Hunting, planning, and the economy

dgc1963

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 17, 2019
Messages
942
Big Fin hit the nail on the head with how the economy effects tags and hunting
I have wanted to hunt an animal for yrs and it was all ways way out of my range due to the cost but now with a policy change over the last few yrs the cost have dropped way down
its over seas and the policy made the hunt demand tank so cost came down now IM seriously looking at booking the hunt
If you save your pennies when things slow down you can get a bigger bang for your buck on many hunting trip
 

Durango Mike

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Joined
Jul 25, 2020
Messages
393
Location
Durango, CO
Wow, what a cogent and thoughtful explanation of your process. I have dropped the same states you have as some have changed the rules and prices to make the probability unattractive. I found Fresh Tracks on Amazon, which led me to Hunt Talk, and actually got me excited to hunt again in the high country. Thanks for representing all that is good and positive about public lands and our hunting heritage!
 

ssmusicman

Active member
Joined
Oct 12, 2020
Messages
98
Location
West Central WI
I also just found Fresh Tracks on Prime and have been binging through the seasons. Did not draw
any tags out west this year so it's been filling my lack of actual hunting with them. Lots of great insight and very refreshing to have "real" hunts represented on film. Hope to learn some stuff here on HuntTalk to help in my future hunts too.
 

wa_archer

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Joined
Jan 30, 2013
Messages
308
Location
E. WA
I actually thought this year would see a decrease with everything going on with peoples jobs and pandemic. Boy was I wrong the woods are crawling with people this year. Although I am still holding that in the next few years this could have a lag effect and decrease some interest.
 

LostinOregon1

Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
65
Big Fin,

I think that is the most cogent explanation of the past 25 years in the big game tag festival out west and is exactly what I witnessed. I live in Oregon so I dabble here, but wouldn't have anyone with any sense investing. I am at the same place in UT as you, once I draw my limited entry deer I am out. Anyone starting today in UT may never draw the tag they are looking for.

Tomorrow is the big unknown. I think that people are realizing that chasing the Fool and Epic's top choices will only lead to life of misery and disappointment. I see more and more folks building a few points and cashing in instead of chasing the reputation hunts. It has caused inflation in several places, but I see it mostly in Wyoming in antelope, deer and elk and Colorado in all 3rd season hunts for deer. I see more and more folks going the over the counter route in Idaho which will end up having repercussions sooner or later.

I play the game different today than when I started, but I have cashed out on a few hunts already. I have a few predictions of what is coming, first Idaho will not be over the counter forever for non-residents. I think the residents and over crowding and fewer big game animals will change it eventually. The second is that Colorado will go to all limited elk seasons. Who knows if I am right, but fasten your seatbelts.

Rich
 

ssmusicman

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Oct 12, 2020
Messages
98
Location
West Central WI
My brother and I cashed out our CO antelope points last year and and will not be starting again. Going to put that money towards antelope in WY instead. We do each have 22 points for elk and mule deer in CO, need to find the best way to use them then we are done with that too. Will go over the counter in CO from there on out.
 

jcbusaf

New member
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Oct 26, 2020
Messages
16
Just had knee surgery, So I’ve had time to binge watch fresh tracks. And plan the next few years of hunting. Wish I would of started buying points years ago.
 

David58

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Joined
Oct 13, 2020
Messages
459
Location
Northern NM
I suppose as much as I complain about the tag system here in NM, I am fortunate to live here and get to hunt here. Had not looked into prices recently, but WY used to be my dream hunt. For their NR price, I am a big step toward a guided hunt here without the travel costs.
 

Zim

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Joined
Dec 4, 2011
Messages
920
Location
LaPorte, IN
Haha Randy your thoughts on all these states pretty much mirror mine. I got in the points game about the same time as you 1996. I see a few buzz words I also use like “rear view mirror”. I bailed on the same things you did except Oregon, because I have a hunting buddy there. You definitely made the right call at the right time there. Not many guys in my area NW Indiana with 25 points in many states. I try to give others good sensible advice on where to invest today for the best value. Much has changed in 25 years.
 

