Expanding our coverage to include Montana has been long overdue.
Traditionally we like to get as much information as possible from the state before publishing draw information. In Montana we haven't had much luck acquiring the additional data we typically like to look at and consider. But we'll keep at it - eventually we will find the right person to talk to inside the department!
We calculated the draw odds in Montana via our own computer draw simulation using the applicant and bonus point data available from the department's website. Montana uses a squared bonus point system for drawing controlled hunt permits.
The one aspect of the Montana draw process that can be a little tricky when calculating the odds is the "up to" 10% tag allocation for nonresidents. That 10% is not guaranteed and depending upon resident/nonresident demand the total # of tags given to each can be unpredictable from year to year. For this reason we find that running our own draw simulation with Montana's data gives us a clearer picture of the odds for certain hunt codes.
As a measure of validation, one of the post-processing things we routinely do is a high level analysis of our produced simulation results against actual results from the state draws. This is a sort of sanity check for us in which we group and compare tranches of applicants who collectively all have the same relative chance to draw given their hunt choice and bonus points.
We then compare that to how that group of applicants did in the actual draw results. Of course there will always be some variation given the sample sizes we are working with, but generally we expect to see a strong correlation between our produced odds and what actually occurred broadly in any given draw year. And in fact we do normally see a very good correlation.
The one thing of note in Montana is that this same analysis produced some results that left us slightly puzzled. For those groups of applicants where draw probabilities were less than say 30%, we saw very good (great even!) correlation with actual draw results. At higher draw probabilities, the applicants seemed to draw tags at a level slightly below what we would expect to see. It wasn't a huge discrepancy, but it was consistent enough across years, species and resident status that it remains a curiosity. In short, we are still trying to determine why the number of tags issued as shown on Montana's bonus point report appears to run behind at higher point levels.
We currently do not have group application information for Montana so that may be the cause of this statistical wrinkle. We've spent more time looking at this than we should and in the end we feel like this is of little or no consequence to the actual draw odds. But ultimately there is probably another paragraph or two that could be written here if we had more data to look at. We hope to get that information soon.
Montana's application deadline for deer and elk is March 15, 2018. Best of luck to you in the draws!