I don't usually rant on a public forum, but this issue is just bothering me too much. Perhaps I'm not viewing it from the correct perspective:
I never had much interest in hunting as a non-resident in other states. Usually cause 1) I didn't have the needed vacation time, and 2) always lived in states with great hunting close to home. But recently I decided I'd start applying for a non-resident archery elk tag in Arizona. Just as one of those "dream" hunts of mine that maybe after 15 years I'd actually draw and send myself on a trip of a lifetime. But when I started looking into their limited draw tag process this past week, I became rather disheartened. As I understand it, and I've re-read the regs over and over, I have to purchase a general hunting license before or when I apply for a limited draw tag. OK, I can handle that. That's $151.25 for the non-resident general hunting license and $595.00 for the non-resident elk tag. Here's my problem: if I do NOT draw a tag the $595 (minus a $7 application fee) is refundable BUT the general license fee is non-refundable. So if I do not draw a tag, obviously I have no plans to hunt in AZ that year, but I'm stuck holding a general hunting license for that state (or having made a $151 donation to the state, however you want to look at it). Am I missing something? Or does anyone else have a problem with this?
I don't mean to single out Arizona, as they're not the only state with this system. Alaska does the same thing with it's limited draw tags, right? But as a resident of AK, I buy a general license anyway, so I just wanted to make my point with a state where I'm a non-resident. I have no problem with states charging more for non-residents. My problem is states charging $158.25 (AZ's license + app fee) for an applicant to basically obtain a preference or bonus point.
The states are already charging a $5-10 application fee to cover expenses of processing your application. Why do they keep your general license fee if you do not draw a tag and thus won't be hunting in that state? Perhaps a better system would be to make applicants, who were successfully drawn, submit proof of purchase of their general license before the tag was issued. Obviously the state would lose out on a bunch of money from the nonsuccessful applicants. I just look at the current system as a raw deal for non-residents. I know, life isn't fair I'm just glad I'm not living in Arizona as a non-resident.