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APPLICATION STRATEGY 2016: Wyoming Sheep, Moose, Goat

 

Rutting bighorn sheep
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Wyoming's sheep, moose and goat application overview

Jump to: New for 2016 State Information Draw System Points System Sheep Breakdown Moose Breakdown Mountain Goat Breakdown

Western trophy hunters should seriously consider Wyoming’s trophy species. While the odds of drawing a tag for bighorn sheep, moose, or mountain goat are always extremely low, Wyoming does provide a chance and, every year, dreams do come true. The Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep opportunity in Wyoming is incredible thanks to the high number of tags for both residents and nonresidents. Use the Trophy Potential feature found in our Filtering 2.0 enhancement to find an area that offers the size ram that you desire. Although wolf numbers are devastating moose populations in many parts of the state, the Shiras moose are among the highest scoring and offer a broad range of area options to select from. Mountain goats are limited to only three areas, yet, the trophy quality and experience will not disappoint.

Note: The application deadline for Wyoming sheep, moose and mountain goat is February 29. You can apply online or by phoning any Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) office.



Why Wyoming for sheep, moose, goat

Big rams, bulls, and billies!

Many areas offer a chance for rams scoring more than 160" B&C, moose over 40” wide and goats with horns longer than 9”.

There is a chance!

Thanks to Wyoming reserving 25% of the tags to be drawn at random, it is possible to draw with less than maximum preference points.

Never too late to start applying for mountain goat

Mountain goats do not have a point system, which means that all applicants are equal.

The king of bighorn sheep tag numbers

Wyoming boasts the highest number of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep tags among all the Western states and has more nonresident bighorn sheep tags than anywhere else.

Long season dates

Early archery dates will allow you start hunting early and extend your season if you are lucky enough to draw.



New for 2016

•  The deadline to apply for preference point only has changed to October 31, 2016.
•  You can now donate a big game license to disabled individuals in wheelchairs.
•  Full price leftover licenses will go on sale July 6, 2016.
•  Reduced price leftover licenses will go on sale July 13, 2016.
•  Three new nonresident bighorn sheep tag will be available for Areas 6, 17/26, and 18/21 for 2016.
 



State information

To view important information and an overview of Wyoming’s rules and regulations, the draw system and bonus points, tag and license fees and an interactive boundary line map, check out our State Profile. You can also view the Wyoming Sheep Profile, Moose Profile, and Goat Profile to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy areas.

State Profile Sheep Profile Moose Profile Mountain Goat Profile

Important dates and information

•  You may begin applying online NOW for bighorn sheep, moose, or mountain goat
•  The deadline to apply is midnight MST on February 29, 2016
•  A nonrefundable fee of $14 is included in the amount that is remitted for each species license
•  Each person licensed to hunt must purchase a conservation stamp for $12.50
•  An applicant may apply at 11 years of age, but must be 12 years old to go hunting
•  Applicants who are less than 18 years of age, and at least 11 years of age at the time of application may apply for a youth license and remit youth fees
•  Deadline to modify or withdraw an application is April 15, 2016
•  Drawing results will be available on or before May 10, 2016
•  If you are unsuccessful in the draw, then you will be awarded a preference point for that species
•  There is a separate “Points-Only” application period beginning July 1, 2016 that will allow you to apply for a preference point without submitting an application for a species license now
•  Unlike deer, elk, and antelope in Wyoming, there is no “Special” license type for Sheep, moose, or mountain goat
•  All successful bighorn sheep and moose applicants must wait five (5) years before they are eligible to apply again
•  Mountain goat is considered once-in-a-lifetime, and if you have drawn a mountain goat license since 1995, then you cannot apply again
•  Nonresidents cannot apply with residents
•  There are no party applications allowed for sheep, moose, and mountain goat
•  Any person born after January 1, 1966 must have in their possession proof of satisfactory completion of a hunter safety course



The draw system

Understanding the draw

Drawing for the Wyoming trophy species is different than drawing for deer, elk, and antelope. Unlike these other species, there is not a Special Draw for sheep, moose, and mountain goat; only a Regular Draw is available. Wyoming reserves 75% of their tags for applicants with the highest number of preference points. If there is a fourth tag offered in an area, then that tag will be drawn at random. Since Wyoming issues 25% of their tags randomly, applicants with fewer accumulated points should focus on hunt choices with at least four tags available. There are very few nonresident tags available for each hunt code so finding a nonresident hunt choice for the trophy species is not easy.

