Hunting, planning, and the economy

Greyman

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Jan 14, 2019
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390
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South Texas
I don't have the numbers, but I'm pretty sure the odds to draw a state hunt in Texas go down during an economic downturn. The reason is, it's expensive to hunt private land but applications for public draw hunts are very cheap. That said, I just continue to build points in categories that I don't get drawn and disregard odds or economic circumstances. Blind luck is real and I have beaten the odds several times.
 

Aussie_hunter_JD

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Jul 26, 2016
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Australia
I reckon if they got rid of instagram and facebook you'd halve the number of people applying in each state. If XX outdoors or XX hunting adventures couldn't become famous why even bother hunting?

I kid,

I don't think the baby boomers aging out will make much difference though as the younger generations seem to apply across more states. The only thing that's slowed my hunting down in Australia and pulled up my annual New Zealand trips has been kids. That ends things like a chicken in a fox coop!
 

wllm

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I reckon if they got rid of instagram and facebook you'd halve the number of people applying in each state. If XX outdoors or XX hunting adventures couldn't become famous why even bother hunting?

There are a whole lot of social media stars that would probably be hunting feeders in Texas if they had their druthers.
 

rmauch20

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Dec 27, 2016
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462
A lot of good information in Randy’s post. It has helped me make some changes in my applications and planning.
Eventually the baby boomer generation will age out. If the youngest person in that generation is currently 56, realistically they could have 10-15 years left before Health, retirement/cut in income, Father Time catch up with them. It’ll be interesting to see how much of a drop if any there is when we lose that generation of applicants.
It’s a double edge sword that hunting out west or back country hunting is the cool thing right now. But I Believe this will eventually start to fade. Like the Whitetail hunting of 10 to 15 years ago and then the whole duck commander phase. Or I could be totally wrong and everybody just gonna keep doing it because it is pretty awesome.
 

VikingsGuy

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Twin Cities
A lot of good information in Randy’s post. It has helped me make some changes in my applications and planning.
Eventually the baby boomer generation will age out. If the youngest person in that generation is currently 56, realistically they could have 10-15 years left before Health, retirement/cut in income, Father Time catch up with them. It’ll be interesting to see how much of a drop if any there is when we lose that generation of applicants.
It’s a double edge sword that hunting out west or back country hunting is the cool thing right now. But I Believe this will eventually start to fade. Like the Whitetail hunting of 10 to 15 years ago and then the whole duck commander phase. Or I could be totally wrong and everybody just gonna keep doing it because it is pretty awesome.
I keep hoping it follows golf's Tiger-curve. Lots of people liked golf for a decade and now many courses can barely stay open. In most things there is a difference between the long time committed and the bandwagon jumpers - I wonder what mix we have in the western NR hunting crowd/
 

wllm

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I keep hoping it follows golf's Tiger-curve. Lots of people liked golf for a decade and now many courses can barely stay open. In most things there is a difference between the long time committed and the bandwagon jumpers - I wonder what mix we have in the western NR hunting crowd/

I would imagine there is a strong correlation between people who buy a new bow/pack/boots/camo etc every year and those folks who are going to be out of the sport by age 40.

If you care more about the stuff than the sport you likely aren't in it for the long haul.
 

noharleyyet

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I would imagine there is a strong correlation between people who buy a new bow/pack/boots/camo etc every year and those folks who are going to be out of the sport by age 40.

If you care more about the stuff than the sport you likely aren't in it for the long haul.

I get what you're implying but I certainly wouldn't mind the wherewithal to explore the next big adventure of this mortal coil.
 

Mainer207

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Jan 3, 2019
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New York
Kinda on the flip side of that I see lots of GenX'ers leaving Colorado. Tired of the cost, tired of the traffic, they had their fun during their 20s and 30s and now they want to raise their kids near their folks and have a house.

I'm curious to see how many of the millennial out of state hunter's stick with it after they have kids.

Ahhh, kids - where hipster dreams and ideology go to die :)

The western hunting dreams are enough to keep me from wanting anything more than a dog 😬
 

Pucky Freak

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I predict "live where the cool stuff is" being the most dominant long term trend affecting western hunting opportunity. Technology and infrastructure keep improving to the point where most white collar folks don't need to live in crowded dirty cities and can instead do jobs remotely. Take what's happening in AZ and CO and apply it everywhere else in the West. 25 years from now there will be many fewer hunters I think, but tags might not be any easier to draw as stiff competition from non consumptive users destroys habitat, game populations, methods of hunting, and area available to hunt.
 

