By Travis Roundy, Hunting Consultant, December 2014
My strategy is to find two or three good quality Mule deer hunts for myself and at least one good Mule deer hunt for the kids each fall. I’m a Mule deer junkie, and I can’t seem to get enough of them at this point in my life. I don’t see that changing either, so I plan to keep trying to draw high quality areas and chasing the big bucks! Some of my fix has been to hunt with the kids over the last several years.
In Arizona, I apply for points only for Mule deer. I have 8 elk points and apply for unit 9 archery. I’m willing to wait for a quality elk hunt in a unit that I enjoy. I apply for Desert Bighorn sheep and antelope. I also apply my kids for the same species I apply for since the youth license in Arizona is so cheap. I do, however, apply them to draw for hunts with better draw odds.
Colorado is one of my favorite states to hunt because it holds some big Mule deer in almost every unit. I am applying for a high country buck tag or a quality muzzleloader tag each year. The kids apply for easy to draw second or third season tags, so they are hunting almost every year in a unit that takes either 0 or 1 point. In my experience, every unit in Colorado has big bucks in it, so I don’t get too hung up on making the kids wait for the “best” units. We try to draw and then go have a fun hunt and do the best we can. I apply for elk points only and sheep points only.
Idaho offers very cheap youth hunting licenses, so I apply all of my kids who are old enough for deer and elk. I also apply for deer and elk, and with over-the-counter licenses available I will buy a deer tag and either hunt Whitetails in November or a Mule deer in October to make use of the license. Idaho is very friendly to youth with low, low prices for licenses and tags. If we don’t draw enough tags, we can go to Idaho and fill up our hunting schedule.
Rocky Mountain sheep is the only species I apply for in Montana.
Nevada is another state where I always apply for every species available. I also apply two of my kids as well. Nicole and McClain seem to be a little more serious about hunting than some of the others, so I have been helping them start building points early on for all species. Nevada requires you to buy the hunting license up front to build points, so I recommend applying for every species they offer if you have a desire to hunt them someday. We have drawn an antelope, an elk, and three deer tags over the past 6 years in Nevada, so it pays to get started now and keep after it until you hit pay dirt. I’m hoping to draw a sheep tag or two there in my lifetime.
New Mexico has some great elk hunts, and I apply for a rifle hunt there each year along with a deer hunt in the 2C area. I usually apply for sheep, but with last year’s fiasco, I’m waiting to see how I’ll play the game from here on out.
Utah is my home state, and I always apply for the Paunsaugunt archery hunt for deer since it’s my stomping grounds from childhood, and my kids do the same. We also apply for Desert Bighorn sheep in various units. Zion is our favorite unit due to the good rams and the fact that it’s 30 minutes from the house to the rams. For general season deer, we have always stayed close to home as well so the kids can hunt after school without traveling too far.
Wyoming is also one of my favorite states because of the good Mule deer hunting. I apply for region G and hope to draw as often as I can. I also apply the kids to draw for deer. I buy an elk point each year for McClain, and I buy antelope points for everyone in the family. We plan to go on a family antelope hunt in the next few years, and we want to all draw out the same year.
In Washington, youth applications for sheep, goat, and moose are under $4, so I only apply the kids who are 16 and under for these tags. I do not apply in Washington.
Stay the course and keep applying for everything you have a desire to hunt. Points are like money in the bank and will be your ticket to some of the greatest adventures life has to offer. Apply, Apply, Apply!