CHEYENNE - If you were one of the hunters who accessed the Game and Fish website shortly after 8 a.m. on July 10 or 17 to get a leftover license and found that the area you wanted was gone, you weren’t alone.
“How could the licenses sell out so fast,” asked one hunter who had gone online several minutes after 8 a.m. on July 10 for an antelope license only to find out that licenses in the area he wanted were no longer available.
Similar stories were voiced by hunters who had lined up before 8 a.m. at Game and Fish offices on July 10 and July 17 to be one of the first in line. Leftover full-price elk, deer, and antelope licenses went on sale at 8 a.m. on July 10 and reduced price cow/calf elk and doe fawn deer and antelope licenses were released a week later on July 17.
More than 2,500 full price licenses were sold in the first 30 minutes after 8 a.m. on July 10 and over 5,500 reduced price licenses were sold within the first half hour after the 8 a.m. starting time on July 17.
The answer to how license could go so fast is a result of the computer age, but issuing licenses via computer is not new. For several years the Game and Fish has been issuing leftover licenses online via the Game and Fish website.
“Before 8 a.m. on the license release dates there were hundreds of people who had already logged in, waiting for the licenses to be released,” said Game and Fish computer programmer Tom Graham. “On the morning of July 10 we looked at the activity on our website and 1,200 people were already logged in and waiting for the licenses to be released at 8 a.m.”
Numerous people were also waiting at license agents and Game and Fish offices, but Graham said licenses are sold at those facilities the same way they are on your home computer. “At Game and Fish offices, a hunter’s personal information must be entered by the Game and Fish employee, and by the time that gets taken care of, others who were already online had often taken the available licenses in some of the areas,” Graham said. “Essentially, the people who were waiting at offices had 1,200 people ahead of them in the line on July 10 and about 1,600 folks on the 17th.”
Graham said that one popular antelope area that had 184 licenses remaining only lasted 12 seconds before all of the licenses had been reserved. “Once a hunter indicates a license choice, that license is reserved for up to 30minutes to allow the hunter time to complete the credit card information to purchase the license,” Graham said. “If the hunter has not purchased the license after 30 minutes, that license is released and will show up on the website as an available license. The first applicants who apply for those licenses once they are released will be the ones who get them.”
“Sometimes areas show up on the leftover list as having licenses available, but when a hunter goes to purchase these licenses the screen shows licenses are not available,” said Graham. “This is because those licenses on the leftover list have not yet been paid for, but are still reserved while the customer has a chance to complete the purchase. Licenses are removed from the leftover list once the financial transaction has been completed.”
Graham said hunters may wish to monitor the website if licenses are shown on the leftover list in the event that those that are reserved are not paid for within the 30 minute time period. “You may think of the leftover list as being similar to the inventory system in your local big box store,” said Graham. “You may go to the shelf looking for a particular television and there are none there, but the store’s computer says they have two of them. The fact is that two customers have them in their shopping carts but haven’t paid for them yet. Unlike the big box store where the customer may abandon the television in the produce aisle, our license selling system monitors everyone’s shopping cart and puts the licenses “back on the shelf” if a customer takes more than 30 minutes to pay for them.”
Some people wonder why the Game and Fish does not show an area as being sold out on the leftover list once all of the licenses are reserved.
“We know that there is a good chance that not all of the reserved licenses will be sold within the 30 minute limit,and they will become available again,” Graham said. This is especially true when we are looking at the initial crunch when hundreds of licenses for a single area may be reserved in less than a minute. We do not want to create a situation where a sportsperson gives up trying for a particular license because the leftover list said it was sold out, just to find out from a buddy that the leftover list changed as reservations expired, and the buddy managed to get the license that we said was already sold out.”
Even with the flurry of license buying activity there are a number of areas that still have licenses remaining. For deer and antelope, most of those licenses are on private land areas and hunters are advised to secure a place to hunt before obtaining a license. Some of the reduced price cow/calf elk licenses are for private land areas, but a number are available on national forest lands. A complete listing of areas with leftover licenses and application information is available on the Game and Fish website http://wgfd.wyo.gov.
(Contact: Al Langston (307) 777-4540)