Originally published Monday, February 4, 2019 at 07:29p.m.

One of the questions I’m often asked as a Chief Hunter Education instructor is, “How valuable are bonus points when it comes to helping draw a tag?”

If you believe in statistical probabilities, then you should believe bonus points are helpful when it comes to drawing a tag.

First of all, what are bonus points and how do you accumulate them?

Bonus points in Arizona are given to a sportsman who has not been successful in a draw for a big-game tag. If you apply for a tag and don’t draw, you’ll get a point.

After five consecutive years of applying (regardless of whether you’ve been successful or not in drawing a tag) the department issues you what is called a Loyalty Point. This point stays with you unless you miss an application period, at which time you will lose that Loyalty Point and you’ll have to start all over again.

It’s actually a good method instituted by the Arizona Game and Fish Department to keep you, the sportsman, applying for tags.

One does not have to apply for a tag though to get a bonus point. During the application period a sportsman can apply for a bonus point only. That means they won’t be in the draw, but they will receive a point for applying. Note, however, you can’t apply for a tag and for a bonus point. You must do one or the other.

Another way to obtain a permanent bonus point is by taking an Arizona Hunter Education class. Take a class and when you graduate, your sportsman “account” will receive a permanent bonus point for all of Arizona’s big-game species.

You keep that point forever unless the AZGFD Commission revokes your license privileges, including your Hunter Education bonus point, at which time the point you had is taken away.

The commission may, and normally does, order that a person has to take another Hunter Education class before they can start applying for a big-game tag after their suspension or revocation has ended.

How does accumulating bonus points help a sportsman in drawing a tag? One must understand that with the exception of a resident who has the maximum bonus points for any species, the odds of drawing a tag is based upon mathematical probabilities, not mathematical certainties.

Here is a simple way to explain it. If you have 10 chances to draw a low number for a big-game draw, and I have just one opportunity to draw a low number, who do you think will have the best chance to get that low number? Statistically it should be the person with the most points, right?

But the Arizona draw system doesn’t shut out persons who have just one chance to draw a low number, as sometimes that person does get a low number and draws what could be considered a premium tag.

The Kingman Hunter Education team that is led by Mohave Valley resident Jim Rich (928-444-3397) holds a couple of resident Hunter Education classes a year.

In addition to the resident classes, the team does field day and bonus-point field days a few times a year.

Check on the AZGFD website under Hunter Education to see what classes are being offered in the Kingman and Bullhead City areas.

Applications are currently being accepted online only for the fall 2019 antelope and elk tags. Sportsmen have until Feb. 12 to apply for one these tags. Sportsmen must have a valid Arizona hunting license at the time of application and a valid credit card to use for the applications.