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Application Strategy 2023: Wyoming Elk


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Wyoming's 2023 elk application overview

Jump to: NEW FOR 2023 State Information Draw System Elk Breakdown Points System

The application deadline for Wyoming elk for nonresidents is Jan. 31, 2023, by 11:59 p.m. MST. The application is entirely online. Apply online here. Resident elk limited quota applications are due by May 31, 2023.


New for 2023

IMPORTANT: Once again, in 2023, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) will not publish tentative season information for elk. Elk hunters should use prior season information for the best estimate of dates and tag numbers. Final season information will be published on May 1, 2023, which still gives hunters time to make modifications or withdraw applications.

Nonresident applicants have until May 8 to modify or withdraw their applications. Tentatively, draw results will be posted on May 19. Wyoming’s draw system still requires you to front the entire cost of licenses with your application by Jan. 31. Those funds will not be refunded to your card until late May if you are unsuccessful in the draw.

  • Area 113 is typically open every other year. It was closed this past season (2022) and should be open to apply going into the 2023 draw.
  • Area 123 was closed for Type 1 elk in 2021 and 2022. It may be open for 2023, but it will not be decided until the late April commission meeting. 
  • Preference point reminder: Unsuccessful applicants will not automatically be given a preference point if unsuccessful in the draw. You must purchase a point during the point only time frame, which is July 3 to Oct. 31, 2023.
  • Applicants who are unsuccessful in the draw will now have the opportunity to donate a portion or all of their license refund to Access Yes or Wyoming Wildlife Trust Fund. Applicants will have to select this option and amount during the application period. Be aware of this when you apply. 

Insider Features

Point Tracker

Point Tracker allows you to enter the number of points you have for each state and species and, as you research through Filtering 2.0 and Draw Odds, your point total will automatically be highlighted. Learn more about using Point Tracker here.

Access Point Tracker here

Draw Odds 

GOHUNT displays the number of applicants at each point level below the cut-off draw line for each hunt on the detailed draw odds page. This gives applicants a much greater understanding of point creep for each hunt and allows them to apply with a much better understanding of their chances. Check out a great article on point creep here and how to find the detailed draw odds page for each hunt.

Use our standalone Draw Odds tool here


State Information

View important information and an overview of the Wyoming rules/regulations, the draw system, preference points, SuperTag and SuperTag Trifecta, tag and license fees and an interactive boundary line map on our State Profile. You can also view the Wyoming Elk Profile to access historical and statistical data to help you find trophy areas.

Wyoming State Profile Wyoming Elk Profile GOHUNT Maps Draw Odds Filtering 2.0 Point Tracker Hunt Planner

Important dates and information

  • You can apply for elk beginning Jan. 3, 2023 at 8 a.m. MST.
  • The nonresident deadline to apply is Jan. 31, 2023 by 11:59 p.m. MST.
  • The resident deadline to apply is May 31, 2023 by 11:59 p.m. MST.
  • Apply online here. Applications are only accepted online.
  • The deadline to amend or withdraw your nonresident elk application is May 8, 2023 by 11:59 p.m. MST.
  • Nonresident draw results will be available on May 18, 2023, tentatively.
  • Applicants must front the entire cost of the license(s) they apply for on a debit or credit card.
  • Refunds for unsuccessful applicants will be returned to the credit or debit card that was used.
  • Ensure that the credit card used has an expiration date valid through the time period in which the drawing will be conducted. 
  • The preference point only purchase period is from July 3 to Oct. 31, 2023.
  • You do not need to apply in the draw if you only want to purchase a preference point in the preference point only timeframe noted above.
  • Failure to apply or purchase preference points for two consecutive years will cause all previous points accumulated to be purged.
  • You cannot return an elk license for a refund or get preference points back.

