you should apply. Lastly, I took out an 18 month no interest VISA that I use exclusively for tags. This way I don't have to worry about paying of a tag until my refund comes and for those fees I have to bear I just throw a $100 or so at the bill every month until they are paid off.

How does applying for a new credit card every 18 months affect your credit score? I'd think that wouldn't look great on you credit but I'm no expert...
 
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How much do you all typically spend for tags/license fees each? Gross and net after refunds?

I'd guess $20,000 on applications gross and probably around $1,000 net. Haven't really added it all up...but I think I just found something to do to kill some time this afternoon now
 
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