Hunting, planning, and the economy

ajricketts

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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.

There are a couple things to consider. I think you're very right about heading out of state, particularly out west, to hunt. However, for many people that live in states with a decent whitetail population the cost of entry is much lower. That is easier to get into and eventually provide a door to the more expensive western hunting.

That being said, hunting is basically my only real hobby right now for some of the reasons you mention above. While it doesn't exhaust my excess cash flow, it does take a chunk of it. But even more than that, it takes a lot of time invested to be successful on any sort of consistent basis. And a lot of that time is time away from my family because my kids are too young to join along (and miss school oftentimes). Considering the entire investment, money, time away, researching, etc. it can be daunting if you don't live somewhere with reasonably decent hunting within your own state or at least a few hours drive.
 

Big Fin

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Could you expand on why you are ditching Utah?

Cost compared to probability of drawing. I look at what it costs for the license and the apps and I know there is a very low likelihood of getting drawn. I've lucked out and drawn bison, my main reason for applying in Utah. Along the way I drew archery deer and archery elk, two bonuses I never expected when I started. Now, with max pronghorn points, I will draw this year. I did not have UT pronghorn as a high priority, but when I started in UT in 1999 we could only do one of the "Once In A Lifetime Species" and one of elk/deer/antelope. I chose antelope.

I will reallocate those funds to raffle tickets for hunts that are dreams. Yup, odds are probably even lower than Utah, but these would be hunts that have more appeal to me than Utah.....and the funds will go to conservation groups that I admire for the work of their volunteers.

If I had not yet lucked out and drawn bison, I would stay in Utah, as that was one of the long-term goals I established when I started in Utah. It would be a worthwhile investment if I was still wanting to hunt Utah bison.
 

wllm1313

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There are a couple things to consider. I think you're very right about heading out of state, particularly out west, to hunt. However, for many people that live in states with a decent whitetail population the cost of entry is much lower. That is easier to get into and eventually provide a door to the more expensive western hunting.

Isn't it the opposite? Right now to go elk hunting it costs me like $100 as a resident tag + tank of gas. As a non-resident you can do it for under $1000.

What is the cost to hunt whitetail in any eastern state? Say I move to Chicago, or Dallas, or Ohio, or Mississippi, etc. I'm living in an apartment in the city and want to drive somewhere within 4 hours to hunt. What is that going to cost me, $1000? $2000, $10,000? Can you really get on a decent lease for anywhere near the price of a NR elk hunt in Colorado?

I don't have much exposure to that world, but the sense I get is that there is little to no public land, so you have to do a lease and that is expensive. Then you have to manage the property, deal with people trespassing, bait if all your neighbors are baiting etc. etc.

Given that calculus or at least the perception that ^ that is accurate by a lot of people I kinda understand why western hunting has exploded.

I'm sure a lot of that is hyperbolic, the truth is always more nuanced, but I think the QDMA and "antler porn" of the whitetail world is huge factor. That's not meant as a critique of QDMA, just pointing out a cause and effect.

We are seeing a net hunter decline, yet a increase in western hunting... pretty easy to do the math on that one...
 

neffa3

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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.
I disagree. I think the adventure and meditative aspects of big game hunting are extremely appealing in our technology saturated hustle bustle world, and will only become more so.
 

TOGIE

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I disagree. I think the adventure and meditative aspects of big game hunting are extremely appealing in our technology saturated hustle bustle world, and will only become more so.

i agree

the same reasons colorado is blowing up, and boise, and bozeman are similar to why the hunting is blowing up. though the aforementioned locations are not blowing up because of hunting, but the mentalities driving the increases are similar.

however, i got into hunting three years ago, fall of 2020 will be my 4th season going out, i'm 28 years old. i have many friends right around my age that have been hunting since they were 14, they complain more about crowds and costs than anyone i've ever met, they own more gear than me. yet, i've already put more animals on the ground and more species on the ground than they ever have, i consistently apply in more states (only 2 though). i plan around drawing tags ever year. i plan on having animals in the freezer every year. they plan around drawing good units for male species. they oddly seem to have empty freezers more years than not.

i think as was mentioned, the predictive equation might just state that in 15 years i'm the one still going hard at this and them.... not so much. honestly, that's how it already is. if they aren't prioritizing it as much now, why would it be in any way a priority when there are multiple children now to factor in the mix?

not sure what this means in the long term, in terms of net western hunting numbers/apps - i think it will continue to increase, as there are a lot of people like me, but also a lot of people like my friends. not to mention that the numbers of my friends, who grew up in colorado like I did, that are leaving the state for non western states is increasing. the cost of living increases over the years compared to wage increases and crowding is driving a lot of people who grew up here away. this has been touched on by another in this thread. yet people who grew up here leaving colorado is not, for at least a long time, going to have much effect on those wanting to get in. i also don't think we'll see the hunting apps drop any time soon.
 

