Sep 11, 2017

Value of a Point - Part 2: Weapon Choice Matters!

So what are the factors or variables within the “micro” environment that have the greatest impact on the value of the bonus point?
The limited entry elk application pool has the most factors/variables so we’ll spend most of our time discussing the concept of “value of a point” related to the Utah LE elk drawing. I’ll also do my best to provide information for both the resident and non-resident. You have a number of different weapon types to choose from (e.g. archery, any weapon, and muzzleloader)… that’s the easy one to identify first. Secondarily, you also have multiple choices within the any weapon hunts with early, middle, late, multi-season options and CWMU options for Utah residents.

In this second post let’s discuss how the value of a point is different between the different legal weapon types… archery, any weapon, and muzzleloader. Within the any weapon option there are multiple seasons… but I want to save that for the third post so I’m going to consider all the any weapon season (early, middle, and late) in the any weapon category for right now and I’m also going to exclude the multi-season and CWMU options in this discussion.

This table shows the average value of a point (the percentage by which each point increases your chances of drawing one of the random draw tags) for the three primary legal weapon types in Utah for LE elk:

Weapon Type Utah Resident Utah Non-Resident
Archery 3.746% 2.800%
Any Weapon 1.109% 0.800%
Muzzleloader 1.745% 2.600%

For both residents and non-residents choosing to apply for an archery tag provides you with the highest value of your bonus points… short and simple, archery tags are easier to draw than any weapon and muzzleloader tag. In fact, as a Utah resident, if I were to apply for an any weapon tag it would take 3.4 bonus points to achieve the same value as one bonus point if I were to apply for an archery tag. It is similar for non-residents, it would take 3.5 bonus points in any weapon to achieve the same value as one bonus point in archery.

Interestingly to me, the muzzleloader option for non-residents provides virtually equal value as the archery option. If I were a non-resident and looking to maximize the value of my points but uncomfortable with archery equipment, I would be seriously looking at the LE elk muzzleloader option instead of any weapon.

On the individual species pages I also mention a concept that I call “Year Savings”… the way Utah’s LE and OIAL drawings are set up one-half of the tags are guaranteed to the applicants with the highest number of points for that particular unit. For Utah residents, on average an archery tag can be guaranteed at 6.6 points, an early rifle tag at 15.8 points, and a muzzleloader tag at 11.9 points. The trends typically hold quite well that an archery tag can be guaranteed ~9 years sooner than a rifle tag and ~5 years sooner than a muzzleloader tag. Let’s look at a specific example in a middle of the pack type unit… say the Central Mountains, Manti unit. For 2018 I am projecting 4.6 points for the archery, 15.0 points for early rifle, 10.7 points for muzzleloader, and 12.0 points for the late rifle. Just looking at these numbers at face value one could realistically draw the archery tag, endure the 5 year wait period, and draw a second archery tag prior to drawing the early any weapon tag once. This has definitely changed my view on the current drawing environment. My current plan right now is to draw a muzzleloader tag, however when I’m able to apply for elk again I’m definitely considering applying for archery so that I won’t have to wait as long between tags. And notice the difference between the early and late season rifle hunts… we’ll discuss the different options available for the hunter who prefers his rifle in the next part.

On many of the forums that I visit there seems to be an almost overwhelming movement to “burn points” and have more opportunities to hunt rather than to wait year after year for that one highly coveted premium unit hunt… I tend to share that opinion and looking at variables like weapon type helps me see that if I choose to hunt with archery or a muzzleloader I can theoretically have an increased chance at drawing a tag and therefore have more opportunities to be in the field with a LE elk tag.