Big Game Preference Points in Wyoming


Preference points in Wyoming are designed to enhance the likelihood of drawing a license for big game hunts in areas with limited quotas. These points are essential for both residents and nonresidents participating in specific big game hunts.

How to Obtain and Maintain Preference Points

  • Account Requirement: All customers must have a username and password to apply for or purchase preference points.
  • Purchase Period: Preference points can be purchased from July 1, 2024, to October 31, 2024.
  • Point Loss: Failing to purchase a preference point during the specified period or not submitting a limited quota application for moose or bighorn sheep for two consecutive years will result in losing all accumulated points for that species.

Changes in Application Options

  • Since 2019: Nonresident applicants can no longer apply for preference points during their initial limited quota applications for elk, deer, and antelope.

Eligible Species for Preference Points

  • Resident and Nonresident: Moose and full-price bighorn sheep.
  • Nonresident Only: Elk, deer, and antelope.

Allocation of Licenses

  • Preference Point Drawing: 75% of available licenses in each hunt area and license type are allocated to applicants based on their preference points.
  • Random Drawing: The remaining 25% of licenses are allocated randomly, allowing all applicants, regardless of their preference point total, a chance to draw a license.

Ranking and Drawing Process

  • Applicant Pools: Preference points are used to rank applicants within pools for each specific hunt area and license type.
  • Participation in Drawings: Every applicant, including those without preference points, participates in the preference point drawing.
  • Sequential Drawings: After the preference point drawing, all unsuccessful applicants are entered into the random drawing.

Youth Applicants

  • Eligibility to Apply for Points:
    • Children can apply for preference points starting at age 11 if they submit a preference point-only application.
    • They must turn 12 years old by December 31 of the application year to be eligible.

Understanding the System

  • Equal Opportunities: The mixed allocation system (preference points and random draw) ensures that both seasoned and new hunters have opportunities to obtain licenses.
  • Youth Inclusion: The system encourages youth participation in hunting by allowing them to start accumulating preference points from a young age.
  • Strategic Application: Hunters can strategize their applications based on their preference point accumulation and the likelihood of securing a license through the random draw.

Preference Point Fees in Wyoming

Resident Fees

  • Moose: $7
  • Bighorn Sheep: $7

Nonresident Fees

  • Antelope: $31
  • Bighorn Sheep: $150
  • Deer: $41
  • Elk: $52
  • Moose: $150

Nonresident Youth Fees

  • Antelope: $10
  • Deer: $10
  • Elk: $10

Application Strategies for Big Game Hunting in Wyoming

Optimizing Preference Points

  • Maintaining Points: Avoid applying for easy-to-draw areas as a first choice. Success here will reset your accumulated preference points, reducing your chances for hard-to-draw areas in the future.
  • Balancing Hunts and Points: Apply for preferred (hard-to-draw) hunt areas as a first choice and easier areas as a second choice. This way, you can hunt more often without using up your preference points.

Specific Strategies for Nonresident Elk Licenses

  • Type 4 and 5 Licenses: Full-price licenses for nonresident elk (including antlerless elk) will utilize your accumulated points.
  • Cow/Calf or Antlerless Elk: To avoid using points, opt for the reduced price cow/calf draw.

Utilizing Drawing Odds

  • Analyzing Past Odds: Review the random drawing odds from previous years to identify hunt areas with better chances of drawing as second or third choices.
  • Interpreting Odds: Areas with 100% odds listed for second choice drawing are nearly certain to result in a successful draw.
  • Changing Odds: Be aware that drawing odds can change annually based on shifting applicant preferences. Past odds are indicative but not absolute.

Preference Points for Big Game Species in Wyoming

Full Price Elk, Deer, and Antelope Preference Points (Nonresidents Only)

  • Accumulation: Nonresidents can accumulate points by applying during the preference point only application period.
  • Fees:
    • Elk: $52
    • Deer: $41
    • Antelope: $31
    • Youth (each species): $10
  • Usage: Points are considered only for the first choice in the initial preference point drawing.
  • Point Loss: Accumulated points are lost if the first choice license is drawn in the initial limited quota drawing or if a preference point isn’t purchased for two consecutive years.
  • Party Applications: Preference point totals of all applicants are averaged for the initial drawing.

Reduced Price Licenses

  • No Points: No preference points for reduced price cow/calf or doe/fawn licenses.
  • Retention of Points: Points are not lost upon successfully drawing these licenses, nor are they accumulated if unsuccessful.

Moose and Full Price Bighorn Sheep Preference Points (Residents and Nonresidents)

  • Accumulation Methods:
    • Through limited quota drawings application or purchasing during the preference point only period.
  • Automatic Award for Residents: Unsuccessful resident applicants automatically receive a point each year in the limited quota drawing.
  • Nonresident Opt-In on Application: Nonresidents have fees deducted from their license refund if opted in.
    • Moose: $150
    • Full Price Bighorn Sheep: $150
  • Purchasing Points:
    • Resident fees: $7 for moose or bighorn sheep.
    • Nonresident fees: $150 for each moose and bighorn sheep.
  • Point Loss: Points are lost if a license is drawn or if a preference point isn’t awarded within two consecutive years.
  • Waiting Period: Successful applicants must wait five years before becoming eligible again for drawing or purchasing points.

Preference Points FAQs for Wyoming Big Game Hunting

General Information

  • Assignment: Preference points are linked to the individual's sportsperson identification number and are specific to a species, not to a hunt area.
  • Flexibility: Applicants can apply for different hunt areas each year without affecting their preference points.

Record Consistency

  • Importance of Consistent Records: Points can be lost due to inconsistencies in personal information leading to multiple records. Exceptions are made for name changes due to marriage or divorce.
  • Record Management: Ensure your details (name, birth date, social security number) are consistent to avoid losing points.

Availability and Usage

  • Annual Award: Points awarded or purchased in one year are available for use in the following year's limited quota drawings.
  • Annual Limit: Only one preference point per species can be awarded or applied for in a calendar year.

Awarding of Points

  • Initial Draw: Points are awarded in the initial draw only for unsuccessful resident bighorn sheep and moose applicants, and nonresident bighorn sheep and moose applicants who elect to be awarded a point.
  • Nonresident Restrictions: Since 2019, nonresidents cannot purchase elk, deer, or antelope preference points in the initial draw.

Application Process

  • Application Period: Annually from July 1 to October 31.
  • Application Method: Apply online.
  • Fees: No application fee for preference points, but credit card fees apply.

Maintaining Points

  • Requirement for Moose and Bighorn Sheep: Submit an application in the initial drawing with the preference point option, or purchase a point during the preference point only period every two years to maintain points.
  • Requirement for Elk, Deer, Antelope: Purchase a preference point during the preference point only period every two years to retain accumulated points.

Key Takeaways

  • Regular Participation: Regular participation is crucial to maintain preference points.
  • Consistent Application Details: Ensure personal details are consistent to prevent point loss.
  • Species-Specific Rules: Be aware of different rules for various species, especially regarding how and when points can be awarded or purchased.


Understanding the nuances of the preference point system in Wyoming is essential for big game hunters. Regular participation, consistent personal information, and awareness of species-specific rules are key to effectively using and maintaining preference points.

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