Wyoming General Elk Draw Odds - Fair warning to rookies

TreeWalking

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My grandfather was a meat hunter. Shooting a big bull elk meant it weighed a lot field-dressed. I never heard him mention inches of bone. He would drive from MO to CO with a buddy or two and each shoot a bull elk then as the sun set on the day the last bull was harvested they would toss the game bags in the jeep and drive all night to get back to MO before sunrise so the meat did not spoil. The cost of fuel and the hunting license/tag was cheaper than the cost of good beef plus they got to go play cowboy in the mountains. I doubt anyone else in their county hunted Colorado.

There is not a nonresident hunting today that gets game meat for what beef costs. Not at all-in door to door cost divided by pounds of trimmed game meat. Probably 20 guys hunt CO from that county and as a rural county the population is less today. They do still get to play cowboy in the mountains.

So, yes, there are old guys with money but we aren't packing in three miles from the trailhead carrying 100 pounds on our back. We are hiring guides and outfitters to lug our stuff around and reduce the miles we have to carry heavy backpacks. Or, we are paying to get on private. A few of us are buying auction tags or heading to Africa where you can get in a lot of hunting and shooting for what a middling auction tag for bull elk costs in a decent unit.

Tags, licenses, add-on fees, application fees and credit card service fees are rising faster than inflation the past twenty years. Maybe college costs have risen faster but not much has. The writing is on the wall. Hunting is an expensive vacation as a non-resident and applying in a place like WY is similar to owing a time share where you pay a lot each year whether get to go there or not.

Will non-resident hunters bring a class action suit against Wyoming for the 90/10 change? I am not a lawyer but 1000s of non-residents have seen the value of their decade-plus series of prior payments reduced in value to virtually zero for sheep and moose. Greatly reduced for elk and deer. I think an economist would be able to look at auction tag results for Commissioner tags and infer the value of being drawn for a primo elk unit then compute the impact of sliding back in the point draw bucket and decades in the random bucket. Is easily decades of erosion in the sheep and moose queue in the point draw and seeing odds cut in half on the random draw. What is the value of 15 moose and sheep points? Virtually zero and actually anyone under 20 points is probably at almost $0 in value. Much like a time share, those annual costs to keep your points can infer a negative value to apply even one more year. And so it goes. I have made bigger mistakes in life. I have 3 bull elk racks, a deer rack and 3 pronghorn skulls on the wall from WY but likely no more will be added. Thanks for the memories!
 

HunterJoeMI

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Massive reductions in Mule deer populations, loss of all eastern caribou hunting, and large reductions in pronghorn numbers and corresponding tag reductions for all have also contributed to more focus on elk hunting. Add to that the loss of easy cheap access whitetail hunting in the midwest and you have many spending their money on elk. Elk are now the main focus of dream hunters!
 
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Laramie

Laramie

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Maybe have the discussion on WHY / HOW this happened….
That's simple. The Internet and GPS technology. The first educates and romanticizes while the second enables. A Rookie in the Backcountry was a damn rare occurrence prior to GPS units. The only thing saving us from a bigger problem is very strong elk populations.
 

Jbehredt

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That's simple. The Internet and GPS technology. The first educates and romanticizes while the second enables. A Rookie in the Backcountry was a damn rare occurrence prior to GPS units. The only thing saving us from a bigger problem is very strong elk populations.

Doesn’t hurt that a good portion of these guys couldn’t find Wyoming without turn by turn directions and can’t find elk without an “elk” layer in OnX. Which I’d imagine is in development.
 

LookinforDirt

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That's simple. The Internet and GPS technology. The first educates and romanticizes while the second enables. A Rookie in the Backcountry was a damn rare occurrence prior to GPS units. The only thing saving us from a bigger problem is very strong elk populations.
While I wholeheartedly agree. Population growth and loss of habitat are huge contributors. Since 2000 the population has increased from 282 million to 332 million. 15% increase. 1980 population was 227 million. From 1980 to now, 32% increase in population. im sure the numbers are higher than what the census bureau collects. I don’t think huntable lands have increased over that time and I’m certain there is less habitat. But all those people have been enabled by the technology available to them and sold a dream. Double whammy. I can’t blame anyone for being excited to go hunt elk, deer , or whatever. We all are also.
 

