By Jeff Warren, Hunting Consultant, December 2014
Holy cow, where did 2014 go? Now I have to start getting my mind wrapped around another application season. As I’ve said before, I don’t live and die for draw tags. I play the game, but I am going to hunt regardless of my success or lack of it in the various state draws that I donate to. Overthe- counter tags and landowner tags ensure that I hunt numerous times each hunting season. Drawing a good tag in any draw is merely a bonus to an already busy hunt schedule.
In Arizona, I hunt archery Coues deer or Mule deer with over-the-counter tags. I don’t have many points in Arizona for any species because I was too busy guiding hunters for a living and didn’t have time to hunt if I did happen to draw a tag. With that being said, rumor on the street has it that Arizona will be putting a percentage of tags in a random pool so guys like me have a chance. Because I’m buying a hunting license to hunt Coues deer anyway, it would be silly for me not to try and hit on one of the random tags that might be offered. I thought I was too old to worry about drawing a coveted Arizona tag, but this changes the game for me. I badly want a top-end deer or elk tag in Arizona after what I learned during the 2014 season, and this gives me an outside shot!
I have already beat the odds and drawn two great elk tags in Utah, and I can start putting in again in 2015 after my latest 5-year waiting period. In 2015, I will put in for units with 350" potential and again not hold my breath! Utah’s general deer season is all about going with my sons and grandsons when they draw tags. I found two big bucks while scouting a general area in 2013, so I joined the dedicated hunter program in 2014. By doing this, I am guaranteed a deer tag for the next 3 years. I will hunt hard if I find a victim, but this hunt is usually reserved for my family. I apply for Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep and expect to draw a tag in the next 5-6 years as I have accumulated a good amount of sheep points.
Colorado is my go-to state for Mule deer. I will hunt the same unit each year until the area winter kills again, which it certainly will at some point. I can draw my favored deer unit with 1 or 2 points. In the years that I don’t draw, I will purchase a landowner tag. I will not miss a year of hunting deer in Colorado! Elk is an over-the-counter archery tag unit for me, and I am still hunting different units each year, trying to figure out where I want to land for good. I don’t apply for sheep or goats as they are not high on my list.
Wyoming is a state where I have a few points built up for deer and elk. Hopefully I will find an area that will be worthy, in my mind, of burning my deer points on in 2015. I have a few points for elk, and I am hoping to draw a general tag so that I can chase a big bull with my bow.
In Idaho, I really enjoy hunting over-the-counter areas for Whitetail. It is something that I have done and will continue to do every year. Because I have already purchased an Idaho license, I will put in for a top-end elk and Mule deer unit and hope for the best.
Montana once again will be my backup plan. Deer tags can be purchased over-the-counter, and there is nothing like a good Whitetail deer hunt to fill my hunt calendar, if needed.
In Nevada, I apply for almost everything they offer, and I have enough points now that a tag is becoming a real possibility. The money spent in Nevada is a good investment on a quality future hunt, in my opinion.
New Mexico is a landowner elk tag state for me. I don’t apply for any species as I don’t like the way they treat nonresident hunters in the draw.
I generally donate a few dollars to some of the raffle tag hunts in different states for elk, deer, sheep, and bear. You never know when you might get lucky and hit on a tag, and it doesn’t have to be a big investment.
For me, each and every fall hunting season is magic and I just simply need to hunt! Taking great trophies happens every now and then, and the adrenaline rush is still as addictive as it was when I was a pup, but just being in pursuit of fur, hair, and feathers is the payoff for me.