Rocky Mountain Sheep Math

swat8888

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Before I begin pouring over every states regulations I figured I'd ask since I'm sure someone else has already done some of the work. Whether you're willing to share or not is a different story, I'd probably get more information from a rock than a sheep hunter but I'll ask anyway.

I'm trying to go after a rocky mountain big horn and trying to figure out which states offer the best hunts, and the most resonable draw process. I'm not looking for the trophy of a lifetime. I am more interested in a couple states that I can afford to apply every year and that has good odds of getting drawn before next century.
 

Umpqua Hunter

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I've drawn sheep tags in Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming. Apply in every state that you can afford to apply in. If you can afford to apply in every state, you can get your draw odds in a given year up to 5 to 10% by carefully selecting your units. Idaho as a whole has the best odds, but you have to buy a license. You can also hunt an unlimited area in Montana but be prepared for a physical hunt and putting the time into locating a ram before the season starts.
 

Matt Cashell

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MT has a guaranteed license you can get every year. In those units trophy quality is not great, and the season stops when the low quota is filled. If you kill a ram you can not hunt sheep in MT for seven years. If you don't kill you can be at it again the next year.

Other than that, every limited sheep tag in MT has terrible odds, and you are really behind the eightball if you have zero points, now that the points are squared.

ID has a straight-up no points draw, and odds are relatively good. With a little luck you could expect to draw some units in 10 years of applying.
 
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swat8888

swat8888

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Tracking the unlimited areas in MT. Are there any states that do not require you to purchase a hunting license for that season and just let you pay the draw fee? I've looked at AZ and just looked at UT....both require you to buy the license every single year you draw.
 
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swat8888

swat8888

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Looking at NV regs it looks like if you don't draw you don't have to pay the license fee...was this your experience? Or am I mis-reading their regs...which kinda suck.
 

Umpqua Hunter

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You will have a hard time drawing a sheep tag without making a real financial commitment to doing so. For a guy starting out, Idaho is probably the best bang for the buck with all things considered (draw odds, license fees, tag fees, etc).

In Nevada I recall you can have the hunting license fee refunded if you don't draw, but then you won't accumulate bonus points. Without accumulating points your draw odds will be very minimal. Nevada squares their points plus a point for the current year, so imagine a guy who has been applying...for say 20 years...he will have 401 chances in the draw (20 x 20 +1). Without points you will have ONE chance in the draw. If you really want to improve your chances to draw in NV you need to buy a license each year and stick with it.

New Mexico has no point system, so you are in with everyone, but you have to front the significant tag fee ($3000+). I recall you have to buy a hunting license to apply but can have that refunded if you don't draw.

Wyoming, you have to front the tag fee to have a chance to draw. I recall 25% of the tags go in the random drawing. It is also a preference point state, and issues a LOT of sheep tags, so the top point pools are actually drawing out. They keep $100 each year you apply.

Montana, one of the cheapest states to apply in but you still have to front the tag fee. Amazing sheep, terrible draw odds...unless of course you go to the unlimited area. It is a bonus point state, and they square the bonus points, so guys who have been at it for the past 10+ years have by far the best odds.

Oregon, you hafta buy a hunting license to apply, but you can apply for $8 I recall, and pay the tag fee after drawing. There is not point system, so you have as good of odds as the next guy. But for a non-resident draw odds are roughly 0.2% to 0.5%.

Colorado, you won't draw until you have built at least 3 points built up. You have to front the tag fee to apply.

Idaho, you have to buy the hunting license and front the tag fee. There is no preference system, some of the best draw odds. If you stuck with it and applied in the easier to draw units you would have draw odds from 1% to about 8% in a given year.

Utah has very poor draw odds as a non-resident and you have to buy a license to apply. It is a bonus point state, so sticking with it increases your odds.

Arizona, you have to buy the license to apply. You can apply on-line and only pay the application fee, and have your credit card charged if you draw. I recall you can decide to not keep the license, but if you don't, you won't accumulate bonus points and that will create even longer odds in the years to come when competing with applicants who are building points.

One other thought, the popularity for ewe licenses seems to be on the increase, in order to experience the hunt, without the long odds for a ram tag.
 
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Matt Cashell

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Awesome rundown, UH.

Very helpful.

Some ewe hunts in MT have very good odds. You used to be able to get one second choice, but not any longer. People really want to hunt sheep!
 
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swat8888

swat8888

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Sweet, thanks for the run down...exactly what I was looking for. I may stick it out in AZ as I'm military and currently stationed here. They tell me that I can purchase a lifetime license while I'm here and I can be considered a resident for life even if I move to another state....sounds even more appealing for desert sheep draws and especially elk. Think I'll probably do some more research to figure out the terrain in each of those states and then work on Montana just to get the time in....I love being in sheep country, even if the the odds are long and its alot of work..after all that's sheep hunting. Never chased anything but Dall yet...starting to branch out a bit more since the seasons are different, hoping to be able to put two together one of these years.
 

Darin Cooper

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Idaho has several units with 10% or better odds - not the cream of the crop and some would definitely require an outfitter (fly in or looooong horseback trips). Still you can tap into some of these units with 25% draw odds.
 

Above Timber

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I might take some flak for this but, have you considered a ewe hunt? If you have never hunted rocky mountain big horns before it might be a way to get some experience and also increase your draw odds. I know as a Colorado resident I drew a ewe tag after applying for only the second time (one preference point). The same unit takes 6-10 years to draw the ram tags.
 
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