Residents and nonresidents can purchase a bonus point or automatically receive a bonus point for an unsuccessful big game tag application. An applicant can only obtain one point per species or subspecies a year under a single active license.
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 buck and Antelope doe
- 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.
An applicant’s bonus points revert to zero in a particular species category when they are successful at obtaining a tag or fail 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 fee for each bonus point purchase. A customer must have an active hunting license to purchase a bonus point.
Because the draw numbers that determine an applicant’s success 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 percentage of maximum bonus-point applicants that draw tags than 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.
Consider your application strategy when applying. Season dates, areas and units, as well as the available quota of those units will help the probability of obtaining a tag for a species.