Nonresident caution when hunting wilderness areas

Pay close attention to the amount of designated wilderness area that is located within each area before you apply. Make sure that you study the Unit Profiles to see which areas have a high percentage of wilderness areas that will restrict nonresident access. If the area has a considerable amount of wilderness, then a nonresident hunter will be required to hire a Wyoming outfitter or be accompanied by a Wyoming resident in order to hunt within the wilderness areas.

In partnership with private landowners

Many areas have limited or restricted access due to high amounts of private land. In an effort to allow sportsmen an opportunity to gain access, WGFD in conjunction with participating private landowners have established a walk-in access program on participating private lands. These walk-in areas provide a great opportunity for hunters.



The points 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 21.

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

•  Bighorn sheep: 21 points
•  Moose: 21 points
•  Mountain goat: 21 points



Wyoming Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep breakdown
 

Large bighorn ram taken with Shoshone Lodge Outfitters
Large bighorn ram taken with Shoshone Lodge Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

No other state compares to Wyoming when it comes to overall bighorn sheep licenses. Recent years have seen Wyoming offering around 200 total bighorn sheep licenses every year and, in 2015, 196 total licenses were available. With about 20% of the total sheep licenses being reserved for nonresidents, you can see that the Cowboy State is very friendly to nonresidents.

The sheep in Wyoming are traditional, native sheep and may not be the highest scoring bighorns, but still offer plenty of rams scoring 150-170” B&C. Wyoming ranks fifth out of the 11 states in terms of number of B&C entries since 2010.

Current bighorn herd condition

Sheep have a generally stable population and plenty of licenses as a result.

Top B&C producing states for bighorn sheep since 2010

Rank

State

No. of entries
1 Montana 124
2 New Mexico 15
3 Oregon 15
4 Colorado 14
5 Wyoming 14
6 Utah 8
7 Washington 8
8 Idaho 7
9 Arizona 6
10 Nevada 4
11 Nebraska 2


 

Dave Berg 2015 Wyoming bighorn ram taken with Shoshone Lodge Outfitters
Friend of goHUNT, Dave Berg with his 2015 Wyoming bighorn ram taken with Shoshone Lodge Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

Wyoming sheep live in some of the most breathtaking and rugged terrain the Lower 48 has to offer. For those fortunate enough to draw a tag, this is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

It is important to remember that if you do not have a high number of accumulated bonus points, and you are a nonresident, that you should only look at Areas 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. Historically, these have been the only option for nonresidents since they offer at least four nonresident tags and will provide a random chance for drawing. Many sheep areas will have less that five total tags available (residents and nonresidents combined). In this case, some of these areas will allow for a nonresident tag on a rotating basis. This is another example of how the WGFD is striving to please nonresident hunters by providing opportunity. In 2015, Area 20 had less than five total tags, but offered a nonresident tag. Area 20 will not offer a nonresident tag in 2016, but Areas 6, 17/26, and 18/21 will offer three opportunities for nonresidents to draw. Remember that the total number of nonresident tags available is less than four, which means that each of these tags will be limited to the applicants with the most accrued preference points.

Wyoming statute provides that any successful bighorn sheep applicant must wait five years before applying for or receiving another bighorn sheep license. During this waiting period, the applicant is also not eligible to apply for preference points.

The goHUNT hit list areas for Wyoming rocky bighorns

Top hunt areas to consider for 160”
or better Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

(not in order of quality)

Area

Trophy
Potential

12 175"
19 175"
20 175"
5 175"
17/26 175"
2 175"
10 170"
8/23 170"
22 165"
7 160"

 


 

How to uncover hidden gem rocky bighorn areas

Resident perk: Residents are allocated 75% of all sheep licenses. For 2016, sheep Area 20 and Area 24 are resident-only.

