Where to land a sheep hunt outside of state draws
For many hunters, a Grand Slam of sheep is the pinnacle of mountain hunting achievement. It’s a highly sought-after goal with a price tag that can be more than an average new home.
Unfortunately for many DIY hunters, there are a lot of regulation barriers that prevent you from being able to accomplish this feat without a guide. While a couple of the hunts can be drawn in state tag draws (like bighorn or desert sheep), Stone sheep must be guided if you aren’t a BC resident and Dall sheep must be guided if you aren’t an Alaska resident of or a direct relative of an Alaska resident (father, son, brother, sister, etc.).
For many, the cost of a sheep hunt just isn’t reasonable. But, there’s a way that sheep can be hunted by playing the draw game like every other tag out there.
While they may not be state draws, there are many hunts drawn through various hunting and conservation organizations that are set up to give opportunities to any hunter. Many of them have as good of odds or better than the western states’ sheep draws, often at a cost very similar to applying for a nonresident tag for bighorn or desert sheep across the West.
I’m one of the hunters who has taken advantage of these draws and come out on top! I’m currently one ram away from a Grand Slam and am confident that the draw process will be my ticket to that last sheep at some point in my life.
Let’s break down some of the best sheep hunt drawings for everything from Stone and Dall to Desert, Rocky, Fannin and California bighorn sheep hunts outside the normal state draws. This will include how some of drawing are designed to have better odds for participants by limiting tickets, making presence mandatory at the drawing, or having qualifications to participate.
A Look at the Odds
Many state draws have thousands of nonresident applicants with very few nonresident tags. The truth is the draw is not in your favor. The raffle tags I will list may have better odds than state draws or at least give you another chance at a tag.
Let’s first look at the types of raffles and the ways your odds may be better by playing the raffle game. I’ll break the drawings down by unlimited draws, special restrictions, draws with limited tickets sold, and draws limited by number of tickets per person.
Unlimited Raffles: These are a standard raffle, where participants can purchase unlimited chances. Tickets are then drawn at random. These often have poor odds because there is no limit to the number of tickets. However, your chances increase by purchasing more tickets.
Special Restrictions: There are many sheep tag raffles that limit participants to increase drawing odds for those who meet requirements. These are the best odds of drawing and are the ones you should look for. Some examples include making it mandatory for the winner to be present at the drawing. Others have specifics such as never having harvested a wild sheep, or eligibility only for those who have taken three sheep but need the fourth. Some require a certain membership level to an organization, such as Life Membership. There are many drawings designed to draw people to an event or reward those who meet the requirements with better drawing odds.
Limited Number of Tickets: These raffles have better odds by capping the potential number of tickets sold. The tickets may often cost more, but you know the odds when you purchase your ticket.
Limited Number of Tickets per Person: These raffles limit the number of tickets each person can buy. This helps the draw odds and puts people on a similar playing field, often giving each person an equal chance in the draw.
The best draws will be ones that have a special restriction, limited number, or combination of both. For example, the Wild Sheep Foundation has a ¾ tag at their annual banquet. The special restrictions are that applicants must have three of the four wild sheep species registered with the club, they must be present to win, and there is only one ticket per eligible person. Additional chances may not be purchased. For those eligible, drawing odds are way better than nearly any state sheep draw.
There are also a lot of opportunity draws that may not require you to meet certain requirements or travel to the drawing, but allow you another place to enter and potentially win. Even with lower odds, you can’t win if you don’t apply. All it takes is one ticket to win. The following is a breakdown of some of the best places to win a sheep tag.
Wild Sheep Foundation
The WSF national convention (Sheep Show) has to be one of the top places to win a sheep tag, with some great odds for those willing to attend the show and participate. There are drawings requiring your presence and drawings that don’t. One of the main drawing attractions is the “<1 Club” – an opportunity for members who have never taken a wild sheep.
When: February 7-9, 2019
Where: Peppermill Hotel and Reno Sparks Convention Center, Reno, Nevada
Cost to apply: Convention Raffle unlimited tickets 1/$20 • 6/$100 • 15/$200 • 25/$300 35/$400 • 50/$500 • 125/$1,000
Following is a table of some of the sheep hunts and tags available, as well as the requirements for each.
The Hunt Expo in Salt Lake City has some of the best odds for winning many big game tags, including sheep. At the Expo, you can apply for over 250 Utah tags and only those who are verified at the show are entered. There are two nonresidents-only sheep tags – desert and bighorn – that are only available to nonresidents who attend. The odds of winning the Zion desert sheep tag last year were 1:1476 and 1:1457 for the Nine-Mile bighorn tag. While still poor, those odds are a lot better than the odds of drawing a sheep tag in the Utah state draw. You can also try for a handful of other sheep tags.
When: February 14-17, 2019
Where: Salt Palace Convention Center
Cost to apply: $5/hunt, plus a hunting license is needed ($65)
Hunt Expo Sheep Hunts & 2018 Draw Odds
Full Curl Society
While at the Expo, you can also attend the Full Curl Society drawing. This raffle was created with the intent of giving more people the ability to go on a sheep hunt by winning one. The Full Curl Society raffles off 11 sheep hunts with both limited, unlimited, and “need to be present to win” raffles. There is excitement in the room since many winners have never been sheep hunting. The drawings are designed to have better odds than most and the venue is one of the best events to land a tag.
