By David Virostko, Hunting Consultant, December 2014
We are all on different levels as hunters, but regardless of where you’re at, it is extremely important that you first put yourself in an area that holds the opportunity you are after. The only way to do that is by building a diverse hunt strategy.
My outlook for the 2015 season will be slightly reined in as opposed to normal years. My wife has recently expressed the desire to take up archery hunting, so I am exploring as many options as I can to line up a hunt or two where we can get some tags in our pockets. On these hunts, antler quality will not matter as opposed to hunt quality.
As for the rest of my application strategy for 2015, in Utah I will more than likely try to burn my 12 Utah deer points on a Paunsaugunt archery or muzzleloader tag and play the roulette game on my 14 Desert sheep points by chasing a coveted Zion’s tag.
For Nevada deer, I will more than likely chase a hard-to-draw unit for my first choice and apply for a hunt that I stand a slight chance at drawing for second and third choices. As for Nevada elk, the hunting is so red hot right now that I will personally only chase the best and toughest to draw archery hunts. For sheep in Nevada, I will look at post hunt harvest stats and decide which areas hold the quality of ram I am after with the best draw odds.
I was lucky enough to draw a unit 16D archery elk tag in New Mexico this past year by applying with an outfitter, James Guide Services. I killed the biggest bull of my life, so I will more than likely do a repeat for elk in 2015. I will apply for a late unit 2C deer tag as a first choice and maybe unit 5B or 2B as second and third choices. As far as sheep in New Mexico, I will see what the New Mexico Game and Fish decides to do before any real consideration is applied.
Arizona has some excitement in the rumor mill department, but at this point that is all it is. As of now, I am going to apply for points only for elk and antelope. As far as deer, I am flirting with having enough points for a northern Arizona muzzleloader hunt. Since the units are within spitting distance of my house and my knowledge of the area is extensive, I have a hard time not applying for them. However, with the buzz of “maybe” the potential for random tags being available in the non-resident draw, I will just sit back and see what happens. As far as sheep in Arizona, I will more than likely chase the 13B North unit.
I drew a fourth season Colorado deer tag this year, and at the time of writing this article, that hunt has not happened. However, with 0 points going into 2015, I will definitely be looking at something I can draw as a second choice. The key to Colorado is putting a tag in your pocket. The potential for a great hunt exists in nearly all of Colorado’s units. I also plan on burning my Colorado bear points and enjoying a fun hunt with fellow hunt consultant Garth Jenson in 2015.
Wyoming was a blast this year, and I plan on applying with a buddy of mine who has enough points that we can get back there to hunt deer in 2015. I have a few areas around Cody, Wyoming that I may roll the dice on with my max elk points. Idaho catches some flack for their big game management strategies. However, there are some Mule deer units in the eastern portion of the state that have popped up on my radar. Some homework should be applied to this region as there is big buck potential for sure.
As for Montana and Oregon, I apply for sheep religiously. Thanks to some insight from fellow hunt consultant Robert Hanneman I may try my hand at an over-the-counter archery elk hunt in Montana as well this year.
I began applying in Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Texas this year for elk, Whitetail, and Desert sheep, accordingly. Draw odds are slim, but you can’t draw the tag unless you apply and I fully intend on doing so in 2015.
That about wraps up my application strategy for the 2015 year. In this game, things can change in the blink of an eye. Hard winters, low fawn mortality, and overhunting from the year before and/or just the opposite can change what I decide to do at the last second. That is why it is so important for you to read each and every issue of the Huntin’ Fool® magazine and take full advantage of all that we have to offer. By doing so, you will be putting yourself in the areas that hold the hunting opportunity you are after.