LopeHunter

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MO-->CA-->NW-->AZ-->NV
This opens my eyes a little more to the points game. I was so on the fence of whether or not I should even bother trying to build points in certain states or if I should just focus my time and money on general and otc tags. Having 0 preference points to my name in any state I struggle to see it ever paying off for me. All of that being said, if all these max point holders are no longer able to physically do these hunts it may be worth it. While I plan on living in the midwest for the foreseeable future, I still want to go west to hunt. Maybe I'll have to start building some points in your mentioned states that are worth it.

One goal of mine is to complete the Grand slam on north american sheep like my grandpa has done. As it's looking now, it's going to be an expensive road to travel being forced to have to go guided everywhere possible. Then just hope someday I can draw any needed tags...

The backlog of non-residents trying to get blue chip deer, elk and any of the sheep/goat/moose/bison tags is measured in decades. You will not only have to outlive old guys like me that are ahead of you but also your peers that got in even one year ago. The top point pools for sheep in WY take years to flush out. Not every state is a preference point so you do have a chance in states like NV though odds are still around 1 in 200 for one of those tags so unless your family members tend to live past 100 then cumulatively will be a bit worse than a coin flip for bighorn ram tag. Worse than a coin flip for bison. You will be better than a coin flip for goat and moose. Heck, you could be a really lucky person and draw several ram tags. Las Vegas markets to lots of folks that are sure they are really lucky.

If you look at the application game as a "donation" to put more sheep on the mountain or nicer trucks cushioning the backsides of conservation agents then you can keep the blood pressure down and still smile after the a decade or two of nothing but "not drawn" for those blue chip and primo tags which is my situation on bighorn ram and bison after 20+ years. I have drawn moose (ID), mountain goat (AK and CO) and bighorn ewe (CO, second choice so did not lose ram points) so have had some nice hunts. I have had one outstanding mule deer tag and four very nice bull elk hunts. Several nice pronghorn hunts. A bunch of turkey hunts. I have seen some fantastic country I likely never would have set foot upon if was not for drawing a tag.

I just did a back of the envelope calculation and likely have "invested" $50,000 in the past 20 years to apply for around 80 tags a year in about 12 states to cover application fees, hunting licenses, conservation tags, points, credit card surcharge as apply, etc. Have drawn over 60 tags so under $1000 a tag to draw a tag on average then, of course, the cost of the tag. Add travel costs, special gear, some private land access fee and a few guides along the way, etc, and is likely my total tab for hunting the past 20 years is $50,000 for the application game, $25,000 in tags drawn and $120,000 travel, etc. Just shy of $200,000 so I have spent about $10,000 a year for 20 years so can hunt around the West.

The application and tag costs are going up faster than inflation. Note in the calculations above that I spend more after have the tag in my hand than did to get the tag into my hand.
 

LopeHunter

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MO-->CA-->NW-->AZ-->NV
I predict "live where the cool stuff is" being the most dominant long term trend affecting western hunting opportunity. Technology and infrastructure keep improving to the point where most white collar folks don't need to live in crowded dirty cities and can instead do jobs remotely. Take what's happening in AZ and CO and apply it everywhere else in the West. 25 years from now there will be many fewer hunters I think, but tags might not be any easier to draw as stiff competition from non consumptive users destroys habitat, game populations, methods of hunting, and area available to hunt.

Some parents highly value education and social opportunities for their offspring so the suburban settings are a huge plus. There are usually better schools with easy to compare advantages such as additional foreign languages and better science labs and better sports coaches. There are club teams for the offspring that show athletic promise in a sport and especially if that sport is less common such as lacrosse or swimming. If the offspring have medical concerns then access to better doctors, specialists, labs and facilities are nearby.

Is absolutely true that an internet connection can let a person access all sorts of data to consume whether live in NYC or Jackson. Living 2 miles down a gravel road is how I grew up in a poor community with a school that was not rated highly. That same town now is actually further behind in their comparative school rating and there are fewer kids per graduating class so harder to have a competitive sports team. While that town was a place you could walk around after dark when I was a kid the present day truth is meth and other "big city" problems arrived and there are less law enforcement and social services to address those big city issues.

