Big Game Draw 2015 Application Essay

See instructions for applying in the 2017 Big Game Drawing for your elk, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep tags.

For the 2017 Big Game Drawing, 15 is the maximum number of preference points for any species a hunter can have. The CDFW started tracking preference points in 2002. To look up your preference points totals log on to your customer profile at


Applicants can apply for the Big Game Drawing at any CDFW license sales office, license agent, online at or by telephone sales at (800) 565-1458. All transactions for Big Game Drawing entries must be completed before midnight on June 2, 2017. Applicants applying for preference points only must also submit their applications by the same date and time.

You will need to purchase a California hunting license and the appropriate Big Game Drawing Tag Applications:

  • First-Deer Tag Application (junior hunters may apply for Apprentice Deer Hunts on a Second-Deer Tag Drawing Application).
  • Elk Tag Drawing Application
  • Pronghorn Tag Drawing Application
  • Bighorn Sheep Tag Drawing Application
  • Fund-raising Drawing Application — Open Zone Deer tag, Grizzly Island, Northeastern California Pronghorn tag and Desert Bighorn Sheep tag

(1) Retrieving Your Customer Record:

(a) If applying at a CDFW license sales office or a license agent provide a previous ALDS issued license for the agent to scan.

(b) If applying online or by telephone sales, use the GO ID (printed above your ‘STATE ID’ ) from a previously issued ALDS license to retrieve your customer record.

(2) Applying for Another Person: If you are applying for someone else or party members, bring their previously issued ALDS license or their identification number and date of birth.

(3) Proof of Hunter Education Requirement: Hunter education information must already be on file in your ALDS profile. For new applicants, please bring your required proof of hunter education with you to the license agent. Note: Hunters who have purchased hunting items via ALDS already have hunter education on file in their customer profile.

(4) Items to Purchase:

(a) Purchase your 2017/2018 California hunting license.

(b) Provide the sales clerk the 2017 hunting items you would like to apply for (see the list of items from the previous column) and the hunt code for each tag application for which you want to apply. Note: For deer, you should confirm the correct order of your hunt choices.


The maximum number of party members for deer is six (6). For elk and pronghorn, only residents may apply as a party of two. Hunters cannot apply as a party for bighorn sheep. You will receive a different Drawing Receipt and Party Number for each species for which you are applying. Make sure you are giving the correct Party Number from each Drawing Receipt to the correct hunting party.

When applying for a deer, elk, or pronghorn drawing tag application you will be prompted as to whether you are:

(a) Applying alone or creating a new party (party leader).

(b) Joining an existing party.

The first member of the party to apply should indicate they are applying as the leader. They will be prompted for their hunt choice(s) and issued a Party Number (printed on their Drawing Receipt at the end of the transaction). Note: Every applicant will receive a Party Number printed on their Drawing Receipt.

The party leader must provide the Party Number to additional members to ‘authorize’ them to join the party. Note: CDFW license sales staff and license agents do not have access to a party leader’s Party Number.

When other party members apply they must indicate that they are joining an existing party, and provide the Party Number to the sales clerk (or enter it themselves if applying online). Note: If other members of the party are applying in the same sales transaction, they will not need the party number and can just indicate to the sales clerk that they are joining that person’s party.

When the Party Number is entered in the drawing application screen it will bring up the hunting party and hunt choice information. The sales clerk should confirm that this is the correct party and hunt choice with the purchaser. If this is not the correct party, the sales clerk can cancel and re-enter the Party Number. If correct, the sales clerk can confirm, and this will link the new member to the party. (Note: If applying online, the confirmation screen will display for the customer with the options to cancel or confirm).

Hunters joining an existing party will be assigned the same tag choices in the same order as the party leader and all party members will be linked in the drawing together.

Party applications can be made up of transactions submitted in the same sales transaction or through several transactions. In addition, hunters can submit their drawing applications at any CDFW license sales offices, license agents, online, or by telephone sales.

Check Your Drawing Receipt Carefully!

