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Point Creep: What is it? Can you overcome it? and much more

Point creep when applying for hunting tags

Note: This article was originally published on February 22, 2019.

With application season in full swing, there’s no better time than now to talk about a very serious thing in the west, point creep.

Each year, one of the most common questions we receive is, “why didn’t I draw a tag, last year everyone at two points drew the tag?” or “I had 8 points and it showed 100% but I didn’t draw” and unfortunately the answer is point creep. A few years ago I wrote an article on goHUNT about How to find your next hunt using standalone draw odds on INSIDER. That article showcased how to use our INSIDER research tools to see the big picture of how the draw process went. You can track trends, point creep, weapon by weapon odds, and see how many years it might take to draw a tag... all of which equal the ultimate tools for figuring out how to draw more tags.

For this article, I’m going to focus solely on point creep; what it is, can you beat it, and what it means for your application strategy.

So, what exactly is point creep?

Point creep happens all across the west. Basically, it happens when more people start to apply for a unit (actually entering the draw after building points, the unit is blowing up causing more people to apply with higher point levels, etc.) and there are fewer and fewer people drawing due to the limited amount of tags. Basic supply and demand so a particular hunt is getting harder to draw. Some cases it might only jump up a point, but other units could jump up two, three or even more points in one year. This can even be compounded to a higher degree if the state reduces the number of tags!

Points creep has the potential to jump a lot when you have states that allow you to build points on a point only option for a fee. As those people are not actually entering the draw, so a hunter might think he is about to draw a tag, and then a handful of those people who have been sitting on the sidelines and building points, will jump into the application game and pull a tag. This has a huge impact on draw odds. The best anyone can do, is to offer accurate odds of the previous year's draw and give our members the ability to make the best-educated decision based on trends and showcasing applications by point levels. In the end, draw odds can unfortunately fluctuate and there is no way to predict exactly how much.

In western states that use a preference point system where there are more applicants than permits, you'll see point creep. A hunt that took three points to draw in 2018, may take five or more in 2019 due to all the applicants that were unsuccessful in last years draw at various point levels depending on what top tier unit they were applying in and now they have gained an additional point and might have jumped into applying for the unit you have been chasing.

Can you actually catch point creep?

The most honest answer I can give to you is no, for the most part, you will never catch point creep in units that only give out a handful of tags if you are behind the curve. The only real way that you can beat point creep is if the unit gives out a larger number of tags and/or you are willing to wait it out. But... that all comes down to how old you are and if you want to wait 5, 10, 15 and even 25 plus years. 

But, with that said, there are certain units where point creep can decrease due to applicants applying elsewhere for a plethora of reasons. Some of those reasons might be severe weather (individuals might be worried about burning their points), the state changing season dates, etc.

Father time

Let’s face it, we all are aging, and we all want to hunt. So you could theoretically beat point creep if some of these older individuals nearing maximum points decide to apply in units that take fewer points because might be getting up there in age and decide it's no longer worth it to keep waiting out for a certain unit, so they will jump in another unit where they will be the maximum point holder (causing temporary points creep in that unit), and pick up a tag. So then you could see a decrease in the maximum point level, but not by much. Also, the unfortunate situation is a lot of these people who are near maximum points, could pass away and never draw a tag.

All of these factors above is why when building out your application strategy, it is essential to look at the big picture and you must consider the number of tags given out, applicants at each point level and what the current breakpoint is when it comes to the number of points required to draw the tag you have been dreaming about.

In my opinion, I’d rather hunt more than wait to reach that maximum point level. You will never get those years back that you sat on the fence and just built up points while not taking advantage of OTC hunts, hunting units that take fewer points, or picking up second choice or leftover tag. Afterall… you can’t eat points and they don’t look good on the wall either.

No man's land

When playing the points game across the west, you can also run into the scenario that we like to call "no mans land." You have far fewer points for the top tier units and way too many for the lower point level hunts. So you are years and years away from pulling a tag if you keep on the path you are going down and could have hunted other units that required fewer points several times by now.

