Point Guard programs explained

In several weeks applications for the 2023 elk and antelope will be due.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has a couple of programs in place that basically allow sportsmen the opportunity to turn in a big game tag that they have drawn, and in return, they can get their bonus points for that species reinstated. The programs are called Point Guard and Point Guard Plus.

I’ve received several calls from area sportsmen who wanted to know what the differences are between the programs and what advantages each program offers to sportsmen.

If you go to Page 7 of the 2023 Pronghorn and Elk Hunt Draw Information booklet, it addresses both Point Guard and Point Guard Plus.

Sportsmen can also go to https://bit.ly/3Wvs4e, which explains the difference between the programs.

Point Guard

Here’s what AZGFD says about Point Guard.

“Point Guard is $10 per species, per applicant and can be purchased from the time of completing an online application until the deadline to update credit card or debit card information. Point Guard is only good for that draw cycle and the fee is non-refundable.”

Here is also something to consider. If you purchase Point Guard, sportsmen should remember that only one permit-tag may be surrendered per species. If you draw the tag again, you must either use the tag or donate it to any of the 501C-3 non-profit organizations in Arizona. If a sportsman turns in their tag to one of these groups, sportsmen will lose all of their accumulated bonus points.

For me personally, and for those of you with children or grandchildren under 18, there is another option. You can donate your tag to your children or grandkids.

According to the 2023 hunt booklet “if an applicant is drawn in the future for that particular species, that hunt-permit tag must be used, expending all accumulated bonus points. Only then may an applicant participate again in Point Guard and Point Guard Plus.”

I can give you an example of how this works. In 2022 I applied for an antlerless elk tag and bought Point Guard. My 12-year-old grandson also applied for a youth-only elk tag, but being from out of state with no points, I didn’t think he would draw. I knew I would draw as I had a lot of bonus points. The plan was to sign over my tag to him, but when I did, my bonus points would be reinstated under Point Guard.

But guess what happened? Both he and I drew tags! Because I had Point Guard, I turned the tag back in and got my points back.

However, this year, when I apply for an elk tag and if I’m fortunate enough to draw it, even if it is for antlerless elk, I have to use it! I can sign it over to my minor grandson or donate it to an organization like the Arizona Elk Society. Either way though, I will lose ALL my accumulated points!

Point Guard Plus

So, what are the advantages of PointGuard Plus?

Here are the advantages of buying Point Guard Plus, according to AZGFD.

“For $25, an applicant will have the opportunity to surrender a hunt permit-tag and have their bonus points reinstated for all eligible big game species for three consecutive draw cycles from the date of purchase.

PointGuard Plus can be purchased from the time of completing an online application, right up to the deadline to update credit card or debit card information (prior to AZGFD processing hunt applications). The fee is non-refundable.

You can still have only one hunt permit-tag surrendered, per species. If an applicant is drawn in the future for that particular species, that hunt-permit tag must be used, expending all accumulated bonus points. Only then may an applicant participate again in PointGuard Plus (and PointGuard). However. those who purchase PointGuard Plus will receive priority positioning for the reissuing of hunt permit-tags that are surrendered by PointGuard members and non-members alike.

A free AZGFD portal account is not required to purchase PointGuard Plus. A portal account is still needed for those applicants wishing to view their draw results.

PointGuard Plus, like Point Guard, is completely discretionary. For more detailed information, visit www.azgfd.com/hunting/pointguard/, or call 602-942-3000. Point Guard Plus covers the applications for ALL of Arizona’s big game species. You only pay the $25 fee one time.

According to Region 3 Supervisor Karen Klima, Point Guard Plus is good for three consecutive draw cycles from the date of purchase. “There are three draw cycles in Arizona every year,” Klima said. “There is the spring draw for javelina and turkey, a draw for elk and antelope, and finally the fall draw for deer and sheep.”

What this means is that if you applied for a spring javelina tag this year, then the Point Gard Plus will be applied for that draw, the spring elk and antelope draw and the fall draw when only deer and sheep tags are applied for.

Javelina tags are not offered in the elk/pronghorn draw or in the deer/bighorn sheep draws. However, it counts as part of the three consecutive draw cycles. Some sportsmen believe that Point Guard or Point Guard Plus would be good for three years, but that’s not true.

Klima explained the advantages of purchasing Point Guard Plus over Point Guard.

“Point Guard Plus is designed for those sportsmen who apply for multiple species during the year.”

That means if you are applying for javelina, bear, antelope, elk, turkey or bighorn sheep then Point Guard Plus would be the way to go. If you applied for every one of those species separately it would cost $60.

However, if you only apply for one or two big game species, there is no advantage.

Remember that under Point Guard it is $10 for one species. So, if you apply for only one or two species per year, or don’t plan to purchase Point Guard for the other species you are going to apply for, then Point Guard Plus is not for you.

For me, Point Guard Plus is the way to go. I basically apply every year for javelina, turkey, elk, antelope and sheep.

For you? Just do the math for your own situation.

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