PAhunter

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Isn't it the opposite? Right now to go elk hunting it costs me like $100 as a resident tag + tank of gas. As a non-resident you can do it for under $1000.

What is the cost to hunt whitetail in any eastern state? Say I move to Chicago, or Dallas, or Ohio, or Mississippi, etc. I'm living in an apartment in the city and want to drive somewhere within 4 hours to hunt. What is that going to cost me, $1000? $2000, $10,000? Can you really get on a decent lease for anywhere near the price of a NR elk hunt in Colorado?

I don't have much exposure to that world, but the sense I get is that there is little to no public land, so you have to do a lease and that is expensive. Then you have to manage the property, deal with people trespassing, bait if all your neighbors are baiting etc. etc.

Given that calculus or at least the perception that ^ that is accurate by a lot of people I kinda understand why western hunting has exploded.

I'm sure a lot of that is hyperbolic, the truth is always more nuanced, but I think the QDMA and "antler porn" of the whitetail world is huge factor. That's not meant as a critique of QDMA, just pointing out a cause and effect.

We are seeing a net hunter decline, yet a increase in western hunting... pretty easy to do the math on that one...

If a PA resident wants to hunt whitetails, license cost is $21, or close to $50 if you want to be allowed to hunt with bow & muzzleloader. Add doe tags for $7 each (or $11 each, depending on the type). A nonresident pays $151 for license plus bow & muzzleloader privileges. In both cases, that fee includes a couple of turkey tags (one fall, one spring) plus small game. With something like 3.7 million acres of public land scattered throughout the state (I don't think there is anywhere in PA that you can be further than 30 miles from huntable public land where deer live; but that's a guess and it's probably closer than that). Baiting is not legal in the vast majority of PA. There is no reason that anyone has to have a lease to be a successful whitetail hunter in PA. Now if they must shoot a 140" buck in order to be "successful" - maybe a lease/private land is required.

Amount of public land in eastern states varies quite a bit, but there are actually very few where "one tank of gas/4 hours" (your criteria ;)) won't get anyone who wants to hunt onto public hunting lands with a reasonable/huntable whitetail population.
 

kylemcintyre67

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If a PA resident wants to hunt whitetails, license cost is $21, or close to $50 if you want to be allowed to hunt with bow & muzzleloader. Add doe tags for $7 each (or $11 each, depending on the type). A nonresident pays $151 for license plus bow & muzzleloader privileges. In both cases, that fee includes a couple of turkey tags (one fall, one spring) plus small game. With something like 3.7 million acres of public land scattered throughout the state (I don't think there is anywhere in PA that you can be further than 30 miles from huntable public land where deer live; but that's a guess and it's probably closer than that). Baiting is not legal in the vast majority of PA. There is no reason that anyone has to have a lease to be a successful whitetail hunter in PA. Now if they must shoot a 140" buck in order to be "successful" - maybe a lease/private land is required.

Amount of public land in eastern states varies quite a bit, but there are actually very few where "one tank of gas/4 hours" (your criteria ;)) won't get anyone who wants to hunt onto public hunting lands with a reasonable/huntable whitetail population.
I have been going to Oklahoma for the last two years. It's well outside the 4 hour criteria, but living in El Paso there just aren't any whitetail opportunities inside that range. I know there is huntable public land way out in east Texas, but I have a close friend in Ardmore I can stay with and there are multiple wildlife management areas within an hour drive of his place. My brother and I found an area on one of them that is close to 800 acres and no sign of anyone having been back there in a long time. The hunting is a bit tough on public but there is a bunch of it and the price isn't too bad. 300 for a tag that allows you one buck and two does (the second doe has to be from certain areas of the state though). That is just rifle season, you can get the same deal for muzzle loader and archery also, with a limit of six deer total. Resident tags are 20 bucks, and if you are active duty military you get resident prices regardless of where you are stationed. Its a hell of a lot of fun and no headaches with leases. My buddy lives almost exactly halfway between my brother and I so it works great for us. The season is over Thanksgiving so it helps with the time off from work. My biggest regret is not knowing or understanding how any of this worked until last year.
 

ajricketts

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Isn't it the opposite? Right now to go elk hunting it costs me like $100 as a resident tag + tank of gas. As a non-resident you can do it for under $1000.

