UPDATED: May 19th, 2020 – This update includes three states, Washington, Idaho, and Arizona that handle hunting opportunities quite differently, at least for deer and elk. I moved here from Arizona 40 years ago. I was delighted that I could buy an elk tag, or a deer tag over the counter. In Arizona, you had to apply for any tag. Washington was proud that they let everybody hunt. I put on boots and went hunting. That was a mistake, I needed tennis shoes. My partner shot a little deer, and one of the other hunters got there first and tagged the thing. I was not accustomed to so many other hunters. Fast forward. It is interesting that Arizona and Washington each have about 7 million people today. Now, Washington sells around 170,000 hunting licenses. Arizona sells over 300,000. Arizona put all tags on limited entry 40 some years ago. Ask hunters from Washington about limited entry, and most I have asked just want to go hunting. But in Washington, fewer are doing it! There are other differences. Both states have gates on roads. In Arizona, most of the gates are open. Washington gets property, they close the gate and then rather than look in the mirror, they criticize the Timber companies for their charges or restrictions. Washington’s point system is bonus and they square them. You may never draw! Arizona is preference. Stay with it, and you will draw. Idaho is a different story. They sell almost as many licenses as Arizona, but they have less than 2 million people. They have open areas, but a lot of limited entry draw hunts. They do not have a point system, and there are restrictions depending on what you apply for, and if you draw.
Big Game Draws – Washington applications have been extended until May 21st Facing less habitat, more predators, and less game, Washington, unlike some other states, is suffering a decline in hunter retention. However, there are still opportunities to take advantage of. Four days earlier than last year, Washington applications close on May 18th. This year, you can apply for a juvenile bighorn ram. There are seven permits available, and being a new category, everybody has the same chance, unlike other categories that that have a zillion points squared. All the sheep are managed well. Trophy, and/or meat, sheep are a great opportunity. If you fortunate enough to draw a quality elk tag, chances you will have opportunity for a trophy animal. Deer, not so much. Point restrictions abound, and demand exceeds supply. You can harvest a deer, but Boone and Crocket probably won’t be impressed. Before the wolves, I remember driving around Mount Spokane South and counted 13 bull moose before noon. Not anymore! While trophies are available in probably all units, plan on the hunt taking some time. Mountain goats are managed very conservatively, but you might want to get in shape if one of these is on your bucket list. California applications are due June 2nd (If anybody cares) I do buy a few sheep raffle tickets. Idaho applications for deer, elk and antelope are due by June 5th Remember that if you applied earlier for sheep, moose, or mountain goat, you cannot apply for these species. If you are eligible, you will need a $164.75 dollar license, and 14.75 per application. If you draw, you will need a little over $300.00 for a deer or antelope tag, or a little over $400.00 for an elk tag. Not bad! There is no point system, so go for it. I like unit 40 down south for deer and elk, and unit 37 or 51 for antelope, only because I saw a 17 incher close to Mt Borah. Arizona applications for deer, bison, and bighorn sheep are due by June 9th Arizona requires a $160.00 dollar license and $15.00 application fee per species. Half of the 10% nonresident allocation goes to those with the most preference points. The other half goes to the random draw. You have two choices, and both are considered before they move to the next applicant. So, if you pick really popular units for both of your choices, you are probably getting a preference point, not a tag. Bison----I don’t apply in Arizona. It is expensive. The odds of drawing are bad, and if you draw, success is a maybe. Deer--- Mule deer or Coues. Both are great. I concentrate on the Mulies. Units North of the Colorado River are managed for older animals. There are deer there as big as deer get. Unit 13B is the one nearly every nonresident applies for. Nonresidents will have a total of 8 tags allocated. Tough odds! Might be better to apply in another unit North of the river where the odds are better Bighorn Sheep. Desert or Rocky, both are excellent. The trick here is to check the stats. Unless you are the one nonresident that has 31 pints, make sure that the unit you apply for has a random draw. The best units go to the applicants in the 20% bonus point draw.