A call we get a lot in the office is from guys who have never been out west before and are not sure where to start. We get questions about this from both self-guided members and members who want a guided hunt. Most callers just aren’t sure where to start or what questions they should ask. I usually start by asking the member five questions, depending on the species they want to hunt. Where do you want to go? When do you want to go? What weapon do you want to hunt with? What are your expectations? What is your budget? Those five questions can help us help you narrow down the type of hunt you want to do.
Where do you want to go? There are so many states that offer great hunting opportunities with over-the-counter tags, but there are also a few states that have an application process to draw a general tag and several states that have good units that only take a few points to draw.
When do you want to go? If you are looking at doing something in 2019, there are a lot of good options, but if you are looking for a hunt that is not a general unit, you will want to start building points in the states that might take a few points to draw a permit.
What weapon do you want to hunt with? Depending on the state, hunters can typically purchase or draw an archery permit easier than a rifle permit, and some units might offer a general archery permit but require that same unit to be a draw for rifle. Deciding what weapon you want to hunt with will help you strategize a little better when you start the planning process.
What are your expectations? This question can be misleading at times. Just because you see it on TV or read about it in a magazine doesn’t mean it’s a reality. Yes, anyone can get lucky and be in the right place at the right time, but there is a lot of work that goes into most hunts. Your first trip out west will be a big learning experience. Even if you spend a lot of time looking over maps and Google Earth, things really aren’t put into perspective until you actually hit the mountains. Focusing on having a fun hunt and learning from mistakes is the best advice I can give. Over time, things start to come together, and before you know it, you will be notching tags.
What is your budget? Budget really comes down to whether you want to go guided or not. If you are a self-guided hunter, you can plan on spending $2,500-$3,000 on a hunt. That includes your non-resident tag, food, fuel, and some needed gear. If you are looking at going on a guided hunt on public land, you will be closer to $5,000-$7,000, depending on the style of hunt. If you want to land in the middle of those two numbers and still need some assistance, looking at a drop camp would be a great choice.
At the end of the day, wherever you are in the process and if you have questions, don’t hesitate to call us. We love helping our members through the planning process of any hunt. Life is short, and we don’t want anyone to miss out on an experience out west!