Now, you could move to that town after you have built your career or your wealth or have retired and live at a higher living standard than if were in the city. Medical access would be an issue so that would be a factor. Not many good-paying jobs with the businesses in that town though and part of building a good career is finding an on-ramp to that career. My opinion is a kid without connections through family or money has a lot less on-ramps to pick from in rural towns. A significant portion of the graduates head off to the military today as was the case when I graduated 40 years ago. Not many of them move back after they complete their service. Same with the kids that go off to college. Not many come back. I sure several of those kids want to come back but have not figured out the on-ramp to a career that lets then work from anywhere. I always told myself I would go back. The town I moved away from to go to college simply does not exist in the way it did 40 years ago. Except in my memories.
 

come2elmo

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Aug 18, 2018
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South Texas
The backlog of non-residents trying to get blue chip deer, elk and any of the sheep/goat/moose/bison tags is measured in decades. You will not only have to outlive old guys like me that are ahead of you but also your peers that got in even one year ago. The top point pools for sheep in WY take years to flush out. Not every state is a preference point so you do have a chance in states like NV though odds are still around 1 in 200 for one of those tags so unless your family members tend to live past 100 then cumulatively will be a bit worse than a coin flip for bighorn ram tag. Worse than a coin flip for bison. You will be better than a coin flip for goat and moose. Heck, you could be a really lucky person and draw several ram tags. Las Vegas markets to lots of folks that are sure they are really lucky.

If you look at the application game as a "donation" to put more sheep on the mountain or nicer trucks cushioning the backsides of conservation agents then you can keep the blood pressure down and still smile after the a decade or two of nothing but "not drawn" for those blue chip and primo tags which is my situation on bighorn ram and bison after 20+ years. I have drawn moose (ID), mountain goat (AK and CO) and bighorn ewe (CO, second choice so did not lose ram points) so have had some nice hunts. I have had one outstanding mule deer tag and four very nice bull elk hunts. Several nice pronghorn hunts. A bunch of turkey hunts. I have seen some fantastic country I likely never would have set foot upon if was not for drawing a tag.

I just did a back of the envelope calculation and likely have "invested" $50,000 in the past 20 years to apply for around 80 tags a year in about 12 states to cover application fees, hunting licenses, conservation tags, points, credit card surcharge as apply, etc. Have drawn over 60 tags so under $1000 a tag to draw a tag on average then, of course, the cost of the tag. Add travel costs, special gear, some private land access fee and a few guides along the way, etc, and is likely my total tab for hunting the past 20 years is $50,000 for the application game, $25,000 in tags drawn and $120,000 travel, etc. Just shy of $200,000 so I have spent about $10,000 a year for 20 years so can hunt around the West.

The application and tag costs are going up faster than inflation. Note in the calculations above that I spend more after have the tag in my hand than did to get the tag into my hand.
Bruh. Your flat bill too tight. Hunt Talk Rule #3. Never ever do hunting math where someone’s wife might see it.
 

LopeHunter

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MO-->CA-->NW-->AZ-->NV
Bruh. Your flat bill too tight. Hunt Talk Rule #3. Never ever do hunting math where someone’s wife might see it.

She has been to Europe 15x in the past 20 years and a few trips to other places so I think she is encrypting and hiding her 20 year recap as we speak. We both have built careers so have some jingle in our pocket for hunting and overseas trips. Me mostly hunting. Her, mostly trips.
 

rjthehunter

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Oct 23, 2019
Messages
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Minnesota
The backlog of non-residents trying to get blue chip deer, elk and any of the sheep/goat/moose/bison tags is measured in decades. You will not only have to outlive old guys like me that are ahead of you but also your peers that got in even one year ago. The top point pools for sheep in WY take years to flush out. Not every state is a preference point so you do have a chance in states like NV though odds are still around 1 in 200 for one of those tags so unless your family members tend to live past 100 then cumulatively will be a bit worse than a coin flip for bighorn ram tag. Worse than a coin flip for bison. You will be better than a coin flip for goat and moose. Heck, you could be a really lucky person and draw several ram tags. Las Vegas markets to lots of folks that are sure they are really lucky.

If you look at the application game as a "donation" to put more sheep on the mountain or nicer trucks cushioning the backsides of conservation agents then you can keep the blood pressure down and still smile after the a decade or two of nothing but "not drawn" for those blue chip and primo tags which is my situation on bighorn ram and bison after 20+ years. I have drawn moose (ID), mountain goat (AK and CO) and bighorn ewe (CO, second choice so did not lose ram points) so have had some nice hunts. I have had one outstanding mule deer tag and four very nice bull elk hunts. Several nice pronghorn hunts. A bunch of turkey hunts. I have seen some fantastic country I likely never would have set foot upon if was not for drawing a tag.

