Bonus Point Program

Residents and nonresident tag applicants receive bonus points for most hunts that have a Wildlife Commission approved quota. One point is awarded to an applicant when they have purchased a license and are unsuccessful in drawing a tag through the computerized random draw system.

Bonus points are awarded by specific species categories, each encompassing all separate weapons hunts available in that category. Those categories are:

  • Antlered mule deer and Antlerless mule deer
  • Antelope horns longer than ears and Antelope horns shorter than ears
  • Antlered elk, Antlerless elk, and Spike elk
  • Desert bighorn sheep ram and ewe
  • California bighorn sheep ram and ewe
  • Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep
  • Mountain goat
  • Black bear
  • Wild turkey

Bonus points are not awarded for depredation or management hunts.

Those points cannot be transferred to another person or into another species category. Applicants are only able to accumulate one bonus point per species category each year. So, if you applied for any legal weapon tag and were unsuccessful, and then applied for a left over archery tag, and were unsuccessful, you still only accrue one point because these are both in the antlered deer category. However, if you apply for mule deer buck any legal weapon tag, and are unsuccessful, and then apply for a leftover doe tag, and are unsuccessful, you would receive a bonus point for each because they are in two different categories- antlered deer and antlerless deer.

Bonus points are squared by species category to determine how many random numbers from 1 to 99 million will be drawn from the random number generator. The lowest of the random numbers for each species category will be assigned as the “draw” number for that species category application. For example, if an applicant has 10 bonus points for antlered elk, you square 10 to get 100 and add 1 (applicant with zero bonus points is assigned 1 random number) for a total of 101 random numbers with the lowest being the draw number assigned to the antlered elk application. Those applying as a “party hunt” will have their bonus points averaged (total points of all hunters in the party, divided by the number of hunters) and rounded to the closest whole number. All applications for all species categories are sorted in ascending order and tags are awarded to applications with the lowest draw numbers.

A hunter’s bonus points revert to zero in a particular species category when they are successful at obtaining a tag or fails to apply for two consecutive years. Bonus points are not earned if an applicant requests and receives a hunting license refund.

You can also purchase bonus points without applying for a tag. This requires a non-refundable $10 application fee for each bonus point only application, and the purchase of a hunting license.

The big game tag draw process is administered by Gordon Darby.  If you have questions about a tag or your online application, and need technical support please call 855-542-6369.

Because the draw numbers that determine whether or not a hunter draws a tag are generated randomly, there is no guarantee that a hunter will draw a tag for the unit group of his or her choice just because he or she may have more bonus points than anyone else. Overall, there is a greater percent of maximum bonus-point applicants that draw tags then the percent of applicants in lower bonus point categories. But, as you review the bonus point data you will see that not all of the maximum point applicants draw tags. In fact, even in mule deer hunt unit groups with several hundred tags, there are maximum point applicants that do not draw a low enough draw number and are not successful.

Bonus points increase a hunter’s probability of receiving a low draw number in hopes of drawing a tag, but, unlike a preference point, they do not provide any guarantee of drawing a tag after so many points are accumulated.

To help add context to our Bonus Point Program it might be helpful to review our Bonus Point Data. This data is made up of tables that show the breakdown of successful and total applicants by bonus point level and choice (1st-5th) for our big game species from our most recent big game draws.

Tag returns allow for bonus points to be returned to the customer with the return of their game tag. Note that a party hunt member can return their tag but will not receive a refund of bonus points unless all members of the party also return their tags to the Department. A party hunt member will receive their bonus points back if the return is due to a medical, military or death reason.

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