Derek44

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Joined
Nov 13, 2020
Messages
461
Location
North Central Washington
Nice well thought out description Randy. This new comer to the out of state points game really appreciates your input. Going into my 4th year of the non resident game and want to put my points/money where I’ll get to hunt the most!!
 

hcenvinc

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Joined
Mar 30, 2021
Messages
23
Reading a lot of the threads about "is state XYZ worth building points or applying" is what has caused me to try put my thoughts into a cogent message. This interest in multi-state apps makes me think back to when I started doing this multi-state gig decades ago and the upheaval created in 2008.

I started applying in multiple states in 1995. As the economy picked up in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the interest in western hunting and multi-state applications picked up. In 1996 a CPA client who was a sheep guide introduced me to a guy from Utah who was starting a business that would cater specifically to folks interested in multi-state hunting. I signed up for the newsletter, though I passed on his application services, feeling my spreadsheet skills were sufficient to analyze the odds. I secretly thought this guy was crazy to build a business model on multi-state hunting and nobody would leave their application process in the hands of a stranger. Given the success Huntin' Fool had, I was the fool to doubt what a good economy could do to interest in multi-state non-resident hunting.

As 2008 started and application season was underway, things seem to be golden, almost too good. "The market only goes up," or so was the attitude of the day. I remember hearing CPA clients who leveraged their homes for investment property claim, "Nobody ever loses money on real estate." Along came October 2008. A kick in the groin for those not prepared for such. And throughout the west a drop in non-resident hunting applications followed in 2009 through 2013.

For those sitting on some cash and points, this financial turmoil was "the good old days" for a multi-state western hunter. It stayed that way for another three or four years before the economy started to show signs of recovery. I know quite a few Hunt Talkers who were prepared and ended up being able to take advantage of that situation.

Some new to the tag/point game might think this is crazy, but I was picking up Wyoming Region H deer as a left over. I drew many Wyoming pronghorn as 2nd choice that now require 4+ points. Competition for Nevada tags was far less as California neighbors scrambled to keep the foreclosure agents at bay. Point creep that had developed for Colorado's best deer tags flattened out for a few years. Wyoming elk was almost a guarantee if one was not too picky. Combined with a price increase to non-residents, Montana was not selling out the non-resident combo tags. The same scenario was repeated across most western states.

That brings me to wonder what will happen the next time the economy slows, and it surely will; just a function of degrees. When it slows, those sitting on points and cash will be in a situation to take advantage of the disruption. There will be some states/species that will seem immune to such, given the investment many have made in some states. Example being CO elk, for which point creep didn't seem to slow down even during the last recession. I attribute that to CO being one of the first states to have a point system and attracting many "early adopters," the appeal that elk has, and what little investment CO required to continue building points at that time. But, that was the exception to the general rule of soft demand for most states/species.

I learned a few things from that "point market cycle." Multi-state non-resident hunting interest has it ebbs and flows and is a function of discretionary budgets in most households. There are always a few that have hunting as their highest priority and will cut other budget line items before cutting their hunting budgets. I've learned that what I am investing in today for points is not always with a focus on the "state of the market" today, but also a function of what I think the future holds.

Point systems will change. The value derived from your prior investment might not be as good as you expected a few years down the road. It is why I left a lot of points on the table in Oregon after their last big price increase and their reduction in NR tag quotas. It is why I left Wyoming moose and sheep when they increased point costs and have since raised them again.

