The Arizona draw process for big game hunts is a multi-phase system that offers hunters a fair chance to secure permits for various species like deer, antelope, elk, turkey, javelina, and bear. Here’s a breakdown of how the Arizona big game draw works:

Three Phases of the Drawing

The draw consists of three passes or rounds – the bonus point pass, the first-second choice pass, and the third-fourth-fifth choice pass. Each application goes through a random number generator program before each pass, which are reset and rerun after each pass.

Random Number Generation

For every application, a random number is generated, and additional random numbers are added for each group bonus point, including Hunter Education and Loyalty bonus points. The lowest random number for an application is used in the drawing. New random numbers are generated for each pass.

Group Bonus Points

Group bonus points come into play when 2 to 4 applicants apply on a single hunt application. These points are calculated by adding the general bonus points, loyalty bonus point, and hunter education bonus point for each applicant and dividing the total by the number of applicants. The average number of bonus points in the group is used in the draw.

Checking for Permit Availability

When an application is reviewed, the system checks for available permits in the chosen hunt. There must be enough permits for all applicants on the application, including non-resident caps. If not, the application is passed, and the next one is reviewed.

The Drawing Phases

First Pass (Bonus Point Pass)

In this pass, up to 20% of authorized hunt permit-tags are issued for various species. Applications are first sorted based bonus points, starting with maximum bonus and proceeding with fewer points after. Within each point grouping, e.g. holders with max points, applications are then sorted by the random number generated prior to the round, with lowest number being prioritized first. Applications from the prior ordering are then reviewed in order, and if permits are available, they are issued. In this round, only first and second choices are considered. The process continues with lower bonus point categories until the allocated permits are issued or all applications with bonus points are reviewed. Nonresidents are limited to 10% of total tags across all rounds. It is possible that this 10% limit is reach in the first pass, which means tags for that unit are no longer available to nonresidents, in any round. Applications with zero bonus points are not eligible in this round. Functionally, this proceeds as a preference based system.

Second Pass (First-Second Choice Pass)

Applications that didn’t succeed in the bonus point pass receive a new random number for the second pass round. This pass of the draw proceeds similar to a standard bonus point system, where each bonus point held improves the odds of receiving a low number in the number generation process. Applications are then reviewed in order of lowest number. For each application, if the first choice hunt is available, it is awarded. If it is not, the second choice is reviewed and awarded if available. If not, the system continues on to the next application. If the nonresident cap for a unit has been meet prior to a nonresident application, the unit will no longer be available to the applicant.

Third Pass (Third-Fourth-Fifth Choice Pass)

For applications unsuccessful in the first two passes, new random numbers are generated, and the system reviews applications in the same method as the prior pass, but considering third, fourth, and fifth hunt choices.

Awarding Bonus Points

After the third pass, the drawing concludes, and applicants who did not receive permits are awarded an additional bonus point for each species they applied for. These points are reset to zero for species where they received permits.