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Will The Weak Economy Make it Easier to Draw a Tag This Year?

March 26, 2009.

The economy is as bad as it's been in our lifetime. We've seen our 401Ks evaporate, the equity in our homes has been devastated, and unemployment is climbing towards 10%.

As consumers postpone major purchases, increase savings, and hunker down for the worst, what effect will this have on the number of hunters applying for hard-to-come-by tags? And how will this translate to better draw odds for those who are able to stay in the race for premier tags?

So far, relatively few draws have been completed. One of those that has is the Wyoming nonresident elk draw.

In 2008, 15,667 hunters applied for elk tags in Wyoming's regular nonresident preference point draw.

In 2009, this number was down to 13,114 (I was one of the guys who dropped out this year).

This is about a 16% reduction in the number of hunters going after tags — about 1 in 6 hunters decided not to go after a Wyoming elk tag this year.

If you look at Wyoming's more expense "Special" draw, where hunters pay a higher dollar amount for better draw odds, there was actually less of a decrease in applications.

In 2008, 4,215 hunters put in for a Special elk tag.

In 2009, 4,000 hunters put in for a Special elk tag.

This is only a 5% decrease in applications, a markedly less significant decrease than in the more affordable regular draw.

Looking at just the Wyoming elk draw is admittedly a small sample size, but it's all the data we have so far.

If (emphasis on "if") the Wyoming trend applies to other states, you might expect a little easier time drawing moderately competitive tags, but no significant decrease in odds drawing more expensive "dream" tags.

Relative to other parts of the economy, the 5-16% drop in the pursuit of big game tags seems robust by comparison. Auto sales at General Motors, for example, are down by 52% from last year.

Hard-to-come-by hunts are the stuff dreams are made of, and it doesn't look like hunters are willing to give up on pursuing their dreams yet.

These are not drastic changes, but every little bit helps. If you're able to submit multiple applications across Western states (I've got my apps listed on the Hunt The West homepage), this may indeed add up.

Good luck on the draws, and good luck making it through the recession.

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