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View Full Version : To be or not to be? That is the question!



elk_n_esox
03-14-2013, 06:42 PM
Here I sit again, perusing the Utah application (donation as I now call it) information and I wonder.... Does this really make sense? Applying year after year... Hundreds of dollars for license fees JUST to put my name in a draw where I have single digit odds to actually draw a tag? Oh yeah.... And Arizona.... Cha-Ching!!!!....possibly for 15 even 20 years.... And by THEN the tag will cost me, a non-res (sucker) hunter at LEAST $2000. So what will that hunt end up actually costing me????? Or should I just save my loot and buy a guaranteed private hunt some day? I think I may be done with my yearly donations... I'm only a few years in and I think it may be time to cut my losses and just start saving? Any thoughts?

Colorado Cowboy
03-14-2013, 08:18 PM
This has been discussed a lot before. Depends on how old you are and what you really want to do hunting wise while you are accumulating all the points. I am older (72) and have pretty much decided not to build points for a hunt 10 or more years down the road. I am spending the money on landowner tags and go with outfitters in the really prime areas. I still build points for the easier tags that only need from 1 to 5.

just have to decide what you really want to do.

dying to kill
03-14-2013, 08:23 PM
I hear ya on that one! It kinda seems like were puppets and the states are pulling the strings at times. I dont think the private land guarantee would be very rewarding tho if u asked me, even if you took a 400in bull you couldnt say you really worked for it, or even deserved it. Alto i have yet to kill a elk id rather take a barley legal rag horn that i earned other than a monster that i bought. My out look on the points thing, i try to save points for a few years and get in a decent spot other than save for 10plus years and get in a great spot.

Colorado Cowboy
03-14-2013, 09:14 PM
I like to do packin hunts with spike camps. I am scheduling a M/L elk hunt in New Mexico in 2014 that I'll put in the draw for. if i don't draw, I'll but the landowner tag. Will hunt the NF adjacent to the landowners ranch and pack in to a spike camp. Went on a wilderness elk hunt in Wyoming in 2011 with an outfitter, got a General tag with 1 point.( it was a 32 mile, 9 1/2 hour horseback ride to camp). I'm not into hunting out of a lodge with all the deluxe accomadations. These type of hunts are out the, just have to do a little research. Price will vary between 4 & 6 grand, depending on the tag you need.

Murdy
03-14-2013, 09:16 PM
I'm fairly new to this game and in my late 40s. I intend to buy points and use them fairly quickly, not hold them for ten+ years. Build up, say, about 2 to 5 points, and go hunting. Probably never will get the dream hunt that way, but hopefully will get some decent (and fun) hunting in over the years (without breaking the bank doing so). So far, I've focussed on Wyomoing and Colorado and probably will supplement that with N.M., Idaho, or Montana general tags over the years. Burnt my first points this year in Wyoming. If I was 10 years younger, maybe I'd be looking at it differently.

elk_n_esox
03-14-2013, 09:52 PM
Well I'm 43 going on 23 and been lucky enough to go on 8 or 10 elk hunts, personally successful 3 times and someone in our group successful all but 2 or 3 times. I'm all about DIY hard working backcountry hunting, but as my wife keeps telling me elk is the most expensive red meat per LB there is. Go on 3 or 4 elk hunts in a row and bring nothing back, add up the tags, gas, food, gear etc... And that stuff is priced like Kobe beef. To spend hundreds more for years and years is a tough pill for me to swallow. Its quite the dilemma

Murdy
03-15-2013, 06:35 AM
" but as my wife keeps telling me elk is the most expensive red meat per LB there is."

True, but you could take up golf, still spend a boat-load of money (if you want to take it seriously), and not have any meat to show for it. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it, lol. Seriously, that hunting provides meat is really just a collateral benefit to our chosen form of recreation. There are plenty of expensive things we could be doing that don't have such a great side benefit. (by the way, I'm not sure elk is the most expensive meat -- factor in the cost of a good fishing boat to a walleye filet -- no to mention the guys who catch bass all day and don't even eat them)

Fink
03-15-2013, 07:39 AM
Here I sit again, perusing the Utah application (donation as I now call it) information and I wonder.... Does this really make sense? Applying year after year... Hundreds of dollars for license fees JUST to put my name in a draw where I have single digit odds to actually draw a tag? Oh yeah.... And Arizona.... Cha-Ching!!!!....possibly for 15 even 20 years.... And by THEN the tag will cost me, a non-res (sucker) hunter at LEAST $2000. So what will that hunt end up actually costing me????? Or should I just save my loot and buy a guaranteed private hunt some day? I think I may be done with my yearly donations... I'm only a few years in and I think it may be time to cut my losses and just start saving? Any thoughts?