Wyoming elk fees

Item

Cost

Nonresident application fee $15.00
Resident application fee $5.00
Nonresident regular full-priced elk $707.00
Nonresident special full-priced elk $1,283.00
Nonresident youth full-priced elk $290.00
Nonresident reduced price elk $303.00
Nonresident youth reduced price elk $115.00
Resident full-priced elk $62.00
Resident youth full-priced elk $30.00
Resident reduced price elk $48.00
Resident youth reduced price elk $25.00

* The costs above do not include a 2.5% processing fee on the total transaction amount. For example, if you applied for special full price elk, you will pay an additional $32.45 in fees.
** Nonresident youth who apply in the special draw will pay the full special license cost.

Note: Even if you are unsuccessful in the draw you will not automatically be given a preference point. Preference points must be bought during the summer/fall point only time frame. Cost is $52 for adults and $10 for youth.


THE WYOMING DRAW SYSTEM

Every state is different and whether you are re-applying or applying in Wyoming for the first time, we have everything you need to know in the article below. Wyoming’s draw system and application process can seem complicated; however, understanding a few key components of their system will help you navigate it with ease.

Point system

The nonresident elk draw works on a modified preference point system where 75% of the licenses are allocated to applicants with the most preference points and the other 25% are randomly allocated. The Wyoming preference point system is a true preference point system, meaning that the licenses for any given hunt are allocated to the applicants with the most points who apply. 

After the preference point licenses are allocated, all unsuccessful applicants have a chance in the random draw. There is no weight given to the number of points you have in the random draw. For example, an applicant with 10 points and an applicant with one point have the same odds in the random draw. 

There is no point system for residents. The draw is completely random for resident applicants.

Regular vs. special draw

Wyoming offers two separate draws for nonresidents: the regular draw and special draw. Nonresidents can apply in either the regular draw or the special draw, but they cannot apply in both. The special draw license is $576 more than the regular draw license. The potential benefit of applying for hunts in the special draw is that the odds of drawing may be better due to the fact that, often, fewer people are willing to pay the higher price. However, this is not always the case, especially for a lot of the more highly sought after licenses. 

Review the Draw Odds to see if the odds are actually better in the special draw and worth the added cost. In some cases it is. For example, a general season elk license in the special draw had random odds of 12% while the odds in the regular draw were 7.8%. That is a 4.2% increase in odds for the special draw at a cost difference of $576. That may or may not be worth it to you, but it’s worth considering for the hunt(s) you apply for.

Read more about the regular and special draw here

Elk license splits

Wyoming’s elk licenses are split between residents and nonresidents; 84% are allocated to residents and 16% allocated to nonresidents. Out of the nonresident licenses, 60% of those are allocated to the regular draw and 40% are allocated to the special draw. One additional split offers 75% of licenses to the highest preference point applicants and the other 25% are randomly allocated.

Note: There must be at least four licenses for any given hunt to offer one in the random draw. When reviewing the odds, if you have less than maximum points for the hunt you are considering, make sure there are odds displayed all the way to the zero point level, which means there was — and likely will be — at least one random license available.

Group applications

Wyoming will allow up to six people to apply on a party application for elk. The party is treated as a single application and, if it’s drawn, all members of the party will receive a license. Residents and nonresidents may not apply together in a party application. Party applications have their preference points averaged out to the fourth decimal point. For example, a party application of three hunters with seven, five and two preference points will go into the draw with 4.6666 points. Wyoming will allocate licenses over the hunt quota to cover a party application, so there is no decrease in odds for a group application. For instance, if there is only one license remaining in the draw and a group application with three people is selected for that license, WGFD will over-allocate and grant all three members of the group a license.

When applying as a party, you will need one member to apply as the Party Organizer. When they apply they will select “Party Organizer” and click “enter.” The next screen will show you your party ID number. The party ID includes the last name of the organizer AND the six digit assigned number. You will have to give this party ID to the members of your party. It is required that they know and use the party ID when they apply to successfully join your party. The rest of your party should select “Party Member,” and enter in the party ID previously created by the party organizer. Once you enter the party ID, you will be taken to the application screen, but will not be able to change the hunt area or type since party applications are required to have the same species, drawing (special vs. regular), hunt area and type as the party organizer.

Hunt choices

Applicants have three choices when they apply: first, second and third. Every applicant's first choice is considered before moving to any applicant's second or third choice. In essence, to draw a hunt as a second or third choice, there must be licenses remaining after every applicant's first choice has been considered. Your preference points will only be purged if you draw your first choice. You can check the second choice draw odds within your Insider account by manipulating “select your draw choice.”