What is the cost to hunt whitetail in any eastern state? Say I move to Chicago, or Dallas, or Ohio, or Mississippi, etc. I'm living in an apartment in the city and want to drive somewhere within 4 hours to hunt. What is that going to cost me, $1000? $2000, $10,000? Can you really get on a decent lease for anywhere near the price of a NR elk hunt in Colorado?

I don't have much exposure to that world, but the sense I get is that there is little to no public land, so you have to do a lease and that is expensive. Then you have to manage the property, deal with people trespassing, bait if all your neighbors are baiting etc. etc.

Given that calculus or at least the perception that ^ that is accurate by a lot of people I kinda understand why western hunting has exploded.

I'm sure a lot of that is hyperbolic, the truth is always more nuanced, but I think the QDMA and "antler porn" of the whitetail world is huge factor. That's not meant as a critique of QDMA, just pointing out a cause and effect.

We are seeing a net hunter decline, yet a increase in western hunting... pretty easy to do the math on that one...

Already answered above, but I'm talking about public land stuff. If you live in GA, FL, TN, etc. you can buy a your deer tags/license for the year for less than $100 and probably hunt from September - December with a 1 - 3 deer limit. It terms of just getting into chasing big game, it's pretty straightforward and cheap.

Now, once you start talking leases it all goes out the window. For a good lease within 4 hours of me you're looking at $700+/month.

I think western hunting has exploded because elk, antelope, and mule deer lol.
 

JLS

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As long as Idaho stays OTC for NR hunters, I’m fine. My expectations and goals are relatively simple compared to most, and too many options and costs merely complicates the issue.
 

wllm1313

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Already answered above, but I'm talking about public land stuff. If you live in GA, FL, TN, etc. you can buy a your deer tags/license for the year for less than $100 and probably hunt from September - December with a 1 - 3 deer limit. It terms of just getting into chasing big game, it's pretty straightforward and cheap.

Now, once you start talking leases it all goes out the window. For a good lease within 4 hours of me you're looking at $700+/month.

I mean is it though? Can an adult onset hunter from GA with no friends or relatives that hunt, who just decides that want to do it, buy a tag and go hunt public land and see deer?

Per DNR website... that not very much public land for a state with a population greater than, Wyoming, Alaska, ND, SD, Montana, Idaho, and Colorado combined.

Sure elk, mule deer, and pronghorn are cool, but unless the hunting community makes some serious efforts to opening up hunting east of the Mississippi. I think we are going to A. lose a lot of hunting rights (guns, public lands etc) and B. Have more or more crowding in the west.
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JTHOMP

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Isn't it the opposite? Right now to go elk hunting it costs me like $100 as a resident tag + tank of gas. As a non-resident you can do it for under $1000.

What is the cost to hunt whitetail in any eastern state? Say I move to Chicago, or Dallas, or Ohio, or Mississippi, etc. I'm living in an apartment in the city and want to drive somewhere within 4 hours to hunt. What is that going to cost me, $1000? $2000, $10,000? Can you really get on a decent lease for anywhere near the price of a NR elk hunt in Colorado?

I don't have much exposure to that world, but the sense I get is that there is little to no public land, so you have to do a lease and that is expensive. Then you have to manage the property, deal with people trespassing, bait if all your neighbors are baiting etc. etc.

Given that calculus or at least the perception that ^ that is accurate by a lot of people I kinda understand why western hunting has exploded.

I'm sure a lot of that is hyperbolic, the truth is always more nuanced, but I think the QDMA and "antler porn" of the whitetail world is huge factor. That's not meant as a critique of QDMA, just pointing out a cause and effect.

We are seeing a net hunter decline, yet a increase in western hunting... pretty easy to do the math on that one...

Agree with what @ajricketts and @PAhunter said about it being cheap and not too difficult the find land to hunt on public land in the east. It's certainly doable, and the opportunity to fill the freezer with pigs is even greater in many areas. Not anywhere as great of public opportunities in the West but it's there for those who want it. However most people don't want to put in the work to hunt public land. They would rather sit in a stand and shoot one crossing a right of way, which is an effective way to kill a white tail. And yes people are consistently killing more bigger deer which is driving the demand and prices for leases up. Good luck trying to get a lease in the delta area of Louisiana. Only I've heard of are the Manning family or people that made it big in the oil field, doctor, or lawyer. Some clubs will fudge the numbers on what they kill so the timber company is less likely to go up on the lease. So when many people can't justify the cost of a lease and are not obsessed with hunting, they don't hunt.
*I'll also add that all but one person I know that hunts out West, whether been there once or goes every year, hunts hard on public land in the East every year.