I really struggle with this quite a bit. However, I've ultimately decided that I like hunting out west far to much to not apply. I originally considered buying a land owner tag each year, but in order to get into decent areas, thats actually more expensive than the 5-6 states that I currently apply for.
For me, realistically, I will only make one trip per year out west, after I factor in all of my other vacations, so my thought process was to start building points in several states, for several different species. I knew coming into it that the going would be slow, but in a few years, I'll be drawing a 'decent' tag every year. And eventually, I'll be up to the necessary point levels to hunt a decent unit in AZ or UT.
To be perfectly honest, at this stage of the points game, it does not make sense to try to start building up for some of the ultra blue chips hunts: The Strip for deer, Unit 9 or 10 for AZ elk, the San Juan for UT elk. A guy just isn't going to draw those hunts.. But, I think if you set your sights on hunts that take anywhere from 3-10 points, you can draw a decent tag every year from here on out.. And who knows, maybe you'll end up with 20 points for something down the road.

Thats the way I look at it anyways..

elk_n_esox
03-15-2013, 08:16 AM
Well for this year I've decided to pull the plug.... I don't I lose my points I've accrued for a year or two so that gives me time to reconsider in the future. My goal is to draw a decent hunt every year in the west, and at his point I don't think I need to invest thousands over the years to draw some "SUPER TAG". Trust me... I WILL get a giant bull at some point, as I've already missed a few golden opportunities over the years (one at 10 feet!..) but thats not my TOP priority right now. Chance at a good bull... with good people... getting into the elk and having fun is all I can ask for.

I do golf and fish quite a bit.... NOT CHEAP EITHER!

tdcour
03-15-2013, 08:20 AM
My wife didn't grow up in a family that took hunting very seriously. Her dad mainly was a quail hunter when he decided to hunt, so the idea of spending money on hunts that will be 5-10 years down the road is very weird for her. She doesn't really understand it, but with some convincing I have been able to start applying for these hunts. I think the overall price of these hunts when it comes down to it with travel, non-res license fees, processing, hunting equipment, etc. is outrageous, but there is nothing like the feeling of being on a hunt... even if we come home without any animal, we still have the memories made in the field.

My personal opinion is that the memories made in the field are worth every penny, and like Murdy said... there are hobbies that are just as expensive without the reward of large amounts of meat! I still don't like paying $100 for Utah and more for other states every year, but what else can you do? You can hunt with an outfitter or buy a land-owner tag, but like Colorado Cowboy said, they are just as expensive, so it's really what you decide you want to spend. Spread it out over many years for one hunt, or spend just as much on an outfitted hunt somewhere with a land-owner tag. It's a wash either way as a non-resident.

The good news is that eventually I'll have some great memories in the field to tell the kids and grand kids when I get older!

Fink
03-15-2013, 09:19 AM
Regarding landowner tags.. I've not reseached costs for LO tags in CO, but take New Mexico for example.. You can pick up a LO tag in some of the mediocre units for about $1,500, plus the cost of the tag.. So, for a tad over $2k, you can hunt a unit every year with similar quality as several OTC CO or ID units. A LO tag with good elk quality will most likely cost you $3k (if I remember correctly from last year) plus the tag.
My total out of pocket expenses, after getting fees back, is approximately $425 this year, for 18 hunts. With about half of those hunts being hunts I will draw within 10 years. The other half are long shot elk odds, or impossible to draw sheep/goat hunts, that cost an additional $7.5-$10 to apply.

$425 to not hunt is a bunch of money, but when you spread it out over as many hunt possibilities, its not as bad. $1500+ for a LO tag buys a bunch of points, for quality that can probably be found OTC in several states, or be drawn every year on the special WY tag.

WapitiBob
03-15-2013, 09:27 AM
You can archery hunt a good Utah unit with 10 points, hunt AZ late season every 5 years, and hunt WY GEN every year.

elk_n_esox
03-15-2013, 10:09 AM
Utah has just opened a new OTC area I believe this year... Montana, Idaho, WY offer yearly options for OTC or GEN Hunts which can be good if you meet the right people, do your homework, go to the right areas, and work your butt off. I apply NM every year because if you draw (which is getting to be nearly impossible) you'll probably get a chance to harvest a big bull, and it doesn't cost but a few bucks if you're unsuccessful.

