The application window for nonresident elk tags in Wyoming is coming up soon. Nonresidents can begin their applications on January 1. And the deadline to apply is February 1. That’s a short window. And it doesn’t leave us with much time to do some e-scouting, pick a hunt and submit our applications.
Right on the heels of the 2021 hunting season and during the busy holidays, it may be difficult to wrap your head around planning for the fall of 2022. But if you’d like to hunt elk next year, this is a deadline you shouldn’t miss.
Here are three good reasons you should consider applying for an elk tag in Wyoming:
1. You Could Draw a Great Tag This Year
Nonresident elk tags in Wyoming are distributed in a hybrid system where 75% of the licenses in each pool go to the top preference point holders and 25% are given in a random draw. That means you have a chance (albeit a small one) to draw a great tag this year no matter your preference point level. Just make sure you apply for a hunt that has enough licenses for there to be at least one random license available. The best way to check your draw odds across all the elk hunts in Wyoming is by using the Insider tools from our friends at GoHunt.
It’s important to know that Wyoming averages preference points for nonresident group applications. If you have 3 points and you apply with a friend with zero points, your application goes into the draw with 1.5 points.
Even if you only apply for a long-shot hunt this year, it might be worth submitting an application. Odds may be small. But you could find yourself on a great Wyoming elk hunt next year.
2. There Are a Variety of Quality Hunt Options
One thing we love about Wyoming is the variety of quality elk hunting. If you draw a tag in Wyoming, you could be hunting with a bow, rifle or both. There are great bull tags and cow tags. You could be hunting way up in the high country or out in the sage brush. Do your research and apply for a hunt that fits your goals and expectations.
The easiest option to hunt in Wyoming is the general license, which can be used in any of the general hunt units. General license holders can purchase an optional archery stamp. This would allow you to hunt during the archery season. Then if you haven’t filled your tag, you can return and hunt during the general rifle season. Wyoming’s general units provide quality elk hunting. And having the ability to hunt both archery and rifle season is a great value. But drawing a tag isn’t easy. It will take about three preference points to draw the tag outright. Or as we mentioned above, you could get a general tag in the random draw – though odds are relatively low. Still, if you have zero points and you want to hunt elk next year, it’s certainly worth applying.
In addition to the general license, there are many more options in Wyoming. There are archery-only hunts in many units. There are limited rifle hunts. And there are some fantastic cow elk hunts. No matter your goals or your preference point level, there’s something for everyone. Again, use the tools from our friends at GoHunt.com to find your ideal hunt.
When applying for any elk hunt in Wyoming, you’ll notice that there are two ways to apply – you can apply in the regular draw or the special draw. The only difference is price. Paying more for the special license may increase your draw odds. 60% of the tag allocation goes into the regular draw and 40% goes into the special draw. A regular full-price elk tag costs about $700. A special full-price elk tag costs nearly $1,300. If you’re willing to cough up the extra money to apply in the special draw, you may have better draw odds. Is that worth it? That’s entirely up to you. When you do your application research, check the difference in draw odds between the two.
3. It’s a Relatively Low Barrier to Entry
The third thing we appreciate about big game hunting in Wyoming is that it’s relatively easy to apply and the cost is reasonable – at least in terms of nonresident elk hunting. Of course purchasing a nonresident elk tag anywhere is expensive. But at least in Wyoming, you’re not required to purchase an additional license in order to apply.
When you submit your Wyoming elk application, you’ll be charged the full cost of the tag. If you’re unsuccessful, you will be refunded the cost of the tag. The only thing you lose is a $15 application fee and the 2.5% credit card processing fee. Compared to some other western states, that’s a very reasonable application cost.
The application process is also pretty easy and straightforward. Once you’ve done your research and decided where to apply, you’ll need to log in or create an account on the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) website. Simply follow the prompts to apply.
Purchase Preference Points Next Summer
If you don’t draw a first choice license or if you don’t apply in the draw in January, be sure to purchase an elk preference point when they go on sale next summer. Unlike some other western states, Wyoming doesn’t automatically issue a point in the draw to unsuccessful applicants. You’ll need to log into your WGFD account and purchase one. Points usually go on sale starting in July and will be on sale through the end of October.
If you draw a first choice elk license in Wyoming, you will not be eligible to purchase an elk point in that same calendar year. Otherwise, anyone else can log in and purchase a point for that year. Don’t miss the opportunity, as this can set you up for some great elk hunting in the future.
Preparing for Your Hunt
If you have questions about hunting gear or getting ready for your next hunt, please let us know. We are gear fanatics and we’d be happy to answer your questions. Visit our showroom in Highlands Ranch, Colorado or contact us via phone or email. Click here for our location and contact information. We hope you’re already looking forward to some great adventures next year!
By Ryan McSparran
Ryan is an outdoor writer based in Colorado, and is proud to be a part of the team at Caribou Gear.