You have a good point about it being tougher an adult onset hunter though. If I didn't have a passion at 18 to hunt no matter what, I wouldn't have started hunting on public land. Saw a deer once the first year, missed a deer the second year, and finally killed on the third year.
 
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thusby

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Killing deer on public land east of the Mississippi is a brutal undertaking for the inexperienced and often times the experienced. Lack of access to decent ground and overcrowding is the number one reason for declining tag sales east of the big muddy. It is also the reason for the increase in demand in the west. Every year more of us get pushed off the farms we have hunted for years or just get fed up with the number of bodies on public. I will only hunt the last 4 days of the 9 day Wisconsin gun season on public land. I may give that up entirely soon too.
 

PAhunter

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I mean is it though? Can an adult onset hunter from GA with no friends or relatives that hunt, who just decides that want to do it, buy a tag and go hunt public land and see deer?

The answer to that question is yes, but now we're getting into the question of how badly people want it - how much time, effort, and research they are willing to put into it. I don't see that the learning curve for seeing/getting an opportunity to take a whitetail on public land in the east is any steeper than the same for seeing/getting an opportunity at an elk on CO public land. In either case newbies can get stupid lucky their first day out, but for the majority with little hunting experience, it's not going to be easy and intuitive. Of course it is easier to get started on the path to success with a mentor's help, but that's true no matter where, how, or what we are hunting.
 

LopeHunter

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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.

Is awesome you are getting a much better bang for your buck. Most of my non-resident elk tags are around $1000 now. Driving 600 miles each way at 25mpg adds up fast, too. I usually process my meat but leave the euro for a taxidermist. I no longer have a truck or SUV so rent a truck for hunts. I am hard on gear. I also find food costs are a wash whether at home or headed to hunt camp.

Kids might change things. I have a couple of friends from high school. They married after college and never had kids. Retired at 51. They are worth more now than the day they retired by letting the investments grow faster than they use cash. I have two kids, now grown and 4 grandkids, not grown. As a single lad if I needed to get through a few days with only $10 in my pocket then easy breezey as I could throttle down outflows and merely eat what was in the cupboard while stayed home at night. Once the kids arrived then $10 in your pocket is hard to stretch a few more days because diapers, baby food, laundry soap, etc, need replenished today rather than next week.

If you need backup on explaining how you are only paying $5K more for the sheep hunt then let me know. I like your math and the cut of your jib.
 

Trial153

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Refreshing change from the... Apply Apply Apply we are bombarded with all the time, along with the stories of successful drawers who omit or minimize that the conditions that they drew their tags in no longer exist.
 

rjthehunter

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Is awesome you are getting a much better bang for your buck. Most of my non-resident elk tags are around $1000 now. Driving 600 miles each way at 25mpg adds up fast, too. I usually process my meat but leave the euro for a taxidermist. I no longer have a truck or SUV so rent a truck for hunts. I am hard on gear. I also find food costs are a wash whether at home or headed to hunt camp.

Kids might change things. I have a couple of friends from high school. They married after college and never had kids. Retired at 51. They are worth more now than the day they retired by letting the investments grow faster than they use cash. I have two kids, now grown and 4 grandkids, not grown. As a single lad if I needed to get through a few days with only $10 in my pocket then easy breezey as I could throttle down outflows and merely eat what was in the cupboard while stayed home at night. Once the kids arrived then $10 in your pocket is hard to stretch a few more days because diapers, baby food, laundry soap, etc, need replenished today rather than next week.

If you need backup on explaining how you are only paying $5K more for the sheep hunt then let me know. I like your math and the cut of your jib.
I can get to and from most western states for under 200$ as far as gas goes for my pickup. That doesn't include vehicle payments, wear and insurance, but that's part of owning a vehicle anyway lol.
 

ElkFever2

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The answer to that question is yes, but now we're getting into the question of how badly people want it - how much time, effort, and research they are willing to put into it. I don't see that the learning curve for seeing/getting an opportunity to take a whitetail on public land in the east is any steeper than the same for seeing/getting an opportunity at an elk on CO public land. In either case newbies can get stupid lucky their first day out, but for the majority with little hunting experience, it's not going to be easy and intuitive. Of course it is easier to get started on the path to success with a mentor's help, but that's true no matter where, how, or what we are hunting.
Entirely depends on the state. WI you’re going to have to work for it because of the unlimited otc tags, MN not as bad, IL is very hard, ND there is all kinds of opportunity as is IA. States with steep rural human population declines see reduced demand for leases as long as NR is capped, which greatly reduces pressure on public. I live in an area I can get access to several private properties in an afternoon, total cold calls. In other areas of the east this is unheard of. If you’re in a tough state like IL you may get more value hunting CO than your home state.
 

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