Hunters should verify the information on their Drawing Receipt before leaving the sales counter. The receipt will include the applicant’s name, hunt choice(s), accumulated preference points, and a Party Number. If any of the information is incorrect, the sales clerk must cancel the Drawing Receipt document and ‘re-sell’ the application with the correct information.

License agents have only four hours to cancel a sale. If the transaction has exceeded the four hour limit when the discrepancy is found, the applicant must contact CDFW’s License and Revenue Branch prior to the June 2nd deadline at

Applying for the Big Game Drawing Online

Apply early! Don’t be left out! The deadline to apply is midnight on June 2, 2017.

You must have proof of hunter education on file to purchase hunting items online. If you do not have hunter education on file, you must provide proof of hunter education to a license agent or a CDFW license sales office. You may also contact CDFW by fax at (916) 419-7587 or e-mail and provide proof of hunter education and GO ID, or your personal identification number. After your hunter education is updated in ALDS, you will be able to purchase hunting licenses now and in the future.

How to Apply Online

(1) Using your last name, date of birth, and ID number (GO ID, CDL, or other ID used to create profile) log into your profile and click on the “Purchase Licenses” link at the top of the page.

(2) From the Menu box on the left side of the screen, select 2017 Hunting.

(3) Add the 2017 hunting license to your cart.

(4) Scroll down to the Drawings section. In the Drawings section,

• Click on “Add to Cart” to select the desired Drawing Application.

• Note: Adult hunters MUST use a First Deer Tag Drawing Application when applying for deer in the Big Game Drawing. The item ‘First Deer Tag’ (in the TAGS section) cannot be used to apply for the Big Game Drawing for deer.

• If you are joining an existing hunting party, select “Join Party”. You will need the Party Number of the party you wish to join.

• If you are applying alone, or if you are the first person in your party to apply, select “Apply Alone or Create New Party.”

• Enter your hunt choices in the boxes provided.

• Click “Submit” to complete hunt choice entry.

(5) Repeat step 4, for each species for which you are applying.

(6) Add any other items you wish to purchase to the cart.

(7) Select “View Cart” to review the items you’ve selected and confirm your tag choices.

(8) Click on “Continue to Checkout” to start the checkout process and enter your payment information. Enter your email address if you want confirmation of your purchase emailed to you.

(9) Check the box to certify that you are 18 years of age and authorize the purchase. The transaction will not be processed if this box is not checked, which means you will not be entered in the Big Game Drawing.

(10) Select “Complete Transaction.” The “Transaction Complete” page will appear, stating that your order has been received and processed. Click on “Download Receipt/Licenses” so you may print your drawing receipts for your record.

For more information contact the CDFW’s Internet Sales Help Desk at (916) 928-6882 or email


The CDFW has 10 business days after the deadline to conduct the drawing. Applicants may look up their drawing results on or around June 19, 2017 by entering their customer information on CDFW’s website at and click on ‘View My Draw Application/Preference Points’ at the top of the page. Applicants will also see their new preference point totals by clicking on the tab ‘Preference Point.’ On the same day, drawing results will be available by phone during regular business hours from CDFW license sales offices.


Deer tags awarded through the Big Game Drawing will be mailed to successful applicants as soon as possible after the drawing. If you do not receive your tag by July 2, 2017, please contact your nearest CDFW license sales office.

Unsuccessful deer tag applicants will also be mailed unsuccessful deer tag notices by July 2, 2017. Notices will list available deer tags as of the notice date. It is not necessary to have the drawing notice to claim an available tag; hunters may go to any CDFW license sales office, license agent, online or by telephone sales to claim available deer tags. Hunters may use their California hunting license to retrieve their customer record.

Unsuccessful nonresidents may request a refund of the difference between the fees paid for a nonresident and a resident Deer Tag Drawing Application, if the application was submitted and a deer tag was not issued or if a nonresident tag is issued, and all of the following conditions are met:

  1. The deer license tag is not a premium tag.
  2. The deer license tag is returned prior to the earliest opening date for the hunt.
  3. The tag quota has not been filled for the hunt.

