Wyoming Preference Points and Draw Systems

November 26, 2022 by DrawScout

Wyoming has a fairly complex application and draw system that includes preference points, regular and special draws, and reduced and full price tags. We’ll dig into the details to help you prepare for Wyoming’s application periods for pronghorn antelope, deer, elk, moose, sheep, goat, and bison.

Pronghorn antelope bucks near Laramie, WY

Application Periods

Wyoming’s application periods open very early in the year, with several beginning January 3rd. The good news is you have some time to get your plans in order — with the exception of Non-resident Elk and spring Turkey applications.

Antelope and Deer applications aren’t due until late spring (typically at the end of May), which gives you some time to make choices for those species.

Bison and Mountain Goat deadlines are usually earlier in the spring — late March or mid-April. Tentatively, Sheep, Moose, and Goat applications will close at the same time.

But non-residents who apply for Elk only have until the end of January to submit their applications, so it’s important to start your plan early in this state. (Resident elk applications aren’t usually due until the end of May.)

To view the latest available application dates, visit the Wyoming Fish & Game department’s website or log in to your DrawScout account.

Preference Point Draw and Random Draw

Wyoming uses a modified preference point system, which makes it a great state to apply in. While Wyoming has a true preference point system — those who have the most points get the tags — they combine it with a random draw. Only 75% of the licenses are allocated to the preference point draw. The remaining 25% are awarded through a random draw.

The random draw takes place immediately after the preference point draw, with all unsuccessful applicants automatically entered. Preference points have no impact in this draw. So while those who build points are rewarded in WY, everyone always has some chance of being drawn.

Preference points are species-specific. If successful in the draw, preference points are reset to zero for that species if your first choice was drawn. Second and greater choices do not use your preference points if drawn.

Because all applicants first choices are considered before moving on to second choices, very few hunt areas are drawable as a second choice. Hunters should consider why an area may still be available as a second choice — poor access, too many tags allocated, etc. — before applying. (Note that this differs from some other systems, such as New Mexico’s draw, where multiple choices are considered before moving on to the next applicant. It is similar to Utah’s big game draw.)

For many species, the preference point system applies to non-residents only. Residents only have a point system for moose and bighorn sheep. Other resident draws are random.

Additionally, reduced price tags do not use a preference point system. If one of these tags are drawn, your points will not be purged. These tags are allocated at random.

You must apply in the draw or purchase a preference point every two years. If you don’t, your existing preference points will be purged.

Visit the Wyoming Game & Fish website for additional information on the preference point system.

Point Purchase Period — Wyoming Preference Points Deadline

Unsuccessful applicants are not automatically awarded a preference point in Wyoming. Points must be purchased during a separate period beginning in the summer and ending in the fall — usually October 31. Points are available to be purchased by anyone who either did not enter the draw for a particular species or who was unsuccessful in the draw.

DrawScout has a special application type for Wyoming. We combine an application with a fallback point purchase. Choose this option and DrawScout will automatically switch to a point purchase if you’re unsuccessful.

Wyoming - Apply for Tag, Purchase Point if Unsuccessful
Wyoming Applications with Fallback Point Purchase in DrawScout

How to Check Your Wyoming Preference Points

Your current Wyoming preference points can be checked in the Wyoming Game & Fish Portal.

You can also track your points for Wyoming and all other states in DrawScout’s Point Manager. Point Manager works directly with our Application Planner to automatically track points for supported states. You can also manually add points for any state and species, so all of your points will be available in one central app.

DrawScout's Point Manager
DrawScout’s Point Manager with Automatic and Manual Point Tracking

Regular Draw vs Special Draw

Wyoming has two separate preference point draws for Antelope, Deer, and Elk: The regular draw and the special draw. You must choose which draw you’d like to enter. Tags drawn in the special draw come with an increased cost. In theory, this increased cost means you have better odds of drawing the tag you’d like in the special draw. A hunt area that takes 10 points to draw in the regular draw may only take 5 points in the special draw.

But it’s important to note that these odds are determined by the number of applicants in the regular and special draws during a given year. It’s actually possible for a special draw to have worse odds than the regular draw if a large number of hunters apply in the special draw for a particular area.  

To accurately estimate your costs in DrawScout, be sure to select the “Special” version of the application you plan to apply for.

Wyoming Special and Regular Applications in DrawScout
Wyoming Special and Regular Applications in DrawScout

Reduced Price vs Full Price Tags

Reduced-price licenses are available for some species and are applied for separately from full-price licenses. Reduced-price tags are typically restricted to cow/calf or doe/fawn. These tags do not use a point system and are allocated at random.

Drilling down further, reduced and full-price applications also offer different Tag Types. These tag types may represent the sex of the animal, boundaries where the tag is valid, or other special restrictions. Before applying, familiarize yourself with Wyoming’s tag types for each species.

Costs for Applying in Wyoming

In addition to an application fee of $15, applicants must also front the full cost of the tags they are applying for and pay a processing fee. If unsuccessful, the tag costs are refunded. The application fee and processing fees are not.

A Conservation Stamp is required if successful. A separate Archery Permit is required if you wish to hunt during an archery season.

DrawScout accounts for all of these different scenarios in our estimated totals.

Wyoming Estimated Totals and Licenses in DrawScout
Wyoming Estimated Totals in DrawScout’s Application Planner

Big Game Draw Results

Wyoming’s draw results are available throughout the year at different times. Sheep, Bison, Moose, and Goat are the earliest results and typically are available in early May. Non-resident elk is soon after in mid-May. Antelope, Deer and resident Elk are drawn in mid-June.

Draw dates are updated in DrawScout each year as they are made available. We use estimated tentative dates before the final dates are released.

Leftover Draw

Wyoming has a leftover draw that takes place mid-summer after all resident and nonresident draws have been completed. While it’s possible to find some tags available in this draw, there’s usually a reason they are still available. Applicants should look closely at the hunt area and tag allocations. It’s likely private land access is needed for many of these tags, which can be hard to come by late in the year.

The leftover draw does not use a point system and doesn’t have an application fee. Applicants are required to front the tag cost and will be refunded if unsuccessful.

Visit Wyoming Game & Fish’s leftover license page for a list of licenses available.

Over-the-counter Tags

Unlimited general license deer hunts are available to Wyoming residents. With this exception, there aren’t many over-the-counter opportunities.

If any tags are available after all other draws, they are released on a first-come, first-served basis shortly after the leftover draw. As with the leftover licenses, if any are available, hunters should consider what factors led to the availability. Seeking hunting permission before purchasing is strongly urged in most cases.

OTC tags will be listed on WGFD’s leftover page.

Organize Applications with DrawScout

DrawScout can help you prepare for all of the application seasons around the country, including Wyoming’s. Check out this article to learn more:

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