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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2015: Wyoming sheep, moose, goat

 

Wyoming bull moose
Photo credit: Getty Images

Overview

In many ways Wyoming is the perfect state for hunters. In particular, moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat hunts offer an excellent blend of opportunity and quality. We love the season dates during the rut, ability to build points and general stability of the sheep and goat populations. The application process for these species is slightly less confusing than Wyoming’s elk draw, but it still follows a hybrid system full of complications. Here’s what you need to know to apply for any of these species in 2015 (find the application online here).

Why Wyoming for moose, sheep and goat

Bighorn sheep

  • Tons of licenses. Wyoming has issued over 200 sheep licenses for the past 3 hunt seasons. 25% of Wyoming’s sheep permits are allocated to nonresidents — that’s over 50 nonresident tags!
  • Solid rams. Expect 150 to 170” rams. 
  • Lots of units available. Even if you don’t have maximum points yet, some units allow for a random chance in the draw for both residents and nonresidents. Just ensure there are at least four licenses available (more details below).
     
Wyoming bighorn sheep in snow
Photo credit: Getty Images

Moose

  • Sheer size. Many of Wyoming’s Shiras moose units produce bulls with racks over 40”, fulfilling the bench mark for big Shiras moose that many hunters seek out.
  • Comparatively big population. Moose herds in Wyoming have been decreasing since Yellowstone’s wolf reintroduction, but many units still have high moose numbers compared to units in other states.
  • Wolf-free units. Units in the southern and southwestern parts of the state are harder to draw, but offer hunts without wolves.

Mountain goat

  • All you need is luck. Goats have no preference points, licenses are awarded through a totally random draw.
     
Large mountain goat
Photo credit: Getty Images

General herd conditions:

Moose herds are declining in Wyoming because of wolves, but are still sizeable when compared to other states. Sheep have a generally stable population and plenty of licenses as a result. Goats are reproducing well and also have stable numbers. If you are physically and mentally ready to try one of these intense hunts, check out Wyoming in 2015.

What’s new in 2015?

  • Pending bill in Wyoming’s legislature that could drastically reduce the nonresident sheep quota. See here.
  • Wyoming’s increasing wolf population continues to be an issue for moose herd sizes in the state’s Western units.
  • For sheep and moose, Wyoming’s unit closures are the same as they have been for past few seasons.
  • Numbers of tags and quotas will be set during the commission’s April 2015 meeting and announced in May, along with any boundary changes.

The draw system: An overview

  • Tag or license: License.
  • Point system: Preference points for both residents and nonresidents (sheep and moose only).
  • Youth: No youth-specific points for these species, but youth can build points at regular pricing starting at age 12.
  • Draw type: Regular draw has both point-based and random draw licenses.
  • Resident perk: Residents are allocated 75% of all sheep licenses. For 2015, sheep Unit 17 is resident-only.

Wyoming’s draw system is notoriously complex. The hybrid system combines preference points with random draw elements for both sheep and moose. Mountain goat licenses are awarded through a completely random draw.

Both sheep and moose license applications only allow for one hunt area choice. Do your research for the best possible chances.

If you apply for sheep without many points, focus on the hunt choices with four or more licenses available. At least one of those tags will go to a random draw, not max point holders. Generally these are sheep Units 1 through 5, the other units with three or fewer licenses don’t have enough to issue one in the random draw. You’ll have a better chance than in the units where all licenses are awarded based on points. Remember to also factor in the Wyoming statute that says 75% of all licenses go to residents and 25% to nonresidents. Looking at 2014’s draw results will give you a good idea of what to expect.

