I want to hunt Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep so badly my teeth hurt. But did I put in to draw a tag this year? I did not. The mind-numbing occupation of moving halfway across the country distracted me from more important matters, like studying state regulations and filling out tag applications.
Fish and Game regs and application processes are so intricate and so varied from state to state that even Tom Selleck would go bald trying to decipher them all. But if you want to draw one of those lovely bits of tear-resistant paper that serve as a license to kill a monster mule deer, sheep, or a premium elk, moose, mountain goat, pronghorn antelope, bison, or black bear tag, you’ve got to apply.
Entire books have been written about how to successfully study, apply, and draw the holy grail tags in various Western states. I, of course, don’t have quite that much room here, so this is anything but a comprehensive guide to drawing the tag of your dreams. But every Western “destination” state (most hunters no longer include Washington or California in that category) has its own set of deadlines and unique demands, and this brief column is meant to give you the basic info needed to apply.
- Application method: online or paper Point system: yes Nonrefundable license required to apply: yes, $150+ Minimum age to hunt: 10 years old Some states make a heroic effort to be confusing to hunters wanting to apply. While not the worst, Arizona achieves moderate confusion status by setting several different deadlines for the various species. For instance, wishful hunters must submit one application in February for elk and pronghorn antelope, another in June for deer and sheep, and if you want to hunt wild bison, you’ll have to take a break from your October hunting time to fill out an application then. Drawing dates are in April, August, and November. Tag fees will be charged only if drawn. On the positive side, hunters very serious about drawing one of the outstanding deer, elk, or antelope tags that Arizona has to offer can earn extra bonus points by two methods. Applying for five consecutive years will earn you an extra point, and passing Arizona’s Hunter Education class will gain you another.