Full price and reduced price licenses

The full price and reduced price hunts are separate draws. The full price draw works on the preference point system. The reduced price draw is completely random. Reduced price licenses are Types 6, 7 and 8, which are all antlerless (cow/calf) licenses. Full price licenses are Type 1, 2, 9, 4, 5 and 0. Preference points will not be impacted if you apply for and draw a reduced price license. Applicants can apply for both the full price and reduced price draw.

Learn more about Wyoming license types here

Hunt types

Type 1 license

A Type 1 is a rifle license valid for the season and weapon as indicated within the Wyoming regulations. In addition, most Type 1 licenses will also allow hunters to purchase an over-the-counter (OTC) archery stamp and bowhunt during the entire month or a portion of September.

Type 2 license

Most often, a Type 2 license will vary by season or boundary. For example, some areas may have both a Type 1 and a Type 2 license where the only difference is the start and ending season dates. Other units may have a Type 1 and Type 2 license where the difference is that they are valid for different portions of the area. A Type 2 is also a rifle hunt. Hunters may be able to purchase an OTC archery stamp and hunt all or a portion of the archery season. See regulations for details.

Type 9 license

Archery only hunts that are valid in the hunt area and during the archery dates indicated.

General licenses

The general season license allows hunters to rifle hunt in any or all general hunt areas. Successful applicants can also buy an OTC archery stamp that will allow them to hunt with a bow and arrow in general season areas during all or a portion of September. See rules and regulations for details.

Type 4 and 5

These are full priced cow/calf licenses. One thing to be aware of is that if you apply for one of these licenses as your first choice and draw it, you will lose any preference points you have accrued.

Type 6 and 7

Type 6 and Type 7 are reduced price licenses and will not utilize preference points. You can apply for those on a separate application within the state draw system. The drawing for reduced price licenses is random with no point system.

Leftover draw

Any remaining licenses after the resident and nonresident draws will be available in a leftover draw. Residents and nonresidents can apply. There is no application fee and no point system. You must front the cost of the license when you apply. Unsuccessful applicants will be refunded back to the card used to apply. The leftover draw time frame is June 19 to 23, 2023 and results should be available July 6.


Archery season dates

2022 archery season dates*

Herd hunt area(s) Type Season dates Limitations
1, 8-10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 1921-25, 27, 28, 30-34, 47-49, 55, 56, 58, 59, 61-64,
83, 87-9499, 102-105, 107, 108, 110, 111, 113118, 120, 122, 124-128, 130
All Sept. 1 to 30 Valid in the entire area
2 All Sept. 20 to 30 Valid in the entire area
3, 129 All Sept. 1 to 14 Valid in the entire area
6 General Sept. 1 to 30 Valid off the National Forest
6, 7, 95, 96, 100, 117 Type 1 Sept. 1 to 30 Valid in the entire area
11, 35-37, 45, 67-69 All Sept. 15 to 30 Valid in the entire area
60, 70, 71, 73, 97, 98 All Sept. 1 to 19 Valid in the entire area
78, 80-82, 84-86 General Sept. 1 to 25 Valid in the entire area
95, 113 Type 2 Sept. 1 to 30 Valid in only portion of area
96, 106, 116 General Sept. 1 to 30 Valid in the entire area
106 Type 1 Sept. 1 to 30 Valid in only portion of area
116 Type 1 Sept. 1 to 30 Valid off of National Forest
123 Type 1 Sept. 1 to 30 Valid in the entire area

*Note: 2023 season dates are not set in stone yet so that is why the table shows 2022 season dates.


USFS Designated Wilderness Areas (DWA)

Every year, we talk to nonresident applicants who have unknowingly drawn a license in an area that is largely or completely within a DWA. Before you apply, it’s extremely important to consider that a nonresident cannot legally hunt within a DWA on their own; they must be accompanied by a licensed Wyoming outfitter or licensed Wyoming resident. A DWA is a United States Forest Service (USFS) designation. 

A Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is a BLM designation and a nonresident can hunt those areas without a guide. 

Before applying, be aware that there are large tracts of USFS DWAs in many hunt areas. Use the GOHUNT Maps platform to upload hunt areas, land ownership and wilderness layers to review areas with DWAs. Hunting within many of DWAs can be very good, but if you plan to apply and draw a hunt for one of these areas, you should have an agreement with a guide/outfitter or a plan to hunt with a Wyoming resident at your side. Please do some research and apply accordingly.

Grizzly country

Since 2000, the grizzly population has continued to grow and expand well beyond the Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone. The most recent population estimate was approximately 700 grizzly bears.

Wyoming grizzly bear range in 1990 and 2018

Wyoming grizzly bear range in 1990 and 2018. Source: Wyoming Game and Fish Department 

Hunting in grizzly country can be intimidating and is a cause for concern. If hunting in occupied grizzly bear areas is something you do not want to do, please do some research and apply for areas where that is not an issue.


Wyoming's 2023 elk breakdown

Going into the 2023 draw, the elk hunts available will appear very much the same as they have in previous years; however, there is talk that 2024 will bring some changes. These changes may impact you if you decide to utilize your preference points in 2023. A few of the more notable changes that may occur in 2024 are listed below.

The Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce is recommending that WGFD remove the 7,250 cap on full price nonresident elk license allocation. That cap has been in place since the 1980s. Removing the cap could result in a slight increase in nonresident licenses in the future; however, initially, the estimates are conservative. In addition, the task force is recommending that nonresident general elk license allocation be separated into 13 regions. Each nonresident general elk region would have its own nonresident quota based on herd objective, access to hunting opportunity and resident hunting experience/hunting pressure. The 2023 season will likely be the last opportunity for nonresidents to draw the general season license and hunt any or all of the general season units/hunts in the state. It’s probable that, in 2024, nonresidents will have to pick and apply for the region of their choice. Given that some regions are limited by the availability of public land and/or based upon the popularity of some regions, this could further complicate the odds/points required to draw. Some regions that are limited by access and public land may become easier to draw while other regions that have been popular due to elk numbers, favorable public land percentages and access will see additional point creep. If you are within the four to six preference point range and are considering the general season hunt, in our opinion, 2023 is the best year to use those points prior to the anticipated change in 2024. 

Wyoming is still an incredible elk state and it’s worth applying in 2023. At a minimum, we highly recommend buying a preference point for elk during the summer/early fall point only purchase time frame. Almost every area of the state is above population objective and Wyoming still offers the best mix of trophy potential and opportunity — although the opportunity portion of that statement is slipping a bit for nonresidents. In 2022, Wyoming issued less than 70 licenses to maximum point holders and there are still 891 maximum point holders and another 1,022 with 16 points going into the 2023 draw. In addition, the general season elk hunt has continued to creep by approximately a half a point each year. Going into 2023, the nonresident general special license will most likely require 3.5 to 4.5 points and 4.5 to 5 points for the regular license. This is the bad news. The good news is that Wyoming does offer 25% of their licenses through the random portion of their draw. Within that random draw, every applicant (regardless of the number of points they have) has equal odds of drawing. For those who do draw — the hunting is very good! Elk populations continue to be strong throughout the state and trophy potential is generally good. Wyoming is not a hub for trophy bulls that score north of 350”, but most units have bulls that will hit the 300” mark and there is always a decent number of 330” to 350” bulls that are killed every year.

One other benefit is that most of the hunts offer long seasons for archery and rifle. Most of the Type 1 and some Type 2 hunts allow you to bowhunt during the heart of the rut and return to hunt with a rifle in October if you were unsuccessful with your bow. If you are strictly a bowhunter, they also have several Type 9 archery only hunts that are typically easier to draw. In addition, full priced Type 4 and 5 cow elk hunts are good antlerless options and many of those can be available as a second choice. Finally, don’t forget the reduced price hunts Type 6 and 7, which are valid for cow or calf elk. The reduced price draw is completely separate and the draw is random. Your preference points will not be impacted if you draw a reduced price license. Those hunts give hunters the chance to pursue cow elk and put meat in the freezer. Many hunters use the cow/calf licenses to explore and get to know an area prior to drawing a bull license.

