Here’s a rundown of some of the hardest lottery tags to draw. These tags are coveted because either the experience cannot be replicated anywhere else or the available animals are of outstanding size.
A: Mule deer in Utah’s Henry Mountains.
Big, beautiful mule deer abound in this mountain range, but you can expect to apply for fifteen years before drawing the tag.
B: Elk in Arizona’s Unit 9.
An archery hunter’s dream: gigantic bulls, plenty of bugling, minimal hunting pressure. Plan to apply for about twenty years before you hit this tag.
C: Bighorn sheep in Montana’s Unit 680.
This rugged and beautiful country is a sheep hunter’s dream; it’s where you go for world-record rams. Even if you apply for your entire life, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever draw the tag.
D: Buffalo along Alaska’s Copper River.
It’s an adventure just getting in and out of this area, not to mention doing it with a thousand pounds of meat and hide. Alaska does not do bonus points, so your odds of drawing this tag are in the single digits every year. If you do get lucky and draw it, you’d better make the best of the opportunity. It’s literally a once-in-a-lifetime hunt, as tag holders are ineligible for future drawings.
E: Eastern moose in Maine’s north woods.
Your best opportunity to hunt the eastern subspecies of moose in the lower forty-eight. The Maine moose population grew from 7,000 in 1950 to 20,000 in 1990 and now hovers between 60,000 and 70,000. While moose numbers rise, applicants are currently trending down, making it a great time to jump in the pool. For first-time nonresident applicants who buy only one chance, the success rate is 0.2 percent. But Maine does employ a bonus point system, bettering your odds yearly; it also allows nonresidents to purchase unlimited chances in bundles of ten at $55 each. (Since nonresidents and residents are not applying for the same tags, this does not affect the odds for Maine residents.) Buying these extra chances can greatly improve odds, though doing so is hardly essential to winning a permit.
This excerpt was developed as part of The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game by Steven Rinella.