Wyoming 2023 Draw Changes Overview Podcast
Wyoming has tons of public land and great hunting for many different big game species. A Wyoming hunting experience should be on everyone’s bucket list. If you were lucky enough to get in early on the point system, you are sitting in a good place. If you started late in the point game, you still have a chance as Wyoming offers 25% of the licenses through a random draw. For an elk hunter who likes to hunt the general areas, you could be chasing elk every two to four years. It is a state we encourage everyone to apply or build points in. If you have any questions about Wyoming, give us a call.
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The draw results are tentatively scheduled for May 18th for non-resident elk and May 4th for bighorn sheep, moose, goat, and bison.
2023 Wyoming non-resident hunting and application information is available. The application booklet can be downloaded on the Wyoming Game and Fish Department website at https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Hunting/WGFD_ APPNARRATIVE.pdf. Exact season dates and license numbers will be established by Wyoming in late April and published in their regulations, which will be sent to all successful applicants.
Wyoming Hunting Applications; Big Game
Wyoming only accepts online applications. The 2023 application period for antelope and deer is January 2-May 31. Online applications will close at midnight MDT on the deadline day. If the deadline date falls on a day when the Cheyenne Headquarters office is closed for normal business hours (weekends, holidays, etc.), online applications received by midnight MDT on the next business day that the Cheyenne Headquarters office is open will be accepted. Fees must be paid in full when the applications are submitted. The deadline to modify or withdraw your online submitted application for deer and antelope is May 31st. Party applications are accepted for deer and antelope. The maximum party size is six. Non-residents cannot apply with residents. Preference points will be averaged and applied to the group application. Draw results will be available on June 15th (pending).
Wyoming is only accepting online applications. You may apply at https://wgfapps.wyo.gov/elsapplication/ ELSWelcome.aspx. The timeframe to apply for elk in Wyoming is January 2-31; for moose, sheep, and mountain goat is January 2-April 17; and for bison is March 1-April 17. Resident elk applications are due May 31st. All application deadlines will close at midnight MT on the deadline day or the next normal business day if the deadline falls on a weekend or a holiday. The deadline to modify or withdraw your online submitted application in 2023 for elk is May 8th and for sheep, mountain goat, moose, and bison is April 17th. Any changes can be made online.
Party applications are permitted for elk with a maximum party size of six. Non-residents cannot apply with residents. Party applications are not permitted for moose, sheep, mountain goat, or bison.
The Department conducts a leftover drawing for all full and reduced-price deer and antelope limited quota licenses remaining after the initial limited quota drawing. The application period for the leftover deer and antelope drawing will be June 19-23, 2023. The results of the leftover drawing will be posted on July 6, 2023. Licenses remaining after the initial drawing and the leftover drawing will go on sale on a first-come, first served basis on July 12, 2023.
Applicants wishing to apply for points only for any species must wait until the July 1st application period. It is a separate application period for this purpose only. You can elect to get a point if unsuccessful for sheep and moose during the regular application period, but you must purchase an elk point in the points only period if you wish to gain a point. You cannot apply for points only during the regular application period. The online application deadline for points only is October 31st.
Details of the Wyoming Big Game Draw
In Wyoming, the elk license split is 84% resident and 16% non-resident, the bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose, and bison license split is 90% resident and 10% non-resident. All applicants’ first choices are considered prior to anyone’s second choice for all species.
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When applying for elk, non-residents can apply for either the regular or special license. Wyoming reserves 40% of the elk licenses for the special license drawing and 60% for the regular license drawing. The special license will cost $576 more, but in return, applicants should have better odds because fewer people are willing to pay the higher cost. The elk licenses are the exact same, and there are no special privileges for special license holders. Top tier units have odds that are nearly the same for the special and regular licenses, but for most units, going into the special draw can help you draw a license a year or two sooner. It may be worth it to enter the special draw in some cases, but in other cases, the increase in odds may be so slim that it doesn’t justify the increased cost. There is no special draw for moose, sheep, mountain goat, or bison.
Wyoming uses a “type” to distinguish between most hunts. A number in the type column indicates a limitation (e.g. sex, species, length of season, type of weapon, etc.) of that license. The three types that you need to be aware of are 1, 2, and 9. Type 1 and type 2 licenses are limited quota full-price any animal or antlered. They are valid for the season and unit listed within the regulations. Type 2 licenses are generally different from type 1 licenses in that they may have different hunt dates or different hunt boundaries within the same unit. Type 9 are archery-only licenses valid during the dates listed within the regulations. Type A are population reduction mountain goat licenses.
