Tag of a lifetime

montanza

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Apr 16, 2014
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Well I rarely post here but I read constantly, so figured it's about time. I have been talking with a few hunters about tags across the country that should always be applied for. Like the Montana breaks sheep tag. I have only applied for Montana tags so I was wondering: what tag or tags would you apply for? Arizona elk tags, desert big horn? Does anyone have any suggestions? I really enjoy seeing new country, and any kind of hunt Interests me. I am still in my 20s so I have a long time to wait for a tag and I would like to get started early.
 

belly-deep

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Most of the really great tags are now impossible to draw due to point creep
 

nrpate05

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I would really like to do a sheep hunt. I don't really have a preference where, but I am a Colorado resident so my wait time would be a bit shorter here (I'd hope). I also think it would be cool to do a mountain goat hunt in the high country of Wyoming or Idaho. Not sure if that one will ever happen - I'll keep dreaming..
 

Gerald Martin

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The best tag is the one you want. Figure out what you want to hunt and how much you can afford in application fees and start strategizing how to make it happen.

Keep in mind that in some cases such as mountain goat, it may be cheaper in the long run to save your money and go on a guided hunt in AK or B.C.

Statistically speaking, drawing a NR bighorn sheep tag in your lifetime is not guaranteed or even probable. With that being said, only those who apply will draw, so apply for as many as you can afford.

If you are a resident, odds increase dramatically.

Personally, I've found that I have way more cool hunts available OTC and with easy to draw tags than I can ever hunt in my lifetime.

Make yourself available to lucky recipients of great tags and help them with their hunts by spotting/videoing or packing. I've gotten to go on five goat hunts and four bighorn sheep hunts by helping out. It may not be exactly the same as pulling the trigger, but it is a lot of fun and makes the time you hold the tag even more special.
 

JLS

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Personally, I've found that I have way more cool hunts available OTC and with easy to draw tags than I can ever hunt in my lifetime.

There's a lot of truth to this. I have a few high country mule deer spots I'd like to hunt someday that are simple general tag hunts. Not to mention all of the general tag elk and whitetail hunts there are across the west.
 

Tylerm

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I depends on where you live and what your goals are, if you are in your 20's you can still draw a sheep / goat / moose tag res or non res. I wouldn't set you sights on only a Montana Breaks Sheep tag for your only sheep tag. Look at some lower quality better draw units. Also if you can put in for more than one state do it its expensive but if that's what you want to do go for it. There are tons of great hunts that you can do OTC or with only a few points so in my opinion I put in for some long shot hunts all over the west and if it happens some day it happens if not I am still hunting my OTC hunts every year and having a blast.
 

TRS_Montana

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I realize it sort of skirts the question, but I have to agree with Gerald on this on. Do you research and start to learn an animal or get passionate about a hunt and you can make it your dream hunt. People often equate drawing really hard tags with having the hunt of a lifetime. Only a fraction of people that draw great tags end up having their "dream hunt" because they have waited so long and now there is so much pressure or it just doesn't turn out the way they had expected.
 

T Bone

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I play the app game in CO, NV, UT, Wyoming, South Dak, and Idaho.

It has netted me a few excellent tags. Sheep, goat, and deer. I hope to pull a sheep or goat tag again before I'm wearing diapers. I will draw another premium deer and elk tag. That's a fact.

Until then, as Gerald mentioned, I'll hunt OTC or easy to draw areas and have success and be very satisfied with the hunt...

Right now at this moment, loading my truck with my dog, shotguns, and hi-brass 5's and running up to South Dakota seems like the perfect thing to do... but I won't. I need to work. So I'll run out and call dogs this morning, and hopefully luck into a bobcat.
 
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BuzzH

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While I do apply for lots of states for deer, elk, and antelope, I really don't consider tags for those species the tag of lifetime.

The thing to do, IMO, is apply for as many tags and build points for as many species as each state offers. I made the mistake in the 1990's when I was at the point you are, in that I applied primarily for sheep. I didn't apply for points for all the available species and now I'm wishing I would have.

Another thing to do, and that is if you're in a financial situation to afford hunting a particular species now...don't wait. Do it right now, don't put it off. IMO, hunts for goats, sheep, etc. are only going to get more expensive. In 1995 when I hunted dall sheep, I paid $4750 for a guided hunt and took a B&C ram. At the time, I could have hunted Stone Sheep for another $1500 or so.

Point being, that waiting for "next year" is a trap that myself and many of my buddies have fallen into...next year never seems to materialize.

