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The impact of Arizona’s 2016 draw change

 

Dave Loescher Arizona strip mule deer
Dave's Arizona Strip buck taken in 2011 with his bow - 220 0/8" gross.

Over the last few years, there have been countless suggestions and proposals with regard to nonresident tag allocations in Arizona. Each suggestion may have been a possible solution and provided hope for nonresident big game applicants, but every suggestion has been shot down or disregarded. Until now. 2015 proved to be a different year. During the September commission meetings, a new proposal was presented and encountered little resistance, leading the Commission to approve it during the final rulemaking changes. These changes were then sent to the governor’s office for approval. The Governor’s Rule Review Council approved the final rulemaking in November and the official changes were effective as of January 3, 2016. But what are these changes and why were they needed?

New and approved changes for 2016

Arizona has long been the land of giant big game animals that all savvy Western trophy hunters want to hunt. Like most states, resident applicants have always been granted the lion’s share of the tags for each hunt code and for all species. Arizona’s draw system is by far the most complex and confusing of all systems in the West. Up to 10% of the tags are distributed to nonresident applicants and if the demand for a particular hunt choice is high, historically, the nonresident 10% quota was likely to be filled exclusively by the nonresident applicants that have accrued the most bonus points. This left little hope of drawing highly coveted tags for the other nonresidents that were not bonus point wealthy or, in some cases, just one or two point levels below the leading group. The unfortunate side of this equation is that when hope is lost, hunters turn away and cease to apply. Yet, starting in 2016, nonresident applicants (regardless of their point status) will have a chance to draw even the most sought after hunt choices — albeit a slim chance.

How will this change affect your chance of drawing a tag?

The new changes will actually be a double-edged sword. To better understand the impact of the change, it is important to grasp the Arizona draw system. For the large majority of nonresidents, the changes are welcome as it ushers in a chance to accomplish what was once only a pipe dream. To the other nonresidents that diligently applied for years to reach the highest point levels or those who are within one point of that level, these changes will cut deep because those that may have been within just a few years of finally drawing may now find themselves waiting twice as long. This is not good news as some of the applicants have been building points for over a decade and may be finally nearing the end of their hunting years. Waiting twice as long could mean that they never get their chance. With these new changes, the current pace of nonresidents being drawn out of the maximum point pools will be cut in half.

So you are telling me there is a chance quote

The 10% nonresident cap will not change. Nonresidents will still receive “up to 10% of the tags.” The first pass of the draw is called the Bonus Pass and distributes the first 20% of the tags for each hunt code for deer, elk, antelope, bear, javelina and turkey. When nonresident demand was high, that is where the 10% quota was filled, leaving no nonresident tags to be issued in the next phase of the draw known as the Random Pass.

After the Bonus Pass, the remaining nonresident tags will be available for the remainder of the draw, or Random Pass. This is where new hope now lies to the masses of nonresidents with less than maximum points. But, you can also understand the frustration that comes to the nonresidents with accumulated points and who were within just a few short years of drawing that guaranteed tag.
 

Arizona's 2016 bonus and random pass draw change
There is no guarantee that nonresidents will draw all of their allotted tags in the Random Draw, so it is possible that the nonresident 10% cap may not be met in some hunt choices.

Although this change is designed to alter the nonresident allocation, it has a very significant impact on the resident allocation as well. Historically, in high demand hunt choices, the Bonus Pass distributed 10% to nonresidents and the other 10% to residents. Now, with the new changes, nonresidents will be limited to only 5% of the total tags available for the hunt choice that is awarded in the Bonus Pass and the resident applicants now get at least 15% of the total tags in the Bonus Pass. What this means is that the residents in the maximum point pools will now be removed at a faster rate in the high demand hunt choices while the nonresidents in the maximum point pools are depleted slower. The Random Pass of the draw will also impact residents. As mentioned earlier, after the Bonus Pass is completed, the remaining tags are issued at random in the Random Pass. In many high demand hunt codes, 80% of the total tags that were drawn in the Random Pass were exclusively drawn by residents because the 10% nonresident cap was met in the Bonus Pass. With half of the nonresident quota now available for draw in the Random Pass, it is likely that residents will draw slightly fewer tags during the Random Pass than before.