When: Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019 11a.m. – 1p.m. MST
Where: Salt Palace Grand Ball Room at the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo
Cost: You must have a membership to apply. Membership comes with tickets – either 3 tickets for $50 or 6 for $75 (limited draw tickets; a max of 6 may be purchased). There are also hunts available in the unlimited ticket draws. Additional unlimited tickets may be purchased 5 for $100; 15 for $250; 40 for $500; or 100 for $1000.
There are drawings you must be present for and drawings you don’t. The table below separates the different hunts and type of draw.
Full Curl Society Hunt Drawings
Idaho Chapter of Wild Sheep Foundation
The Idaho chapter of WSF could possibly have the best odds for winning a sheep hunt out of any event. Aside from often getting the state’s raffle sheep tag, they have a few sheep hunt raffles at their annual banquet as well.
They have a Dall Sheep raffle for Chapter Life Members present at the banquet. Additional tickets cannot be purchased. Life Members present will receive one entry and Centennial Members present will receive three entries.
They also have a Stone sheep raffle that winners need not be present to win. There is a max of 500 tickets sold. The tickets cost $100 each. They can be obtained by calling or mailing in a form found on their website.
When: March 30, 2019
Where: Boise Centre in Boise, Idaho
New Mexico Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation
Two state sheep tags will be raffled off through the New Mexico Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation for the NMDFG. There will be one desert sheep tag and one bighorn sheep tag.
There is no limit on ticket purchases, but the tickets aren’t easy to find. Raffle tickets can be ordered by contacting NMWSF President Bryan Bartlett: (575) 635-3499 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The tickets cannot be paid for over telephone or email. You will have to mail them in with payment. Tickets are $20 each, and there are no discounts for purchasing more tickets.
California Chapter of Wild Sheep foundation
The California WSF chapter has a Mexico desert sheep hunt available for raffle. There is a maximum of 500 tickets sold. The tickets are $100 each and can be obtained through their website. Orders must be received by March 23, 2019. Drawing held April 6, 2019. You do not need to be present to win.
The Grand Slam Club Ovis has an interesting year-round sheep raffle for those who join the Super Slam drawing. In this drawing, they give away 12 sheep hunts throughout the year, as well as 12 hunts for other big game. They hold two drawings a month. You can only purchase one chance and you are entered into all 24 drawings. The cost is $100 per month ($1200 per year).
This may be some of the best odds at drawing a Dall sheep hunt without having to be present to win. The Alaska Professional Hunters Association raffles off a $25,000 credit that can be used with any of the guides affiliated with the organization. They cap the sales of the $50 tickets at 2500, but last year they only sold around 1000.
When: The drawing is held in December at the APHA banquet.
Website: www.alaskaprohunter.org (tickets can be obtained online or by calling the APHA office 907-929-0619).
Aside from organizational raffles for sheep hunts, many states have their own raffles. These state raffles have steep odds, but a great reward. The tags generally have the best season dates and are flexible in the units you can hunt. These are some of the most sought-after sheep tags around, and they can be yours for a minimal price if you’re the lucky winner.
Arizona: The Arizona Super Raffle is a popular raffle where the winner receives a 365-day tag for the species. They offer one of the most coveted desert sheep tags in the world to the lucky winner. The cost is $25 per chance for desert sheep and you can buy as many chances as you like. The deadline for online purchase is July 14 at 10 p.m. Website: www.arizonabiggamesuperraffle.com.
Nevada: Nevada has two different raffle draws available for sheep tags – Dream tags and Silver State tags. The Dream Tag is a sheep tag that can be used in almost any open season in the state. You can purchase unlimited chances. It costs $10 for a Resource Enhancement Stamp (one-time purchase) and $5 for each Dream Tag ticket purchased (plus any online purchase fees). Last year’s draw was open from March 19 – June 30.
Nevada also offers a Silver State sheep tag. In this raffle, there is only one chance per applicant. The price is $25 for desert sheep. These are due with the general tag draw. The winner of this raffle receives the heritage tag (the same tag that gets actioned off). The tag has liberal season dates and a long list of units the winner is allowed to hunt. The deadline is generally mid-April. Website: www.ndowlicensing.com.
Montana: Montana offers a Super Tag for bighorn sheep. This is one of the most coveted sheep tags in the world. Odds are slim, but the reward is incredible. Applicants can purchase as many chances as they want at $5 each. The deadline is typically around June 28. Website: www.fwp.mt.gov.
Wyoming: Wyoming offers a sheep Super Tag. This raffle allows participants to purchase an unlimited number of $10 tickets or you can choose the trifecta ticket ($30) which allows you to pick tags for three species if successful. The winner can hunt the majority of sheep areas in the state. Deadline to purchase is July 1, 2019. Website: www.wgfd.wyo.gov.
California: California offers one of their coveted desert sheep tags through a raffle. Any resident or nonresident age 16 or older by July 1, 2019 may apply. The cost is $6.22 per application and there is no limit on chances. A hunting license isn’t required to apply.
Last year the draw was April 15 – June 2. Website: www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Online-Sales.
As with any sheep tag, drawing odds aren’t in your favor, but there are a lot of options outside of the regular state draws. When planning or budgeting your applications, you may want to look closer at odds and costs and alter some of your application decisions.
You can’t win if you don’t apply. Good luck and hopefully you play it right and find yourself on a sheep mountain next year.