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December 2021
Author: Isaiah Joner

I can hardly believe we are already closing the chapter on yet another season and already planning for 2022. This year held some memories along with tough times in the mountains. Time in the mountains always gives me time to think and focus on what really matters and how to make next season better than the one before.

In February of 2021, I received an email from the Alaska Game Department letting me know I was selected in the draw for a mountain goat tag. At first, it didn’t seem real as I had been applying for all the goat draws in the West and I wasn’t sure if my dream would ever become a reality. Alaska was just another random draw opportunity for the chance at drawing a goat tag, and I hit the lottery. Before I knew it, I was on a plane enroute to Anchorage. Fast forward four more days and we were loaded down with packs full of goat meat and one heck of a trophy. It was an incredible hunt with great friends and coworkers and a memory that will last a lifetime.

Shortly after getting back home from Alaska and helping on a buddy’s elk hunt, I packed my truck and headed for Montana where I would elk hunt for myself. The first couple days, my brother joined me on the hunt and then I spent the next five days hunting primarily by myself. During that time, I hiked well over 50 miles in some beautiful country but never had an opportunity at a mature bull. Spending that much trail time alone definitely gives you time to reflect and think. I started to realize how much more enjoyable a hunt is when I share it with friends or family. Sure, there are times when I like to act hardcore and embrace the suck of a solo hunt, but I think sometimes we put ourselves through the misery of solo hunts just to say we did it or to prove to ourselves that we can. I have killed plenty of animals while hunting solo in the mountains over the years, but as I look back, the best hunts don’t always end up with a notched tag. They have also been hunts where I didn’t even have a tag, I was just helping and sharing a campfire with the people I care about.

As I start to lay out my 2022 season, I am looking to plan more hunts where I share a camp with friends and family and really focus on cashing in on the experience of the hunt, rather than being worried about filling a tag. As tags get harder to draw, I have started to look outside the box and plan hunts like Kodiak Island blacktail because I know the adventure on that hunt is far greater than most deer or elk hunts I do every year. At the end of the day, remember that memories can’t be bought, so make sure the time you spend in the mountains puts a smile on your face and a memory in the bank.