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An informed opinion on getting into sheep/goat draws?

If you think outside the box, including being the trigger puller you open up a ton more possibilities.


Obviously, not everyone is going to have an AK resident buddy, but to the point there are probably a number of ways you can get yourself on a hunt.

Make friends on the forum, go with them on their hunt if they draw a tag. Have you and all your buddies apply and go with whoever draws... etc. I bet your odds of inviting yourself on someones hunt are actually decent... I mean if you are a fun person to be around, have good optics, and are willing to pack out their shit... who is going to say no to that

^ I don't for a second feel that I missed out on something not being the one who took the shot, YMMV
I second this. I do apply for goats and sheep in a couple states as well as hunt the unlimiteds but last year a friend I had teamed up with on here drew a goat tag he had been applying for 27 years and I helped him out on that one. I literally don’t feel like it was any less of an experience with me not being the trigger man. @TheWanderer heres a link to the goat hunt I had a chance to tag along on as well. https://www.hunttalk.com/threads/329-goat-tag-filled.301743/
 
I like these threads because I always struggle with should I or shouldn't I? For me the odds for out of state are just too crazy and I feel like it has become a racket. I do feel like I am possibly missing out when I hear of hunters drawing tags but its just not worth it to me. I did the unlimited sheep and harvested a ram a long time ago. If I really want to hunt sheep that bad again I will do the unlimited. I was applying for mountain goat in 4 states but now I will just apply in Idaho as a resident where I actually have decent odds. The cost of a mountain goat hunt is a no brainer for me compared to out of state draw costs and odds. I am going to just go guided and buy a goat hunt in AK the next few years. I want the diy experience so I will continue to put in for Idaho goat. I already drew Idaho moose so the only thing I would consider for that is a diy Alaska moose hunt. I am pretty much done on the out of state draws. I am already in my mid 50s and really did not get in the game early enough
 
I'm guessing most of those who encourage you to apply/get in the game are older and got in the draw systems near the ground floor. For those of us old enough to do that, it has been a good deal.
However, if someone is just starting the applying process, you have to keep in mind that thousands of hunters are ahead of you with 20 plus years of points. If a state gives the majority of tags to point holders, then you are not in a good spot. Even if they square points, the statistics still don't add up. So if I were you, I'd carefully look at all states and your chances.
I've benefited from the point systems with two sheep and a moose, but I'm old and I don't think I would apply again if I was starting over.
 
Tough question to answer as everyone's situation is a bit different.

There's basically 2 camps of people with thoughts.

1. You'll never draw according to the odds and there's no use starting. Probably true, but between my Dad, Brother, and I we've drawn 2 Montana goat tags, 4 Montana moose tags, 3 Montana sheep tags (1 ram and 2 ewes on waiting periods or second choice). My Dad also drew Wyoming moose and I've drawn Wyoming moose and sheep. I've also drawn desert sheep in Arizona, muskox in AK and oryx in New Mexico. So, if you ask me if its been worth applying for the last 30 years??? Yes. Odd are lower now no doubt but every tag you don't apply for is one you're never going to draw.

2. Save money and hunt. This sounds great by theory but the question is...do you have the time, money, and patience to wait 10-15-20 years to accumulate the funds to do $35-50K hunts for sheep, goat, moose etc? Even if you accumulate the funds, are other "priorities" in those 15+ years going to take priority financially over an expensive hunt. IME, most people DO NOT have the fiscal responsibility it takes to build that kind of war chest for their own retirements, let alone hunting.

I'm sort of hedging and doing both 1 and 2. I'll say this, even when you have the amount of money saved for option 2, its really tough to "treat" yourself to hunts with the price tag of sheep. I can do it with lots and lots of room to spare, but coming from a very middle class background, I'm finding it difficult to part with that kind of money.
1. Considering the odds and looking at what they are now is why I'm not in the game for Elk in NV or UT. I'm already in the pot for AZ so thats an easy decision moving forward. The odds in ID always seem attractive so I suppose I should be doing more research on those units to know if the tag is worthwhile if you get it.

2. Yeah. There's definitely other priorities which is why I asked the question in the first place. Thankfully I have a situation that I can be smart and save for retirement. Its the thought of trying to help my kids with college and saving for that (given the expected cost -- as in totally insane) that makes me hesitate about spending big money on a hunt. Me and a group of friends just put a deposit on a Kodiak blacktail hunt for next year. I suspect once I've done that a Kodiak goat hunt will be quite high on my list.
 
If you think outside the box, including being the trigger puller you open up a ton more possibilities.


Obviously, not everyone is going to have an AK resident buddy, but to the point there are probably a number of ways you can get yourself on a hunt.