Example of points creep


My dad currently has 16 nonresident points for Colorado elk. I recently calculated out how long it would take him to draw one of the coveted elk tags in northwest Colorado in Unit 201 for the early rifle hunt. This unit/season averages four nonresident elk tags per year. So… if everything stayed the same with the number of tags, same draw system, no current high point holder passed away (hypothetically), no applicant switched applying in a different unit, or other high point holders jumped into this unit, he wouldn’t draw the tag until he was 134 years old!

Keep in mind, that number can easily stretch out to a longer wait time. And since 2015, this unit has already jumped up 3 points (or three more years of your life).

On this same note, let's say you just are finishing up college and finally have some extra money to apply. You're 22 years old and started to apply for Colorado's Unit 201 for early rifle elk as a nonresident in 2018. If everything stays the same, you wouldn't draw your elk tag until the year 2190 when you are 193 years old!

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Colorado mule deer example

Here is an example of how things can drastically change for the worst based on the conditions of the deer herd and the decrease in tags under a preference point system.

Colorado mule deer Unit 55, in 2015 your odds of drawing the archery mule deer tag was 100% at 4 points, but in 2018, the draw odds are now 100% at 12 points. This is due to them cutting the nonresident tags from 14 in 2015, to 4 in 2017 and due to the hard winter. So, now more people are jumping at the chance to hunt here with a higher point total.

Some random statistics in this unit:

  • 2015, 9 points was the highest point level that someone applied at
  • 2016, 10 points was the highest point level that someone applied at
  • 2017, took a giant leap and now 5 people applied between 10 and 17 points. The 17, 15, 13 and 12 point holders all picked up all the tags.

So, you are just starting to apply out of state, and you want to hunt mule deer in the famous Gunnison Basin. For starters, you had zero points when you applied in 2018 and are willing to wait it out until you draw a tag. You are currently 35 years old. As of 2018, there were 110 people who applied (including yourself) and seven of those applicants pulled tags at 11 plus points.

We are going to assume that only seven tags are continually drawn each year. How many years will it take until you draw this tag? 

Unfortunately, you will not draw a tag with maximum points until 2034! That equals 16 total years of applying and if you started at age 35, you will now be 50 years old. I've mentioned this a lot before... but was it worth waiting that long to draw a tag? Or should have you looked at applying in an easier to draw unit? Hopefully, you picked up a leftover tag or hunted another state while you waited.

Years of waiting to draw a mule deer hunt in Colorado's Unit 55 for archery

Points Applicants at your
point level and higher
0 32 0 0%
1 13 0 0%
2 13 0 0%
3 12 0 0%
4 8 0 0%
5 8 0 0%
6 7 0 0%
7 4 0 0%
8 1 0 0%
9 4 0 0%
10 0 0 0%
11 3 2 67%
12 1 1 100%
13 0 0 100%
14 1 1 100%
15 0 0 100%
16 1 1 100%
17 2 2 100%

Wyoming example

Point creep is a problem in most states, but it’s particularly rough in Wyoming. This is partially due to demand and the fact that applicants can buy points without even applying. Hunters can throw their application in the mix during any given year, which seems to be happening more now with the improved economy.

On our 2019 Wyoming elk application strategy article, Trail Kreitzer broke down an interesting situation. In Wyoming, there was a 13.6% increase in total preference points from 2018 to 2019. In the last two years, there has been a total of 26.1% increase in total preference points.

Secondly, Wyoming has a preference point system which is now 13 years old. As part of their point system, they allowed hunters to simply purchase and bank points without applying. Convenient as it is, hunters have been banking points for years without applying and in many cases are starting to add their applications to the growing pool and permits are getting that much harder to draw.

Let’s take a quick look at a new applicant to Wyoming. Let’s say they elk hunt in other states and really dream of taking a great bull in one of Wyoming’s limited quota areas, specifically Area 100 Type 1.

For example, Wyoming Area 100 Type 1; moving into 2019, there would be 254 applicants with eight to 13 points. Typically, there are six preference point licenses. At this rate, if you had eight points, you could be waiting 42 years to draw!

Figuring out how many years it will take to draw tags

Tracking draw odds for hunting tags on goHUNT INSIDER

Screenshot of a sample of the data you can expect on a Draw Odds Detail Page.

