Oklahoma Preference (Bonus) Points

LostArra

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Elk and antelope hunting tags in Oklahoma are OIL and the Wildlife department uses a totally random draw with a bonus point system and although they call it Preference Points, to the rest of the hunting world they are bonus points. The Outdoor Oklahoma magazine recently had a good article about the entire system and odds for all controlled draw hunts, their Point Guard system and buying an extra point some years.

One interesting draw tweak they recently began was to divide the elk and antelope draws in half. One random draw is for those with 20 or more points and the other draw is for those with less than 20 points. This was done to benefit high point holders who just have had bad luck drawing a tag.

I drew an Oklahoma elk tag a long time ago with no points so none of this is important to me, in fact preference points anywhere are not important to me. I am throwing this out there to see how the Preference/Bonus point holders feel about this particular draw modification. Is this done anywhere else? It seems to address the concern of high point holders in Bonus draws. What do you think?
 

cnelk

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Not a bad idea.

They probably listened to the hunter's concerns, which is more than other States do.
 
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LostArra

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An interesting disclosure is that with or without points there is the possibility you will not ever draw a tag.
 
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Who here has hunted OK for elk and what was it like?


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realunlucky

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Not a bad idea.

They probably listened to the hunter's concerns, which is more than other States do.
Being from Utah, I see first hand those with the most cry the loudest.

Sadly those who have been in the game only a few years are statistically higher percentage of tag buyers yet have the least influence.

Catering to top only robs opportunity from the bottom.

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LostArra

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Who here has hunted OK for elk and what was it like?


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It's a pretty structured hunt.

The elk hunts take place in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge which was established as a wildlife refuge by Teddy Roosevelt. Bison and elk were reestablished there during Roosevelt's presidency. It's a very cool place and the terrain is similar maybe to SE Wyoming. "Mountains" in Oklahoma is a relative term but it is rugged territory and it's not all open to hiking or scouting in the off season.

The hunts are short, 3-4 days. Rifle only. Success rates can be high or low depending on a lot of factors, primarily weather. I did the hunt maybe 15 years ago so maybe things have changed. We were dropped off in pairs from a bus to a certain area before sunup. We didn't have to stay in an area but it started the hunters dispersed. You aren't camping on the refuge and you are picked up at dark in the area you were dropped off, or close to it. When I was there you had to get any kill to a road and could have some help come in after you had an animal down.

There is also an elk hunt in the Cookson Hills in eastern Oklahoma (the same area as Where the Red Fern Grows takes place) but it has a grand total of 1 tag drawn with about 4000 applicants.

 
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I generally prefer a strict preference point system (ála Colorado deer/elk), but if a state is going to use bonus points, I like the idea of reserving a percentage of tags for high point holders. I already drew my Oklahoma elk tag and have no desire to hunt pronghorn, so this change has no effect on me, but I do like the principle of it.
 
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LostArra

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What I mentioned above is for the Draw hunts on public land. Elk are killed around the state on private land. In the southwest the elk are ones that wander off the refuge and in other parts of the state the elk are probably escapees from high fence operations that may or may not be out of business. My elk hunting buddy has seen an elk in a bean field on his farm along the Kansas border.

Where I deer hunt in SE Oklahoma there is Sika deer stag (buck?) roaming around that will show up on trail cameras occasionally that is definitely an escapee from a defunct high fence about 10 miles away. It's a non-native so it could be killed anytime but the guys I hunt with on a ranch have all agreed to let him roam. Of course, no one has seen him live, only on camera.
 

Jeaves1

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It’s really tough to draw these tags as I’ve been putting in for 19 years I think, with no luck. My dad put in for a bull tag for 33 years before he finally quit going after a bull tag and drew a cow tag the next year. There’s a bunch of people that have 30+ preference points and won’t get a chance to go on that hunt. Personally, I think what they did is a good mixture of giving those new to applying a chance and those with high points to draw. However it is very different than other states and I’m not familiar if other states do this sort of point system.
 
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Who here has hunted OK for elk and what was it like?
I hunted the Wichita Mountains NWR in January 2022 on a cow tag. It's physically easy with a high success rate compared to elk hunting in most western states. Draw odds are low for a bull tag, reasonable for a cow tag. All are 5-ish day late season (Nov-Jan) rifle hunts. On the "regular" hunts, you're driven to/from your designated hunting area within the refuge and provided assistance retrieving your elk. No assistance is provided on the "walk-in" hunts...you drive yourself to various access points spread across the refuge along the paved road then you're on your own. I put in for a walk-in cow tag because that had the best odds, and I drew my second year applying. Filled my tag about 3 miles from the truck on day 1. I was living in OKC at the time so I jumped at the opportunity to try to elk hunt in my backyard, but I don't know that it would be worthwhile to travel a long distance for that hunt. It's a spot and stalk plains hunt, not a high alpine rut hunt that most envision when they think of elk. I enjoyed it nonetheless, and I'm glad I got to do it. Hunting with large herds of bison a few hundred yards away was pretty neat.
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Honyock

