View Full Version : Big Game Tags in the Western States

Colorado Cowboy
11-06-2011, 06:15 PM
This question is posed to you older hunters...Does it seem like there are less tags available given the way most states now conduct their draws/lotteries?

I have been hunting big game for 58 years in California, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Arizona. It seems to me that every year it takes more preference points to draw tags for most of the good (I did not say bluechip or great) units. When I moved to Colorado 11 years ago, it took 4 or 5 pts to draw an antelope tag in NW Colorado. I have 11 pts now and it takes 15! Same thing for the areas I normally like to hunt in Wyoming. Also very hard to draw some of the X zone tags in California. Forget elk in Arizona where I've killed some great bulls in the past. I'm 70 now and a lot of the areas I've hunted before I will never live long enought to hunt them again.

We keep reading that there are fewer hunters every year. Don't seem like it to me.

11-07-2011, 09:08 AM
It's definitely taking more time and money to draw a good permit! The smartest thing a person can do is move to Western state and become a resident. I get upset by states charging crazy license applications fees to non residents, but what are you going to do?

Colorado Cowboy
11-07-2011, 09:42 AM
I thought the same thing when I moved to Colorado 11 years ago when I retired. Here 40% of ALL tags are set aside for nonresidents. Money talks!! There are exceptions like Desert Sheep which are limited to residents only. Around here we call the problem of more PPTs required each year..PPT creep. Its really bad in the NW corner of the state for Elk, pts needed will soon be up to 20 if they arn't already there. Also a large landowner gets tags without going to a draw situation, which they sell to outfitters, taking more tags out of the draw system, again $$$ talks.

11-07-2011, 10:04 AM
You are correct, Colorado started a landowner permit system, and that started the PPT creep. I can understand the landowner wanting to make money for supporting wildlife populations, but it creates headaches for everyone that can't afford to buy landowner tags. The people with money $$$ can hunt the premium areas in New Mexico, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Montana, and Colorado if you have the cash.

Doe Nob
11-07-2011, 10:22 AM
While only being in the western hunting game the last several years, it seems to be getting worse from what I've seen. Supply is pretty static and demand just keeps going up. I can tell you from going on my OTC hunt in CO this year, I'm more than willing to pay a few thousand bucks for a landowner tag to get in an LE unit. When you charge out of state hunters an arm and a leg for a tag, then figure in what we pay for travel and all the expenses to come out west and how precious a week off work is for most folks, it becomes real easy to justify paying that extra money to ensure you will have a better hunt.

As far as hunter recruitment, it really has nothing to do with that. New hunters and people in their 20's can't afford to take expensive out of state trips. The hunters driving this are those in their 50's who can and will pay big bucks for the good hunts. If anything this hurts hunter recruitment even more as its seen as a rich man's sport and it wouldn't make sense to the average person to apply for anything for 10 years just to try it or pay thousands to get their first chance just to see if they enjoy it.

11-07-2011, 10:31 AM
The bad thing about OTC tags is the locals can hunt when the weather is nice or the situation is right. Plus they can scout the area very cheaply...something a non resident can do.

I have no problem with some buying a landowner tag, it makes sense in a lot of ways. Like you said, gas and time away from family and work are at a premium. If you are paying for something that limits hunters numbers the hunting is bound to be better. I won't drive out west unless it's a premium tag , the moon phase is right, I have the vacation time and money. Hunting with a crowd of people is not a quality experience for me.

Colorado Cowboy
11-07-2011, 12:44 PM
The problem that I have is that I am 70 years old! I can't (and am unwilling) wait for 5 to 10 years to draw a premium tag. Thats why this year I spent upwards of $7500 for a guided wilderness hunt in Wyoming. I will also be spending that much (or more) for another guided elk hunt (landowner tag) in New Mexico in 2013. Luckily I can afford it. I can always get a cow tag here in Co without any problems (and usually fill the freezer), deer and antelope are another story. I have the max PPTs in Wyoming for antelope & deer and will be using them next year....after that it will be a crap shoot!

11-08-2011, 11:29 AM
I should state that Colorado spits percentages of tags between non-residents and residents differently based...on high quality areas. Area that require 5 points or more to draw....80 percent go to residents and 20 percent to nonresident. The other areas, it is still 60/40 split. The numbers show that the high demand areas for non residents are very much in demand....the others not near as much, non-residents are hunting Colorado less in total numbers the last few years.

The cost of landowner tag in Colorado for a resident is cheaper than a non resident, because you still have to buy a state license. It's the same in New Mexico!

I have been thinking of utilizing the landowner tag system myself, to guarantee a better hunting opportunity.

Colorado Cowboy
11-08-2011, 11:54 AM
I don't understand where you got this about a hunting license. The only hunting license Colorado has is for small game. There is no license for big game hunting.

11-08-2011, 12:08 PM
If you buy a landowner tag for mule deer in Colorado for $1000, you still have to buy a $334 deer license as a non resident or a resident $31 deer license. Same thing in New Mexico if you buy a elk land owner tag for $2500 you still have to buy a standard or high quality elk tag, depending on the region you drew.

Colorado Cowboy
11-08-2011, 12:31 PM
You are correct about landowner vouchers, I just looked in the regs. Since I have never got a landowner voucher, I didn't know this. Thanks.

11-08-2011, 01:03 PM
You are welcome! With a will, theres a way to find a good hunting spot!

11-11-2011, 02:36 PM
Colorado preference point creep is out of control with no solution on the horizon. Before the 80 /20 split, they took away all the RFW properties for non-residents. Effectively, they have forced all high preference point holders into very few units, which has compounded the problem. There are some good OTC units in CO, but most of these don't have good road access. If you want to enjoy a quality hunt, there are lots of opportunities. If you only measure the quality of the hunt by antler size, it will take tons of money or tons of preference points.

Colorado Cowboy
11-11-2011, 07:19 PM
You bring up Ranching For Wildlife, which IMHO is a joke and a ripoff. Several years ago 3 of us here in Co hoarded our PPT's for 7 years and got a RFW Elk tag at a large ranch near Craig. The ranch also got us cow tags. Lots of country to hunt and there were only 10 elk hunters there along with about 25 deer hunters. What we should have known was how much hunting pressure was on the ranch before we got there. First 2 days we covered a lot of ground and saw NO elk and only a few deer. I finally shot a 5x5 bull and one of my friends got a cow. We only saw 4 elk during a week of hard hunting. We also got the only elk on the ranch. The deer hunter were about 50%. Went bach during December to try and fill the cows tags and saw nothing. The ranch and the outfitter was no help and the impression we got was we are only doing this so we can get our guided hunts all the tags we need with any season or draw restrictions. I will never waste any more PPTs on RFW tags.