The standalone Draw Odds page and the detailed draw odds page for a specific unit is the perfect place to calculate how many more years it might take you to draw the tag if you're a few years behind the maximum point level or just starting out. To do this you need to look at how many tags are given out at your residency each year and how many people are currently at your point level and ahead of you. Note: make sure you are looking at an example that allocates tags to max point holders, this will do you no good if you're looking at a unit that only gives out tags randomly to a nonresident due to too few of tags. Each state is different in how they allocate tags.

Also, this will be rough estimate because you can never know how many people have been saving up points and are ready to enter the draw in this unit or how many people are going to switch from a different unit and start to apply in the unit you're trying to draw a tag for, death of applicants, or people switching out of this unit. Also, this example assumes the same people keep applying and not switching over to building points, and that the state doesn't change the tag numbers or how they allocate tags.

We can offer some input that might help you in the future. If you are looking at a place to hunt like Wyoming Area 38 Type 9 and you see 100% at 10 points while you are on a Unit Profile, click on "see draw trends" to jump you over to our detailed draw odds page.

Wyoming Area 38 draw odds on Unit Profile

Next, you will arrive on the Draw Odds Detail Page for this hunt area.

Point Creep on Wyoming Area 38 Type 9

While reviewing the tables, you will see that point creep is impacting that hunt area. It's been taking one additional point every year.

Applications at every point level in Wyoming

Next, if you look at the second table titled "Applications", you'll see there would have been possibly 13 applicants moving into the 10 point level this year. 

Trail just pulled the new report that was released yesterday after the 2019 Wyoming draw results came out and at 10 points, the 2019 draw odds would have been roughly 13% in this unit. There were several applicants that jumped in at the 12 and 11 point range that caused point creep once again.

How to beat point creep?

Stop worrying about "dream units" and just hunt more.

It all comes down to personal preference, but as I stated above, my strategy is to hunt more, so I don't let point creep get in my way. If I know it will take me 10 years to draw a tag, you can bet that I will find a better option. Or I might just cough up that state as a true dream hunt and hunt another state on easy to draw tags while I wait, or pick up leftover tags if that is an option while still gaining a point.

So if this was your dream hunt, hopefully, you were hunting in other states while you waited. But that also is the power of the Draw Odds details page to give you the tools to figure out what to apply for.

Review your draw odds here

Once again, you can't eat points and they don't look good on the wall. There are so many other great hunts out there, which is why I don't chase dream hunts that I know I will never draw. I've talked a lot about my strategies through the years in articles and on podcasts. One of the main points I try to get across is the importance of hunting a certain species as often as possible. The situation I like to paint is someone waiting 15 years to draw a premium archery elk hunt, if you have never elk hunted during that time as you were throwing all your eggs into one basket... are you going to have as successful of a hunt on your premium tag if you have never elk hunted before? You will be behind the curve on how to elk hunt during the rut, how the wind plays a part in your calling setup, etc, etc. The best thing here is to pick up OTC hunts for elk or easier to draw elk hunts in other states while you wait to draw that dream tag.

My strategy is to hunt more and sit out on the sidelines a lot less. I'd rather spend my money on drawing more tags each year, filling my freezer and paying taxidermy bills, than just buying points each year.

And honestly, point creep is only an issue if you let it be an issue. There are so many great hunts across the west, so keep that in mind when you are planning out your application strategy.

The cost of continuing to build points

Think of it this way, if you are just starting to build points, at $52 a year for a Wyoming elk point, in 12 years you would have spent $624 just on points. If it's worth it to you, then continue on your path, otherwise... it might be time to review your application strategy or check out a different state.

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Seth D. - posted 1 month ago on 01-28-2020 01:48:54 pm
Public Lands

If you got on the ground floor, and could afford to keep up points it was a good deal. Unless you died, or had some other life event that screwed up the entire thing.

If you are starting from scratch today, it isn't worth it for high profile (sheep, moose, goat, bison) tags. The odds are you will just donate that money to the game departments. It really doesn't even matter how young you are now. In a state like Wyoming or Colorado that uses preference versus bonus points, the odds are your day will never come. You are better off not buying points and applying for the draws that give away the most non-preference point tags. The raffles are a smoking deal. There are raffle tags that have great odds.

