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AUSTIN ATKINSON PROFESSIONAL HUNT ADVISOR G rowing up in Phoenix, I learned the hard truth that over-the- counter hunts only existed for those willing to pick up a bow and hit the hills outside of the regular fall seasons. I remember waiting almost 10 years to draw my first bull elk tag, but it was my home state of Arizona, and it was worth the wait. Now June is in the air and that means the Arizona fall draw deadline is upon us. This is the time to seriously think about your Arizona applications and figure out how you can make the most of the time you have put into drawing a tag in the Grand Canyon State. I have a couple of suggestions for you in your approach to Arizona. First, take advantage of the over-the-counter and opportunity type hunts to get to know the state firsthand. Many Huntin’ Fool members choose to wait until they draw a premium tag only to find out the unit is not at all what they imagined. From predator hunts to archery deer hunts in the rut to an over-the-counter black bear season, Arizona is home to year-round opportunities. Plan a vacation with your friends or family to visit the units you are applying for and you will be more prepared when you finally draw the big game tag you have dreamed about. Another important suggestion for most of you is to stop applying for points only. Anyone who has played the game long enough and studied the pages of Huntin’ Fool has seen the reality we are facing when it comes to point creep and decaying draw odds for the tags we want the most. The days of being able to cash in your points for a guaranteed draw are forgotten to all but a small few. I implore you to forget the points only option this year and simply apply for the draw. Time is too short, odds are too tough, and the opportunity is greater than ever. Many hunters wait too long, thinking their odds are getting better each year because of their points, only to realize the influx of new hunters in the draw has diminished their bonus point AUSTIN AND HIS SISTER, MAKENNA, ON HER ARIZONA HUNT THAT SHE PATIENTLY WAITED TO DRAW. 6 odds indefinitely. Plus, with recent changes to the Arizona draw system, the number of years it will take to clear the non-resident max point pool in the bonus draw has doubled. Sitting just one point below max may mean 20+ years to clear out every applicant in front of you. Don’t be discouraged, just apply for the draw and enroll in the PointGuard program which will allow you to return your tag one time and apply for hunts you would like to draw. Not all of us will draw, but it will be worth it when your day finally comes. Make sure to dive into this issue. Share it with your friends, give us a call, get your tickets in for the Summer Membership Drive, take that vacation, cash in your PTO, and put a tag in your pocket this season.