Alright, so you have dreams of going big game hunting out west but realizing those aspirations are still a few years off, you say. Okay. But are you actually serious about carrying through on those plans or are they just a perennial pipe dream you share with your hunting buddies that reoccurs year after year? It’s time to decide…and possibly you must start acting now even if you won’t be hunting out West this fall.
Planning for a western big game hunt is something that often takes years to accomplish…especially if you’re not familiar with the rules and permit application procedures for the desired state. Take, for instance, Colorado…in many areas of the state you need to accrue several preference points in order to get selected for the desired permit for a bull elk. That means even if you don’t plan to hunt until…say, 2009 or 2010…it might require you to begin earning preference points NOW to achieve that ultimate goal.
So, what are you waiting for? Do you know the rules of your specific dream hunt state? If not, shame on you…it’s probably time for you to decide once and for all if this is a dream you actually want to someday realize.
I’m going to focus on Colorado because this is the western state that I’m most familiar with for big game planning. In fact, just this past week I got the current copy of the big game regs in the mail which spurred me into planning out my strategy for future hunts in that state. It’s been a few years since I’ve been out in Colorado hunting…and it may be another year or two until I am hopefully back there, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be placing an application into the permitting process THIS YEAR.
Truth is even on most years when I’ve not been planning to hunt out in Colorado I’ve still been applying for the permits—both for mule deer and for elk. What this does for me is ensure that when it finally comes time to get serious about planning a hunt back to that state…I will have the necessary preference points accumulated to make my hunting dreams come true.
Colorado is somewhat unique in that you can apply for a preference point to hunt even though you are not serious about hunting in that particular year. In the past the cost of doing so was only a few bucks per license…and the loaning of your money to the Division of Wildlife for a few months until it’s returned by late summer. This year there has been a slight change to that process…which means if you don’t meet certain requirements (detailed in their regs) it will now cost a fee of $25 to earn preference points…but in the whole scheme of things that is still a small price to pay for the future hunting experience.
The main point I want to emphasize is planning for the future hunt and doing so now. There is no better time to tackle such activities than this time of the year when everything else is usually a bit slower in the sportsman’s life. Plus, all worthwhile adventures require that “first step,” so it takes some introspection to determine if the desire to go on a big hunt is important enough to begin planning or just a pleasant thought that keeps rolling around in your mind each year.
The first step is to explore your desired state’s web site and begin learning about the hunting rules in that particular state. Next, carefully examine how the licensing process works to determine if you may need to plan years in advance for permitting, such as in Colorado. Then request several copies of the current game rules and regs to share with your friends. I might even suggest that planning a meeting some night with your hunting pals is a great way to determine if similar goals and interests are shared with others about the hunt. It’s also a great way to split up the work for planning…because there is lots of early planning that must go into each trip.
Once you start solidifying your future big game hunting plans that is when the fun begins…assembling the equipment, getting the maps, calling guides or local game officials for information, essentially doing all that is necessary to pull the dream hunt off. It all starts, however, with some initial footwork and a desire to make things happen.
Check your deadlines closely…in fact, it may be too late already for some states to apply for this year. In Colorado, the deadline for applying is still about a month away (April 4th). Don’t wait until it is too late…or you become pressed for time. Start viewing the whole process of planning the for the hunt as an activity that is almost as exciting as the actual hunt trip itself. Planning can build anticipation…and if you funnel that excited energy appropriately the real hunt will not just last a week…but it could last for months or years beforehand.
I’ve gotta go now…it take some intense concentration and study to properly fill out these applications so no mistakes are made. Plan on spending more time applying for the hunt than you do sighting in that new rifle for the hunt. These days, that’s the way it goes to do things the right way.
© 2006 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.