2016 Application Strategy
By Jeff Warren
Wow, the 2015 hunting season is already behind me. Now I have to think about another application season. As I’ve said before, I don’t live and die for draw tags. I play the game, but I am going to hunt regardless of my success or lack of it in the various state draws I donate to. Over-the-counter tags and landowner tags ensure that I hunt numerous times each hunting season. Drawing a good tag in any draw is merely a bonus to an already busy hunt schedule.
In Arizona, I hunt archery Coues deer or Mule deer with over-the-counter tags. I don’t have many points in Arizona for any species because I was too busy guiding hunters for a living and I didn’t have time to hunt if I did happen to draw a tag.
I have already beaten the odds and drawn two great elk tags in Utah, and I started putting in again in 2015 after my latest 5-year waiting period. In 2016, I will put in for units with 350" potential but will not hold my breath! Utah’s general deer season is all about going with my sons and grandsons when they draw tags. I have found some quality bucks while scouting general areas, so I joined the dedicated hunter program in 2014. By doing this, I am guaranteed a deer tag for 3 years. I will hunt hard if I find a victim, but this hunt is usually reserved for my family. I apply for Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep and expect to draw a tag in the next 5-6 years as I have accumulated a good amount of sheep points.
Colorado is my go-to state for Mule deer. I will hunt the same unit each year until the area winter kills again, which it certainly will at some point. I can draw my favored deer unit with 1 or 2 points. In the years that I don’t draw, I will purchase a landowner tag. I will not miss a year of hunting deer in Colorado! Elk is an over-thecounter archery tag for me, and I am still hunting different units each year, trying to figure out where I want to land for good. I don’t apply for sheep or goat as they are not high on my list.
Wyoming is a state where I have a few points built up for deer and elk. Hopefully I will find an area that will be worthy of burning my deer points in 2016. I have a few points for elk, and I am hoping to draw a general tag so that I can chase a big bull with my bow.
In Idaho, I really enjoy hunting overthe- counter areas for Whitetail. It is something that I have done and will continue to do every year. Since I have already purchased an Idaho license, I will put in for a top-end elk and Mule deer unit and hope for the best.
Montana, once again, will be my backup plan. Deer tags can be easily drawn, and there is nothing like a good Whitetail deer hunt to fill my calendar, if needed. In Nevada, I apply for almost everything they offer and I have enough points now that a tag is becoming a real possibility. The money spent in Nevada is a good investment on a quality future hunt.
New Mexico is a landowner elk tag state for me. I don’t apply for any species as I don’t like the way they treat non-resident hunters in the draw.
I generally donate a few dollars to some of the raffle tag hunts in different states for elk, deer, sheep, and bear. You never know when you might get lucky and hit on a tag, and it doesn’t have to be a big investment.
For me, each and every fall hunting season is magical and I just simply need to hunt. Taking great trophies happens every now and then, and the adrenaline rush is still as addictive now as it was when I was a teenager. Just being in pursuit of fur, hair, and feathers is the payoff for me.