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April 2024
Author: Logan Hedges

“I’m never going to draw a tag,” was how the conversation started with a member the other day. To be honest, I was slightly caught off guard by the bluntness and negativity of this statement. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate blunt or straightforward people, but the negativity part I can do without. It is nothing but a waste of time and energy that seldom leads to positive results. Unlike in math class back in the day, two negatives in life sure don’t make a positive.

Anyone who is trying to draw a tag in the western states right now is frustrated to one degree or another. Whether it’s point creep, very low draw odds in non-point states or random draws, or the reduction of non- resident permits, the reality is that it has become increasingly harder to draw a tag for any big game species in the last decade. Even with the grim outlook, there are still some great opportunities available to hunt big game in the western states even if you don’t have loads of points accumulated. Yes, there are some species and units you are likely never going to draw unless you have already banked tons of points or are young and willing to play the points game for the next 30+ years. Wyoming bighorn sheep is a great example of that. With less than 20 tags going to non-residents each year and 1,500 applicants with 20 or more points, the odds of ever drawing a tag are basically non-existent unless you are in the top tier of point holders.

Instead of getting frustrated, a person needs to get creative with their application strategy. We would all like to draw a coveted tag every year, but that is just not going to happen. If you are wanting to hunt every year or even every few years, look at applying/building points for multiple species in multiple states. That way, you will have more options on the years you can’t draw an elk tag but can hunt another species instead of sitting at home. Some of these you might be able to draw every few years, and some may take 10-20 plus years to cash in on. We all need to build a hunt portfolio that works for us now and in the future. One strategy I have is applying for antlerless tags that 10 years ago I would have never thought about. These tags are relatively easy to draw and give me opportunities to have another hunt, not to mention exploring new country that I might want to draw a higher demand tag for in the future.

Regardless of your hunt style or the species of animal you desire to chase, hunters today need to have an application strategy in place. This strategy will vary depending on budget, age, and health of an individual. I have a short and long- term strategy plan. I apply for my short- term hunts every year and do as often as possible, whereas my long-term strategy are states and species that will take several years to draw. Hopefully I can stay healthy long enough for those hunts when that opportunity comes along. The process can be a little overwhelming and confusing at times, so if you are struggling with your drawing/hunting strategy, reach out to us and we will help you build a game plan that works for you.