Make friends on the forum, go with them on their hunt if they draw a tag. Have you and all your buddies apply and go with whoever draws... etc. I bet your odds of inviting yourself on someones hunt are actually decent... I mean if you are a fun person to be around, have good optics, and are willing to pack out their shit... who is going to say no to that

^ I don't for a second feel that I missed out on something not being the one who took the shot, YMMV
This is my philosophy. Seven goat hunts, four ram hunts, three moose hunts later I found each of of the experiences where I was the helper just as rewarding as the two times I held the tag.
 
I think in reality if you were just beginning the point game you would have to seriously consider a move to a friendly state. AK being the friendliest... chummy even. But you have to play to win and throwing enough poop at the wall is a strategy even if not exactly a high percentage play. It can work but was better a while ago. Ive had 6 goats 4 ram 3 moose and been a tag along on a handful as well. Lots of fun even if not exactly predictable. Sometimes too much poop sticks all at once!
 
Apply everywhere you can. bare minimum, you are supporting wildlife management in the states you apply, which is a good thing.

have drawn 4 sheep. (one was ewe), 3 moose, and 2 mt. goat tags, 1 bison, and 1 aoudad and 1 oryx since starting in 1996 for numerous states.

And drawn primo elk, deer and antelope, bear in various western states numerous times. As long as applying for the big 3, usually a nominal added charge to toss in elk/deer/lope/ibex/aoudad/oryx, etc.

If you can afford to save for a sheep hunt you can afford to apply as well?
 
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Is getting into the draws worth it? Or if I'd just like to do one someday should I just save the money and go on a Canadian or Alaskan hunt?

There's got to be some break point of age at which you enter the draws and how many that you might have some expectation of when you'd draw and how much it will have cost by the time you draw. Compounded with the personal question of will you be able to do that hunt at the age you might draw.

Has anyone ever put some numbers to this?

TIA
In my honest opinion the answer to your first question is no if your 1. Starting out on ground level right now and 2. Your a non resident. You are years behind the curve and the cost isn't getting cheaper. Many States are using the allure of these tags to make a killing. Don't fall into that trap just to realize 5 years down the road your wasting money on a pipe dream. (I speak from experience here) If you decided NV and UT elk odds were not worth the cost then sheep and goats odds are way worse. If you really want to go save your money for a guided trip and put that money to good use instead of making donations to (insert State). Most of these guys that have spoken up have been in the game many years or have failed to tell you most of these tags were drawn as residents.

As far as answering the question in your second paragraph that one is tough. Way to many variables there to get a solid answer. You could get a solid answer in a preference point State possibly as to the number of years required to get to the top of that point pool. Trust me your not living that long! And as someone mentioned and I'm sure your aware of it seems every year a State or two pulls the rug out from under long time applicants. On top of all that these so called big 3 tags seem to dwindle each year in many States. I personally have been invested in one State 17 years and will continue to apply there.
 
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Lots of really good advice here. I think @brownbear932008 has answered those questions very well.

I've applied for the Big 3 in MT for 30 years. I've drawn two goat tags and a moose tag. Probability says I will go to my grave without a sheep tag. I'm fine with that, though I'd love to beat the odds and pull a sheep tag.

As for the question of whether anyone has ever put numbers to this, I have, twice. The first time was in 1991 and I don't think I ever converted that Lotus 123 spreadsheet over to Excel, so it was probably on one of the many floppy drives I tossed around 2000.

The summary was that I better build a long-term plan to hunt the places and species I wanted. Even then, the odds looked daunting. And the cost looked significant, barring some gamblers luck that I drew way before the probabilities said I should. So, I started saving what little money I could earn on side gigs. It took four years to build enough to start the out-of-state gig. I've yet to draw a moose, goat, or sheep tag as a non-resident. I have a lot of points in most states that have point systems for those species and I am likely taking them to the grave with me.

I did a similar spreadsheet in 2007, when WY raised their point fee for moose and sheep. My budget allocations got me in the WY moose/sheep game a few years later than I did for other states/species, so I had 7 points at that time. I looked at how many people were ahead of me, the new cost for me and Matthew, and my math told me I would be better off buying raffle tickets in the many conservation raffles, than to expect to draw a sheep tag in Wyoming. I think a lot of other people did the same math, as if I had known how many people would bail at that time, I would have stayed in and I would be in the running for a moose tag by now.

Another species that was super high on my list, even higher than moose or goat, was free-range bison. I did the math on that and it looked like a joke. But, since two states on my list, UT and AK, were states I was already applying in for other species, it was a no brainer to add bison. I have since drawn bull bison in MT and UT, and cow bison in WY. Even the resident tag in MT was beating probability in a big way.

