Curing Cabin Fever
By Jeff Warren
Finally, spring is here! One of the hardest things for me to do is sit behind a computer day after day, week after week during January, February, and March. Obviously it is a very important time of year as we are researching and compiling new and important information for the states, and, as always, we are looking for top end outfitters to put at your fingertips, but it is brutal for a guy who has had severe wanderlust for the previous 4 months’ worth of hunting in several different states. There isn’t much opportunity for a big game hunt during the first part of a new year, except for some Arizona or south of the border deer hunts in January.
I did finally make a trip just after New Year’s Day to Arizona in pursuit of rutting Coues deer bucks. I had been threatening to archery hunt those deer during the rut for years and finally made good on the threat. What a great chance to hunt big, rutted-up bucks with over-the-counter licenses! I didn’t score, but I did find out that those Coues bucks can be stalked if they bed in just the right spot or when their focus is on their lady friends. In 5 days of hunting I had a couple of good opportunities with a narrow miss on a great 4x5 buck. The arrow cut hair just over the buck’s withers. I was left standing there with cactus spines in my stocking feet (forgot the Sneekee Feet), watching him make tracks with his white flag waving.
We glassed up 30-40 different bucks during the week, and we glassed them up at all hours of the day. There really wasn’t very much down time. Daytime temperatures ranged from 40-70 degrees, which was very welcome after coming from Utah’s mid-winter snow and cold. Also, I did not see another hunter during the entire week of hunting. That alone was worth the trip. I did this hunt with a hunting buddy of mine, and my side of the cost, tag included, was just over $1,000. As an added bonus I now get to go back to the same area in August with the same license and try to arrow a buck by hunting water sources that we discovered on the hunt. You can bet that I will be doing this hunt every year from here on out.
Turkey and bear seasons are here, and I am going to test the patience of all the folks around me because I have a lot planned for April, May, and part of June. I’m going after turkeys and pigs in California and turkeys in Utah, Colorado, and hopefully Nebraska. For Black bears I fully intended on doing a spot and stalk Wyoming hunt and, if time allowed, another quick trip to Montana for another spot and stalk hunt, but all of that changed in mid-March when I was shocked to learn that I had drawn a totally unexpected Black bear tag in my home state of Utah. I hit pay dirt on a random tag in a unit that takes 8 points to guarantee, and I had less than half of that. I am always preaching to line up guaranteed tag hunts and adjust accordingly when you hit a draw tag. I happily get to do that very thing again this spring. I am putting all my eggs in the Utah bear hunt basket!
This will be my third bear tag in Utah since 2008. Unbelievably I drew a Utah bear tag just last year that had odds of 1 in over 426, but I have yet to get an arrow in a big boar. Hopefully it happens this year as my luck has got to be running out when it comes to drawing Utah bear tags! Keep in mind that most of the hunts I am planning this spring have over-the-counter tags and any one of you can do these same hunts, if you desire. Last year I hunted turkeys in California and had a great time taking two big, rutting gobblers. I now have the itch to kill a pig as I saw a giant boar with long tusks during the hunt. Up to that point I hadn’t given pig hunting much of a thought, but after seeing that big, grey tusker and observing how cagey he was, I now want to hunt one! My guess is that when and if I take my first boar it won’t be my last. Hopefully my California hunt will produce that first boar. Again I am planning on spending about $1,000, and the hunt is on private land.
The point of all this is that there are a lot of chances to go and hunt something somewhere if it is something that you desire — different folks have different situations, with time and money being the great determining factors. As for me, I figure I have about 20 hunting seasons left, and that could be optimistic! My thought process goes like this: take good care of my family, wear out two or three more trucks than I should in one lifetime while pursuing an array of critters, and leave my hunting bank account empty. If I can do that, then I consider that part of my life to have been a great success and adventure. It’s not a formula for everyone, but it works for me. Figure out what can realistically work for you. All of the hunts that I do each year are not high dollar and most are on public land. We have a wide variety of hunts, both in price range and species. Most of the outfitters that we deal with offer fully guided hunts, but we also have some that offer self-guided and drop camp opportunities. It’s not too late to get a hunt put together for this year, but outfitters are booking up fast.
The last year here at the Huntin’ Fool® office has seen a lot of changes, and I for one am very excited about the future. I believe we are going to be vastly improved with providing services to our members. There are a bunch of dedicated people in this office working year-round to provide you with information that will help satisfy your hunting needs, whatever they may be.
Pore through this month’s magazine and/or get on www.huntfinder.com to see if there is information on a hunt that catches your eye. If there is, give us a call and we can chat about it. I don’t know of a better place to look for your next hunting adventure! We can help you, and we look forward to hearing from you.