Hunt Elk In Wyoming - How To Draw A Tag

Hunt Elk In Wyoming – How To Draw A Tag

Hunt Elk In Wyoming - How To Draw A Tag

Every year, my friends and family often ask me, “How can I get a tag to hunt elk in Wyoming?” I have gained a solid understanding of this process since I now reside in Wyoming and have applied for tags as a nonresident in the past. Considering this, I would be more than happy to share some helpful information about what you need to know if you’re considering an elk hunt in Wyoming this year.

A Brief Overview Of The Process Of “Getting” A Tag To Hunt Elk In Wyoming

Wyoming Resident Elk Tags

Obtaining an elk tag as a Wyoming resident is a relatively straightforward process.

Residents have two options: they can either apply for a limited quota tag or purchase a general tag directly.

It is highly recommended that residents always apply for the drawing of the more coveted limited quota units. Although there is no guarantee of being selected, there is still a chance. In the event that they are not drawn, residents can still purchase a general tag.

It’s important to note that there is no preference point system for residents when it comes to elk tags. This means that everyone has an equal statistical chance of being drawn. However, it is worth mentioning that some of the top-tier units have an extremely low probability of being selected, with less than a 1% chance.

Overall, while it may be challenging to secure a tag for certain highly sought-after units, there are still options available for residents to have the opportunity to hunt elk in Wyoming.

Wyoming Nonresident Elk Tags

Robert K Laird - Elk taken on hunting trip with Soda Peak Outfitters

The drawing system for nonresidents can be quite challenging. Unlike residents, nonresidents cannot obtain over the counter elk tags. Instead, they must go through a drawing process, which can be confusing and overwhelming.

There are two types of draws: the regular draw and the special draw. In the regular draw, you pay the standard price for a tag. In the special draw, however, the price is higher but it gives you better odds of being selected. It’s important to note that even in the special draw, your chances of being chosen for highly sought-after units are still very low.

To add to the complexity, there is a preference point system for nonresident elk tags. This means that individuals with the most points have a higher chance of being selected. In theory, someone with maximum points in the special draw should have the best odds. However, this is not always the case.

In our upcoming article, we will delve deeper into the draw system and provide more detailed information to help you navigate through it.

A Breakdown Of The Types Of Wyoming Elk Hunting Units And Tags

Many of Wyoming’s Elk units are general units and you would need a general tag to hunt these units. 

  • If a nonresident puts in for a “general tag”, they can hunt any of the units in the region they applied for during the open general seasons. 
  • In many of these general units you can buy an archery stamp. This will allow you to hunt during the archery season in addition to the rifle season. 
  • A few of these units also allow you to hunt with your general tag for anterless elk during the late season. 
  • At the time of writing, it takes multiple preference points to draw a general tag for a non-resident in the regular draw. 
  • As I mentioned Earlier, general tags are over the counter for residents.

Limited Quota Archery Elk Units/Tags

There are some units in Wyoming that offer a limited quota archery tag.  If you draw this tag, you will be able to hunt a special archery season that is only open for people with this tag. 

  • This restriction applies to all hunters, resident and non-resident, so hunting pressure for these tags is very low. 
  • These tags are generally easier to draw than the limited quota rifle tags.  In fact, it is possible to draw a few of these units with no preference points for non-residents.
  • After the June drawing there are usually leftover resident tags for these units.  Non-residents can then apply for these left-over tags in the leftover drawing that takes place in July. 
  • The one downfall of the limited quota archery tag is that it is a true archery only tag.  This means that you cannot use it to hunt during the rifle season.

Limited Quota Rifle Elk Units/Tags

The limited quota rifle units in Wyoming offer a you at a chance of an elk hunt in a unit that is managed for more “trophy” animals with lower hunting pressure. 

  • In general, these are much more difficult to draw than the general tags or the limited quota archery tags. 
  • There are a very limited number of units that can be drawn with just one point.  However, these tags usually have limited public access, lower success rates, or lower quality bulls, but they still offer excellent hunts. 
  • While there is always a statistical chance of randomly drawing a tag, most likely to draw a tag in one of the highly coveted blue-chip areas that offer monster bulls nonresidents will need to have max points. 
  • Due to point creep someone who has just started collecting points will likely never draw teose units. 
  • For those that know what to look for, there is still hope.  There are many limited quota units in Wyoming that can be drawn with three to five plus points that offer excellent hunts with a very high likelihood of tagging a monster bull. 
  • Like the general season hunters can buy an archery tag and hunt during the archery season.
  • Hunters with these tags can only hunt in the limited quota unit they drew and no other.

Reduced Price Cow/Calf Units/Tags

If you just want to come on an excellent adventure in the west, Wyoming offers a large number of reduced price cow/calf tags. 

  • The drawing for these tags is separate from the full price tags and many units are guaranteed draws with many left over tags. 
  • This means that many times if you did not draw in the first draw, you could apply for a left-over cow/calf tag and still hunt elk in the west. 
  • In fact, even if you did draw you could still apply in the left-over drawing. 
  • That’s because in Wyoming you could actually end up with up to three elk tags every year.  One full price elk tag, one reduced price tag from the normal drawing, and then you can apply for or buy a left over reduced-price tag.

Conclusion – How To Hunt Elk In Wyoming

As you can see, it will take some research and time to figure out where you want to hunt elk in Wyoming and what type of tag you will need to hunt that unit.  Do not give up hope though.  There is plenty of information out there that will help you find an area and to help you to find out your chances of drawing that unit. The best place to start would be the Hunt Planner on the Wyoming Game & Fish Website.

Please see our article on E-Scouting for Elk

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