HuntScore Alerts: Never Miss A Leftover Tag or Returned Tag Opportunity

Every year hundreds of thousands of hunters apply for deer, bear, elk antelope and turkey tags throughout the West. Some will draw their 1st or 2nd choice tag but many will find themselves empty handed at the end of application season. One could simply resign themselves to watching hunting videos. We’d suggest Gritty Films Brian Call and Ryan Lampers , The Meateater crew, Solo Huntr or Randy Newberg. Others might pick up an over-the-counter tag and slug it out with the hoi polloi for a 10% chance of harvesting an elk. The deft hunter will scour leftover and returned tag lists, picking out the gems and purchasing an opportunity that might provide upwards of an 80% chance of a successful hunt.


Blasphemy you say? No, these are legit leftover and returned tags that simply have been lost among the great number of hunt opportunities. In our quest to save hunters time, we’ve developed an alerting system to notify hunters of leftover and returned tag opportunities.

Leftover Tags vs. Returned Tags

What’s the difference between a leftover tag and a returned tag? Leftover tags are tags which had a draw quota that was not met in the first (and possibly second) draw. For instance, a particular unit might have a quota of 350 any deer tags but only 235 hunters applied. This could yield 115 surplus or leftover tags. After all drawings are complete, states will typically sell these tags on a first come first served basis. A date and time is set for the sale of these leftover tags and sales will remain open until all tags are sold or the season ends. Typically these tags are available to residents and nonresidents, at their respective tag/permit fees, and can be purchased with impacting one’s preference or bonus points.

Returned tags are usually tags which were awarded either through a drawing or through a capped over the counter sale. For example, Idaho has nonresident elk and deer tags for specific zones and units with a limited number of permits. Suppose there were 100 tags available for a particular elk zone and the zone sold out of tags. Then a hunter decides he cannot hunt and returns her tag. This tag will be resold as a returned tag. Likewise, this can happen with draw tags as well. Sometimes these are fantastic opportunities where it may take several years to draw such a tag. Each state has varying rules on how a returned tag makes it way onto a first come first serve list. HuntScore Alerts monitor these lists so you don’t have to.

HuntScore Alerts

Reminder Nav

To access alerts you simply navigate to the Profile Settings page by clicking the drop down navigation under your login name. On the profile page you can update your address and contact details, change your password, set up reminders and setup alerts. If you want to receive SMS messages, you’ll need to enter your phone number and update your profile.

Reminder NavReminder Nav

If you don’t have an annual subscription, you’ll see the image above on the left letting you know this feature is only for annual subscribers. Otherwise you’ll see the image on the right asking you to opt-in to sms notifications if you’d like to get sms reminders or alerts. If you do, click the button and make sure to reply “START”. This will guarantee your carrier and our messaging service let sms reminders and alerts reach you.

Reminder Nav

Annual Pro subscribers will see the option to add alerts pictured above. Alerts can be tuned based on a hunter’s interests across 7 different options. The option breakdown is:

  • Opportunity - If a state differentiates between leftover and returned tags, you can select it here. Returned tags tend to be more coveted but there are some fantastic leftover tags too.

  • Residency - some tags may only be available to residents or nonresidents. Draw odds and minimum points will vary by residency too. So select the residency you want alerts for.

  • Species - you can select each individual species you are interested in hunting. We cover nearly every big game species in each state. However, leftover tags are almost exclusively available for antelope, deer, elk, turkey and bear. Moose, sheep, goat, etc...are generally not posted on leftover or returned lists.

  • Methods - no this isn’t method of take! This is the method by which you want to be notified. Currently we cover sms and email. We’d use passenger pigeons but some of our ancestors hadn’t recognized the importance of conservation yet.

  • Draw Odds - Only tags which have draw odds less than or equal to this percentage will be sent to you. HunstScore examines draw odds over the last 3 years and picks the hardest to draw year. If the draw odds are less than your filter percentage the tag opportunity meets the draw odds criteria. Preference point and success rate criteria work as additional filters.

  • Preference Points - Only tags which have preference points greater than or equal to this number will be sent to you. HunstScore examines preference points over the last 3 years and picks the hardest to draw year. If the preference points are greater than your filter points the tag opportunity meets the preference point criteria. Draw odds and success rates criteria work as additional filters.

  • Success Rate - Only tags which have success (harvest) rates greater than or equal to this percentage will be sent to you. HunstScore examines rates over the last 3 years and averages them. If the average success rate are greater than your filter percentage the tag opportunity meets the success rate criteria. Draw odds and success rates criteria work as additional filters.

  • If you want to be notified of all opportunities then leave the filters set to None.

Reminder Nav

When a tag triggers an alert, you'll receive notifications via the method you've selected. You can always login and check the alert tab to see an opportunities that meet your filters. They are shown at the bottom of the page under "Your Leftover & Returned Tag Opportunities" in a filterable table. If there are relatively few tags, HuntScore will include point, odds and success information in emal or sms.

When you add an alert, you can easily remove it or pause it. All of your alerts will show up in the “Your Alerts” table below. Pausing an alert will prevent you from getting notifications but allow you to not have to add it again. You can resume an alert at any time. So that’s it! Set up your alerts today and never miss another big game leftover or returned tag opportunity!

Posted: May 22, 2021

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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