It really comes down to what your budget is and where you can get some added value in investments you are already making. I always analyze every state by the "sunk costs" of a non-resident license. From that starting point, I rank which have the value I am looking for, such as other hunting I can do there, possible OTC fall back options, how far out the point layers are, etc. That is why I dropped Oregon when they changed non-resident tag allocations and raised the non-resident license fee. It became a low value proposition and I walked away from 8 points for most species. The same reasons why I no longer front money for sheep in NM and why I've never done the Big 3 in Colorado.

If you are already applying for elk or deer in AZ, UT, or NV, states with non-refundable non-resident licenses, it seems a no-brainer to add the big species to your list. The marginal cost increase of those application fees is minimal. You might be like some of the lucky Hunt Talkers who drew tags in those states by beating the probability in a big way.

If your priority for moose, goat, or sheep is much higher than deer or elk, you would surely be money ahead to start an investment plan now and know that the rates at which those guided hunts are increasing has been much higher than the rates you will likely earn on your investment. So, plan on ramping up your annual contribution to the account. It took me over a dozen years to rat hole enough money for my dream hunt of mountain caribou, given how much of my budget I was allocating to my other out-of-state applications. But, thanks to a long-term plan, discipline, and the health to go, it happened.

Sum of all my rambling - it is hard to put numbers to it for some other person. We all have different priorities in species and landscapes that interest us. We all have different family obligations that will come as a higher priority to our budgets of time and money. Whatever the priority or resources available, delaying and not having a strategy is a sure way for a hunter to not accomplish any of those dreams, whether in the draws or as a guided hunt.
 
Lots of really good advice here. I think @brownbear932008 has answered those questions very well.

I've applied for the Big 3 in MT for 30 years. I've drawn two goat tags and a moose tag. Probability says I will go to my grave without a sheep tag. I'm fine with that, though I'd love to beat the odds and pull a sheep tag.

As for the question of whether anyone has ever put numbers to this, I have, twice. The first time was in 1991 and I don't think I ever converted that Lotus 123 spreadsheet over to Excel, so it was probably on one of the many floppy drives I tossed around 2000.

The summary was that I better build a long-term plan to hunt the places and species I wanted. Even then, the odds looked daunting. And the cost looked significant, barring some gamblers luck that I drew way before the probabilities said I should. So, I started saving what little money I could earn on side gigs. It took four years to build enough to start the out-of-state gig. I've yet to draw a moose, goat, or sheep tag as a non-resident. I have a lot of points in most states that have point systems for those species and I am likely taking them to the grave with me.

I did a similar spreadsheet in 2007, when WY raised their point fee for moose and sheep. My budget allocations got me in that game a few years later, so I had 7 points at that time. I looked at how many people were ahead of me, the new cost for me and Matthew, and my math told me I would be better off buying raffle tickets in the many conservation raffles, than to expect to draw a sheep tag in Wyoming. I think a lot of other people did the same math, as if I had known how many people would bail at that time, I would have stayed in and I would be in the running for a moose tag by now.

Another species that was super high on my list, even higher than moose or goat, was free-range bison. I did the math on that and it looked like a joke. But, since two states on my list, UT and AK, were states I was already applying in for other species, it was a no brainer to add bison. I have since drawn bull bison in MT and UT, and cow bison in WY. Even the resident tag in MT was beating probability in a big way.

It really comes down to what your budget is and where you can get some added value in investments you are already making. I always analyze every state by the "sunk costs" of a non-resident license. From that starting point, I rank which have the value I am looking for, such as other hunting I can do there, possible OTC fall back options, how far out the point layers are, etc. That is why I dropped Oregon when they changed non-resident tag allocations and raised the non-resident license fee. It became a low value proposition and I walked away from 8 points for most species.

If you are already applying for elk or deer in AZ, UT, or NV, states with non-refundable non-resident licenses, it seems a no-brainer to add the big species to your list. The marginal cost increase of those application fees is minimal. You might be like some of the lucky Hunt Talkers who drew tags in those states by beating the probability in a big way.

If your priority for moose, goat, or sheep is much higher than deer or elk, you would surely be money ahead to start an investment plan now and know that the rates at which those guided hunts are increasing has been much higher than the rates you will likely earn on your investment. So, plan on ramping up your annual contribution to the account. It took me over a dozen years to rat hole enough money for my dream hunt of mountain caribou, given how much of my budget I was allocating to my other out-of-state applications. But, thanks to a long-term plan, discipline, and the health to go, it happened.

