The Land of Opportunity
By Jeff Warren
Living within the borders of the good ol’ USA is a blessing to us all in too many ways to count. As September is waning, hunting season is in full swing. The elk are in the prime rut as we speak, and their battles are raging all night long and well into the daylight hours. The fights that take place for the right to breed cannot be described on paper, and it is something every hunter should witness at some point in their hunting career. Most antelope seasons are in the books, while the bulk of the Mule deer and Whitetail seasons are still ahead. Moose, bear, sheep, and caribou hunts are in progress with more to come later. The point I’m trying to make is that we live in a wonderful country if hunting is your thing. The chance to chase big game is either in your own backyard, a long or short truck ride away, or maybe an airline ticket away. We are spoiled, and we don’t really know it. Yes, hunts take time and money and we all have to handle this in our own way, but chances to hunt a long list of critters are abundant in North America and we have our finger on the pulse of where to look for these opportunities here at the Huntin’ Fool® office.
Whether you like fully-guided hunts or you are the type of hunter who enjoys doing things by himself, there are many hunting opportunities. I am a do it by myself from top to bottom type of hunter, and consequently I get my butt kicked on a regular basis, but I have many great adventures each year, and every once in a while I get to put an animal on the meat pole. If a guided hunt is your thing, I am the guy you need to talk to as I work hard to stay in tune with which outfitters are offering outstanding hunts.
A friend and I just returned from Arizona where we hunted Coues deer with our bows. We got our butts handed to us, but we will be right back there next August to receive more punishment. We figured out a few more pieces to the puzzle that may help us get the upper hand on one of those tough little “devil deer.” We chased bears in New Mexico in August, wild boars and turkey in California in April, and archery bears in Utah in April and May. All but one of those tags was purchased overthe- counter when we arrived to begin hunting. As a side note and a heads up, I learned a valuable lesson about poison oak in California and chiggers in Arizona. My epidermis and my pride have both taken a beating so far this year! My hunting buddy thought the chigger situation was hilarious. After a lot of begging I let him count my chigger bites and he stopped at 100 with tears in his eyes from laughing.
If any of you are hunting in Idaho, Montana, or Wyoming, it is a no brainer to have wolf tags in your pocket. I have hunted Idaho exclusively for wolves three different times during January, February, and March, and I have yet to chamber a round, but I have seen wolves and believe that taking one is possible. I know guys who have killed them, but it is usually hard work. Taking a wolf in the lower 48 is high on my list.
In Idaho, non-resident wolf tags can be purchased for $31.75 each and you can have five total tags. Your non-resident hunting license is $154.75. There are some management zones that will close if the quota is met, but most of Idaho is general season with no harvest limits. Check Idaho’s wolf regulations to determine the zone that you are hunting or are wanting to hunt.
Montana’s wolf season runs from September 15th through March 15th, and the season dates are set by the commission each year. Non-resident wolf licenses are $50, and hunters can purchase up to five each. Non-residents must also purchase the HAEF (Hunting Access Enhancement Fee) for $10 and the Conservation License for $10. Licensing can be purchased after the season has started, but you will not be able to hunt for 24 hours after the purchase.
Wyoming offers non-residents the opportunity to harvest one wolf each year in their wolf mortality quota zones. Non-resident licenses are $180 in the wolf quota zones. Wyoming also has areas where wolves are designated predatory animals and no license is required to take a wolf. There are no closed seasons or bag limits in those areas. From the information that I can gather, most wolves are harvested incidental to hunting big game. If you decide to take on a Wyoming wolf hunt, read their wolf regulations carefully.
If you want to go north of the border to pursue wolves, we have several outfitters that may be able to help you out. There are still a few outfitters that have openings left for a variety of game in 2014, but they are getting slim. Reduced price hunts are listed on our website, and we add them as soon as they come into the office. Simply click on the “Services” bar and look for “Reduced Price Hunts” in the dropdown box. Some years we will get a good number of these hunts and other years not so much, it just depends on circumstances.
Remember to take quality kill shots of your trophy animal. It is just a matter of taking the time to set the animal up and clean him up. Years down the road, you will be glad you did, and if you have aspirations of getting your story printed in the magazine, quality photos are a must. I wrote an article in the June 2014 issue on taking good photos, so you might want to briefly revisit it for a few tips that I feel could help you take better harvest photos.
Shoot straight, and we look forward to hearing about your 2014 adventures!