Wyoming population trends by herds

Herd hunt areas Population objective Population estimate Bull:cow ratio
2 150 384 43:100
7, 19 5,000 12,347 NA
23 1,000 1,260 11:100
41, 45 2,200 3,161 36:100
62, 63, 64 2,000 2,359 43:100
55, 56, 58, 59, 60, 61, 66 4,400 5,079 29:100
51, 53, 54 3,300 3,000 16:100
30, 31, 32 1,000 1,374 26:100
13, 15, 21, 108, 130 5,000 7,604 40:100
100 1,200 981 57:100
102, 103, 104, 105 3,100 3,006 NA
70, 71, 72, 75, 77, 78, 80, 81, 82, 83 11,000 11,057 36:100
84, 85 4,400 5,052 19:100
88, 89, 90, 91 2,200 1,968 27:100
67, 68, 69, 127 5,500 7,266 20:100
25, 27, 28, 99 2,600 2,994 40:100
24, 128 500 535 34:100
22, 111 350 700 NA
118 75 NA NA
6 1,800 4,050 NA
8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 110, 114, 125 6,000 10,680 33:100
16 1,200 1,696 43:100
86, 92, 94 3,100 4,170 24:100
93, 95, 96 2,500 3021 32:100
97, 98 1,900 1,938 20:100
35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40 4,350 6,062 25:100
33, 34, 47, 48, 49, 120 3,300 4,731 61:100

 

Areas managed for hunter satisfaction rates

Herd
hunt areas
Hunter satisfaction
objective
Hunter satisfaction
2021
1, 116, 117 60% 53%
106, 107 60% 61%
124 60% 77%
73 60% 75%
3 60% 51%
113123 60% 82%

Limited quota hunts

All hunts for nonresidents are limited quota — even the general season hunts. As previously stated, the general hunts will still likely require a handful of points to draw in 2023. Beyond the general season elk licenses, there are many other hunts available to apply for. Going into 2023, the maximum number of preference points for full priced elk is 17. Many of the best hunts in the state will require maximum points and, in some cases, even maximum points will not guarantee a license. 

When it comes to hunts that can provide the best chance at trophy bull it’s worth calling out the factors that most often yield those types of bulls. The hunt areas that regularly offer big bulls in Wyoming are either areas with limited access and/or they offer very few licenses. Private land limits access in several areas as do DWAs. Those areas often provide refuge and allow more bulls to reach an older age class. For nonresident hunters, those hunts often have better draw odds. Less access and lower amounts of public land equates to better draw odds for obvious reasons. If an applicant's objective is to hunt bigger bulls and they have fewer than the maximum number of points, they might consider a guided/outfitted hunt on private land or within a DWA. If you cannot or do not want to go on an outfitted hunt, then we suggest you begin to research areas that have better odds and then find the remote areas that are not within DWAs, but are still challenging for the majority of other hunters to reach. 

There are hunts that are managed for quality bulls that have large amounts of public land and good access. These areas will be the hardest to draw. Be aware that if you apply for the areas where the trophy quality, access and amount of public land are good, your odds of drawing are going to be very low. It is imperative that you consider your objectives and expectations when you do your research and apply accordingly. 

In the table below, we break out the best trophy units with the associated number of points/odds to draw those hunts.

GOHUNT hit list for areas with no random permits available

Unit Trophy
potential
Regular preference
point odds
Special preference
point odds
Regular & special
random odds

54-1

360”+

100% with 15 points 

100% with 15 points

0%

54-2

360”+

100% with 11 points 

100% with 11 points

0%

54-9

360”+

100% with 10 points

50% with 10 points

0%

56-1

360”+

17% with 16 points 

50% with 16 points

0%

58-1

350”+

75% with 16 points 

75% with 16 points

0%

59-1

350”+

14% with 16 points 

10% with 16 points

0%

63/64-2

350”+

100% with 14 points 

100% with 14 points

0%

51-2

350”+

100% with 7 points 

100% with 7 points 

0%

61-2

340”+

100% with 16 points 

33% with 14 points

0%

31-1

340”+

17% with 16 points

22% with 16 points

0%

32-1

330”+

27% with 16 points 

100% with 16 points 

0%

Note: the hunts in the table above did not offer randomly allocated licenses, so if you do not have enough points to be in the running for one of those licenses and you apply for one of these you are wasting your application.