Sum of all my rambling - it is hard to put numbers to it for some other person. We all have different priorities in species and landscapes that interest us. We all have different family obligations that will come as a higher priority to our budgets of time and money. Whatever the priority or resources available, delaying and not having a strategy is a sure way for a hunter to not accomplish any of those dreams, whether in the draws or as a guided hunt.
I did pretty much the same analysis as a Colorado resident and dropped UT and NV for elk. NM is NR random draw so I apply there and CO for multiple species (adds are always a bargain). The comments on resident vs non draw odds in non preference point states are valid, very low probability I suppose is better than none, but you will rack up $$ applying. The good part about a preference point system like CO is it gives a little more predictability to your quest; having accrued X points equals Y hunt with a fair degree of certainty.

I stopped buying extra weighted points for goat/moose and sheep in CO as it was $50 for a minuscule increase in draw odds that were already 100 to 1. Part of me says that at 74 I am likely to run out of replacement body parts before I get drawn, already have titanium knee,hip,shoulder and assorted screws and plates. Your ability and health will run out before your money for sure!
 
Apply everywhere you can. bare minimum, you are supporting wildlife management in the states you apply, which is a good thing.

have drawn 4 sheep. (one was ewe), 3 moose, and 2 mt. goat tags, 1 bison, and 1 aoudad and 1 oryx since starting in 1996 for numerous states.

And drawn primo elk, deer and antelope, bear in various western states numerous times. As long as applying for the big 3, usually a nominal added charge to toss in elk/deer/lope/ibex/aoudad/oryx, etc.

If you can afford to save for a sheep hunt you can afford to apply as well?
Love hearing this and started applying for every state west of Kansas in my mid 20s and now I’m sitting on a decent amount of points I hope to have your lucky after 25 years of applying.
 
Love hearing this and started applying for every state west of Kansas in my mid 20s and now I’m sitting on a decent amount of points I hope to have your lucky after 25 years of applying.
You want my brother's luck. He has, as a nonresident drawn Bighorn sheep, Desert Bighorn Sheep, Moose and Mt. Goat as a nonresident in the last 5 years, each from a different western state...Your mileage will (probably) vary.
 
There is always someone who draws with minimal points every year. You have to decide if you want to spend the money on these horrible odds to be "that guy." I think there are better odds in raffles a lot of the time.
 
Apply everywhere you can. bare minimum, you are supporting wildlife management in the states you apply, which is a good thing.

have drawn 4 sheep. (one was ewe), 3 moose, and 2 mt. goat tags, 1 bison, and 1 aoudad and 1 oryx since starting in 1996 for numerous states.

And drawn primo elk, deer and antelope, bear in various western states numerous times. As long as applying for the big 3, usually a nominal added charge to toss in elk/deer/lope/ibex/aoudad/oryx, etc.

If you can afford to save for a sheep hunt you can afford to apply as well?

This and your brother's luck are anecdotal examples of it working out... and you can't draw if you don't apply yada yada yada

But I think the circumstance are completely different now, way more people participate in the draws then they did 30 years ago.

I.E.
If you were to calculate your total draw odds of getting 1 sheep tag, applying in all the states possible for 30 years, starting in say 1980 you might have 20% total odds at a tag in that timeframe.

Start In 1990 10% odds
In 2000 5% odds
In 2020 1% odds

It’s absolutely impossible to know the future, but I absolutely believe that a person playing the drawing game from 1980 to 2020 has an order of magnitude better odds than someone playing 2021 to 2061.

I mean simply the fact that the crazy draw systems with perf and bonus points weren't invented back then so you had a .5% chance with your first dozen apps instead of a .001% chance and once they began you were in on the ground floor.

Social media… online app process… removing the money fronting…
 
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Lots of great advice above. If there's a hybrid approach that works, then go that route, but prioritize your hunts after evaluating your budget.

Personally, I squirreled away some cash in the stock market when it crashed mid-March of 2020. Reasonably safe stock options that I expected to bounce back with time, and have seen a good return. This fund is for those expensive-but-not-college-fund-expensive dream hunts that I may be able to afford (unguided hunts like caribou or moose).

I apply for several hunts in the states that I think are reasonable and have 8-9 points in most cases. If they require a license purchase, such as AZ or UT, I go all out and put in for everything only because I have the points. If I was starting today, I would save the marginal amount of money and not apply for some of the species in these states, as I have no interest in giving up a portion of my local season to go, but alas feel pressure to continue to apply since I have the sunk cost. We'll see how long this continues before I come to my senses. Understand that everyone else that apply in these States more than likely applies for everything as well, so your odds are still incredibly poor. If there was a species I really wanted to hunt in particular, like Sheep, then I would play the random odd states like New Mexico or Idaho. I dabble from year to year, budget dependent. It doesn't hurt me not to apply to these states though, creep-wise.

For hunts that I know I cannot afford, or am not willing to budget for (Guided Alaska / Canada hunts), I look for raffles where my odds are at least acceptable, knowing full well that is my only way I will ever get to go on such a hunt.
 
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