Application types and deadlines for 2015

Nonresident
application

Online
application
dates
(by midnight MT)

Modify/withdraw
deadline date

Results
available

License
cost*

Bighorn sheep Jan. 1 - Mar. 2 April 15 May 8 $2,266*
Bighorn sheep
preference pt. only
July 1 - Sept. 30     $100
Moose Jan. 1 - Mar. 2 April 15 May 8 $1,416*
Moose
preference pt. only
July 1 - Sept. 30     $75
Mountain goat Jan. 1 - Mar. 2 April 15 May 8 $2,166*

*These nonresident license applications include a nonrefundable fee of $14

Resident
application

Online
application
dates
(by midnight MT)

Modify/withdraw
deadline date

Results
available

License
cost*

Bighorn sheep Jan. 1 - Mar. 2 April 15 May 8 $122*
Bighorn sheep
preference pt. only
July 1 - Sept. 30     $7
Moose Jan. 1 - Mar. 2 April 15 May 8 $117*
Moose
preference pt. only
July 1 - Sept. 30     $7
Mountain goat Jan. 1 - Mar. 2 April 15 May 8 $127*

*These resident license applications include a nonrefundable fee of $5

Special limitations to consider

If you’ve had a Wyoming license for moose or sheep hunts in the past, you cannot apply or gain preference points for the following 5 years. For example, if you had a successful application in 2010 for moose, you cannot apply for a moose license or points until 2015.

To hunt big game in wilderness areas, nonresidents must have a licensed guide or a Wyoming resident to accompany them, according to Wyoming Game and Fish.

Unlocking the system

There is no special draw for any of these species. For each unit, licenses are awarded with 75% for maximum point holders, 25% in a random draw that doesn’t consider points. Our advice: Know your points and apply for hunts with at least four available licenses in order to access the random draw component.

The point system

For sheep and moose, Wyoming works on preference points, not bonus points. Both resident and nonresidents accrue points. You gain one point for every year you unsuccessfully enter the draw. Even if you miss the application deadline for licenses in February, nonresidents can purchase a point for $75 (moose) or $100 (sheep) from July to September. If you’re a resident, a point for either moose or sheep is $7. The maximum number of points for both moose and sheep is 20. Preference point totals going into the 2015 draw can be found here.

If you apply for sheep or moose and your application is unsuccessful, you will automatically get a point. The fee will be deducted from your refund from Wyoming Game and Fish.

There is no point system for mountain goat. This license is once-in-a-lifetime.

Super Tags and Super Tag Trifecta

Super Tag (good for one species) and the Super Tag Trifecta (good for three species) are a competitive raffle outside of the regular license lotteries. They cover moose, sheep and mountain goat. Entries are $10 for Super Tag and $30 for Super Tag Trifecta. You can submit an unlimited number of entries. The winning licenses are liberal in terms of dates and units. However, they probably have the worst odds of all your options for these species in Wyoming.

Wyoming moose, sheep and goat draw FAQs

Where and how do I apply?

Wyoming’s application is entirely online. Call customer service at 307-777-4600 (8:00-5:00 MT) with any questions. See deadlines and fees in the tables above.

Is Wyoming good for building points? 

Yes. You can purchase one point per year after the initial draw application has passed. Compared to other states, it’s fairly inexpensive to build points here for moose and sheep, especially for residents. Excellent for a hunter on a budget. 

Can I turn my tag in if I decide not to hunt?

No. The only way to turn a tag back in is if you’re deployed or can prove a severe medical condition. 

Are Super Tags worth the effort of applying?

For hunters that are on a budget we suggest using your hard-earned dollars to build points instead. The odds of drawing Super Tags are very slim. 

The seasons

For all of these species you have access to a Type 1 license. Many units offer earlier archery options before rifle seasons. Moose herds are declining more rapidly in units along the Western side of the state due to wolves, we recommend units without wolves in the Southwestern and Southern parts (though these are harder to draw).

Bighorn sheep

We can’t stress it enough: there’s lots of opportunity for sheep in Wyoming. The state has everything you need for a satisfying ram hunt, even though only a couple rams qualify for Boone and Crockett each year. Over 200 sheep licenses have been issued for the state for the past three years, we expect similar numbers for 2015. 

Shoshone Lodge Outfitters bighorn sheep

Moose

Wolves aside, moose hunters in Wyoming have a great advantage: season dates during the rut. Moose rut is similar to elk and runs from mid-September to mid-October. Like elk, moose will be vocal, gathering harems and susceptible to calls during this period. Make the most of your opportunity here to get them out of thick timber.