Jacob A. - posted 1 month ago on 01-28-2020 01:10:23 pm

We still have not draw our hunt. We drew our second choice which was kind of the reason we started putting in and waiting for one of the high preference point hunts. When we started the unit we have been putting in for was estimated around 12 points for out of state and we have a 65% chance now with 21 points. Yet I live in New Mexico which has some great areas but most of the time getting a tag is about like winning the lottery.

Gary H. - posted 1 month ago on 01-28-2020 12:57:12 pm

The expectations of those super high point hunts are always high but often times the success rates are low. Its a shame you guys didnt fill your tags after waiting all that time.

Jacob A. - posted 1 month ago on 01-28-2020 12:53:27 pm

So this year going into the Colorado draw for Elk we have 21 preference points. Last year we put in a second choice for an early season hunt in a normal season over the counter unit. We decided to put in the second choice after losing my Uncle last January and we all wanted to go hunt since we had been putting it off most years after very poor over the counter hunts. It is a conundrum we waited for years on a premium hunt only to lose one of the main reasons my Dad and my cousins and all of us started hunting. Yet the unit we hunted was poor. We hiked 10-15 miles a day and saw very few (1-2) legal bulls. For my cousin and I who are in our 40s and in pretty fair shape it wasn't awful but for my Dad who is now in his late 60s it was a pretty miserable experience. we started all this when I was 19, it can be pretty disappointing when you just keep waiting year after year for a decent hunt. I'm glad they have the over the counter tags because we still have some ability to go hunt it may just not be the hunt you want or the hunting that my dad grew up experiencing in Colorado as a young man.

Arron J. - posted 2 months ago on 01-21-2020 10:10:14 am

Gary, my comments clearly upset you and I apologize if that is the case. Thanks

Neil J. - posted 2 months ago on 01-21-2020 07:37:44 am

Points aren’t going away. Too much of a cash cow for cash strapped wildlife depts. They’re actually just getting more expensive. People are still buying them. That’s the real supply and demand here. As long as hunters keep funding the system they’ll likely never get to use (Wyoming, Colorado, etc) points will still be sold. We are sealing our own fate, and the fish and game depts are laughing all the way home about it. Now, Wyoming is charging our NR credit cards the full amount in Jan for a May draw! Gets better every year.

Do what AZ did to curb point creep. Give all applicants a shot with point holders getting most tags. At least it helps but in reality still a long shot.

It boils down to hunting becoming a privilege, not a right...are we ready for that reality? It will be here before we know it.

Gary H. - posted 2 months ago on 01-21-2020 04:45:19 am

Airhead J,

Spoken just like a true jerk-off resident.

Arron J. - posted 2 months ago on 01-20-2020 08:42:38 pm

One of the takeaway points from this article is you can only control what you can control, which probably doesn't get enough emphasis. The decision point creep presents is either to not hunt for 20-30 years while you chase a tag that may or not be reachable. Or, you can get a decent to pretty good tag every year or so. There is so much opportunity to hunt today. One of the biggest bucks on the cover of Eastmans this year was killed on a general tag residents and non-residents can draw every single year. There's never been a better time to hunt than right now. The B&C entries over the past 10 years back that up. Greg H's comment is so spot on. The solution is not a new system that makes it impossible for your neighbor to hunt so only you can. Don't mean to call anyone out, but frick men, go find a way to get it done. If you need to hit the gym to increase your endurance, do it. Figure out a way to become more mentally tough and positive. Commit to do whatever it takes to get the job done this fall. If you don't tag out on an Instagram worthy animal twice a year, enjoy the memories with your buddies and family. That's why we're really doing this. And if you only hunt general tags your whole life, if you put any decent amount of effort in you are going to start having success. It is not uncommon that guys that consistently kill the best animals have hunted the same overlooked low/no point units for years.

We are hunters. Think about that, really think about that.