With the purchase of the $72 non-resident archery license, many of the type 1 or type 2 licenses will allow you to bowhunt during the special archery season dates prior to the rifle opener. A general season elk license will allow a hunter to hunt any of the 50+ general units during the archery-only season as well as the regular season rifle hunt.
Successful moose or sheep applicants must wait five years to apply for or receive another moose or sheep license or to apply for preference points for those species. Mountain goat is considered a once-in-a-lifetime license. If you have drawn a mountain goat license since 1995, you may not apply again for a type 1 or type 2 license, but you may apply for the type A goat licenses in units 4 and 5. If you harvest a mountain goat in units 4 or 5, it does not count as your once-in-a-lifetime goat for Wyoming. If you have drawn an any bison license and have harvested a bull, you may not apply again for a bull bison license, but you can apply for a female or calf bison license in the following season. Any person who is issued an any bison license and harvests a female or calf cannot apply for a female or calf bison license for five years, but they are eligible to apply for an any bison license in the following season. Any person who is issued a female or calf wild bison license and harvests a female or calf cannot apply for an any bison license or a female or calf bison license for five years.
Wyoming has special licenses for deer and antelope. They reserve 40% of antelope and deer non-resident licenses for applicants who apply for the higher-priced special licenses. The remaining 60% goes to applicants who apply for the regular-priced licenses. The special license and regular license are the same once the drawing is over and you have the license in your hand. No special privileges are given to special license holders. You pay $288 more for the special license deer and antelope draw over the regular draw price. The theory is that fewer hunters are willing to pay more for the special license, so the odds of drawing will be better. There is no distinction between preference points if you apply for one type of license versus another from year to year.
All applicants’ first choices are considered prior to anyone’s second choice for all species. Points are purged for successful first choice applications; however, points will not be purged for any successful second choice applications. In Wyoming, approximately 20% of the total number of deer and antelope tags goes to nonresidents. Draw results will be available June 15th. There are no waiting periods for hunters who were successful in drawing a deer or antelope tag.
Wyoming Hunting Fees
Wyoming requires applicants to submit all of the application fees plus license fees when applying for each species. The non-resident non-refundable application fee is $15 per species. All hunters for all species are required to purchase a $21.50 Conservation Stamp prior to hunting. All applications and licenses paid for with a credit card will incur a 2.5% credit card processing fee. If you want to bowhunt during the archery season dates (where applicable), you will need to purchase the $72 non-resident archery license. This is not required for type 9 archery hunts. Fees must be paid in full by Visa, MasterCard, or Discover when the applications are submitted. Wyoming will credit an unsuccessful applicant’s refund to their credit card following each drawing.
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A hunter safety certificate is required of all hunters born on or after January 1, 1966. Big game hunters must wear, in a visible manner, one or more exterior garment of a fluorescent orange or pink color, which shall include a hat, shirt, jacket, coat, vest, or sweater. This does not apply to the archery seasons.
The minimum age to take any big game animal in Wyoming, except for bison, is 11 years old if they will be 12 years old by the end of the same calendar year. An applicant may apply and/or buy points if they are 11 years old, but also must be 12 years old on or before December 31st of the current year. Hunters under 14 years old must be accompanied by a qualified adult. Hunters must be at least 14 years old prior to September 15th to hunt bison.
Wyoming Hunting Point Structure
Wyoming has a preference point system for non-residents for all species except mountain goat and bison. Licenses are randomly drawn for those two species, and everyone in the pool has an equal chance. Moose and sheep applicants can elect to participate in the preference point system. To participate in the preference point system for elk, you must purchase a point in the points only application period, even if you apply in the draw. You can’t apply for points only during the draw application period. Wyoming’s points only application period is July 1-October 31.
When applying as a group, applicants’ preference points are rounded to the fourth decimal and they enter the draw with that exact number. For example, a group of three applying for elk with the following points, 5, 6, and 2, would go into the draw with 4.3333 points (5+6+2=13/3=4.3333). A group/party is handled as a single application, and if selected, all members of the group will receive a license.
For elk, sheep, and moose, 75% of the licenses will be issued through the draw to the applicants with the most preference points. Following that draw, the other 25% will be drawn randomly among all remaining applicants. This pertains to hunts with at least four non- resident licenses available, where one will be randomly drawn. If there are less licenses than that, there will not be a randomly allocated license. If you have less than max points for any given hunt, focus on hunts that have a random license available. It should be noted, points are not considered in the random draw and a first-time applicant has as good of a chance as anyone to draw.
