Preference Point System Kicks Off for Nonresident Hunters

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Some nonresident hunters say it’s always a good idea to apply for Wyoming elk, deer and antelope licenses – but it is especially important in 2006 for many hunters to get in on the ground floor of a preference point system for those species.

When application periods kick off Jan. 1, nonresident hunters will have the option of purchasing a preference point when applying for an elk, deer or antelope license. Starting in 2007, 75 percent of the nonresident quota – for both the regular and special drawings -- will be issued to hunters with the most preference points. The remaining 25 percent of the quota will be issued in a random drawing from all applicants unsuccessful in the preference point drawing.

There will be no preference point drawing for reduced priced (doe/fawn and cow/calf) licenses. Reduced priced licenses will continue to only be issued by a random drawing. Likewise, the leftover drawing will continue to be exclusively a random drawing. A hunter will retain his or her preference points if drawn in the leftover drawing.

“Over the years, many nonresidents had suggested we start a preference point system for elk, deer and antelope and surveys showed a majority of applicants were in favor of the idea,” said Ron Arnold, Fiscal Division chief for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Preference points will cost adult nonresident elk hunters $50, deer hunters $40 and antelope hunters $30. Nonresident youth will only pay $10 per point for all species. Applicants can either pay for their point in addition to the license fee and be entered in the drawing or purchase only the point to build up better odds for future drawings.

Of course, some nonresidents are already wondering how many years it will take to draw highly sought-after licenses, such as Red Desert antelope and late-season elk near Cody.

"We won’t be able to give you an educated guess until we get several years into the system,” Arnold said. “Judging from hunter reaction when moose and bighorn sheep preference points were started, it is very likely demand for traditionally hard-to-draw elk, deer and antelope areas will increase. But we are sure of this: If you want to improve your chances of drawing hard-to-draw areas you will want to start accruing preference points in 2006 so you do not get behind on your points.”

Many hunters, particularly deer and antelope hunters in eastern Wyoming, will probably opt not to purchase a preference point because their areas are traditionally a sure draw.

Nonresident moose and bighorn sheep hunters are alerted the Game and Fish Commission increased the price of their preference points. A moose preference point now costs $75 and a bighorn sheep preference point $100.

The new nonresident preference point system is explained in the 2006 Nonresident Big Game Application Booklet. The booklets are being mailed to nonresidents who have applied for a big game license in the last two years. All other hunters interested in receiving a booklet should contact the Game and Fish at (307) 777-4600.

Nonresident application periods begin Jan. 1 and close Jan. 31 for elk, Feb. 28 for moose and bighorn sheep and March 15 for deer and antelope.

Resident hunters will be able to pick up application booklets at license agents and Game and Fish offices beginning in January.