Greg H. - posted 2 months ago on 01-20-2020 07:43:54 pm

I just recently moved out west and got back into hunting this past season. Mostly because my son who is 21 was interested. I’m 55. With neither of us having ANY points ANYWHERE, there’s no hope for either of us in this system. However, we simply set our expectations accordingly. I live in UT and managed to draw an early season buck deer tag in the unit closest to where I live in my first year applying. It’s a busy unit near SLC, so I limited my expectations. Saw 2 moose, one doe and a porcupine in 4 days of hunting (it was only a 5 day hunt), but it sure beat housework. My son and I also both drew non-res general buck deer tags in MT. Hunted end of the season, just before Thanksgiving and both had bucks on the ground within 2 hrs of the first day of the hunt. One forky, one small 4x3. Neither were trophies by B&C standards, but we have an amazing xperince and story, a freezer full of meat and lots of anticipation for doing it again next year.

All The comments here focus on the “system” as the problem. I’d argue that the whole “trophy hunting” mindset is as much the problem as the systems states have devised to manage it. Hunting should be about hunting, not just some arbitrary measurement system that defines “trophy”. My son and I will hunt general and OTC as long as I’m physically able. We’ll likely put meat in the freezer most years. We may or may not stumble upon a “trophy” some day, but we’ll sure as Hell have memories and experiences that are beyond priceless.

Bill P. - posted 2 months ago on 01-20-2020 06:52:18 pm

I don’t feel that Point Creep is due to fewer tags necessarily. I think it’s more like the draw percentage is just creeping lower and lower due to the increase in the amount of applications being submitted.

There is a way to bring down Point Creep. The state needs to close off the entries to the specific GMU’s that are creating Point Creep. However much this may suck, it is about the only way to let the hunter with long term points use the points. Once the large point accumulation go down re-open the entry to the units. Or... loose the points and go totally random.

The individual states may not like these ideas due to the loss of revenue for a few years.

Just a thought. Thanks for the read.

Seth D. - posted 2 months ago on 01-20-2020 05:49:55 pm
Public Lands

State game departments are not going to ban non-residents, the financials just aren't in those cards. New Mexico made it hell on NR by limiting the number of tags in the non-resident pool. I think that was a great idea, but not sure how that would play out in a state like Wyoming or Colorado where the game department is larger.

Seth D. - posted 2 months ago on 01-20-2020 05:44:19 pm
Public Lands

@ Dillon,

Yes to a point. The problem is that the majority of the hunters that have points in the sheep, goat, moose, bison and limited entry deer and elk units throughout the West are either boomers or the Pepsi Generation (like me). Most guys are sitting on a ton of points, and they will never get into those units. Especially in Colorado and Wyoming that give the majority of the tags to those in that category.

The units don't have the inventory to push 100% of the most senior points holders to a tag every year. So every year there is a backlog of those that don't move up, and those that are at max points and have a low percentage of getting a tag.

I grew up in Wyoming, and I knew several people before the points scheme that had multiple moose tags. In my family both my aunt and my uncle had several moose tags before the scheme started. Neither one hunts anymore, but I knew a lot of guys that had drawn more than 3 sheep tags in the grand old days. I knew a lot of people that complained about them and the majority of them never applied.

My father is 80. He has 17 points for sheep. He is on oxygen full time, and can't walk 40 yards. He isn't going sheep hunting any time soon. I know a lot of boomers sitting on as many points, if not more. This screws up the Wyoming numbers, and there are tons of people holding onto points.

Arron J. - posted 2 months ago on 01-20-2020 10:19:41 am

Gary, you make some great points. Why not just restart everyone at zero and ban NRs in CO? You could require the NRs to pick an OTC unit to hunt in 2020 or forfeit their points. After that, no more NRs.

Gary H. - posted 2 months ago on 01-20-2020 07:08:43 am

They need to force people to use their points. Colorado should be forcing people to loose their points if they draw an OTC tag. Its the only way to reverse this.

Nick J. - posted 2 months ago on 01-19-2020 08:04:07 pm

The points scheme benefits ONLY those who were able to get in the year the scheme happened. Its is an absolute horror show to new and young hunters. We simply decided young hunters should NEVER hunt sheep, goat, bison, moose. And that they should only hunt LE elk/deer once or twice in a lifetime. WE NEED young hunters, yet we have devised the most asinine scheme to stop them from EVER becoming equals. You dont get extra lotto tickets because you played years previous, nor extra slot machine spins because your a year older, nor your own freeeway lane because your parents "got it on" a few months earlier than your neighbors. The point systems in EVERY state are a HUGE barrier to entry, and should be done away with YESTERDAY.