I just did a back of the envelope calculation and likely have "invested" $50,000 in the past 20 years to apply for around 80 tags a year in about 12 states to cover application fees, hunting licenses, conservation tags, points, credit card surcharge as apply, etc. Have drawn over 60 tags so under $1000 a tag to draw a tag on average then, of course, the cost of the tag. Add travel costs, special gear, some private land access fee and a few guides along the way, etc, and is likely my total tab for hunting the past 20 years is $50,000 for the application game, $25,000 in tags drawn and $120,000 travel, etc. Just shy of $200,000 so I have spent about $10,000 a year for 20 years so can hunt around the West.

The application and tag costs are going up faster than inflation. Note in the calculations above that I spend more after have the tag in my hand than did to get the tag into my hand.
That's eye opening. So say I can hunt elk every year, should be able to keep it under 1k per trip assuming I have all gear and don't count the cost of eating since I do that anyways. After 5 years I'd have saved about 45k right? I'm gonna use that math for my girlfriend when she asks if it's worth paying 50k for a sheep hunt. I've been able to be pretty successful for my age. I'm at a job it takes most people 3 or 4 years to achieve out of high school. If I keep on the right path and keep focused I might be able to get the grand slam done!

I'm optimistic now. That being said, I'm not married (yet) , no kids, no real debt other than some small college debts I can pay off fairly soon. I'm not going to do the math but I've survived off 1/3 of what I'm going to be making this upcoming year so hopefully I can live frugally and put money into a jar and save it for my dream hunts.
 

tnywragge

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Feb 22, 2019
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Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
Now that is exactly the advise a 3 year elk, sheep, bear, deer, and moose guy wants to hear about points, nr license, and raffle tickets. All these thing I have been contemplating over the past few days (and yes, I solicited third party paid hunting advise as you mention above☝🏻) about what to do? Where to “invest” and at what value are states worth the money? Point creep....too late to get in the game in that one but perspective of the economy puts this as you say, “run out of health before you run out of money” possibly future opportunity. It just takes proper budgeting 😃
Thank you for the advise and writing. It’s been the single most influential and personal confirming piece I’ve ever read on application, hunt strategy, and personal financial responsibility. Also, it confirmed a lot of my feelings about where I want to hunt, areas to focus on, and future opportunities that might come other ways. Thanks Big Fin! Honestly, best advise I’ve ever read from you yet. 👍🏻 👍🏻
 

Six by five

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Jan 12, 2020
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Great points Randy! I think if you have a goal in mind the points make a whole lot more sense.

For example an Arizona archery elk, a Colorado 1st season EE tag, a Wyoming General deer or elk, a Nevada muzzleloader deer or antelope, the list goes on.. With a little planning you can go from 0 points to hunting in just a couple years : )
 

rmyoung1

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Jul 12, 2010
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2,059
I really enjoy these types of discussions because they prompt me to think critically about my own application strategy, and they force me to examine my own hunting goals. Thanks for taking the time @Big Fin to articulate your thought process.
 

BrentD

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Feb 3, 2018
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In the middle
It is interesting to read the posts on this thread. It is also somewhat interesting to contemplate a young person thinking about taking up big game hunting. Where hunting used to be something fun to do for most hunters on a "from time to time" basis, now it at least sounds like it is almost an all or nothing activity where one has to invest essentially all of one's flexible cash and maybe flexible time as well. One has to strategize as if planning an expedition to Mars and the rules and strategies for the points and applications are substantially more complex than investment strategies for one's eventual retirement.

I'm oldish. I grew into hunting, sort of just followed along a path that lead to being rolled up in this brave new world of hunting by accident. But were I 18 yrs old and looking for a new hobby as I was way back then, I don't think I would be taking up big game hunting. Back then I already was hunting, and I wasn't planning on stopping, but I was looking to get out of downhill skiing and into something else as an activity to devote myself to and that turned out to be rock climbing and later bike racing after a few other experiments. Now, I don't think there would be room for both.

I may not have done a good job of expressing this, but I don't feel that hunting, especially big game hunting is very attractive to lots of people that, in another era would have grown into it like I did. It is too daunting just to get in the game, unless you are lucky to live somewhere that it's just out your back door - which, perhaps, explains the high percentage of Western residents on this forum.

PS. Randy, I see you listed Iowa points - I don't know much about them being an Iowa resident that doesn't need them to get any tag, but that said, if you do come and want to chase a few ditch chickens on public, let me know. I'd be happy to help make that happen. I keep track of ice cream shops across Iowa so you won't suffer.
 
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