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November 2019
Author: Garth Jenson

This season is already trailing off, and the sun is starting to sink lower into the horizon on yet another year of hunting. This time of year is really the start of a new magazine season, trying to keep up with all the state changes that have already taken place or could take place for 2020. I am amazed at how often these states change rules and regulations from year to year, and it seems like over the last two or three years, some of these draw systems have undergone major overhauls. All too often, hunters are looking for the next sleeper unit or what units the biggest bucks and bulls are coming from, when in all reality, the biggest changes that impact states the most come from draw system changes, season date changes, boundary changes, new hunts, price increases, etc.

The truth of the matter is that the best units for their respective species within that state are that way because of strict management and low tag numbers. There are a few to a handful of units that could be argued that they are the best within their state, but it really comes down to a coin flip and/or hunter preference of what they personally want out of their hunt. These hunts only apply to a few hundred applicants out of tens of thousands. Already, this “offseason” has been a busy one with big changes being made in multiple states that are going to impact the way a lot of hunters will apply this year and for years to come. I put offseason in quotations because it seems like there is never an offseason with different commission meetings being held at various times of the year that decide different aspects of big game rules, regulations, and season dates.

There are a lot of things to look for every year, and it seems like the changes to these state systems are getting bigger and more frequent. My advice for any hunter looking at what or where they should be applying in the future would be to pay more attention to draw changes, season dates, tag numbers, and fee increases more than the “hot units” and you will set yourself up a lot better for a brighter future.