Mountain goat

Mountain goat hunts fall mostly in wilderness areas with an earlier archery season in August, then rifle season is from September to October.
 

Shoshone Lodge Outfitters mountain goat
Photo credit: Shoshone Lodge Outfitters

Season dates are not yet fixed, but you can find tentative season information for moose, sheep and mountain goat following these links. These hunts can be mentally and physically taxing, so start getting in shape now in case your application gets through.

Hunter opportunity

General information, tips and our insights for hunting moose, sheep and mountain goat in Wyoming.

Draw odds and tag availability

  • There are no general season tags for these species.
  • 25% of sheep licenses are allocated to nonresidents. This could change pending the current bill in Wyoming’s legislature. See here.
  • For sheep, nonresidents should verify the number of licenses available in the unit. If there are not at least four licenses, there’s basically no mathematical possibility of your application succeeding if you don’t have 12 or more preference points.

Special features for moose, sheep and goat in Wyoming

  • Season dates for moose during the rut.
  • There are more moose in the Boone and Crockett record book from Wyoming than any other state.
  • Sheep Unit 17 is only available to residents.
  • All three species have fairly liberal season dates for archery and rifle hunting opportunities.

Managing points and expectations

Remember, mountain goat has no point system. It’s just the luck of the draw for the three units available.

Bighorn sheep

With 75% of the sheep tags reserved for applicants with the most points, accumulated points are key to securing a tag in the draw. While building points, plan to focus on units with four or more licenses. 

Moose

Like sheep, accumulated points will be your ticket to opportunity. If you want a remote chance while building points, identify the units with at least four permits offered and select one to apply for.

Wyoming bull moose tag quota comparison
 

Wyoming moose change in harvest
Year Total harvest
2001 1215
2002 1160
2003 999
2004 770
2005 682
2006 636
2007 669
2008 611
2009 504
2010 485
2011 460
2012 437
2013 430
Total # decrease from 2001 - 2013:  785
Total % decrease from 2001 - 2013: 65%

 

Mountain goat

Remember, mountain goat has no point system. It’s just the luck of the draw for the three units available. 

I have 0 points. What can I expect?

Bighorn sheep

If you are a nonresident and have less than 14 points, focus on applying for units with at least four licenses for sheep. This will provide a shot at the 25% given through the random draw. In 2014, the units with at least four licenses available to nonresidents were Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3 and Unit 5. Residents were eligible in 2014 for tags in the random draw in Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3, Unit 4, Unit 5, Unit 7, Unit 8, Unit 10 and Unit 19.

Moose

Same plan of attack for moose as sheep. If you have less than 11 points as a nonresident, focus on units with at least four licenses for moose. In 2014, the choices were Unit 5, Unit 25 and Unit 26. In 2014, the resident quota was four or more in every unit offered. 

Mountain goat

There are no points. Be on the lookout for our upcoming Wyoming unit profiles and research mountain goat Unit 1, Unit 2 and Unit 3. Select the unit that you desire and apply. 

What can I do with 8 or 10 points?

Bighorn sheep

Nonresidents and residents should use the same strategy as applicants with 0 points. This year you just might be lucky. 

Moose

Nonresidents should treat applications the same as if they had 0 points. Residents may consider Moose Unit 10 or Unit 22 with 10 points. In 2014, these two units were eligible to residents with 10 points. Otherwise residents should apply for any other unit and hope for some luck in the random draw. 

Mountain goat

There are no points. Be on the lookout for our upcoming Wyoming unit profiles and research mountain goat Unit 1, Unit 2, and Unit 3. Select the unit that you desire and apply. 

What can I expect with 18 or more points?

Bighorn sheep

Congratulations! Resident or nonresident, you are likely to draw whatever unit you apply for. However, if the pending legislation passes, then this would drastically change the points needed for nonresident applicants.

Moose

Do your research and study the unit profiles to find the unit you desire. Whether you are a resident or nonresident, you should be able to draw your desired tag. Watch for areas that may have been suffering predation from wolves. Congratulations! 

Mountain goat

Points are not issued for mountain goat in Wyoming. Pick one of the three units and cross your fingers. If you draw, plan to get in shape. Good luck!

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