The maximum number of preference points anyone can have for sheep and moose is 28 going into the 2023 draw. For elk, the maximum number of points is 17 going into the 2023 draw. If you fail to apply for two consecutive years or you draw your first choice, you will lose your points. If you draw your second or third choice for elk, you will not lose your points.
The maximum number of preference points anyone can have for deer and antelope is 17 going into the 2023 draw. If you fail to apply for two consecutive years or draw your first choice, you will lose your points. If you draw your second or third choice on deer or antelope, you will retain your points and you can still purchase a point for the year.
Wyoming Draw Odds
The draw odds we list for elk are split into four categories – regular license random, regular license preference points, special license random, and special license preference points. Moose and bighorn sheep are split into two categories – preference point and random. For the preference point draw odds, if we list that a particular unit took 8 points to draw a license, you may assume that an applicant who applied with more points than 8 would have had a 100% chance of drawing that hunt. The draw odds are based on the applicant’s first choice as second and third choices are only considered after all first choices have been considered.
The draw odds we list for deer and antelope are split into four categories – regular license random, regular license preference points, special license random, and special license preference points. You can see the number of points it took to guarantee a tag or the percentage chance you had with a certain number of points and the random draw odds from 2022. If we list that a particular unit took 8 points to draw a tag, you can assume that an applicant who applied with any number of points greater than 8 would have had 100% chance of drawing that unit. The draw odds are based on the applicant’s first choice as second and third choices are only considered after all first choices have been considered.
A resident or a non-resident who is at least 11 years of age and will be 12 years old on or before December 31st of the current year or has not turned 18 years of age at the time of application qualifies for a youth license. Non-resident youth application fees are $290 for elk and $115 for cow elk. There are no discounted fees for youth for a moose, sheep, mountain goat, or bison license. Youth can also build points for only $10 for elk. The adult point fee applies to sheep and moose. The Commission may issue elk, deer, antelope, and turkey licenses each year for the exclusive distribution by non-profit charitable organizations for use by persons 20 years of age or younger with life-threatening illnesses. For more information, call 307-777-4674.
Residents and non-residents who are at least 11 years of age and who have not turned 18 years of age at the time of application qualify for a “Youth License.” The license is now valid so long as the youth turns 12 in the same calendar year. Non-resident youth application fees are $125 for deer, $34 for doe/fawn deer, $125 for antelope, and $34 for doe/fawn antelope. Youth can also build points for only $10 for deer and antelope. The Commission may issue antelope and deer tags each year for the exclusive distribution by nonprofit charitable organizations for use by persons 20 years of age or younger with life-threatening illnesses. For more information, call 307-777-4674.
Bows must not have less than 40-pound draw weight for hunting bighorn sheep and mountain goat. For elk, moose, and bison, hunters must be equipped with bows with no less than 50-pound draw weight. Crossbows are legal during archery season. A crossbow must have a draw weight of at least 90 pounds and a bolt of at least 16 inches in length. Broadheads must be a minimum of 7/8 inches when fully expanded. Fully automatic firearms are prohibited, while silencers may be used.
When hunting deer or antelope, bows must not have less than a 40-pound draw weight. Crossbows are legal during archery season. A crossbow must have a draw weight of at least 90 pounds and a bolt of at least 16 inches in length. Broadheads for either a bow or crossbow must have a fixed or expandable head that when fully expanded cannot pass through a 7/8″ ring. A muzzleloading rifle must be at least .40 caliber or larger and fire an expanding point bullet using at least 50 grains of black powder or its equivalent. Magnifying scopes are legal for crossbows and muzzleloaders.
Other Tag Opportunities
Wyoming issues resident and non-resident landowner tags for elk. They are only transferable to a member of the landowner’s immediate family.
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Wyoming has two raffle tag programs. The Super Tag raffle offers a chance for an individual to draw a bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goat, bison, elk, deer, black bear, wolf, mountain lion, or antelope license. One license will be issued to the winner of the raffle drawing for each species upon submission of the appropriate license fees. The Super Tag Trifecta raffle allows one winner to purchase up to three different licenses from the preceding list of species. Winners of the Super Tag and Super Tag Trifecta raffles may hunt in any open unit in which their license is valid and during an established hunting season, with one exception – the Super Tag and Super Tag Trifecta licenses will not be valid in any moose hunt area with a total quota of 10 or less antlered or any moose licenses or in any bighorn sheep hunt area with a total quota of 8 or less full-price bighorn sheep licenses. Winners of either raffle will not be subject to waiting period restrictions or lifetime restrictions, and these tags will not affect preference points or license issuance through the regular draw process. These raffle tags may also be used in addition to a successful draw license.
