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  1. #1
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    Draw Odds: Do your own homework!

    As I watch people's reactions after tag draw results come out, particular on Facebook, it continues to show me how often people really need to understand the mechanics of draw they are applying for and how to use historical draw data. Here are a few thoughts and I am sure you can add to these examples.

    LAST YEAR'S ODDS ARE NOT THIS YEAR'S ODDS: Just because a tag took 5 points last year, does not mean you will draw with 5 this year. The only data you have to go on with draw odds is historical information. You don't know what this years odds will be, but you CAN make an educated guess. One technique I use is to look back at say the past 3 to 5 years and directly compare my point position to the tag I want to apply for. Here is a fictitious example:

    2016: With 4 points, 80% draw...I had 3 points
    2017: With 5 points, 70% draw.....I had 4 points
    2018: With 5 points, 20% draw....I had 5 points
    2019: I would project around 70% with 6 points...I will have 6 points

    UNDERSTAND POINT CREEP: My first eye opener with this was when I began applying for Unit 201 for elk in Colorado as a twenty something. That tag took 7 points to draw. I was thrilled that my research had turned up this tag and thought I could draw it 5 or 6 times in my lifetime. It didn't take too many years to figure out that would not happen. After 20+ years I still had not caught that tag and finally decided to have a fun hunt in a unit I could draw.

    OUTFITTERS ARE NOTORIOUSLY BAD AT UNDERSTANDING DRAW ODDS: Of course this is a generalization. I have seen this over and over. Outfitters I've dealt with tend to be great hunters, pretty good with people and terrible with draw odds. Some of the WORST advice I have received on how to apply has come from outfitters. If you think about it, they have hundreds of people asking them about hunts and they will usually give advice that benefits them and brings them clients. They also don't have the time to coach those hundreds of applicants through a solid plan to draw a tag they can actually draw. They also don't tend to be up to speed on issues like point creep or backlog of applicants waiting for a particular tag. An example...just this morning an outfitter recommend that a nonresident applicant with one less than max points in Arizona should apply for the Strip. My jaw dropped when I saw that. That guy's odds last year would have been 0.3% to 0.8% for the Strip rifle tags. Even if he had just one more point (max points, 22 points) the backlog is still something like 20 years before that point pool draws out. So think about it, that guy likely has a 25+ year wait for a Strip tag. With better advice, he would draw the third best tag in the state THIS YEAR on the best moisture year the state has seen in a quarter century. [Note: If that applicant didn't have their AZ hunter safety point, I would first recommend he get that and be in the max point pool].

    I personally have an outfitter I talk to in Arizona each year and he consistently advises me to apply for the early rifle elk tag in the unit he guides in. I could draw the archery tag and yet he tells me to hold out for the early rifle tag. On years I have other plans, I do apply for the early rifle tag, understanding my odds are awful and I will get my point. I know from my homework that even with my 21 points, and being only a few points behind that early rifle tag, that I am 10 to 15 years out for that tag.

    Another outfitter I talk to in Arizona regularly tells me to apply for the best archery tag in the state. He is absolutely convinced I will draw. There is NO tag in the bonus pool and my odds are dismal and always will be unless something changes.

    The point being, I understand my draw odds, but many people just follow an outfitters advice because they are an "expert". Remember, their expertise is outfitting hunters, not necessarily drawing tags.

    HISTORICALLY "MAGAZINES" HAVE HAD POOR STATISTICAL INFORMATION: This has DEFINITELY changed for the better the past few years as hunters want true draw odds and certain companies are building on that desire for accurate information. One magazine I am very favorable towards, had the worst draw odd information you could imagine for well over a decade. That magazine was originally built on intel for just a handful of prime tags that just a few people would actually draw and gave inflated draw odds. You would be well served to verify the odds with the data you can get from the state you are applying in.

    A LOT OF APPLICANTS APPLY FOR TAGS THEY HAVE NO OR ALMOST NO CHANCE OF DRAWING: The other day I saw a post from a nonresident asking a Wyoming outfitter about applying for sheep in his area. Before the outfitter could reply I gave him the sobering reality. He had around a 1 in 500 chance of drawing in the random pool for a large outlay of cash and there was a 200+ year backlog of applicants ahead of him with points.

    APPLICATION SERVICES: I personally avoid these. They have a large pool of applicants they apply for a limited number of tags. If they think they have a hot lead, they may apply 10, 50, or 100 applicants for these tags. We have had some of our best tags in areas that if 10 more people had applied we likely would have never drawn.

    WASTING POINTS: I often hear of people saying you "wasted" points for that tag. Personally, I would rather go in with 12 points on a tag that takes 10 and draw it on the year I want it (season dates, moisture, moon phase) than be on the bubble and not draw. You often see that on certain years a lot more applicants who have been accumulating points go all in. On those years I like to have some extra point padding and get the tag I want. This year it is phenomenal moisture in many states. In a few years Colorado will move it's dates back and 3rd and 4th rifle will suddenly have a full week advantage on dates. Wyoming may have a mild winter and good moisture and it's a good year for antelope. A lot of these types of scenarios show up.

    My advice, do your homework. Consider if the investment is worth the tag you will draw. Would the money have been better saved for a landowner tag or even an outfitted hunt? Develop a strategy of how to actually draw the tag you are after.
    Last edited by Umpqua Hunter; 05-14-2019 at 11:03 AM.


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  3. #2
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    Good post. However, if everybody took your advice, I think I would draw fewer tags!

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  5. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by LCH View Post
    Good post. However, if everybody took your advice, I think I would draw fewer tags!
    Very true! If you think about it, a lot of advice we give on here eventually affects us negatively, and we would be personally better served to not pass on advice. I actually hold tight to my best strategies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Umpqua Hunter View Post
    Would the money have been better saved for a landowner tag or even an outfitted hunt?
    I am just too stubborn for that at this point in my life lol

    Great write-up!

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  9. #5
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    Years ago I posted pictures of a buck and also mentioned what unit on another website. The game warden told me the next year when I didn't draw that he had received a large number of calls from guys wanting information on the area. Many burning more points than needed to hunt there.
    Wasn't even a huge buck just a good 170

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

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    It is amazing how folks operate. Some are great at playing odds, others just blindly do stuff.

    Many people are just starting to understand that 2nd choice tags will soon be a thing of the past. Too many folks applying for what limited tags there are. So, you are gonna have to apply for the one you want and go with that, as opposed to applying for primo, collecting a point, and then getting the 2nd choice tag you actually wanted. Guys are talking about that on other forums.

  12. #7
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    People are too lazy to do their homework.

    I saw an acquaintance post "what's the party limit in XX?"
    about a dozen people answered, all but one wrong.

    5 seconds on google gave the answer
    15 seconds going to the dept web site and putting "party limit" in their search box brought up the regulation change and date the commission passed it
    Looking at the regs, the change was noted on page 2

    In less than 60 seconds anybody with a finger and internet could have the answer, but no, can't do that.
    Last edited by WapitiBob; 05-14-2019 at 02:53 PM.

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  14. #8
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    All bad advice. Only apply for the most hard to draw tags and cross your fingers.

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    The most important thing is you're guaranteed to draw if you apply for more than 5 hunts in a year.

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    I hope that people don't do their own homework. If everyone puts in for region G it allows me too draw some very good tags with low points. The tag I drew this year was easier to draw because people look to much at success rates and don't do their homework.

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