GOHUNT hit list for areas with random permits available

Area Trophy
potential
Regular preference
point odds
Special preference
point odds
Regular
random odds
Special
random odds

7-1

350”+

77% with 12 points

28% with 11 points

2.2%

3%

63/64-1

350”+

63% with 14 points

86% with 14 points

1.5%

1.2%

63/64-3

350”+

75% with 14 points

100% with 14 points

1.2%

2.6%

124-1

350”+

8.3% with 16 points 

11% with 16 points 

.49%

0%

51-9

350”+

27% with 7 points

100% with 6 points

3.2%

3.5%

51-1

350”+

100% with <14 points

100% with <12 points 

1.8%

3.6%

61-1

340”+

51% with 12 points

81% with 12 points

2%

3.4%

62-1

340”+

100% with 15 points

20% with 14 points

.9%

3.9%

100-1

340”+

21% with 16 points 

89% with 16 points

.28%

.61%

16-1

340”+

100% with 15 points

32% with 15 points

1%

1.3%

16-2

340”+

100% with 16 points

34% with 14 points

.38%

.78%

19-1

340”+

67% with 10 points

100% with 8 points

1.6%

3.9%

19-2

340”+

100% with <11 points

100% with 10 points

6%

4.9%

22-1

340”+

16% with 16 points

25% with 16 points

.41%

0%

45-9

340”+

100% with 11 points

100% with 9 points 

2.5%

4.9%

45-1

340”+

100% with 12 points

45% with 11 points

2.4%

4.4%

30-1

330”+

31% with 16 points

61% with 16 points

.86%

1.4%

24-1

330”+

80% with 15 points

100% with <15 points

.84%

1.5%

How to uncover hidden gem Wyoming elk areas

There are many hunts available with fewer than maximum points; however, you will need to be willing to dig into details and research to find them.

Hidden gems are most often associated with one or more factors, including lower trophy potential, limited public land, archery-only Type 9 hunts or non-traditional elk habitat. The tables below offer the best hunts for applicants at a variety of mid-tier point levels.

Potential good hunts at the 4 to 10 preference point level

Area Trophy
potential
Regular preference
point odds
Special preference
point odds
Harvest
success
Public land %