New in 2022, raffle chances will be sold until January 31st, a much earlier deadline than previous years. An unlimited number of chances may be purchased for the Super Tag raffle at $10 a chance and for the Super Tag Trifecta raffle at $30 a chance. Winners will be announced on February 15th. Raffle tags are not transferable, and no preference will be given to residents or non-residents. Youths who purchase competitive raffle chances must meet the age requirements, the same as if they were applying in the draw. The Wyoming Super Tag raffle has raised $7.6 million since its inception.
Wyoming has a Commission Tag program for elk tags. Commission elk tags are granted to non-profit groups for auction. The licenses are valid for set units and season dates. Wyoming also auctions off 25 total Governor’s licenses, not to exceed 5 sheep, 5 moose, and 5 wild bison licenses. See Wyoming’s website for further details.
Wyoming will offer all leftover licenses in a second draw. There are no application fees to apply in the leftover draw. All successful applications will be refunded in full. Preference points do not apply nor are they used if you draw a leftover license. Residents and non-residents can apply together in the same party of up to six applicants. Leftover draw results will be posted on July 6, 2023.
Wyoming issues both resident and non-resident landowner tags for deer and antelope. Unfortunately, they are only transferable to a member of the landowner’s immediate family. Wyoming allows holders of rifle licenses for deer and antelope to hunt with archery equipment prior to the rifle season in most units if hunters purchase a $72 archery license. Archery seasons begin two to four weeks before rifle season. Wyoming has Commissioner and Governor’s licenses that are good for antelope, elk, and deer. For more information, go to https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Apply-or-Buy/Commissioner-andGovernor-Licenses.
If you are unsuccessful in the draw, Wyoming will refund that money back to the credit card you used to apply. Be sure that the expiration date is valid through the drawing date. The drawing for deer and antelope is typically the end of June. You may not return a permit, but it may be considered on a case-by-case basis in the warranted case of serious illness, death in the family, or military service.
Wyoming allows license holders to surrender their big game licenses to the Department to be distributed to a disabled veteran or permanently disabled person who uses a wheelchair. The person donating the license will not have their points reinstated.
If you hunt deer or antelope, you may receive a postcard for a harvest survey from Wyoming. You can log on to https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Hunting/Harvest-Surveys or call 800-216-0477 to complete the survey.
Huntin’ Fool offers an online 3D mapping system with various overlays and base map options. Potential hunts can also be found through the interactive filtering tool. All members can access the online map at www.huntinfool.com. Remember that units are different from species to species in Wyoming, so select the unit layer overlay for the species you are wanting to research.
Wyoming has a “Hunt Planner” section on their website. Hunt Planner provides interactive maps, specific hunt information, draw odds, harvest information, and more. It’s a great place to start your research.
Forest Service maps can be purchased at www.fs.usda.gov/visit/maps. For Wyoming Geological Survey maps, call 307-766-2286. For Wyoming BLM maps, go to www.blm.gov/maps or call 307-775- 6256.
Non-resident big game hunters are required to have a professional guide or a resident of Wyoming accompany them if hunting in designated wilderness areas. Be aware of this law when applying as there is a significant portion of wilderness within some units.
If you are operating an all-terrain vehicle in Wyoming on public land, you must purchase and display a Wyoming ORV permit. They are available at most ATV dealerships. For more information, call 307-777-4600.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department offers many public access opportunities via their Access Yes program. This program assists landowners through management of hunters and anglers, providing sportsmen and sportswomen places to hunt and fish and reducing agricultural damage through hunter harvest The main programs utilized for deer and antelope are HMA (Hunter Management Areas) and WIHA (WalkIn Hunting Areas). This program has provided hunting access to over four million private and public acres. See https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Public-Access/ Access-Yes for a current list and to find out how to obtain permission to hunt or fish. You can also refer to the “Wyoming’s Private Land Access Programs” article in our October 2018 issue. Access to some properties may be applied for online similar to a regular hunting application.
Hunters in Wyoming have been trying to manage the wolf population. As of December 14, 2022, hunters had harvested a total of 26 wolves. If you are headed to Wyoming this fall on a hunting trip, we encourage you to have a wolf license in your pocket.