My guide and buddy Jason on a hunt in Idaho.
Written by Alex Gruin
I click submit and immediately my phone rings with a text message showing me how much was charged on my credit card. The bonus points that were just applied for in Montana for Mountain Goat, Bighorn Sheep and Moose are adding up and there is a slight chance that I could still draw one of those tags. It is a small chance, maybe 5%. Nevertheless, I can be hopeful that either this year or in the next few years, my odds will continue to go up and the chance of getting one of these hunts booked will be a reality.
I was reminiscing of the thought of someone wanting to hunt Elk, Moose, Deer, Mountain Goat and other species for the first time. The reality is that it isn’t that easy. You unfortunately cannot just go up to the nearest sporting goods store and buy a license. Your chances of also having a limit of only 1 animal are very likely. Nowadays, even a fishing license has a limit of 1-10 fish depending on the specifies at a max. Certainly with that being said, we cannot believe that a Moose tag is going to be easy to receive. I too have the dream of hunting some of these big animals and while I have been fortunate to have been on 3 elk hunts, handfuls of mule deer hunts, whitetail hunts and a few bear hunts, I understand that many haven’t even done that much. Most hunters have a 1 species fixation as the norm. I can say that recent polls however do show that most hunters would venture out of their norm and do have desires to try other hunts out which is great!
There are a few reasons that I believe hunters have their certain norm or limited animal favorites. The first reason is that we all are busy and the amount of time this planning takes is very taxing on most. It is also very overwhelming when you look out of your comfort zone and start reading all of the pamphlets with all the rules and scenarios. Another reason is that there are tremendous resources that may be needed to take a complete a hunt the way you might imagine. Regardless of all these potential roadblocks, I am here to tell you that with the right plan, the consistent desire to set out on a great adventure and some pocket saving, this can be achieved relatively “realistically.”
I will give everyone an update on my personal application process over the past few weeks. that builds upon my January/February posts.
-Nevada just opened their big game application process. Elk, Deer, Pronghorn, Bighorn and Mtn Goat were all on the menu for me. Points are all I aimed for this year. You do have to purchase a license and then pay for the point fees which are not very expensive. This sure beats out having to pay for the entire tag up front and get a refund.
-Colorado is quite the opposite of Nevada. If you are not a resident, you have to front the entire fee and then wait for a refund. Moose, Mtn Goat, Elk and Deer eat up around 5k in tag fees for a couple months until you find out what you drew and what you didn’t. 2 months will go by before I get that money back so get ready for some credit card interest.
-Montana has been my spot to rack up the bighorn sheep points. I also added Mtn Goat and Moose to this state as well. I believe the sheep here are best in class while the Moose have been hit hard by predators and need to rebuild. Until those darn wolves get off the endangered species list, I don’t see numbers getting better anywhere.
-Oregon is the place that I would like to hunt a blacktail deer. While I am at it, why not try to get an elk tag as well?
My overall plan is to just accumulate points in all these states and hunt Colorado this year with a buddy of mine. Now, let me explain the unique thing about points and bear with me about this explanation but it is the reality of how things work, especially in Colorado. I can only take so much time off for the hunting trips. Typically I have about 15 days per year for out of state hunts. With that said, I have accumulated years of points for great tags in Colorado for Deer and Elk. I don’t have enough for Moose, Mtn Goat or Bighorn sheep and the reality is that I will have to wait another 11-20 years before I will get one of those tags. Mtn Goat is probably my best chance for the earliest tag in my pocket. Now, the trick this year is that I do want to hunt Colorado but I don’t want to use my points on the specific unit I am looking to hunt because it is not a trophy unit. You might think, “how does that work?”
Here is the best way to explain it. If you have 5 years of points accumulated and you put in for a tag in a not so great trophy unit and draw, you will lose all your points. You can however try to get a tag as a secondary choice because draw odds in the unit I want to hunt show that I could get a buck tag at a 25% chance doing so. My first choice will be to just get a preference point. If I do get a tag on this 25% chance I will actually gain a point for the next year and still get a buck tag. I also saw that there were leftover doe mule deer tags last year. This means that the state wanted to sell more does tags that they actually did which left extra ones on the table to snatch up over the counter. This for me means I could potentially get a buck tag and then buy a doe tag once they go up for sale. I did the same thing for my elk tag by opting to get points as my first choice and then putting in for a cow tag as my secondary choice. I could potentially draw an elk and a mule deer tag as well as purchase a doe tag. If I really wanted to get wild this season, I could purchase a bull elk tag over the counter for the season as well because this unit as unlimited bull elk tags. I could be hunting 4 animals for 10 days if that was the case!
The key point above is that with the right process and system, you can do a lot more than you think. Now I can wait and build up more points for other animals and still get to hunt in the great Rocky Mountains. In the case I do draw a lucky tag in another state, I will still have the time to take care of business there as well.
If you are overwhelmed or believe that this is a lot to take in, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me help coach you through things. It has taken years to perfect these processes and with the right help, I promise it can be something that you will enjoy over time once you feel comfortable with it.
If we as hunters continue to be overwhelmed and not apply to states like these, or actually apply anywhere in the country to hunt, then we are actually going to continue to lose more and more land and the populations of these animals will be in jeopardy. We as hunters control the future and this is a great way to ensure you have the adventures of a lifetime while getting the best food in the world. And at the end of the day, you will bring home a trophy on the wall regardless of size 🙂
Remember if you need help, shoot me an email and I can help consult you through these processes.
Scout, Hunt, Repeat