Most of the big game application deadlines have come and gone. Here in Colorado, we’re anxiously awaiting the results. But there’s still one great opportunity coming up that you shouldn’t miss. And that’s the application deadline for deer and antelope hunts in Wyoming.
Wyoming’s deer and antelope deadline is usually at the end of May. In 2022, it’s May 31st by midnight, Mountain Time. Wyoming is loaded with great deer and pronghorn hunting opportunities. Whether you have preference points for this species, or if this is your first time applying, it’s worth the effort to submit an application.
Here’s what you need to know about applying for deer and antelope hunts in Wyoming:
How the Wyoming Draw Works for Nonresidents
If you forget everything else you read here, remember this: you could draw a great deer or antelope license in Wyoming this year! Whether or not you have preference points, you have a shot at drawing a great tag. Here’s how it works…
Some nonresident Deer and antelope licenses in Wyoming are distributed to the highest preference point holders. But some licenses are also distributed randomly. For any given deer or antelope hunt, 75% of the nonresident licenses go to the top preference point holders. Then, the remaining 25% go to the applicants in a random lottery.
What does that mean for you? No matter your preference point level, there’s a chance you could draw a deer or antelope tag in Wyoming this year. In high-demand units, your chances might be very small. If you’re willing to apply in a lower demand unit, your odds may increase. The best way to research draw odds for all big game hunts in Wyoming is with our friends at GoHunt. Join their Insider service to have all that data at your fingertips and easily searchable.
If you plan to apply in Wyoming this year, it’s helpful to know that preference points are averaged among party applications. For example, if you have 3 preference points and your friend has zero points, your group application will enter the draw with 1.5 points.
Finally, if you decide to apply for doe antelope or doe deer licenses in Wyoming, those licenses do not use a preference point system. All doe licenses are distributed randomly.
The Cost of Applying
One of the best things about applying for big game hunts in Wyoming is that your non-refundable expenses are relatively low. When you apply, you’ll be required to submit the full cost of the license up front. However, you will be refunded all but a $15 application fee and a 2.5% credit card processing fee if you’re unsuccessful. Unlike many western states that require applicants to purchase a non-refundable base hunting license, that makes Wyoming a pretty cheap application.
Regular vs. Special License
When you apply in Wyoming, you’ll be given the choice to apply in the regular draw or the special draw. What’s the difference? The special draw is more expensive and therefore, it often has better draw odds. Please note – the special draw often has better draw odds – not always. Be sure to check last year’s draw odds on GoHunt.com to compare the difference between the regular and the special draw.
In 2022, the price of a nonresident deer license in the regular draw is $389 and in the special draw it’s $677. Nonresident antelope prices are $341 in the regular draw and $629 in the special draw.
Is it worth almost double the price to enter the special draw? That’s entirely up to you. Our recommendation is to check the draw odds for each one in the units where you’re considering applying. Then, decide if the potential increase in odds is worth the price of admission.
Where to Apply for Deer and Antelope in Wyoming
One of the great things about deer and antelope hunting in Wyoming is the breadth of opportunity. There are highly limited units with big trophy potential, low hunting pressure and abundant access. Of course these units are the most difficult tags to draw. But Wyoming also has units where the bucks may not grow as big and the access may be a bit more challenging – but draw odds are significantly better. Depending on your goals for this season, there are options for everyone.
Start by determining your goals. Are you willing to work harder or walk further to access public land and perhaps sacrifice some trophy quality to hunt in the next year or two? Or would you be willing to wait several years for the chance to hunt a unit with potentially better quality and access?
Once you’ve determined your goals and your desired timeline, it’s time to see which units might fit the bill. Again, there’s no better way to research all these opportunities than by getting a membership with our friends at GoHunt. They’ll put all the draw odds and all the options at your fingertips.
With your goals outlined, plus a list of potential units that might fit those goals, your next step is to take a closer look at each of those units on the map. Using GoHunt maps or OnX Hunt maps, take a detailed look at all the options. Is there accessible public land? Is there quality habitat for your target species on that public land?
With all that information, you can nail down a unit to apply for in this year’s draw. For more detailed tips on e-scouting and planning better hunts, check out this previous article.
How to Accrue Preference Points in Wyoming
The more preference points you collect in Wyoming, the more doors will be opened to you. If you are unsuccessful in the draw this year, you may purchase one preference point for that species. Unlike some western states, points are not automatically awarded to unsuccessful applicants. Instead, you must log into your account and purchase a point when they go on sale in July. Points go on sale in July and will be available through the end of October.
If you draw a first choice buck license this year, congratulations! Your preference points for that species will automatically be reset to zero. And you may not purchase a preference point for that species when they go on sale.
If you do not draw a first choice license this year, do yourself a favor and purchase a point for each species when the go on sale in July! Then, you’ll have even more options going into next year’s draw.
Gear for the Adventure
Good luck in the Wyoming draw this year, and on all of your big game hunting adventures! As you prepare, check out all the great gear we offer here in the Caribou Gear store. The equipment we choose to carry in our store is the gear that we personally use in the field. From boots to stove systems and everything in between, we’ve used it, tested it and it’s what we recommend.
If you have questions about gear for the upcoming season, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to help you prepare for your next great adventure!
By Ryan McSparran