March 31st, 2014 – Jacob Williams, Guest Blogger
It’s getting close to the time of the year where sportsmen begin pouring over hunt statistics in hopes of drawing their coveted tag. After the drawing takes place in June; we will all be listening to at least a few grumpy friends within our hunting circles who didn’t draw their tag and once again curse Oregon’s draw system. I hope by the end of this article you will have a better understanding of the draw system, or at the very least; better insight into why our draw system here in Oregon is actually better than some states in my opinion.
The Tag “Pool”
In Oregon the first 75 percent of tags are drawn based upon the number of preference points (the more points a hunter has, the better his/her odds become for drawing their desired hunt). The remaining 25 percent are placed in a random lottery drawing, so every hunter that applies has a chance. This means in Oregon you are guaranteed to draw a tag, eventually. If you apply each year your chances of drawing a tag eventually reach 100 percent, this is different from states like Arizona, where your odds increase each year; but never reach 100 percent.
Frustration for a lot of hunters comes into play when they believe they have a tag “locked in” and come to discover they didn’t draw the tag in June. A lot of hunters have the misconception that if a hunt is 100 percent draw at 8 points and they have 5 points, they are guaranteed to draw the tag in 3 years. This simply isn’t the case. A hunter must consider the number of hunters applying, more specifically the hunters that have more points than you. These hunters are keeping you out of the 75 percent pool draw. Consider the hunt selection of 256Y Wenaha for the 2008 season. This hunt was listed as “100% draw” at 13 points (according to one of the “Draw Odds” resources). Even with 10 points, there are still 119 applicants with 11 and 12 points that won’t draw this year. Since only 15+/- tags are drawn in the 75 percent pool, it will take several years before all of the applicants with more points than you draw, and the 10 preference point slot of today becomes the top slot. This means the math of just adding three years to accrue your 3 “needed” points to draw the tag is incorrect, it’s not that simple. There are some exemptions to this rule, their is no preference point system for sheep and goat hunts.
Don’t Waste Your Points
Hunters should be aware of some opportunity within the system; and errors that are commonly made costing hunters their points, and tags. Do not waste your points applying for a hunt as your first choice that you could easily draw as your second choice. By utilizing the method of putting in for a hunt you can easily draw as a second choice you won’t lose all of your points, instead you’ll actually gain a point. Thus increasing your points and still getting your tag (make sure to verify the odds of drawing your hunt as a second choice).
Check, Double Check, and Recheck
Be aware of clerical errors. In 2010 over 200 people applied for hunts they could not legally draw, the odds of this many people making a simple mistake is slim. Some of these errors occurred with people attempting to gain a preference point for sheep and goat hunts, the preference point system does not apply to these hunts. Applying for a tag that cannot be drawn gains nothing.
● People usually apply based on the odds of a hunt from the previous years (if the odds were better last year, they apply this year). This causes some sheep hunt odds to fluctuate year to year.
● Be aware of all the tags available in a unit when you’re applying, there’s no reason to burn your points drawing a “spike only” tag in a unit that offers a tag for “any elk” (big bull or cow) tag available.
Understand Your Chances
Be realistic, understand that some hunts are impossible to draw if you don’t have enough preference points. Like I mentioned earlier, there is always a chance to draw in the lottery, but realize what that chance is. Using one of the multiple draw odd tools available, if a hunt says .1 percent, that means you have a 1 in 1000 chance, which is like saying you could apply for a thousand years in a row and would draw the tag once.
Don’t Waste a Year
If you aren’t hunting this year, buy a preference point! Just because you’ll be out of state or unable to hunt doesn’t mean you still can’t accrue points. There are some great hunt series out there, buying a point is one of the smartest things you can do if you’re sitting this season out. Points are available for multiple hunt series and species.
I would encourage any sportsman to do their own research and be thorough. There are multiple resources available via ODFW, Oregon draw odds books, and multiple websites. Good luck to all of you in the draw and in these upcoming seasons.
About the author: Jacob Williams is an avid outdoorsman originally from Central Oregon. He enjoys the multiple sporting opportunities Oregon has to offer year round, from bowhunting deer and elk, chasing multiple bird species, and fishing Oregon’s river systems for salmon and steelhead. He currently resides in the Willamette Valley with his wife Kendra, and two dogs.