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The elk draw in Oklahoma is a joke. I am a resident and have 27 points for elk in Oklahoma. I and every other hunter in Oklahoma have funded the wildlife department in Oklahoma (100% funded by hunters and fisherman) and in-state hunters get no preference over out of state hunters in the draw. They went to the half for 20+ because guys have complained for years that they will be too old or die before they draw a tag. I grew up north of the refuge and fortunately know a lot of landowners and have killed five elk (bulls must have six points on one side) in Oklahoma on private land five miles north of the refuge. The elk population is ridiculous off of the refuge. I have personally seen over 300 elk on a 1/2 section of wheat north of the refuge. My deer lease is about 30 miles north of the refuge and there are now elk on the adjacent property.
 

Honyock

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To add to the above, I know three other friends who have 27 points and none of us drew a tag even with the 50% over 20+.
 

Honyock

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That's the issue. There is no maximum or minimum point level. I could put in for the draw (and will until I draw one) for the next 15 years and still not draw a tag. I drew an antelope tag the first year I put in for it. Go figure. To put it in perspective, a buddy drew a Colorado sheep tag (bow) with 19 points.
 

realunlucky

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The elk draw in Oklahoma is a joke. I am a resident and have 27 points for elk in Oklahoma. I and every other hunter in Oklahoma have funded the wildlife department in Oklahoma (100% funded by hunters and fisherman) and in-state hunters get no preference over out of state hunters in the draw. They went to the half for 20+ because guys have complained for years that they will be too old or die before they draw a tag. I grew up north of the refuge and fortunately know a lot of landowners and have killed five elk (bulls must have six points on one side) in Oklahoma on private land five miles north of the refuge. The elk population is ridiculous off of the refuge. I have personally seen over 300 elk on a 1/2 section of wheat north of the refuge. My deer lease is about 30 miles north of the refuge and there are now elk on the adjacent property.
Now I can't say for certain because I haven't seen a draw report but it's highly likely that statically it did very little to increase the odds of those with 27 points while dramatically decreasing the odds of those with with less than max points.

Just my opinion but giving everyone that buys a license an equal chance is something every license holder should demand. Those starting at the bottom will have less odds in 27 years than those early adopters of the points system 3 decades ago. Opportunity will remain pretty much flat but population will definitely increase logically increasing the demand yearly.

Utah uses a hybrid system that rewards those that wait the longest while still providing a sliver of hope to those who join after the inception of the system. After 3 decades there's people that still haven't drawn and every year after that the number waiting is longer and longer. Of course simply waiting in line some people will never draw. Only way to change is increasing the availability of tags. Pretending else is simple denial.

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Fordguy

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The elk drawing in oklahoma was never intended to promise every applicant a tag, even if they applied every year in perpetuity. It's not a joke, though the recent changes are ridiculous. I spent quite a while talking to the wildlife dept officials, representative Burns, and local game wardens about the changes. Those with 20 or more points do go into a drawing for half of the tags, then the applicants in that pool who fail to draw are added to the pool of lesser point applicants for an additional chance to draw.
Quite frankly, it's ludicrous. The drawing was originally structured so that you have an additional chance for every year that you apply. There was never a guarantee that anyone would draw. It's worth the 5 dollar entry fee for a resident, but it's a low odds lottery.
 

realunlucky

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Does Utah give any preference to in-state hunters on a portion of the tags?
Yes they have separate pools for residents and non-residents.

Different argument but I agree residents should take priority as the animals should be held in trust for the state conservation efforts balanced by residents. Along those lines there should also be available opportunity for non residents, the amount then comes down to semantics.

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Honyock

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The elk drawing in oklahoma was never intended to promise every applicant a tag, even if they applied every year in perpetuity. It's not a joke, though the recent changes are ridiculous. I spent quite a while talking to the wildlife dept officials, representative Burns, and local game wardens about the changes. Those with 20 or more points do go into a drawing for half of the tags, then the applicants in that pool who fail to draw are added to the pool of lesser point applicants for an additional chance to draw.
Quite frankly, it's ludicrous. The drawing was originally structured so that you have an additional chance for every year that you apply. There was never a guarantee that anyone would draw. It's worth the 5 dollar entry fee for a resident, but it's a low odds lottery.
Next time you talk to them, ask them how many out of state hunters have drawn elk tags. A friend that did a cow hunt in 2021 said that at least a third in his group were from out of state and half of them didn't show up because of the new "pointguard". Better yet, ask them how Bill Jordan drew a elk tag and took a camera crew with him on the refuge to film his hunt. That's my rub, we (hunters and fishermen) fund the wildlife department 100% and have zero preference in any of the draws.
 
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LostArra

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That's the issue. There is no maximum or minimum point level.
Well I'm guessing that in any draw the minimum point level for an applicant would be zero points.

In theory, maximum would be the number of years the point system has been in existence. not counting the years an "extra" point could be purchased. I guess it's at least 27 points.
 
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