What are the differences between Wyoming's regular vs special draw?


Wyoming regular vs special draw, which is right for you? Photo credit: Chris Neville

Around here updates have begun to roll out of the goHUNT office, draw odds are beginning to be updated, and many of us are starting to plan for 2022. With one of the first western big game draws for the year being Wyoming nonresident elk we thought it would be a great time to talk about one of the more important factors of the Wyoming draw - The special draw versus the regular draw. This factor in the draw can throw a big, and expensive, hurdle in the middle of your planning, but the added costs can bring big rewards at times. 

SO, WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SPECIAL AND REGULAR DRAW?

The special and regular draw systems in Wyoming are fairly simple, but complex at the same time. This system essentially allows for a smaller, albeit more expensive, application pool option for hunters who are willing to foot the extra expense. For each hunt code, 60% of the available tags will be available in the regular draw and the remaining 40% will be available in the special draw. From each of the draw’s respective pool, 75% of the tags will be available to applicants with the highest preference point totals with the remaining 25% being drawn at random.

With the special draw, hunters will often find that hunts can be drawn on a full point less, or more, over the regular draw. This can be an attractive feature, no doubt, but the extra costs are high enough that it is smart for applicants to really make a cohesive plan before applying.

What is the cost split?

As I keep mentioning, the cost is undoubtedly one of the biggest factors when considering to put in for either the special or the regular draw. In the following table, we will break down the cost split for all of the species with each of these draw types.

Cost breakdown: Wyoming nonresident Special vs. Regular Draw

Species Regular
draw
Special
draw
Cost
difference
Deer $374 $662 $288
Elk $692 $1,268 $576
Antelope $326 $614 $288

When viewing the above data you can clearly see the big price hike when going to the special draw, particularly with elk. So, is it worth it? In short, yes, but not for everyone. For the most part, the special draw is set up to allow you to draw a tag sooner. This can be a good thing to consider if you have low point values, have other hunts coming up in other states, or are just simply want to jump ahead in line a few spots. But, for a typical budget-minded hunter like myself, I typically look at the money saved as an opportunity to buy another tag while I wait another year or two in Wyoming. This is all personal preference.

Now, if you are indeed someone who is interested in the Special draw there are some things to look at. How much time am I really saving by entering the special draw? The general answer to that is one to two years but there are definitely variances.

For instance, in 2021 it took 7 points to draw a Type 9 archery tag for elk Area 36 in the Regular draw. However, with the Special draw, it only took 1! This is a massive saving! In the time that it took me to draw one tag in the Regular draw I could hunt that twice by going through the Special. Obviously, there needs to be a justification for the money spent during that time but the option is there. 


Wyoming Area 36 Special Draw elk example drawing at 1 point.

Wyoming Area 36 Regular Draw elk example drawing at 7 points.

When the Special Draw might not be the best option...

However, there is also the instance where the Special draw will do nothing but serve you with a bigger bill. In antelope Area 62, the type 2 tag was drawn with 100% odds at the <6pt in the Regular draw while those in the Special draw did not see the same 100% odds until the <8pt level! So, not only they those applicants waste nearly $300 but they also wasted two preference points that could have been working towards their next tag.


Wyoming Area 62 Regular Draw antelope example drawing at 6 points.

Wyoming Area 62 Special Draw antelope example drawing at 8 points.

Conclusion

While researching your odds and hunts for 2022 be sure to check all avenues of INSIDER to ensure you are being smart with your money and your points. Find the hunt or hunts you are interested in and check the data for both of the draw types. ​​Be sure to check out the year-over-year data for the hunt as well to ensure that the odds have been on a steady trend and have not seen any abnormal drops or increases in recent years.

Draw Odds Filtering 2.0 goHUNT 3D Maps Point Tracker

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