Dillon H. - posted 2 months ago on 01-19-2020 06:36:27 pm
Douglas, Wyoming

People without points hate point systems that’s for sure... as a Wyoming resident we don’t have points for Deer, elk, and antelope. I haven’t drawn a area 7 elk tag in 17 consecutive years that unit averages around 25-30% odds for residents, I also haven’t drawn a 1st choice antelope tag in 9 years in units with 50% odds!!!! No points doesn’t fix anything! I will likely draw my first bighorn tag in Wyoming(with points) before I draw my first limited quota elk tag in Wyoming with out points.

Seth D. - posted 2 months ago on 01-19-2020 06:20:42 pm
Public Lands

Points programs need to go away. I personally think that non-residents should have to apply for every unit they hunt in. In states like Idaho, Wyoming and Montana that have OTC tags for residents and general areas. Even if they did it regionally like Wyoming does with Zones for deer.

The biggest problem with points programs, is that unless you got in on the ground floor you may never hunt or won't hunt very much. We were sold a pill that creates a situation of a guaranteed piece of crap in a box. Sure there is a guarantee on there, but no one knows when that guarantee will ever happen.

I have 7 or 8 points for sheep in Wyoming. I doubt I will ever draw a tag, so this is the first year I have stopped buying points. I had 5 or 6 points before Wyoming got greedy and wanted $100 a point, now it is $150.

I have been thinking the ideal situation would be to turn all the points programs into straight points, and make each point worth 1 point. Do not square points, or cube them. Give half the tags to a public drawing, then half the tags to points holders. That way anyone can compete for tags, but it doesn't alienate those that have purchased points.

What incentive do most of us have to upkeep points programs, when we know that we will never draw a tag?

Another option would be to do follow the Utah and Idaho approach and limit non-residents to one tag application.

Arron J. - posted 2 months ago on 01-19-2020 10:31:00 am

One place to start is for states to stop raffling/auctioning off the best ltd entry/OIAL tags, period. Utah hands 200 of its best tags to a questionable "non-profit" org to auction/raffle off. That's 4000 tags in 20 years that could go to guys/gals diligently putting in the draws. Adding 4000 tags back into the draw would more than put a dent in point creep. There shouldn't be any back door short cuts to the privileged few when regular guys are waiting 25-30 years now for a good tag. We're at a historical tipping point with that type of inequality.

Chris B. - posted 2 months ago on 01-17-2020 08:12:04 pm
Burlington, KY

Great article, but being a guy in no mans land it was a tough read. I got all these points and no friends to share them with! HaHa!

Brian B. - posted 2 months ago on 01-17-2020 08:04:32 pm

@Jonathan S - I think you hit the nail on the head. With access to various information on the internet, youtube channels, forums, and sites like gohunt, it is only making it easier for the average Joe to find western units to hunt in. Making it easier to understand the draw. Making it easier to apply. I know guys who draw very difficult units and sometimes they only hunt it a few days. It blows my mind. Taking an opportunity from a guy who will actually hunt. It is sad....

Scott L. - posted 2 months ago on 01-17-2020 11:35:19 am
Mohave Co., Arizona

Brady, Great article! This is the dilemma of western deer, elk, and antelope hunting. Getting drawn is frustrating, to say the least. So here's a couple of questions. Is it possible for GoHunt to add in somewhere those states that offer OTC hunts? Here in AZ we have the OTC Mule Deer archery-only tag. It's good in any unit, except the Strip (12-13), while the season for that unit is open. Further, I know there are limited entry hunts for elk here, usually, they are a cow tag. Does GoHunt identify those units that would offer OTC tags? Or, is that too dynamic from year to year?

Gary H. - posted 1 year ago on 03-05-2019 11:06:39 am

Its supply and demand. The demand for the top tier units is high and there just isn't enough supply. Increasing the herd to full carrying capacity and allowing the agencies to issue more tags is the only thing that will help at this point.

On you point about making things easier for people to apply I agree that to be partly true. I also think that that is the reason that you see such a swinging success rate. People new to an area are very unlikely to harvest an animal compared do someone who truly knows the area well.