56-9

360”+

100% with 4 points

100% with <4 points

4%

87%*

51-9

350”+

27% with 7 points

100% with 6 points

7% 

99%*

51-2

350”+

100% with 7 points 

100% with 7 points 

47%

99%*

59-9

350”+

100% with 2 points 

100% with 2 points

24%

91%*

53-1

340”+

100% with 7 points

100% with 9 points 

29%

89%*

53-2

340”+

100% with 9 points

33% with 4 points 

25%

89%*

53-9

340”+

100% with 3 points 

100% with 11 points 

25%

89%*

55-9

340”+

50% with 4 points 

67% with 2 points 

0%

100%*

35-9

330”+

51% with 7 points 

100% with 5 points

17%

71%*

37-9

330”+

100% with <7 points

47% with 4 points 

21%

55%* 

41-9

330”+

53% with 6 points 

100% with 7 points

17%

85%* 

34-1

330”+

66% with 6 points 

30% with <5 points

27%

41%

35-1

330”+

100% with <8 points

62% with 6 points 

31%

71%*

39-1

330”+

100% with <6 points

45% with 6 points 

57%

90%

40-1

330”+

100% with 9 points

85% with 7 points 

44%

83%

41-1

330”+

63% with 9 points 

31% with 7 points 

37%

85%*

78-1

330”+

100% with 7 points 

100% with <10 points 

74%

37%

122-1

330”+

100% with 7 points

29% with 7 points 

66%

26%

36-9 

320”+

100% with 3 points

100% with 3 points

26%

63%* 

48-1

320”+

33% with 7 points

100% with <6 points

52%

58%

93-1

320”+

52% with 7 points

26% with 5 points 

37%

65%*

95-1

320”+

52% with 6 points 

100% with <8 points 

40%

100%*

99-1

320”+

81% with 8 points

87% with 7 points 

58%

93%*

106-1

320”+

100% with 9 points 

100% with 6 points 

62%

25%

116-1

320”+

100% with 5 points

54% with 2 points 

61%

21%

117-1

320”+

100% with <7 points

54% with 6 points 

51%

23%

67/68/69-9

310”+

51% with 5 points 

35% with 3 points 

14%

82%*

47-1

310”+

28% with 4 points

100% with 0 points

26%

63%

91-1

310”+

100% with 9 points 

100% with <10 points 

64%

61%

6-1

310”+

76% with 7 points 

76% with 7 points 

28%

16%

88-1

300”+

100% with 6 points

100% with 1 point

50%

65%

33-1

300”+

100% with <6 points

100% with 6 points

34%

53%

*Note: these areas have some portion that is within Designated Wilderness Areas. Before applying, research the availability of land to hunt and access if you are unguided.

Additional information is available in the Insider Unit Profile and in the map portion of your account. Insiders should cross reference the odds and units they are interested in with the unit profiles and mapping platform to find the best fit for their specific situations. Use all the tools available: trophy potential, season, public land percentage and harvest success to explore the possibilities.

GENERAL SEASON HUNT

The general season elk license is one of the best opportunities for applicants who do not have many points. In 2023, hunters who draw the general elk license can hunt any or all of the general season units. The populations are good and, for a license that currently only requires four to five points, the trophy potential is good.

General nonresident elk license draw odds

  Nonresident regular
preference point odds
Nonresident special
preference point odds
Nonresident regular
random odds
Nonresident special
random odds

2022 odds

19% with <4 points

52% with 3 points 

7.8%

12%

2023 predicted
points to draw

4 points (15-20%)
4.5 points + to draw 

3.5 points (50% odds)
4 points + to draw

N/A 

N/A 

Point creep could potentially be higher given the number of applicants in the system in the four to six point range and with zoning of the general hunt into 13 separate zones likely occurring in 2024 . 

In the table below, we break down the top general season units based on trophy potential, harvest success, branch antlered bull success, public land and whether or not the area is within occupied grizzly habitat.

GOHUNT hit list for general season elk areas

Area Trophy potential Harvest success Branch-antlered bull success Number of bulls harvested Public land % Wilderness % Grizzly bear area