In summary

•  Up to 10% of the tags are set aside for nonresidents.
•  The change will only allow up to 50% of the hunt permit-tags that are available to nonresidents to be issued in the bonus pass of the draw.
•  Residents will now get 15% of the total tags in the Bonus Pass.
•  Nonresidents will receive roughly 5% of the tags in the Random Draw (nonresidents may not draw their full 5% of the tags in the random because they are limited to “up to 10%”).
•  Technically, nonresidents could be limited to 5% of the total tags.
•  High point holders will now have a chance in the Random Pass.
•  Now all point levels have a chance.

Overall this change is the lesser of all evils. It will create a sense of hope and excitement and should increase the number of nonresident applicants now that there is a chance for them to actually draw a Strip deer tag (Unit 13A or 13B) or a Unit 9 bull elk tag without a decade or two of built up points. Rather than relying on accumulated points in Arizona, nonresident hunters can now rely on good old fashioned luck!



2015 points breakdown example

Arizona Strip Unit 13B rifle deer – Actual results from 2015

Bonus Pass (First 20% or 14 tags drawn)

•  7 nonresidents were drawn with 18 bonus points
•  4 residents were drawn with 18 bonus points
•  3 residents were drawn with 17 bonus points

Random Pass (80% remaining tags drawn)

•  56 residents were drawn with bonus points ranging from 1 to 16 points
•  0 nonresidents were drawn in Random Pass

Arizona Strip Unit 13B rifle deer 2015 results of draw

Bonus Pass

Random Pass

Point
Level

Resident
Drawn

Nonresident
Drawn

Point
Level

Resident
Drawn

Nonresident
Drawn

18 4 7 18 0 0
17 3 0 17 0 0
16 0 0 16 4 0
15 0 0 15 2 0
14 0 0 14 3 0
13 0 0 13 5 0
12 0 0 12 3 0
11 0 0 11 2 0
10 0 0 10 2 0
9 0 0 9 3 0
8 0 0 8 5 0
7 0 0 7 4 0
6 0 0 6 4 0
5 0 0 5 2 0
4 0 0 4 6 0
3 0 0 3 2 0
2 0 0 2 5 0
1 0 0 1 4 0
0 0 0 0 0 0

 


 

Unit 9 archery elk – Actual results from 2015

Bonus Pass (First 20% or 20 tags drawn)

•  1 nonresidents were drawn with 19 bonus points
•  2 nonresidents were drawn with 18 bonus points
•  7 nonresidents were drawn with 17 bonus points
•  3 residents were drawn with 17 bonus points
•  4 residents were drawn with 15 bonus points
•  3 residents were drawn with 14 bonus points

Random Pass (80% remaining tags drawn)

•  80 Residents were drawn with bonus points ranging from 0 to 13 points
•  0 nonresidents were drawn in Random Pass

Arizona Unit 9 archery bull elk 2015 results of draw

Bonus Pass

Random Pass

Point
Level

Resident
Drawn

Nonresident
Drawn

Point
Level

Resident
Drawn

Nonresident
Drawn

19 0 1 19 0 0
18 0 2 18 0 0
17 3 7 17 0 0
16 0 0 16 0 0
15 4 0 15 0 0
14 3 0 14 0 0
13 0 0 13 5 0
12 0 0 12 0 0
11 0 0 11 2 0
10 0 0 10 5 0
9 0 0 9 6 0
8 0 0 8 6 0
7 0 0 7 11 0
6 0 0 6 9 0
5 0 0 5 8 0
4 0 0 4 11 0
3 0 0 3 11 0
2 0 0 2 0 0
1 0 0 1 4 0
0 0 0 0 2 0

 

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