With time and priority, I've built a very generous budget for hunting applications, at the expense of other household budgets. But, I still look at what is the best value for my investment. Value is what I see as the returns for today, but also when the financial market adjusts in the next few years, as most predict it will. I will bail on Utah once I burn my antelope and general deer points. Now starting at the bottom of the elk/deer point pile there is just not enough value there when considering what interests me and what I can do elsewhere with that money. I'll probably buy more raffle tickets for sheep hunts and feel I get a better return, given my age and my desire to hunt a Desert or Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep before I'm too old. Someone in a different situation of finances or interest would make a different assessment of value than I would. Some with a different interest would maybe keep Utah and drop a different state.

Some might think I have little discretion when it comes to tags and applications, due to what we need for our video content. I surely do, as this endeavor gets funded by my own money when the budgets are bigger than the bank account. I provide my priority below that reflects what I want to hunt and states that offer value for the things that interest me. The states that do not provide much value have been, or will be, dropped and money reallocated to things I find more appealing. I made this priority list a long time ago when I realized I had more hunting interest than I had money. I am glad I did, as it allowed me to focus on what I really wanted and within the confines of my budget. And now looking back, I realize this process allowed me to accomplish a lot of what my goals were.


1. Home state (Montana) - No brainer, given the low cost and points invested.
2. Wyoming - For what I like to do (antelope and elk), Wyoming is a great value and can be done ala carte, without having to buy a non-refundable non-resident license.
3. Arizona - Given my pleasure of quail and archery Coues deer, I will always buy the NR license, so it only make sense to continue applying for all other species.
4. Colorado - I continue to build deer and elk points, though I bailed on antelope once I burned my last pronghorn points in 2004. Never got in the moose/goat/sheep gig here and probably never will.
5. Nevada - If I'm going to hunt mule deer, I enjoy it most when I hunt with a bow. Nevada is a great investment for that option and low cost for adding on the other species if my lucky number comes up.

6. Utah - Soon to be in my rearview mirror
7. Iowa - Have way too many points and someday need to burn them. When I do, I won't be applying again.
8. Kansas - Enjoyed my hunts there, but given the whitetail hunting I can find in MT, WY, and someday in ID, this is not a good investment of my money.
9. Oregon - already bailed on this one
10. California - Never started, as no time in my life has it looked like a good investment


Alaska, New Mexico, and Idaho don't really represent long-term investments, as they have no point system. I look at them as buying expensive raffle tickets after paying the "cover charge" of a non-refundable non-resident license. I can make a choice about them each year, with no lasting benefit/consequences.


If I had one bit of advice, I would be to keep building points in states where it make sense for both your interest and your budget. Don't throw money at states that don't represent value for what you want to do. I would also be hoarding some cash in an account that is off-limits for anything other than hunting, rather than invest in points in states where one has a marginal interest. The next economic downturn will create opportunities in the "hunting market" and such will be significant for those who are prepared. The advantage goes to those who are prepared.

And back to the reason I started this dissertation - when you ask "Is state XYZ a good investment," only you can answer that question. There is no correct answer from others, as the answer is too dependent upon your personal hunting interests and your budget, both of which will change over time due to your own hunting desires and the economic situation of the times.

Sorry for the ramble. Time to start on a few tax projects and replenish the hunting budget.
Rather than wasting money on states where you won't get a tag, seems smarter to bundle those years worth of fees and go on a trip where you can buy an over the counter tag, like Alaska.
 

tnywragge

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Joined
Feb 22, 2019
Messages
139
Location
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
Rather than wasting money on states where you won't get a tag, seems smarter to bundle those years worth of fees and go on a trip where you can buy an over the counter tag, like Alaska.
I agree, Alaska is going to be the last opportunity for hunters. If you look at legislators in Alaska, they are already working on stopping caribou hunts for otc because it supposedly effects the migration and locals. Even in Alaska, hunting is staring to be a “rich-man’s” opportunity. Even on public lands. The world is shrinking and it’s scary to think capitalism is going by the wayside. Give me a fishing pole and I’ll be just fine; they can keep their pile of fish. Anyways....just thoughts and opinions. Not meant to rile anyone up.
 
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