This is likely to be my modus operandi for the foreseeable future

bdjmtn
03-17-2013, 02:40 PM
I like to hunt so I apply a to mainly Wyoming and Colorado for areas that require only two or three points so I can go every year. I have a friend the max points in Wyoming for almost everthing including sheep and about seven points for deer and elk in Colorado. He sits at home every year holding out for that special tag, while I am out there every year having a great time with memories. So if I die tomorrow I will have lived and if he dies, he just has a bunch of dreams unfilled.

Fink
03-17-2013, 03:45 PM
I like to hunt so I apply a to mainly Wyoming and Colorado for areas that require only two or three points so I can go every year. I have a friend the max points in Wyoming for almost everthing including sheep and about seven points for deer and elk in Colorado. He sits at home every year holding out for that special tag, while I am out there every year having a great time with memories. So if I die tomorrow I will have lived and if he dies, he just has a bunch of dreams unfilled.

Seems kinda crazy to sit at home, just because you didn't draw a coveted tag, doesn't it?! I'll continue to apply and build points for better trophy quality, but 'when' I don't draw any of them, you'll find me in an OTC unit, continuing to learn it.

JEandAsGuide
03-17-2013, 04:06 PM
I'll continue to apply and build points for better trophy quality, but 'when' I don't draw any of them, you'll find me in an OTC unit, continuing to learn it.

That is my plan also. I started building points in 5 states 2 years ago. Some I plan to build to hopefully have a shot at a trophy unit in 15 years or better and the rest I plan to try and draw every 2-3 years. If I don't draw, then OTC it is, starting this year. I haven't been yet for other reasons but it starts this year. You gotta get some experience somewhere. Especially being from the south.

xtreme
03-17-2013, 05:20 PM
I have been lucky enough to hunt on the Jicarrilla Apache Reservation. There is more game there than any place I have been. $8000. and less will get you a good elk hunt with a chance at a huge elk. Land owner tags I have priced for deer have been $6500. A deer license on the Jicarrilla is 15,000.00 Just over the border in Co the cost is $354.
Since a lot of my hunting is about shooting, I can shoot a lot of paper and use my camera to hunt in the best units. I doubt I try for more points. I have had some awesome back country experiences and was able to be hunting in the old days.

elk_n_esox
03-17-2013, 09:30 PM
I can tell you this, I've been lucky enough to hunt it some of the best units available anywhere, where you trip over elk walking out of camp, and even called a few nice bulls within bow range of the campfire. One night I'm pretty sure a loco bull tried to breed a couple of our horses in the middle of the night and I thought I was going to get trampled in my tent. I've also hunted some leftover OTC hunts that were supposedly Decent, where I hunted an entire week sun-up to sun-down, glassing for hours and hours, covering miles and miles and saw 1 cow with a calf and a crapload of moose. It's a tough call.... It's a lot of time and money! I think I just need to move west and increase my odds!

Musket Man
03-18-2013, 10:05 AM
I will not donate money to any state for 20 years maybe to draw 1 tag! I would rather spend my money in states I can actually hunt in. I look for good areas I can draw with 3-6 points and hunt 2nd choice or OTC in between.

Doe Nob
03-19-2013, 11:09 AM
There isn't a good cheap way for non-residents to hunt anywhere in the west. If you are serious, pick up a bow, it opens a lot of land and seasons rifle only guys don't have access to, and draw odds are much better. I do both, and have some decent OTC archery back up hunts I can do every year that are a ton of fun and cheap. So I put in for the premium tags and see if I get lucky, if not, I go on my back ups, but I can go every year on 2-3 different week long out of state hunts.

It takes a few years and some research to find these opportunities and areas, but that's what I'd suggest. Spend time in CO or MT and get some good back up areas that you can go every year and still have an enjoyable hunt, but still put in for premium tags where you can afford it.

You are only going to get so many seasons and so many tags in your lifetime. Its not going to get any cheaper at any point than it is right now unless you get residency in a particular state. I used to struggle with the cost, then I took a step back. Its what I like doing, it helps keep me in shape year round, it provides good groceries, and the trophies and memories are what I'm going to look back on when I'm too old to get around the mountains any more. You can't put a price on living a full life.

That said, put your family first, like don't spend JR's college fund on some res hunts- but after that, who cares. Some guys drive nice cars, some guys go to vegas a lot, some guys play golf, I hunt and make no apologies or justifications, its who I am.

HuskyMusky
03-19-2013, 12:37 PM
How many points do you have?
A few years in...?
When did you get in? when you could apply for every specie in UT? or before they went from 2 to every species? If you got in before they expanded it to all species/points, I'd probably keep applying for those 2 species in UT. If you got in after, then I'd consider tossing the towel in.

