By Shandi Martinez, License Application Service Manager, January 2016
Application season is here again! This is the start of my tenth year in the Huntin’ Fool License Application Department. I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks to applying in my time here, and I love being able to pass that information on to you so that you don’t make some of the same mistakes that I’ve heard of so many people making. Every year, one or more of the states change up their application system, sometimes for the better and sometimes not. Either way, I do my best to help you navigate each system and apply for the hunts you want without you having to go through a lot of stress or having to sit on hold with one of the Fish and Game departments for 20-30 minutes.
You may have noticed that Arizona has added a new online Customer Portal account. This has caused some confusion, so I wanted to give you a little bit of clarity. You are not required to create an account to apply for licenses and tags, to look up your draw results, or to access your current point status. All of that can still be done through the same system as before. Having a Portal account will allow you to view your draw results a day or two sooner than those without accounts, but that seems to be the biggest advantage. You can also use the Portal to update your information, view your licenses and applications, and look up your bonus points, but again, it’s not required in order to do those things. If you do create an account, they will send you an email to validate it. My validation email went straight to my junk folder, so check there if you don’t see an email from them within a few minutes.
The most important tip I can give you for Arizona elk is to pay close attention to the hunt codes when you apply. I continue to get calls from members who accidentally applied for a cow elk tag. This is an easy mistake to make because of the way the hunts are listed in the regulations. The antlerless elk is listed among bull elk, so it’s really easy to find the unit you want and use the code for antlerless elk instead of bull elk. When you apply online, after entering the code, it will drop down to show the unit that corresponds to that hunt code. Make sure that it either says Bull Elk or Any Elk in that description.
You have to purchase a license to apply in Arizona. This license is valid for 365 days, but you must have a valid license on the day of the application deadline or your application will be rejected. They have now changed their system to show the expiration date on your license if you have one. I am grateful for that change as they caused us a few headaches last year making sure licenses didn’t expire before the deadline. The system will allow you to apply if you have a current license, so make sure you opt to purchase a new one if yours is going to expire too soon. This is usually the case as most people purchase it while applying and the deadline is always within a few days of the year before.
Luckily for me, Wyoming hasn’t changed anything with their system. Other than the fact that they have four different deadlines, their system is pretty easy to navigate. The first deadline is for elk at the first of February, then sheep, moose, goat, and bison are due about a month later. The deer and antelope deadline is in May. We will cover it in the May issue after we see how they survived the winter, so you might want to wait to submit those unless you already know where you want to apply. If you miss any of the deadlines or want to apply for Points Only, you can do that from July to October.
The most confusing thing about Wyoming is the Special and Regular licenses. The difference between the Special license and the Regular license is the price and the draw odds. The Special licenses cost more to apply for, and in most cases, the Special license has better odds than the Regular license. Once the tag is issued, the licenses are for the same area and offer the same privileges, regardless of which one you applied for. We list the odds for both in this issue, so compare the odds for the unit you want and decide if the increase in odds is worth the extra money to you. It might make the difference in guaranteeing you a tag or not. Wyoming also uses "types" to signify limitations on a unit. It can be for gender, season dates, type of weapon permitted, or the portion of a unit the license is valid for. Type 3 or 4 can often mean "antlerless," so be careful! You can review the different options on Wyoming’s website.
My favorite thing about Wyoming’s system is that they allow you to withdraw or modify your application after you submit it. If every state would allow that, my life would be so much easier! However, it’s still preferable to apply correctly the first time; if you have to withdraw your application, you won’t get your refund back until after the draw. Modifying units is no big deal, but to change from a Special license to a Regular license or vice versa, you have to withdraw your application and submit another one, each time paying the entire application fee up front.
Keep us in mind if you need any help with your applications this year or if you have any questions. Our hold times are a lot shorter than the states’ Fish and Wildlife departments, and oftentimes we’re more knowledgeable!