Draw Hunt Donations and Wildlife Conservation: And, Sometimes You Get Lucky


Alaska Chapter Coordinator Mary Glaves with the downed muskox.


The race of muskoxen that currently populate Alaska is the Greenland muskox. These muskoxen a have dark brown coloration with creamy saddle, forehead, and leg hair. A mature muskox, Ovibos moschatus, bull can grow to be up to 800 lbs. Muskox are native to Alaska, but disappeared in the 1920s, then were repopulated in 1930 from three dozen muskox that were brought to Fairbanks from Greenland, then transferred to Nunivak Island in 1935. Once muskox became established on Nunivak, with some 750 animals in the herd, muskox were then translocated back across the Bering sea to other parts of Alaska including the Seward Peninsula, Nelson Islands, and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. There are currently about 4,000 muskoxen in Alaska. More information can be found on the specific translocation history and area populations here: Muskox Species Profile, Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

When you put in for a muskox tag, you realize that you have a very low chance of drawing (1% or less), but if you do draw, you should go! And, the cost of embarking on this rarer adventure will be on the steeper side as far as domestic US hunts go. ADF&G says to expect to pay between $4-9K for a muskox hunt. Huntin’ Fool has an article that breaks down the cost from a 2021 hunt for a non-Alaska resident, which approaches $12K.

The cost for putting in for muskox is up to $60, 6 chances at $10/each. When all was said and done, the chances of me drawing the tag in 2023, were 0.749%.

I drew DX003 which meant I was going to Nunivak Island sometime between Jan 1-March 31 to look for a bull muskox. There are 3 registered transporters on the ADFG website, and when I did my research, Ishmael Smith came highly recommended. Wouldn’t you know, that when I called to make my booking, a friend from my time on Prince of Wales Island was there, and Ishmael asked if I wanted to chat with her. Alaska can be such a small state, for its geographical magnitude.

Below is the draw supplement chart for muskox in 2022-2023: Permits available, number of applications, and chances of drawing.


Below is the draw supplement chart for muskox in 2024-2025: Permits available, number of applications, and chances of drawing. NOTE: the addition of the 26B East of the Dalton Hwy hunt for AK Residents (DX112).

I don’t often win things, so drawing the Nunivak muskox tag was an astonishing surprise. But there are some things I don’t mind throwing funds at - wildlife conservation is absolutely one of those things. The money you spend on Alaska draw hunt applications goes into the F&G fund, which is used as a 1:3 match for federal Pittman-Robertson (PR) funding, largely allocated towards the wildlife conservation budget (with a few exceptions). In article two, of a four-article series by Rick Merizon, a small game biologist at ADF&G, published by ADF&G in 2020, Rick explains Fish and Wildlife Management in the United States, and specifically Alaska.  

“For every $1 of state revenue (e.g. licenses) a state can collect $3 federal PR or DJ (Dingle-Johnson) dollars (based on land area and licensed hunter/fisher population). These funds support fish and wildlife research and monitoring, hunter education programs, and angler and hunter access projects through your states management agency. Absalom Robertson (co-sponsor of the PR bill signed in 1937) only agreed to sign the bill if it stated the funds would never be diverted to other purposes than administration of state fish and game departments.”

2024-2025 is the first season of the 26B (East of the Dalton Highway) muskox hunt opportunity, for 4 residents: Wildlife Conservation management opportunities.

So, whether or not you drew a tag this year, you might get lucky one day. Not to mention, wildlife conservation has a chance to continue winning, allowing for these opportunities for Alaskans, and non-residents, to experience some of the most remote backcountry hunting left in the world. That’s certainly worth my annual donation. Good luck to everyone who drew this year!

If you’re in Juneau, come out to AK BHA’s Draw Tag$ Pint Night at Forbidden Peak on Tuesday Feb. 27th at 6PM for a talk by Ryan Scott, Director of Wildlife Conservation at ADF&G, about how wildlife conservation is funded in Alaska and how your draw hunt application fees contribute to that. Plus, chat with other hunters that may have already hunted the tag you drew, and get some tips and advice!

About Mary Glaves

Alaska Chapter Coordinator for BHA. You can find Mary outside with a rifle, bow, fishing rod, or mushroom knife most sunny or rainy days on Alaska's public lands.

See other posts related to Alaska BHA Alaska issues Alaska events