Is there a --yr minimum before chance at draw?


Well-Known Member
Jan 29, 2005
This is a novice question but I am going to start applying for sheep tags. When I see "10 year minimum" before there is a chance to draw, does that mean a state has a rule that you can't draw for a certain amount of time or are people just saying that because the chances are so slim it usually takes at least that long? What states have a rule like this? I ask because I want to start building points but I know I couldn't make the hunt for at least 5-6 years. I know it probably wouldn't happen but if I got lucky as hell and drew a tag somewhere and couldn't go it would be bad.
Here in WI we have to build points to hunt bear. You can buy one pt per year, you also have the option to buy just the point or actually apply for the tag, currently takes between 5 and 9 pts to draw depending on which zone you want to hunt.

Ok great, so when I see minimum preference points needed, basically I have no chance until I have those points.
Ok great, so when I see minimum preference points needed, basically I have no chance until I have those points.

Utah has the points system too. But, half of the tags are given on just the lottery system. I have known people to draw on their first try. On the switch side, some of them were saving points for 15 years.

Best thing is to read how a given state draws for tags. They will normally show the odds of winning too.
Arizona has both Rocky Mountain and Desert Bighorn sheep. Both are on a point system, and probably the second toughest draw in the state behind bison. Like our bison, these sheep tags are once in a lifetime - meaning that if you are drawn & harvest one, you can never draw again for that species in the state.

There is no "year" minimum in AZ. About 10% of tags are set aside for non-resident hunters, while still others are reserved for hunters with "Maximum" bonus points. The majority of tags are available through random draw. While most tags tend to go to those hunters with higher bonus points, some hunters get lucky and draw with only a few bonus points.

"Maximum bonus points" goes up each year. Currently, max points for sheep stands at 20, meaning there are no hunters that have been able to accrue more than 20 bonus points. After the draw later this year, those that were not successful will gain another point and the max will move to 21.

Right now, I have 18 bonus points. While my odds of drawing improve each year, I am still far from a sure thing. There are approx. 200 hunters with 20 points and another 200 or so with 19 points ahead of me. AZ usually has some 70 sheep permits available every year. Approx. 7 tags (10%) are set aside for non-resident hunters, and on average, another 20 or so go to hunters with lower points through the random draw process. This means that 45-50 tags (roughly) are drawn each year by those holding between 16-20 bonus points.

There are some 800 to 1000 hunters holding somewhere between 16 - 20 bonus points for sheep in AZ, with only 45 are being drawn and removed from this pool every year. If you do the math, it suggests that it will be another 20+ years before my odds are 50/50. In all likelihood, I will draw out when I am too old to go into rugged country after them. I will probably end up giving the tag to my son.

I don't mean to paint a bleak picture, but this is reality. Non-residents may have a better chance. I would give AZ Game & Fish a call and find out how many non residents hold higher bonus points. But before you start down this road make sure you can pay the freight. A non-resident sheep tag ran $1,407.50 in 2009. Add the cost of a good guide and you begin to talk real dollars.

I personally don't know of a bighorn/dahl/stone sheep hunt that is inexpensive. Some others exotic or feral sheep hunts (such as Barbary) are available in other states. In you want more info on AZ sheep - just let me know. Good luck to you.
arthurj, I have 10 preference points for sheep in Wyoming. It costs me 100 bucks a year for a preference point. I am still at least 3 to 4 years away from drawing a good sheep tag and by that time I may have to add another year or two. Wyoming allocates a 75/25 split with sheep tags between residents & nonresidents which is better than most states for nonresidents and they will issue maybe 50 or 60 tags this year to nonresidents. The killer is the 13 or 14 year wait and for someone who has 0 preference points the chances are slim. In wilderness areas, if you are a nonresident, you have to hire a guide. The guides I have talked to range from 7,500 to 9,500. Add that to the sheep tag license and you are talking 10,000 minimum. Idaho, Oregon and New Mexico don't have a point system for sheep so you are the same odds as everyone else. If you shop you can hunt Dall sheep in Alaska for about the same money as a hunt in Wyoming. If you can afford it start building preference points in different states and start putting money away for your first Dall sheep hunt up north. :D IF YOU DON'T APPLY YOU CAN'T DRAW. If you draw a tag in Oregon, let me know, I'm a sucker for a sheep hunt. Good luck and keep applying. Walt
I am on year 36 here in Montana, no sheep tag yet. 8 or 9 points whatever the max is and really no more chance of drawing than 36 years ago.
I decided after applying for a rifle tag for 5 years as a resident of Colorado, that I would go for an archery tag. Drew it in 2000 and got a great 8 year old ram. Now I am back in the draw and going for archery again. Spending time on a sheep mountain with a tag in your pocket is a great dream. Consider archery hunts if it can increase your odds.
azsugarbear, very informative writeup, a real eye opener. 70 tags annually and I'm assuming 1 sheep per that correct? Also just curious any figure on the total sheep population in your state?
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