2015 nonresident sheep random draw statistics

Area

No. of
random tags

No. of first
choice applicants
Percentage
drawn
1 1 296 0.34%
2 1 196 0.51%
3 2 607 0.33%
4 1 43 2.3%
5 2 851 0.24%

 

Trending ram:ewe ratio areas in Wyoming

You have probably noticed that we provide data on ram to ewe ratios for each sheep hunt area in Wyoming. Male to female ratios are a critical measuring data tool for wildlife managers and indicate the current status of the herd. A higher ram to ewe ratio could indicate that a hunt area that could have a higher availability of mature rams compared to an area with a lower ram to ewe ratio. This doesn’t always indicate that the rams will be the highest scoring, but more rams equates to more rams to find and harvest. When selecting an area, or comparing several areas, take this into consideration to help your decision. For a complete understanding of male to female ratios, please refer to a recent article covering this in depth.

Top areas for ram: ewe ratios

Area

Ram:ewe
ratio
19 106:100
12 83:100
5 68:100
22 68:100
10 59:100
9 59:100
8 59:100
23 59:100
7 52:100
4 44:100

 

Wyoming's top B&C producing
counties since 2010 for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

County

No. of
entries

Areas found within county

Park 4 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Bighorn 3 12
Albany 2 18/19
Hot Springs 1 5

 

 

Managing points and expectations

Find your draw odds

WY sheep preference points going into the 2016 draw

I have 0 rocky bighorn sheep points. What can I expect?

As a nonresident, applying for anything other than Areas 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 would be a waste of time. These are the only choices that have a random chance to draw. All other area choices will require a higher level of accrued preference points in order to draw. Residents will have more random choice options to select from, but should still select from the hunt choices with at least four total tags available to have a chance. You can check the random draw odds here.

What can I do with 3 or 4 rocky bighorn sheep points?

Your odds are really the same at this level as they were with zero points. It doesn’t matter whether you are a nonresident or resident applicant; utilize the same strategies.

What can I expect with 9 or 10 rocky bighorn sheep points points?

Again, you should use the same strategy as above. Unless you have 14 points as a resident or 17 as a nonresident, you will need to focus on hunt choices that have a random chance at drawing. Look to the hunt choices with at least four total tags available. The Unit Profiles will show the allocation levels for residents and nonresidents.



Wyoming Shiras moose breakdown
 

Cris Steffen 2015 Wyoming archery moose
Cris Steffen 2015 Wyoming archery moose.

Wyoming has historically been a great destination for some of the biggest Shiras moose and is still a great choice.

Current moose herd condition

Wolves continue to be a major issue with Wyoming’s wolf numbers. Many of the historic moose areas of Wyoming have been impacted. Until measures are taken to control the wolf numbers, expect to see this trend continue within the state. Fortunately, there are some areas in parts of the state that do not struggle with wolf predation.

Ten year statewide moose tag allocation comparison

Wyoming is known for moose with racks measuring 40” wide or more! In fact, some of the highest scoring Shiras moose of all time come from Wyoming. The top three ever entered in Boone and Crockett — and the only three bulls to eclipse 200” in net score — all come from Wyoming. Historically, the Cowboy State has been a fantastic trophy bull generator.

Top B&C producing states for moose since 2010

Rank

State

No. of entries
1 Idaho 42
2 Montana 37
3 Wyoming 36
4 Colorado 34
5 Washington 21
6 Utah 12

 

Nearly every area offers a chance to hunt part of the rut. If the rifle season dates are not rut-friendly, then purchase an archery stamp so you can get out in the field in September and capture some rut action! Some of the areas are not as physical and are considered an easy hunt while other areas are found deep in wilderness areas with some of the most rugged terrain around. Check the Unit Profiles prior to applying to get an idea. Moose are big-bodied animals and the pack out can be very serious after a bull is harvested. If you are going to be in very remote areas, then consider pack animals or an outfitter to help you.

Nonresidents with very few accumulated preference points should look for hunt choices with a random tag available. Random draw tags will only be drawn when there are four or more tags available. Check the Unit Profiles and Draw Odds to see the allocation.