You could save some cash by just applying for your top 2 tags/points vs. applying for all the species.

When they expanded it to everyone could apply for all tags odds totally went to garbage, but most guys who applied prior to that probably have say ex. 10pts for elk and desert sheep, and then have like 5pts for all other species now, so a ton of people have the same amount of pts, and then some people have more or max pts for only 2 species, so you could save some cash and just go after your top 2 again.

I'm young, so I plan to draw every tag in UT at some point.

btw my top 2 are desert sheep and elk, which I suspect are the top 2 for many hunters.

whatever you decide to do, I would do it! not be wishy washy, ie, no points this year, then in 3 years think oh I should apply, either apply for everything forever, or pick your top 2, or just throw in the points.

elk_n_esox
03-20-2013, 11:48 AM
I love it HM! I'm really only interested in hunting elk... maybe an alaska moose trip some time in the future, but hunting rutting elk in the high country is my passion! I have 4 points in UT, 3 in Az and 6 now in WY. I'll cash my WY points in the next year or 2 but I'm out for the rest.

NM_Archer
03-22-2013, 08:12 AM
No wonder i'm always broke! I hunt and play golf!! haha. I took up golf because i am the most unlucky person ever when it comes to drawing tags. Fingers crossed this yr!

HuskyMusky
03-22-2013, 05:49 PM
I love it HM! I'm really only interested in hunting elk... maybe an alaska moose trip some time in the future, but hunting rutting elk in the high country is my passion! I have 4 points in UT, 3 in Az and 6 now in WY. I'll cash my WY points in the next year or 2 but I'm out for the rest.

I'll join you for a semi-cheap float trip AK moose trip in the future ;)

Have yet to visit AK but the first hunt in AK is planned to be a Sitka Blacktail on Kodiak, still at least a couple years away probably.

elk_n_esox
03-22-2013, 07:01 PM
Now you're talkin' HM! I'd love to but some yukon backstrap in the freezer!

elk_n_esox
03-25-2013, 09:33 PM
okay.... not applying in UT may have been a mistake! I just watched some show where they were hunting in the Wasatch Mountains, and OMG are there some there!!!!! Friggin bulls everywhere! I'm gettin the fever people... and it's march 25! That may not be a good thing??????

Montana
03-26-2013, 05:50 AM
I'm fairly new to this game and in my late 40s. I intend to buy points and use them fairly quickly, not hold them for ten+ years. Build up, say, about 2 to 5 points, and go hunting. Probably never will get the dream hunt that way, but hopefully will get some decent (and fun) hunting in over the years (without breaking the bank doing so). So far, I've focussed on Wyomoing and Colorado and probably will supplement that with N.M., Idaho, or Montana general tags over the years. Burnt my first points this year in Wyoming. If I was 10 years younger, maybe I'd be looking at it differently.

I think this is the successful approach to this game. Getting back to enjoying the quality experience and not focusing on the next state record.

elk_n_esox
03-28-2013, 06:33 PM
Utah only makes you purchase the non-refundable license if your previous is expired, so the savvy person only has to donate the big bucks every OTHER year.

Edelweiss
03-31-2013, 02:06 AM
I am going to crap my Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and Nevada points. I only have 1-2 points anyway and the odds are against me. Landowner or Canada, and my home state of Alaska. Beyond that it's north worth it at 40 to start on this points BS again.

Edelweiss
03-31-2013, 02:07 AM
I want to say I am only talking about sheep in Wyoming and sheep, elk, mule deer and antelope in Arizona and Nevada.

More to life than paying the states not to hunt.

elk_n_esox
04-01-2013, 05:26 PM
I am going to crap my Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and Nevada points. I only have 1-2 points anyway and the odds are against me. Landowner or Canada, and my home state of Alaska. Beyond that it's north worth it at 40 to start on this points BS again.

I hear ya edelwiess! but you've also got some pretty awesome big game hunting right in your backyard... Alaska! WOW! That makes it easier to rationalize giving up on some dream western hunts. Here in flat ol' meechigan, and elk tag REALLY IS like winning the lottery, there's whitetails everywhere, but not many big-uns unless you have a massive chunk of private land to hunt on. So that leaves at the mercy of the G&F commissioners of the western states. I'm done with AZ.. too much too long! I think I'll resume UT next year, because it's not terribly expensive if you time it correctly, WY I'm nearly at max so I'll cash soon... and I've networked I great WY resident to run all over the back-country with... lastly my heart belongs to NM... but she's a dirty girl these days to non-res hunters.

Edelweiss... Me, you, huskymusky and my WY connection should go moose huntin sometime!