By Tyler West, Hunting Consultant, December 2014
It’s time to start thinking about your application strategy for 2015. My rule of thumb is to apply or build points for every species in every state that I’m even remotely interested in hunting. When states require hunters to purchase a hunting license in order to apply, I apply for every species offered to get the biggest bang for my buck.
I apply for almost all species in Arizona because I have to buy a non-resident hunting license. I apply for elk, antelope, and Desert Bighorn sheep, and I build points for Mule deer and Black bear.
In California, I apply every year for Tule elk, antelope, Mule deer, and Desert Bighorn sheep. There are still some quality hunting opportunities in California, but tags are hard to draw and it is expensive for non-residents to apply.
In Colorado, I apply for Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep, Mountain goat, and Shiras moose. I build points for elk, antelope, and Mule deer. Oftentimes I’ll purchase a landowner voucher for deer and look to hunt elk in an over-the-counter unit.
Since Idaho requires a hunting license in order to apply, I apply for elk, antelope, and Mule deer. If I don’t draw a tag, my back-up plan is to purchase a general elk or deer tag.
Iowa and Kansas have giant Whitetails, and I have enough points to draw a tag in both states. I’m waiting for when I can balance work and family commitments, and then I will book a hunt with one of our Endorsed Outfitters and go hunting for a giant Whitetail with my dad.
I apply for Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep, Mountain goat, Shiras moose, antelope, and Mountain lion in Montana. If all else fails, I will buy a leftover General Big Game Combination license for deer and elk.
In New Mexico, I apply for elk, deer, and Oryx. For my 2015 applications, I may add antelope, Ibex, and Desert sheep.
You have to purchase a non-refundable hunting license in order to apply in Nevada, so I will apply or build points for all species offered. This includes elk, antlerless elk, antelope, Mule deer, California Bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep (if allowed in 2015), Desert Bighorn sheep, Mountain goat (if allowed in 2015), and Black bear.
Oregon requires the purchase of a hunting license in order to apply, so I apply and build points for all species. I apply for Mule deer and California Bighorn sheep and build points for elk, antelope, and antlerless deer, even though the odds are tough for all species and very few non-resident tags are issued.
In Texas, I apply for the Big Time Texas Hunts Grand Slam Package. I also apply for the Texas Parks and Wildlife drawings for antelope, Mule deer, Gemsbok, Scimitar-Horned Oryx, and alligator.
I apply for elk, Mule deer, Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep, Desert Bighorn sheep, Shiras moose, and Bison in Utah. I build points for antelope, general deer, and Mountain lion. I have already drawn my Mountain goat tag.
I used to apply for Washington, but it is too expensive and the draw odds are very tough. However, Washington does have some great opportunities for youth hunters or for those hunters who are lucky enough to draw a sheep, moose, or goat tag.
In Wyoming, I will apply for elk, antelope, and Mule deer and build points for Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep and Shiras moose. If unsuccessful in the state drawing, I look to buy leftover tags for elk, deer, and antelope.
I apply for Canadian moose in Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The cost to apply is relatively cheap, and the chances of drawing a tag are slim; however, it will be an awesome hunt if I’m lucky enough to draw the tag. Kentucky and Pennsylvania have giant elk and low application fees. The thought of chasing bulls east of the Mississippi River puts my name in the hat.
Applying out-of-state is a mental game, so to be successful you have to believe you are going to be the one drawn. Apply or build points for every species you can afford, and get ready to go hunting!