The Outlook on Coveted Tags in 2018.

Bison

The massive increase in tag cost between 2017 and 2018 (+$1900 bull/$1750 cow) led to predictions of substantially increased draw odds for 2018. If you look purely at the Area 2 bull stats (the only unit that has been open over the past decade), this would bear that out. However, the difference is that Unit 3 had a bull tag for 2018 and siphoned off 234 applicants. With no Area 3 bull tag for 2019, thus blending the 2018 applicants together, it yields a low 2.2% draw versus 1.9% in 2017. For the most part, the substantial price increase only deterred 114 applicants in 2017.

The cow tag price increase did have the intended result. Applicants decreased by 72% and raised draw odds from 2.6% to 15%. If a cow tag in on your radar, apply in Wyoming!

Recently announced is that Wyoming will be assessing a 2.5% non-refundable fee to credit card transactions. This translates into $110/$64 additional cost for a bull/cow tag. Time will tell if real costs will thin the applicant herd for 2020.

Sheep

Applicant numbers were relatively steady from 2017-2018. The game plan in my eyes is that if an applicant has less than 17 points, the only choices are Areas 1-5, since they are the only ones with random tags available for those with less than the requisite number of points to draw.

Photo: Tony Bynum

Which unit to choose? Keep in mind that they basically all will require an outfitter since the majority of these units are comprised of wilderness. This includes Unit 5, as most if not all of the best rams are in the wilderness, contrary to other sources.

I would “go where they ain’t”. Unit 1 had a harvest rate in the 40% range, which should push some applicants to the other four choices. Beyond that, go with which of the other four units the buzz is not talking about. For those with the necessary points, 5, 12, and 19 would have to be in the mix (based on size and harvest %) when choosing a unit.

Mountain Goat

For 2019, Areas 4 and 5 are offering a handful of tags to keep the mountain goat population from creeping into a couple of the classic bighorn sheep units. These will be limited opportunity hunts that will not trigger an applicant’s once-in-a-lifetime mountain goat limitation.

Photo: Tony Bynum

The number of mountain goat applicants increased by about 13% over 2017. This increase has remained steady over the last few years. This is no doubt indicative of the low cost, as there is no point system for mountain goat in Wyoming. Area 1 could be done DIY, but the goats in Areas 2 and 3 are more likely to be in wilderness and/or long distances from trailheads. An outfitter would be the best choice in these units.

Shiras Moose

Much like bighorn sheep, the vast amount of higher point applicants (i.e. point creep) has made it pointless to apply for any moose unit that does not have a random tag. These areas are 5, 24, 25, 26, and 38. Of those areas, 38 hands down would be that medalist and has random draw odds to prove it at 0.2% chance! Any of those units would provide a quality hunt with a great chance of harvesting a bull. The average harvest rate for 5, 24, 25, and 26 is a staggering 96%! All but 25 have a lot of public land. There has been talk of the numbers in those units being slightly lower, but I have some recent reports that would argue that point.

For those with the points, it’s not a secret that the Big Horn units (1, 34, 42) and the Snowy units (38 and 41) are the top picks. A sleeper unit for a big bull? Unit 6.

But wait! There’s more!

Keep in mind, Wyoming has a new 2.5% non-refundable credit card fee on this year’s applications:

Bull bison $110
Cow bison $64
Bighorn sheep $58
Antelope $9
Antelope (special) $15
Deer $9
Deer (special) $17
Elk $17
Elk (special) $32
Moose $50
Mountain Goat $54