Jonathan S. - posted 1 year ago on 03-05-2019 10:58:29 am

We're being told that the number of people participating in hunting nationwide is dwindling, but point creep is worsening in the western states? Maybe it's becoming much easier for "fewer" hunters to apply for all these coveted tags? While I'm very grateful for the awesome insider knowledge that goHUNT provides, perhaps these online services that do all the research and work for applicants is part of the issue? In the past, it took a lot of personal research and dedication to figure out which species, units, states, weapons, draw odds, etc..., and probably discouraged a lot of the "less dedicated" hunters to put in the time, and actually apply. Now, a few clicks of a mouse and you have all that information at your fingertips....

Sean B. - posted 1 year ago on 02-26-2019 06:10:12 am

Great article and some awesome comments too. At 36 years old and just making my 1st elk hunt happen last year, I'm definitely in the boat of hunt as much as possible instead of trying to bank points until I'm too old to have a good time doing it. I might pick one state/unit/species to bank points for up to 20 years, but other than that I plan on burning points just to get out there and falling back on OTC wherever possible.

Robby D. - posted 1 year ago on 02-25-2019 10:00:42 am

Super informative article Brady, and sobering. This is why I hope people quit lobbying states for more draw hunts. In Idaho, every new draw hunt ruins two OTC hunts in my opinion due to hunter displacement. Better for states to spend our money on habitat improvement and critical range acquisition. Thanks

Seth D. - posted 1 year ago on 02-25-2019 08:48:40 am
Public Lands

I am sitting on points for all species in Wyoming, Montana, Utah and Arizona. I hold points for sheep/goat/moose/bison, and as long as I can afford to keep them up I will. I am not sitting on enough points that at 44 I will ever be guaranteed a tag, especially as a non-resident. But at least for a few more years I will continue to play the game.

Africa is a better deal, Texas exotics, and over the counter units round out the majority of my hunting. There are a lot of fair chase hunts in Texas, but the price is steep.

Think of it this way. If you spend $4000 on enough points to get a Wyoming moose tag, and another $2600 on a tag (who knows what the price will be 20 years from now) you could have hunted moose in Canada a couple of times.

Gary H. - posted 1 year ago on 02-25-2019 07:28:13 am

I am glad I hold a handful of points for almost every species in a bunch of states. If I was getting in on the ground floor right now I would be in panic mode.

In my opinion there should be a 2 day window to buy points. You have 2 days to buy them and thats it. That would eliminate a lot of people purchasing points.

Also, if you enter for a drawing and you dont draw the tag you dont get a point. Simple as that. Enter the drawing at your own risk. No more awarding points if you do not draw. Its the only way to slow the point train.

J R. - posted 1 year ago on 02-25-2019 07:25:46 am
Kemmerer, Wy

Point creep is a mythical beast and an excuse for everyone that does not draw a tag. Go on any forum after a draw and you will find that people will be complaining about it as it is the reason they did not draw. People are sitting on the sidelines building points and then decide to put in, which isn't a bad thing. It allows them to contribute to wildlife monetarily while not hunting. People decide to switch units, which could be driven by magazines or social media. People switching units happens all of the time even in a random draw; but you cannot tell that to people that believe in a lottery. More people applying now then they ever have, there is so much information available online and people are overcoming their fear of coming out west to hunt. A decent solution to moving from the point system, would be have the point cost as the application fee and move the hunt to a lottery. Granted, this may price out some people in an era where hunter recruitment is vital.
Richard C. - posted 1 year ago on 02-24-2019 10:36:58 pm
Ahwahnee CA

After years of building points throughout the west I am finally cashing in my chips. I drew my Nevada elk 2 years ago so I am in the penalty box for the next few years. I drew the best Antelope tag in CA last year and my AZ Archery Elk Rut hunt. I will likely finally draw my Utah Rifle Elk tag this year. I am close on lots of other species in several states. If you don't apply you will not draw. It is expensive, no question about that but worth it in the end. While I was building points I drew Oryx, Elk (2X) and antelope tags in NM with no points system. I regularly hunt in CO in OTC or low points units for elk and deer. All DIY public land. I will turn 70 this year and wake up at night from a reoccurring nightmare that I died leaving points behind. It's not a great system out there but we have better hunting opportunities now than ever before. Don't be sad - Hunt.

