Understanding The Alaska Big Game Draw

The Alaska Draw

Let's face it, if you have a hankering for adventure then Alaska is on your bucket list. Where else in the United States can you hunt 11 wild big game species, including muskox which have been around since the Pleistocene? Not to mention a significant portion of the state is still roadless so small aircraft and boat are the mode of transport to many hunting spots. Yes, adventure abounds and there are actually a significant number of over-the-counter hunting options for both residents and nonresidents. So don't overlook OTC opportunities (just explore Alaska units in map view mode to see resident and nonresident opportunities listed).

The first thing you need to know is draw occurs early! The deadline to submit applications for 2023 draw hunts is December 15th of 2022, effectively kicking off the draw season for U.S. big game draws (Idaho kicks off OTC license sales with their nonresident sale happening Dec 1st). So plan accordingly, traveling to Alaska, charting a plan, etc... can take some significant planning and is best done over the course of a year.

Tags, Harvest Tickets, and Permits

In Alaska, depending on the species and type of hunt, hunters must have the appropriate tags/tickets/permits to hunt and harvest an animal. See the list below to get squared away:

  • Harvest Tickets: are needed for every hunt - unless it is a permit (draw) hunt - and must be validated upon taking game. Hunters also must submit a harvest report to ADFG
  • Locking Tags: are needed for certain hunts. Refer to the regulations but in general if you nonresident you will need a locking tag, in addition to your harvest ticket or permit. Certain resident hunts also require a locking tag
  • Permit: several types of hunts require permits. While this article is primarly concernced with drawing permits, there are other permit hunts in Alaska such as Tier II, Community and Registration hunts. These hunts have a limited quota as well but don't necessarily use a drawing system. Lastly, in order to apply for a permit (draw) hunt, the applicant needs to have first purchased a hunting license.


Guide Requirements

Certain nonresidents hunts require the nonresident hire either a licensed guide OR be guided by an Alaska resident relative 19 years or older within second-degree of kindred. If you are a nonresident and want to hunt brown/grizzly bear, Dall sheep, or mountain goat you'll need to meet this requirement.



Permit draws can be for residents only, nonresidents or both. Hunt codes do not have quotas that are split out seperately for residents vs. nonresidents. HuntScore's draw table will show only a single quota per hunt code. Where both resident and nonresidents can apply, both will have the same draw odds.


Choices & Odds

Although Alaska's draw is random and applicants cannot build points like in other states, not every applicant has the same odds of drawing. Why? Alaska allows applicants to select up to 6 hunt choices per species. What is unique about Alaska's big game draw is that each choice recieve a random entry for the hunt selected. This means that if a hunter selected the hunt multiple times, they would actually increase their odds with every selection. These entries act just like bonus points in other states but do not carry over from year to year.

For example, DS275 had 23 individual applicants apply for 1 permit. This would imply odds of 4.34%. However, if one of those applicants selects DS275 for all six of their Dall sheep hunt choices, they can increase their odds to 6 out of 28 or 21.42%! They are now 5 times more likely to draw! Of course, this assumes all other applicants will not similarly select this hunt for all their hunt choices. Luckily we show you the overall random odds, which accounts for applicants submitting multiple applications and your odds when selecting the hunt 1 through 6 times based on what other applicants have done.


Hunt Choice Ranking

Because draws for each hunt code are performed independently it is possible for an applicant to draw multiple hunts per species. However, an applicant can only hold one draw permit per species, so a secondary step is performed where the applicants lowest hunt choice is used to determine which hunt permit they are awarded. Where an applicant has been awarded more than one permit per species, the system selects the lowest hunt choice permit and retains it for the applicant. Any other permits awarded are taken away and given to the next lowest random number applicant for the respective hunt code. The previous step is repeated until either all permits have been allocated for a species and hunt (assuming the hunt has more applicants than permits).

Posted: November 29, 2022

Written By: Matt Habiger

About: Matt grew up running around the oaks, pines and birches in central Minnesota. He spent his youth hunting, fishing and riding bmx. For better or worse he's a restless hunter, prone to wandering the reaches of public land. Many youthful days were spent dreaming about chasing elk, deer and bear across mountain sides with a butterscotch maple Interarms 300 Weatherby from his father. 25 years later he still has the same dreams they just happen to come true every Fall and Spring.

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