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I am interested to get the opinion of the some of the other Buzzards. This is the first year that I am applying for permits for the this summer and was wondering what is the best strategy to land a permit when you have multiple people that will apply.

Is it better to have everyone submit for the same date ranges or would you have a better chance if you have a range of launch dates?

I am not sure exactly how the lotteries work, do they just draw a specific number of permits as a total or do they draw per day?

A little clarity and wisdom would be much appreciated.

Thanks for your help.
 

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I think.....They draw an application, check what date it wants, and gives it to him if it's available. Over and over again. Whenever a app is chosen, be the 5th or 500th one chosen, if a requested date on the application is available it gets it; if a requested date is not available, it's a loser.

You take your chances with when your name is chosen and how popular are the dates that you request.

As for the statistical analysis of, "Is it better to have everyone submit for the same date ranges or would you have a better chance if you have a range of launch dates?", that's beyond me. With all the times that's been discussed I've never seen a proper analysis. Lots of conjecture, but nothing concrete.
 

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Neither method has worked for us. It's a crap shoot.
 

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"Neither method has worked for us. It's a crap shoot."

As cataraftgirl stated above, that is my take on these lotteries.

I would like to know exactly how the federales do the drawing. I have heard that selections are made by a computer generated list, but have no idea if that is true.

I know for years I have put in for middle fork salmon permits and never hit. But, I know of several folks who hit the first time they applied. Go figure!
 

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Our group has never hit the MF lottery. We have had a few winners in the Main Salmon lottery over the years.....first time applicant from Florida, and both husband & wife applicants once. Go figure is right!
 

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If you pick undesirable dates, you are more likely to get a selection if your draw is toward the end of the lottery. You increase your chances of having luck by selecting second through fourth dates if your first choice is gone. You increase your odds by having more people enter. Friends, family,etc. Keep in mind they have to be willing and able to come if they are successful
 

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If you pick undesirable dates, you are more likely to get a selection if your draw is toward the end of the lottery. You increase your chances of having luck by selecting second through fourth dates if your first choice is gone. You increase your odds by having more people enter. Friends, family,etc. Keep in mind they have to be willing and able to come if they are successful
Like July 4?
 

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Neither method has worked for us. It's a crap shoot.
Crap shoot indeed. Without the shoot. That said, while I personally have never won a Middle Fork permit, others in my group have been successful twice in the past decade--and in most of those years, we didn't apply for MF permits.

I am 2 for 2 in Grand Canyon lotteries in the same period (knocking on wood).

As for strategy? There isn't any. If you want prime-time permits, you'll be up against big numbers. I always go for prime time, because that's when people in my group want to go. On the other hand, if you want to deal with weather or low water, you might get a permit more easily. There is no magic way to win.
 

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I apply for the dates that work best for me and could care less about the odds of winning. If we are putting in as a large group (multiple apps.) we pick the dates that work best for the group. I and the people I raft with the most often with win our fair share, so who knows.
When we do win we try and expand our group by inviting a few new people we do not know.
Pay backs are a great thing.
 

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One stratagy is to try and predict when the next government shutdown is planned. Then try and work around it. I hear rumor the next one will start on the 2nd of July and last for a week or two!
 

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With our success rate running around every other year the only thing that I can give you is the more random and new person to your boating circle that you invite to your permit date, the better the chance of them drawing.

I swear to you it's true. Expand your boating circle and draw a permit.
 

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I swear to you it's true. Expand your boating circle and draw a permit.
I think this breaks down when your group is so big you can't invite everyone. I mean some of you are like woo hoo I have this giant group of 50 people we all apply for july 4 and win and kill all your chances. well you can't have all 50 people on your permit so then what?

MFS needs to go to a weighted system like the grand where you get a point every year.
 

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If someone in your group is lucky enough to win a permit then it comes down to who can commit first. Certainly, bailing with a weak reason on a commitment will leave you off some future plans. I can appreciate being excited and then becoming unsure when weather, flows etc. make you uneasy.

As the permit applicant and trip leader I try to only apply for trips I can commit to regardless of who might join me.
 

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I love these threads.

I read a pretty good break down on the Idaho 4 rivers lottery system the other day. It is computer generated and random draw. They have a few computers running an identical spript. Up to 15 scripts at a time. The script grabs an application and looks at date #1. If it is availbale it books it for you. If not it looks at date #2. Repeat for all 4 dates. If they are all taken you get a rejection email. Speed dating at its finest.