Another thing I've done is sort of let the hunts come to me. If you hear about, have a friend that knows someone, etc. that has a hunting opportunity that may not be on your "tag of lifetime" list...take advantage of those opportunities as well. For example, I never had a burning desire to hunt mountain lions, but a friend had some young dogs that he wanted to train, I had a tag and wanted one less lion in my whitetail spot. Win-win.

As to the application game, my only advice would be "stay the course". I think as the baby boomers start dropping out of the application game for one reason or another, you will eventually find yourself in a pretty good spot over the long-haul.

I've had what I would consider average luck in the draws. I've snagged a few really tough to draw tags (oryx in NM, desert sheep in AZ, muskox in AK), a few kind of hard to get tags (Mountain goat in MT, Shiras moose in MT, Shiras in WY), and quite a few more better than average elk, deer, and pronghorn tags in several states (although none in the "premier" category).

Whatever you do...don't wait until "next year" to apply for tags and to take advantage of all the hunting you can.

Trust me, you're going to blink, wake up and find yourself near 50 years old...and you'll be happy you hunted and applied for tags the last 25 years.
 

Khunter

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When they start offering preference points for skunk, i will apply! :D


Point is I always put in for every species I may want to hunt someday. And do so in 7 states. Like many guys I really enjoy hunting new places and species far from home.and have drawn great tags in all those states except MT Just a ton of fun.

So if you can envision wanting to branch out and hunt far and wide from your usual spots, apply your a$$ off in many states. Does not matter if you currently want to do those hunts, you have to decide if you MAY want to some day and apply accordingly...
 

montanza

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Thank you for the advise! I think what I really want to focus on deer and elk in the low wet 48, my best chance for other big game is the bonus points I have saved up here in Montana. In the future a guided Alaskan hunt for any species Will probably be in the works. What would be a handful of dream tags for mule deer and elk? Henry mountain mule deer? A certain unit in New Mexico or Arizona for elk?
Thanks again for the help.
 

jims

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I've been fortunate to draw a number of "once in a lifetime" tags over the years. I started applying for these tags years ago before it was popular to apply for as many tags as your pocket book could afford. If I was starting all over I would dig into draw processes and stats for each state and species you are interested in. Each state has a different draw system. Some have pref or bonus pt systems where you may or may never have a chance to draw a particular tag in your lifetime. There are still a couple states that don't have pref/bonus pt systems where everyone has about the same (close to 0%) chance of drawing high demand tags in any given year.

Some states may change their draw system years after you have been in the draw system...so nothing is guaranteed. Also, you may want to add up how much it will cost to apply in states....and for multiple species. It's pretty easy to spend over $200/year on licenses and fees in a single state where you have 0 chance of drawing! If you multiply $200 x 20 years that is $4,000 you may spend in 1 state to apply without a guarantee of ever drawing a single tag! If you draw the tag you will likely spend an additional $500 to $3,000 for a tag!

As I grow older (and a little wiser) I've figured out strategies for doing great trips every year. They may not be once in a lifetime dall sheep hunts but they are incredible trips where I spend a fraction of the $ on applications, fees, and spendy nonres licenses.

Sorry if I paint a fairly ugly picture on drawing once in a lifetime type tags...as everyone seems to say....you won't have a chance to draw unless you apply! Just be wise and do a bunch of research before applying so you aren't throwing hard earned $ to the wind applying for tags you may never have a chance of drawing!
 

havgunwilltravel

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Buzzh post is absolutely spot on and so is Gerald's. Keep an open mind about so called 'dream hunts'. There are hunting opportunities everywhere for keen self guided hunters, both locally and on an international level. Start the research and plan adventures/hunts. I've probably done 25-30 international hunts, most self guided or with friends in local regions and I'm just a normal guy working a normal job(s) with zero financial support from family.

Never ever put off a hunt or pass up an opportunity, nobody knows how things will be in a years time, health, finances, politics etc, just go and make every hunt special. Whilst I plan ahead I never focus too much on it, I tend to live more for the day and the hunting opportunity it will bring rather then wanting to save for five years for a single hunt.

I care little for inches or scores nowadays, prefer to focus more on age of animal and great times hunting with good keen mates.

I'm in deep with points for a few western states for many species and hope to start drawing quality tags in the next few years and onwards. But if I never draw a desert sheep tag or strip rifle deer tag I can live with it, I've made up for it elsewhere hunting in other locations.

Point being just go hunt as much as you can and enjoy it.
 
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