Lance V. - posted 1 year ago on 02-24-2019 05:47:36 am
Coeur D Alene, ID

We have OTC hunts that we fall back on every year when we are building points or don’t get a tag during the draw. You can easily get good quality hunts every year for deer and elk and by hunting every year you’ll get yourself ready for when you pull that good tag.
On the OTC hunts, figure out how to out hunt the others in the unit. Get in better shape, key in your rifle platform better, work harder, scout or e-scout ahead of time, etc and you’ll have success every year.
5% of the people punch 95% of the tags, OTC or draw hunts.
I was on a good draw hunt a couple years back and quite a few of the other people I talked with weren’t seeing deer. Just because it’s a draw doesn’t mean you won’t have to hunt the unit.
Robby Denning made this a point in his mule deer hunting book - hunt every year so you can build your skill set for when you actually draw a tag.

matthew a. - posted 1 year ago on 02-23-2019 07:18:50 pm
Sheridan, WY

John D,

Yes, more people are headed west to hunt. There is a movement fueled by social media , pod casts, and the mystique of,the rocky mnts that brining whitetail hunters west. I cant speak for everyone, but I try to do multi state elk hunts as well, only makes since when your driving 5000 miles pulling a trailer.

John D. - posted 1 year ago on 02-23-2019 05:26:41 pm
Lewes, DE

It’s only going to get worse. Shows me again and again why I live Idaho. A fair chance for everyone at a quality tag mixed with opportunity for everyone. And they do it right when they don’t allow you to apply for trophy species and elk/deer. I tell their reps every chance I get, “Please don’t change.” I would like to see when some state hits the tipping point and nails on the PP system.

Here’s a good gohunt article: “How did we get here?” Just a history of the evolution of these systems. There’s supposedly less hunters (nationwide) than ever. Are people just traveling more. Or going to multiple states in a year increasing tag demand?

Zachary H. - posted 1 year ago on 02-23-2019 12:07:54 pm
Rockford, IL

Well put, just go hunt! I’m from northern Illinois also and my hunting buddies jumped ship when it came application time and thats not going to keep me out of the game. Mark let’s have some beers sometime. ;-)

Mark A. - posted 1 year ago on 02-22-2019 09:40:52 pm
Lake Villa IL

I want to clarify. I think everyone should spend there points/money how they see fit. The dream of every common man should be able to experience this has become who has the bigger wallet and who is a cross fit guru. Im not lazy but there is little a non resident who travels from the east coast or midwest can do without spending a minimum of 1500 dollars. Sleeping in the field and making your own meals. I did harvest an elk last year and quartering and packing alone left me junk to drive 1200 miles home. Wyoming should have paid me. I'm joking when I say that but like the housing market I think something is going to give on tag prices. Im so mad I applied again.

Mark A. - posted 1 year ago on 02-22-2019 09:16:40 pm
Lake Villa IL

Eric..... Until people stop buying these over priced and hard to get tags the price and amount of points will continue to go up. Im also new the the out west hunting and agree with your just want to go idea. I drove from Illionois to Wyoming last year and just the fuel was 500 dollars. Wyoming raised there tag prices. New Mexico now the hunting license fee isn't refundable. Until we stop buying and applying they will continue to go up. I have stopped watching football because of the kneeling and the rest of pro sports also. Guess what..... Last I heard its business as usual. It will be the same with the hard to get tags. FYI I applied in Wyoming again.

Eric Hardester_10154334241172157
Eric H. - posted 1 year ago on 02-22-2019 07:58:11 pm
Gilbert, AZ

Why would anyone at lower point levels both putting in for some of those out-of-reach hunts? Do they just not know they true odds of drawing? Are they hoping to get lucky and a bunch of people NOT apply in those units? Curious. I just started hunting a few years ago, so my focus is on going, which much less concern about where I go.

matthew a. - posted 1 year ago on 02-22-2019 07:35:17 pm
Sheridan, WY

Nice article and sound advice. I drew a Reg Gen WY elk tag with 3 points this year. Some folks critize my decision to burn them on a general tag, but I'm just thankful to have a chance to hunt WY.