Refund requests shall be submitted on or before March 1, each year, to CDFW’s License and Revenue Branch, 1740 N. Market Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95834. If the deadline to submit the request for refund falls on a weekend or holiday, requests will be accepted until the close of business on the first state business day following the deadline to submit the request.

Successful elk, pronghorn and bighorn sheep applicants and alternates should receive their payment notices in the mail by July 2, 2017; unsuccessful applicants will not be notified by mail.

It is not necessary to have the successful tag letter to claim your tag; hunters may go to any CDFW license sales office or online to purchase your elk or pronghorn tag.


Under a Modified Preference Point System drawing, tag quotas for each hunt are split into two portions: one portion awarded by preference point drawings; the other portion awarded in Draw-By-Choice drawings. Quota splits vary, depending on the species, total number of available tags, and other special criteria (such as those for Apprentice Hunts, elk, pronghorn and Bighorn sheep).

CDFW will conduct the drawing within 10 business days of the application deadline.

After the application deadline, when all applicant information has been verified, the computer will:

  • Assign each person (or party) a unique random number. Party members receive the same random number as the party leader.
  • Determine the preference point value for party applications by averaging all party members’ preference points (total preference points of the party divided by the number of party members). Preference point averages are not rounded up or down (CCR T14-708.14(e)).

Steps in the Premium Deer Tag Drawing:

  • Sort all applications according to the first choice tag, then preference point totals, and then random number.
  • Award tag choices to applicants with the most preference points, in random number order only (starting with the lowest random number to the highest random number). Tags are awarded until the preference quota is met.
  • After the preference point round is completed, unsuccessful applicants are resorted by hunt choice and random number order (starting with the lowest random number to the highest random number), and the computer begins awarding tags based on applicant’s first-choice without consideration of accumulated preference points, until all draw-by-choice tag quotas fill or until all applicants have been processed.
  • All remaining unsuccessful applicants are then sorted by second choice tag, in random number order (starting with the lowest random number to the highest random number) and the computer conducts a second round of drawings for any zones and hunts with tags remaining without consideration of accumulated preference points.
  • All remaining unsuccessful applicants are sorted once again by third choice tag, in random number order (starting with the lowest random number to the highest random number), and any remaining tags are awarded without consideration of accumulated points.
  • Applicants unsuccessful for any of their hunt choices will be notified of available tags so they may reapply.

Deer tag party applications are not split to meet the tag quota if the number of party members exceeds the number of available tags (CCR T14-708.15(a)(2)). Therefore, when there are fewer tags available than the number of members in a party, the computer bypasses that application and moves on to the next application where party count is equal to or less than the remaining quota.

Steps in the Elk, Pronghorn and Bighorn Sheep Tag Drawings:

The draw-by-choice round of the drawing is conducted first then the preference point round.

Alternates are selected in the preference point round and parties may be split when awarding the final tag. The party leader will be awarded the tag and the party member will become the first alternate for that hunt. Applicants drawn as alternates will be awarded unclaimed tags on an individual basis, in the order drawn.


Quota splits are established in regulations adopted by the Fish and Game Commission based on CDFW science-based proposals and public input. Please check the Commission’s web site at for information on how to become involved in the regulation-setting process.

Premium Deer Hunt Tags

  • Ninety percent (90%) of the individual zone or hunt tag quota shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing.
  • Ten percent (10%) of the individual zone or hunt tag quota shall be awarded using a Draw-by-Choice drawing.
  • For zones or hunts with quotas less than ten (10) tags, one (1) tag shall be awarded using a Draw-by-Choice drawing.

Apprentice Deer Hunt Tags

  • Fifty percent (50%) of the hunt tag quota shall be awarded through a Preference Point drawing.
  • Fifty percent (50%) of the hunt tag quota shall be awarded through a Draw-By-Choice drawing.

