November and December are important months for planning an Alaskan hunting excursion. This is the time of year the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) opens application process for the coveted drawing permits. Having just spent Thanksgiving weekend helping a friend fill her wild bison drawing permit, the results of the draw are fresh in my mind. To hunt here in Alaska, it is not necessarily a requirement to draw for many species/areas. However, there are a select number of hunts which, depending on species and area, can only be obtained through winning a drawing. Permit application dates are November 1st through December 16th. It is a random draw process without preference points. You apply with a clean slate every year. Except, you may not draw the same tag two years in a row. Also, some species (if successfully harvested) require a waiting period until you may draw that tag again. Results are posted on February 21st 2020 (“Drawing Hunt Permits Information”, 2019).
For a resident of Alaska, the process of applying is fairly straight forward. The process for a nonresident is only slightly more complicated. All information can be found at ADF&G’s website: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=huntlicense.draw. The first thing required is that any person applying for drawing permits must have a valid Alaska hunting license. This is only different for nonresidents in that the cost of that license is higher than that of a resident. Once you have a valid license you can apply for tags. There are some hunts in the drawings that non-residents are required to have a signed Guide-Client Contract prior to applying. Many guides will apply for you if a contract is required. All of this information is annotated in the Drawing Permit Hunt Supplement. Once these first requirements are met, it is simply a process of thumbing through the supplement and deciding what you would like to draw. Keep in mind these tags are nontransferable and if you do not truly intend to hunt, I would advise waiting until you are committed to following through with it in the event you do win. Pick the hunts you want to apply for and check out. Then anxiously wait for February 21st like many of us residents do.
To Draw or Not to Draw
This is a big question. As stated before, it is not a requirement to draw special tags to hunt most of Alaska’s Game. I have harvested most of my animals on over-the-counter harvest tags. Most animals are harvested on harvest tags, without the drawing permits. So, do you have to win a drawing to have a great hunt in Alaska? The answer is no. However, when compared to many states, the cost of drawing is relatively low. For under $200 you can have your name in the hat for quite a few special permits. As of the time of writing this, an Alaska Annual Nonresident Hunting license costs $160 and each drawing opportunity is $5 for every species except bison and muskox which are $10 each. You can apply for up to six chances per species with only a couple of exceptions. Do some research and start calling guides/outfitters and transporters. Such as the outfitters that are advertised on this site (https://huntmode.com). They will gladly tell you what is necessary to hunt with them. Also, a wealth of information can be obtained from ADF&G and their biologists. If they are in the office, most are happy to talk about what they have going on or can steer you to someone who can. Do not call and ask where are the …“enter species here”…? There is a lot of information on the internet and by browsing outdoor forums one can gleam a pile of information (Disclaimer: do not post something like “I want to hunt a sheep tell me how” you will most certainly be blasted. Do some research and ask informed questions you will be surprised at the difference in responses).
The Primary benefit of winning a Draw hunt is there are a limited number of tags allowed. Which means you know exactly the highest number of hunters competing for the same thing. It allows, in many cases, for a more “pure” hunt. This is not to say you won’t have competition. Another benefit is that it allows for the harvest of some species and/or areas that are hard or otherwise impossible to obtain, such as emperor geese or Kodiak bears. Many of these draw hunts were put in place to promote a quality hunt for quality animals. Meaning they are offered to help make the “Hunt of a lifetime” come true with a little control. On the other hand, some of the drawings are for opportunity to fill freezers from the road systems.
The Time is Now
It may seem like you do not have enough time to put in for drawings this year. However, it’s a worthwhile effort to become familiar with the application process and make a few inquiries into the hunts you would like. There is still time. If you are serious about doing an Alaska hunt, invest some time and start putting the pieces together. A draw permit may be one of those critical pieces. If you are not able to apply this year start preparing to apply for next year. It is never too early to start planning for Alaska. Good luck in the drawings!
Reference: Drawing Hunt Permits Information (2019) Retrieved from https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=huntlicense.draw
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