56

360”+

26%

91%

71

87%

54%

yes

59

350”+

40%

100%

81

91%

75%

yes

60

340”+

65%

100%

149

100%

100%

yes

12

320”+

31%

63%

199

57%

0%

no

13

320”+

30%

57%

180

74%

11%

no

15

320”+

28%

41%

121

62% 

0%

no

86

320”+

25%

46%

50

96%

0%

possible

87

320”+

33%

39%

69

87%

8%

yes

106

320”+

36%

49%

146

25%

0%

no

94

320”+

30%

51%

202

75%

0%

no

6

310”+

47%

84%

268

16%

0%

no

21

310”+

41%

48%

630

73%

0%

no

67

310”+

31%

99%

397

82%

36%

yes

69

310”+

43%

68%

59

94%

89%

yes

73

310”+

22%

100%

27

96%

55%

yes

84

310”+

25%

59%

106

92%

31.3%

yes

85

310”+

26%

65%

121

93%

0%

yes

89

310”+

27%

49%

116

100%

0%

no

91

310”+

34%

72%

196

61%

0%

no

126

300”+

36%

81%

116

18%

0%

no

70

300”+

29%

100%

122

99%

86.4%

yes

28

300”+

30%

44%

127

83%

29.5%

possible

71

300”+

40%

100%

82

100%

83.6%

yes

102

300”+

31%

55%

212

75%

0%

no

68

300”+

27%

89%

107

87%

7.2%

yes

110

300”+

27%

56%

208

73%

0%

no

128

300”+

27%

60%

47

81%

0%

no

90

300”+

21%

63%

74

100%

0%

no

103

290”+

41%

58%

129

77%

0%

no

81

290”+

28%

100%

125

99%

0%

yes

104

290”+

27%

53%

174

75%

0%

no


THE POINTS SYSTEM

Wyoming works on a preference point system. You obtain a preference point when you buy one from July 3 to Oct. 31, 2023. An elk point will cost a nonresident $52. The maximum number of points for elk is 17 going into 2023. Keep in mind that the youth preference point fee for elk is only $10. This is a great state to start building points for a young hunter.

Wyoming elk preference points going into the 2023 draw

Preference
points
Total
nonresidents

17

891

16

1,022

15

1,155

14

1,401

13

1,746

12

2,326

11

2,728

10

3,268

9

3,850

8

4,799

7

6,181

6

8,117

5

11,157

4

18,264

3

25,148

2

33,694

1

42,191

Total

167,938

Comparing the 2022 point totals with the totals going into the 2023 draw, there was a 12% increase, increasing from 148,962 total to 167,938. That increase is down 5% from what the increase was from 2021 to 2022 at 17%. There are more applicants in the system, but that percentage was not as large as it was the previous year. 

Residents: The Wyoming resident draw process is 100% random for deer, elk and antelope. There are no preference points for residents.


Point creep 

Before I conclude this application strategy article, I wanted to discuss something we continually get questions about every year — pre and post draw. That topic is point creep. As previously noted in this article, Wyoming implemented a preference point draw system for nonresidents 17 years ago and there are thousands of applicants with preference points within the elk draw. As such, point creep is a very real problem. Point creep simply defined is where there are fewer licenses issued than there are applicants and because of that it requires one additional point every year to draw. In addition, in a preference point system like Wyoming uses there are applicants who have been buying and banking points without actually applying for years. Another factor that adds to point creep happens when applicants get tired of chasing a top tier hunt and they change their hunt choice to one that they have enough points to draw. The addition of applicants that have been banking points and/or applicants who adjust their strategy on any given year can further propel point creep. Let’s look at an example.

The Area 16 Type 2 nonresident special elk license required <11 points in 2018. That same hunt required <15 points in 2022. As indicated by the table above, the hunt is continually jumping one to two points per year to draw. This is to say: as you examine this hunt, it’s highly likely that it will require <16 to 17 points to draw in 2023. 

It’s important to note that GOHUNT Draw Odds provide the breakdown of the number of applicants at each point level below the number that it took to guarantee a license in previous years. This feature allows you to evaluate the number of applicants who could potentially be going into this draw at your point level so you can better gauge your chances of drawing a preference point license. Reviewing those detailed draw odds pages for the hunts you are considering is critical. If you choose not to look at the detailed draw odds pages to evaluate your odds for the hunts you are considering, I would suggest that you look for hunts that were awarded at one or two points less than you currently have. 

CONCLUSION 

Elk hunting in Wyoming is good and, in my opinion, a must apply state. Applicants should consider their objective, the number of points they have and review odds for both the special and regular draws. For applicants currently within the 4 to 6 point range, the general season elk license is still one of the best hunts in the West. If you have been building points for a longer period of time, it’s worth looking into areas that have good trophy potential, but still have relatively good odds due to limiting factors like DWAs or private land/access issues. Applicants in this situation should consider going on a guided hunt rather than chasing the best hunts for another decade or more. There are also some units that can still be hunted DIY without a guide; however, you will need to be savvy in your research and, later, with our Map app in the field. 

I would strongly encourage applicants to utilize their Wyoming elk points in 2023. The list of recommendations from the Wildlife Task Force to WGFD has been whittled down some, but the initial recommendations have me fearful that more changes could be coming in the future that may not be favorable to many nonresident hunters. We are also likely to see cost increases over time. If you have points and the time and means to hunt Wyoming this year, I would strongly consider doing so. All the information you need to put a quality Wyoming elk license in your pocket for 2023 is in your GOHUNT Insider account!

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