Elk, Pronghorn and Bighorn Sheep Tags

  • For quotas of one (1), the tag shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing.
  • For quotas of two (2), one (1) tag shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing, and one (1) tag shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing.
  • For quotas of three (3), two (2) tags shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing, and one (1) tag shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing.
  • For quotas of four (4) or more, seventy-five percent (75%) of the quota shall be awarded using a Preference Point drawing. The remaining portion of the quota shall be awarded using a Draw-By-Choice drawing.


  • Online customers forget to click on the “Submit Payment” button to process the transaction.
  • Online customers “Add to Cart” a first deer tag instead of the First Deer Tag Drawing Application located under the “Drawings” list.
  • Customers leave the license sales agent with a deer tag instead of a Deer Drawing Receipt. The drawing receipt shows that you have applied in the drawing.
  • A customer who does not retrieve their existing profile, creates a duplicate profile and is not connected to their preference points or hunter education. Therefore the customer is not able to purchase a hunting license and cannot apply in the drawing.
  • Customers don’t apply early and miss the deadline to apply.

Time is running out for California hunters to apply for the 2017 Big Game Drawing. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is accepting applications for elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and deer tags as well as fundraising random drawing tags.  Applicants must complete the sales transaction before midnight June 2, 2017. Applications may be submitted anywhere California hunting licenses are sold.

The following resources are available to assist hunters in applying for the 2017 Big Game Drawing:

  • 2017 California Big Game Hunting Digest – Includes proposed seasons, application instructions and drawing statistics. The digest is available online at
  • Big Game Tag Quotas – Approved 2017 tag quotas can be viewed on the species webpages located at Severe winter weather resulted in high mortality of deer in the Eastern Sierra. For this reason, 2017 tag quotas were significantly reduced for the X9a, X9b, X12 zones and archery hunts A16, A17 and A20. Before applying, hunters should check access restrictions to hunting areas since some roads were washed-out due to winter storms.
  • Online Licenses Sales and Service – Purchase licenses, apply for the big game drawing, review your existing applications and preference points, or find a license agent near you at
  • Telephone License SalesPurchase licenses and submit drawing applications by telephone at (800) 565-1458.

Junior Hunters

Any hunter who is under 18 years of age on July 1, 2017 qualifies for a junior hunting license. Junior hunters who are 12 years of age or older on July 1, 2017 may apply for apprentice deer, elk and pronghorn antelope hunts. Hunters must be at least 16 years of age on July 1, 2017 to apply for bighorn sheep tags.

Fundraising Random Drawing Opportunities

Any person who will be 12 years of age or older on July 1 may apply for fundraising random drawing tags, except that applicants for bighorn sheep tags must be 16 years of age on July 1. Applicants may apply as many times as they wish. The application fee is $5.97 per entry. Applicants do not need a valid hunting license to apply, but a hunting license must be purchased prior to issuing the tag. Fundraising tags will be issued at no additional cost. For 2017, four fundraising random drawing tags will be available:

Open Zone Deer Tag

The open zone deer tag allows the hunter to hunt during the authorized season dates of any hunt, using the specific method and meeting any special conditions of the tag for that hunt.

Owens Valley Tule Bull Elk Tag

The elk tag is valid in all elk zones within the Owens Valley, with any legal method of take. The hunt dates are from July 29, 2017 to Aug. 27, 2017.

Northeastern California Pronghorn Tag

The pronghorn tag allows the hunter to hunt in any of the northeastern pronghorn antelope zones (Mount Dome, Clear Lake, Likely Tables, Lassen, Big Valley and Surprise Valley) with any legal method. The hunt dates are from July 29, 2017 to Sept.17, 2017.

Marble/Clipper and South Bristol Mountains Bighorn Sheep Tag

The bighorn sheep tag is valid only in the Marble/Clipper and South Bristol Mountains hunt zones. If drawn, the hunter must attend a mandatory orientation to receive the tag. The hunt dates are from Nov. 4, 2017 to Feb. 4, 2018.


Media Contacts:
Lai Saechao, CDFW License and Revenue Branch, (916) 928-7416

Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 591-0140

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