Some possible strategies:
Hedge. Start with prime dates and maybe throw in a less peopular date on date # 3 or 4 to boost the odds. Definitely start with your most desired dates.
Groups. More appliations mean a better chance at an early draw in the system. Whether these people all go for the same date or a variety is a matter of taste. there are certainly dates that are randomly less popuilar and your odds of hitting one of these goes up. But you also randomly hit the most popular and hard to get dates. it probably averages out.
Big groups- I email everyone I think would want to go and encourage them to apply. If they win I aid them in setting up a trip. If they do not win I do not promise a reciprocal invite. Th permit holder decides who goes and that is out of my hands. If I draw a permit I send out a large pool of invites with a deadline and cash deposit. I've never been over booked after the cash settles.


from the FS website:
What’s going on with the weighted lottery idea?
Early in 2013, the Four Rivers Lottery Group was informed that the contractor responsible for the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS) permits and reservations system was about to start developing the programming needed to offer weighted lotteries within the next few years.
Weighted lotteries have been a hot topic for permitted rivers for many years, and the 4 Rivers group was asked if we were interested in moving to a weighted drawing system for our lotteries. If interested, we could submit our requirements as part of the contractor’s development of the programming.
So in February, we sent out emails to the 2013 lottery applicants for the 4 Rivers, letting them know that weighted lotteries might soon be possible, with specific proposed parameters listed online. Over 21,000 emails were sent out; almost a 1,000 responses were received, with the majority in favor of a weighted system, especially for the Selway and the Middle Fork.
As the responses were being tallied, the contractor gave us a cost estimate of $45,000 to develop the programming needed for the proposed weighted lottery system, with implementation possible for the 2015 lottery drawing.
We then asked the NRRS folks if they would cover the $45,000 cost of the weighted lottery development, since other programs would likely be able to use a similar system in the future.
During our funding discussions with the NRRS, we were advised that the current contract expires at the end of September in 2016. The NRRS folks were beginning to draft a new contract, and informed us that this new contract will require the development of weighted options for lotteries.
At this point, we were informed that since programming options for weighted lotteries will be included in the next contract, the NRRS would not cover the $45,000 cost to have this programming developed for the 2015 lottery.
For now, weighted lotteries have been tabled until the new contract is in place. Once that functionality becomes available, a weighted lottery may be implemented for the Selway and/or Middle Fork of the Salmon Rivers.
We want to thank everyone who took the time to send in their comments. Stay tuned.
 

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The best possible strategy for landing a MFS permit is to have lots of friends that would be willing to take you if they draw. And if you draw, you need to fill every spot on your permit with people who will feel in debt to you if they draw in the future. If you are pooling up with 1 or 2 others or by yourself the odds are better in Vegas.
 

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if the system works like has been discussed here - select an application and then look to the dates - wouldn't your odds be better if everyone picked different dates.

Here's the scenario - you have a group where everyone picked the same dates. Group Member 1 gets selected by random draw and his dates are already booked. Then Group Member 2 gets selected - if his dates are the same as Group Member 1 then he has no chance of winning either. If his dates are different though he at least has a chance.

I did not do well in statistics in college, so someone please chime in if you have any input.
 

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The odds probably go up a bit with spread out dates, but also go equally down if you look at it as 4 entries. It really depends on what you want out of the trip. If you really want to go in a certain date range loading those dates with applications is your only real choice.
Say you put in for July 4, which someone on here clearly stated they are going to win, the odds on that date are supposedly terrible. Maybe the first 4 applications drawn all have July 4 as their dates and it is booked. Your applications are all dead if that is your only date. We know you ar going to put alternates and if you look at the data there is a lot of variation in a 4 day window. So as long as you are putting in all 4 dates the odds probably even out somewhat.
But the opposite is true. Let's say few people put in for June 27 because they know that is my birthday. 1/4 permits are issued after drawing 7000 permits. Your peeps have been unlucky enough to not be drawn so far. You still have 30 peeps in an ever shrinking pool. The odds look very good for you in this case by stacking one day.


Spreading the dates throughout the season and being wiling to go on an August 23 suffer fest is where you can actually move the needle in a meaningful way.

But for my group many of us have to schedule vacation in january. So picking a random spread of dates doesn't work for us. I imagine it is like that a lot.

Put in for the dates that work for you and when you are willing to go.
Less water = better odds
Tons of water = better odds
medium water = slim chance

My trips have largely been big water or lovely bones. But I'm totally happy with those.

Best of luck to all of you in the lottery.
 

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if the system works like has been discussed here - select an application and then look to the dates - wouldn't your odds be better if everyone picked different dates.
.

I think so. That's what my friend do. We all pick dates that work the best for each individual. If someone wins, then you are on their time schedule.
 
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