DanimalW

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Would it be a good thing if MT and Wyoming did away with general season tags for nonresidents? And went weapon specific for archery OR rifle, not both. Just curious what others think about that…
 
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Laramie

Laramie

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Would it be a good thing if MT and Wyoming did away with general season tags for nonresidents? And went weapon specific for archery OR rifle, not both. Just curious what others think about that…
Yes it would be a good thing imo. It doesn't fix the system by any means but it would allow for a slightly higher number of tag sales and would fight against point creep a bit. I do think the non-grizzly areas would have worse draw odds though as the majority of non-residents diy in areas with few to no bears.
 

j_volt

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The last two years have been a perfect storm in relation to point creep… free money, jobs everywhere, low interest rates, and the internet/GPS. However, with inflation, deflated mutual funds, and rising interest rates, this increase might stall for a bit. It’s one thing to buy a $50 elk point. It’s a completely other thing to actually buy a tag and go hunting. I do hope people actually start backing out. I will keep sending my dollars to western states.
 
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Laramie

Laramie

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The last two years have been a perfect storm in relation to point creep… free money, jobs everywhere, low interest rates, and the internet/GPS. However, with inflation, deflated mutual funds, and rising interest rates, this increase might stall for a bit. It’s one thing to buy a $50 elk point. It’s a completely other thing to actually buy a tag and go hunting. I do hope people actually start backing out. I will keep sending my dollars to western states.
I would agree with the perfect storm statement but I believe a high percentage of the people who jumped in will see their investment through. I think best case scenario is we see point creep slow a bit. I don't see it reversing without major changes.
 

hunt1up

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Long term there will be fewer hunters and more opportunity again, but this next period of people burning points could be ugly to get through.

I think elk hunting increases have been largely a social media driven trend (I mean how many new spins on a hunt can they have left, it seems even the hosts are getting tired of new Schtick at times.) It will correct/transition and people will move on to something else. I don’t think it is as sticky to most people as it seems.

Three things would help accelerate this point purge and allow people to still use points they’ve built. 1) CO ends unlimited OTC for non-residents during archery and rifle seasons.
2) For all States, no missing an application year or you lose your points.
3) See number 1.
I don't ever see fewer hunters. Here's the point totals going into the draws this year. Looks like a healthy crop of new applicants.

1652969448965.png

A friend of mine said before the draw that "the high fuel prices and high tag prices should help the odds." I nicely explained that he was dreaming. When we're only talking about a few thousand tags there's enough people with the means to spend a few grand on a hunt. The demand far outweighs the supply and always will.

I've gone on an out of state hunt every year since 2006 and really gained full knowledge of all the states' draw systems around 2009-2010. I've personally been very fortunate to draw some pretty good tags since that time so I'm not complaining. But the facts are the facts. Too much demand and too little supply and there's no sign of that going away. That goes for every state, not just WY.
 
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Laramie

Laramie

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I don't ever see fewer hunters. Here's the point totals going into the draws this year. Looks like a healthy crop of new applicants.

View attachment 412373

A friend of mine said before the draw that "the high fuel prices and high tag prices should help the odds." I nicely explained that he was dreaming. When we're only talking about a few thousand tags there's enough people with the means to spend a few grand on a hunt. The demand far outweighs the supply and always will.

I've gone on an out of state hunt every year since 2006 and really gained full knowledge of all the states' draw systems around 2009-2010. I've personally been very fortunate to draw some pretty good tags since that time so I'm not complaining. But the facts are the facts. Too much demand and too little supply and there's no sign of that going away. That goes for every state, not just WY.
Thanks for posting. That is a great illustration for new hunters jumping in to look at. Almost 150k people trying for 7k tags. It doesn't take rocket science to figure out it will take the average guy a long time to get a tag.
 

BuzzH

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Thanks for posting. That is a great illustration for new hunters jumping in to look at. Almost 150k people trying for 7k tags. It doesn't take rocket science to figure out it will take the average guy a long time to get a tag.
7,250 not counting cow/calf and leftover draw.

NR's get over 13K elk tags/year in Wyoming.
 

Elkangle

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When the cost outweighs the reward folks will look else where...5 year investment to still spend 3-4 thousand ? For a general?