The goHUNT hit list areas for Wyoming moose

Below is a table of some of the areas that we feel provide a great moose hunting opportunity for trophy bulls. These areas have a large enough moose population to make for an enjoyable hunt.

goHUNT's Wyoming Shiras moose hit list

Area
(or Area group)

Amount of
wilderness

Wolves?

38/41 Little No
1 Little No
42 Moderate No
27 None No
34 Little No
25 None Yes
26 None Yes
16/37 Significant Yes

 

Wyoming's top B&C producing
counties since 2010 for moose

County

No. of
entries

Areas found within county

Sublette 7 4, 5, 10, 18, 21, 22, 24, 25, 30
Johnson 6 1, 34
Albany 5 38
Fremont 4 239
Teton 4 7, 8, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 28, 32, 37
Sheridan 3 1

 

 

Managing points and expectations

Find your draw odds

WY moose preference points going into the 2016 draw

I have 0 moose points. What can I expect?

Like bighorn sheep, the only chance you will have without any accrued points will be drawing a random tag. Nonresidents should only look at Areas 5, 23, 24, 25, 26, 38, and 41 since these are the options that had at least four nonresident permits in 2015. You can check the random draw odds here.

What can I do with 3 or 4 moose points?

Don’t get discouraged. Even with three or four points, you still need to hope for a random tag at this point level. Look to hunt choices with four or more tags and apply there. Good luck!

What can I expect with 9 or 10 moose points?

As a nonresident with nine or 10 points, you will still fall shy of the needed points to guarantee a tag. Nonresidents will need 14 or more points to be a shoo-in for success in the draw. Look to the hunt choices with at least four total permits and hope for luck!

Residents with nine or 10 points are in the same boat and will find themselves short of the needed points to guarantee a tag. Select from the hunt choices with at least four total tags and cross your fingers.



Wyoming Rocky Mountain goat breakdown
 

2015 Mountain goat taken with Shoshone Lodge Outfitters
2015 Mountain goat taken with Shoshone Lodge Outfitters — A goHUNT Business Member

Wyoming only offers three areas (Area 1 - Beartooth, Area 2 - Palisades, Area 3 - North Absaroka) to hunt mountain goats and has only produced 11 total entries in the B&C record book (6 entries since 2010). Yet, there is still a great adventure to be had hunting mountain goats in Wyoming if you are lucky enough to draw a tag. There is not a point system taken into consideration for the mountain goat draw. You will need luck on your side to end up with a tag for this hunt.

The main concern while hunting Wyoming’s mountain goats has to do with access restriction caused by weather. Mountain goats live in rough terrain and the later into the season you hunt, the higher the chance that a snowstorm will make access difficult. Mountain goat hunting is always about finding a balance between waiting long enough into the season to ensure a long-haired trophy while still going early enough to not be snowed out.

Fortunately, Areas 1 and 2 experienced a 100% harvest success in 2014 and Area 3 had a 83% harvest success. Pay close attention to the wilderness boundaries. If you are a nonresident, then a guide or Wyoming resident may be necessary to access some of the hunting areas.

Current mountain goat herd condition

Although limited to only three hunt areas, the mountain goat in Wyoming are doing remarkably well. Thanks to sound wildlife management, the herd numbers continue to strive and exceed their objectives. This is manifested through the high harvest success for those for those hunters lucky enough to draw one of the coveted tags. Predation is rarely an issue among mountain goats, although grizzly bears generally live in some of the areas where goats are hunted. Wyoming needs to be on your radar for mountain goat hunting.

Top B&C producing states for mountain goats since 2010

Rank

State

No. of entries
1 Alaska 32
2 Utah 28
3 Montana 12
4 Colorado 7
5 Oregon 6
6 Wyoming 6

 

Wyoming's top B&C producing
counties since 2010 for mountain goats

County

No. of
entries

Areas found within county

Park 3 1, 3
Teton 2 2
Lincoln 1 2

 

 

Mountain goat expectations

With only three areas to select from, it is hard to go wrong. Any of the three would be a great accomplishment to draw and provide the hunt of a lifetime. Without points to consider, study the Unit Profiles and draw odds for mountain goats, and apply for the area that you desire the most. Good luck!

Find your draw odds

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