Apply now for fall big game hunting permits

NEWS — June 2 is the date to remember for California hunters who want to apply for the fall’s special big game hunts. That’s the date the application must be received at the Department of Fish and Game license section in Sacramento for hunters to be eligible for the Golden State’s draw hunts with binoculars for hunting.

hunting with binocularsCounting points: This year the preference point system will again be in place for permit hunts. If you weren’t lucky enough to draw last year, you have a better chance of drawing a permit for 2004 hunts because of points accumulated from unsucessful 2003 applications. And if you don’t get drawn this year, you’ll receive one preference point for the 2005 drawings. Even if you don’t plan to hunt this year but want to hunt next year, you’re advised to apply and gain a preference point.

One preference point is given for each species of animal. For example, you can get one point for X Zone deer, one for bighorn sheep and so on. Hunters attempting to luck into a tag without a preference point should be aware that their chances of being drawn are very low.

A good example was last year’s X1 deer zone. The permit quota was 2,555, and 3,422 hunters applied for the tags. Of that group of applicants, 2,300 of those selected had a preference point and only 255 (10 percent) were randomly chosen.

Permit zones: The special hunts apply to the X Zone deer season, elk, antelope and bighorn sheep. There will also be several junior deer hunts as well as special archery hunts. Of the 17 X deer zone hunts, X1 will give out the most permits at 2,325. The smallest number of hunters will be allowed to target X7b, where only 70 permits are available.

Long odds for sheep, antelope: As usual, bighorn sheep hunters face the toughest odds of getting drawn in 2004. Last year, 6,909 hunters applied for only 9 tags (a 0.1 percent drawing probability). The odds for antelope weren’t much better: The drawing drew 12,723 hunter applications for only 247 tags (just under 0.2 percent).

Information: Hunters can get a complete breakdown of all the special hunts by going to the DFG’s web site You can download an application there too.