Save 20 bucks a week for those 5 years and then take the money you would have spent on the general hunt and see what else you can buy...I think alot of folks would be better off 😉
 

cgasner1

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Would like to see that point chart after the draw would be interesting to see if the higher up guys are dumping out


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Btaylor

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When the cost outweighs the reward folks will look else where...5 year investment to still spend 3-4 thousand ? For a general?

Save 20 bucks a week for those 5 years and then take the money you would have spent on the general hunt and see what else you can buy...I think alot of folks would be better off 😉
In 5 years, 5 grand will prolly get you a sweet combo hunt for jackrabbit and armadillo down texas way with todays inflation ;)
 
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Laramie

Laramie

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7,250 not counting cow/calf and leftover draw.

NR's get over 13K elk tags/year in Wyoming.
Very true but many of those same PP holders are now applying for the cow tags to fill in the years between LE/General tags. I got lucky and drew a cow tag in what many consider a mediocre area. My odds were just over 20%. Same tag was basically over the counter 5 years ago. I think Wyoming is very generous with their elk tags and have zero complaints. My intention is to inform those just getting in the game that it will take long term commitment to get to hunt elk in Wyoming in the future.
 

sneaky

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My grandfather was a meat hunter. Shooting a big bull elk meant it weighed a lot field-dressed. I never heard him mention inches of bone. He would drive from MO to CO with a buddy or two and each shoot a bull elk then as the sun set on the day the last bull was harvested they would toss the game bags in the jeep and drive all night to get back to MO before sunrise so the meat did not spoil. The cost of fuel and the hunting license/tag was cheaper than the cost of good beef plus they got to go play cowboy in the mountains. I doubt anyone else in their county hunted Colorado.

There is not a nonresident hunting today that gets game meat for what beef costs. Not at all-in door to door cost divided by pounds of trimmed game meat. Probably 20 guys hunt CO from that county and as a rural county the population is less today. They do still get to play cowboy in the mountains.

So, yes, there are old guys with money but we aren't packing in three miles from the trailhead carrying 100 pounds on our back. We are hiring guides and outfitters to lug our stuff around and reduce the miles we have to carry heavy backpacks. Or, we are paying to get on private. A few of us are buying auction tags or heading to Africa where you can get in a lot of hunting and shooting for what a middling auction tag for bull elk costs in a decent unit.

Tags, licenses, add-on fees, application fees and credit card service fees are rising faster than inflation the past twenty years. Maybe college costs have risen faster but not much has. The writing is on the wall. Hunting is an expensive vacation as a non-resident and applying in a place like WY is similar to owing a time share where you pay a lot each year whether get to go there or not.

Will non-resident hunters bring a class action suit against Wyoming for the 90/10 change? I am not a lawyer but 1000s of non-residents have seen the value of their decade-plus series of prior payments reduced in value to virtually zero for sheep and moose. Greatly reduced for elk and deer. I think an economist would be able to look at auction tag results for Commissioner tags and infer the value of being drawn for a primo elk unit then compute the impact of sliding back in the point draw bucket and decades in the random bucket. Is easily decades of erosion in the sheep and moose queue in the point draw and seeing odds cut in half on the random draw. What is the value of 15 moose and sheep points? Virtually zero and actually anyone under 20 points is probably at almost $0 in value. Much like a time share, those annual costs to keep your points can infer a negative value to apply even one more year. And so it goes. I have made bigger mistakes in life. I have 3 bull elk racks, a deer rack and 3 pronghorn skulls on the wall from WY but likely no more will be added. Thanks for the memories!
They'd waste a helluva lot more money on an unwinnable lawsuit than they ever would on preference points

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ScottR_EHJ

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Few thoughts

1... one of the biggest generations is retired and well supplied with money...

2...The next biggest generation should be acquiring enough wealth and vacation time to actually go hunting

But that 1st generation is aging out and the 2nd generation is heading for a huge financial hit

Idk if this is good or bad news 🤷‍♂️
All of this is true from what we have seen and heard talking to a LOT of people who have been in the system the bottom end is getting loaded up again. People who were in the middle points wise have been going in on the general hunts just to get out of the trap or they burned on a mid grade unit just to get out. More people burning points, or trying to and then simply buying points or hoping for random is fueling it as well.

Covid changed things as far as the requirements go for vacation time. Will that hold? Who knows.
 
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