Monday, January 2, 2012

“You’ll run out of time before you run out of money”

Steve Barker with his Nevada Pronghorn
The tag was drawn on 1 bonus point
The last month has been crazy, and now here we find ourselves trying to get back to just regular old "life" as all of the festivities are winding down.  Time to go back to work, catch up on the bills, take the kids to practice...and time to think about applying for hunts!  During my last few hunting and fishing trips within the past few weeks, the topic has come up several times, "what are you going to put in for this year?"  Apparently the thought isn't just on my mind!  Steve Barker of Cedar City, Utah sent an interesting email to me a couple of days ago discussing the same topic.  I think you will find this one very worth while, as Steve talks about planning out your hunting season.  What better timing!  Utah is one of the first states to open it's application period, which runs from February 1 to March 1 this year.  Turkey applications are closed, but the over the counter tags go on sale next month.  It's about time to get serious.  

I have been very apprehensive in the past in applying out of state, as many of my friends and family also are.  Steve brings up some good points here that may help you out.  Throughout this post, you will see photos of some great animals taken by Steve in recent years in various states.  This has provided a real spark for me to want to go out of state more often!  I also hope to post on this blog information about application dates and how to apply for surrounding states.  I want to thank Steve for this post, I hope you enjoy it as I did!

A couple of days ago a few friends and I were fishing at the local fishing hole discussing various topics when the conversation turned to hunting and what our plans were, and what we hoped to be hunting next year.  One of my good friends made a comment that left an impression on me and is the reason for this write up.  Jason asked me to send in a story about a past hunt but I thought I could wrap a few of them into one.  As the conversation continued we talked about hunting, family, work and how there never seems to be enough time to go hunting.   A very close friend of mine said, “You’ll run out of time before you run out of money”. 
Steve with his Arizona "over-the-counter" bear
As I thought about this I looked back at some previous hunts and how I have been able to maximize my hunting efforts while juggling family and work at the same time.  If you are visiting this site you are more than likely doing it for the same reason I do, you love to hunt or fish.  I simply can’t get enough hunting in whether it be elk, deer, coyotes, turkeys, shed antlers, antelope and on and on.  It never ceases to amaze me talking to family and friends how many guys want to hunt more but don’t know how to get it done or are simply unaware of the opportunities that are out there.  I have been fortunate enough to have good friends that have helped me along the way and love to hunt as much as I do that have helped me be successful on those hunts when we have found the time and funds to make it happen.   We are all on a budget and family and work schedules are hard to get around, but here is a brief synopsis of my plan that I have set for myself and my hunting goals.  This is the important part:  have a plan.
2011 Colorado mule deer

 Application season is upon us and every year I go through the same routine as last year.  I keep a detailed journal of where I apply, my contacts from other states, units I have hunted or want to hunt, etc.  I apply in multiple states (Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming) and for multiple species each year and try and fill in the holes with over- the-counter tags when I can.    There is not enough room here to go into great detail of my plan but the important part is that I have a plan. 

2011 Wyoming bull (draw tag)
 How many guys out there know they can hunt Bear in Arizona with an over the counter tag?  How about an Antelope hunt in Wyoming that requires no points?  Save up some extra cash and grab a landowner tag in Colorado.  I guess the point here is this: I have been trying to get my dad to apply in different states for years because of the lack of opportunity in Utah and I always get the same answer, “I will next year”.  Face it guys, you are not getting any younger and these tags are getting harder and harder to get.  I may never get to hunt a rocky mountain sheep in my lifetime but I dang sure am going to try.  Don’t sit back and wait fifteen years in Utah to hunt elk, apply in a different state and go hunting.  Some states are more expensive than others but there are ways around it.  A couple of years ago I hunted Bears in Arizona on an over the counter tag with three friends.  The entire trip including tags, licenses, gas, food etc. cost a total of around $600.00.  Now that may sound like a lot but if I don’t use it making memories it will probably be spent on something else I don’t need like lunch at Arby’s.  This hunt was one of my all time favorites and I will never forget it.  We simply drove to Arizona, bought a license and tag and went hunting.  I hope to be hunting deer in Colorado every three years, some units you can hunt faster or wait longer.  I bought a landowner tag with some money that I had saved up a couple of years ago and killed a good buck on what I felt was just an extra tag.  I probably won’t buy another tag for awhile though as I put too much pressure on myself and I think I can find plenty of other ways to get another hunt in. 
2011 Wyoming mule deer (over the counter)

I have hunted a few other states as well and hope to really start cashing in on some great tags in the near future such as a deer tag in Nevada, a killer Antelope hunt in Wyoming and maybe a Javalina hunt in Arizona just to name a few.  These are just a small portion of what goes into my “scheduling” each year and there are a lot of resources out there to help you out such as magazines (the Huntin fool, Eastmans hunting journal), web sites (hunterstrailhead.com) and books to help you understand draw odds and how to apply.  I have found my favorite way is to just talk with friends and contacts and just go for it.  The preparation and research has become as much fun for me as the actual hunt, and I have met some really good people along the way. 

 I am not a great hunter, and I have little luck when it comes to drawing tags, but I love to hunt and I work hard at it.  Anyone can do it you just have to go for it.  Good luck to all of you in the draws this year and don’t forget, “you’ll run out of time before you run out of money”.

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