Yesterday, after not finding the big mule deer buck I went looking for, I decided to break down my bonus/preference points for mule deer across several western states. The reality is draw odds for the premium western hunts are decreasing and will continue to decrease. I realized several years ago that I wanted to experience more quality hunts than my home state of Arizona would allow in the future.
Was I bummed that I was going to have to spend more money?
Yes, but I knew I needed to adapt and not make anymore excuses as to why I couldn’t afford to apply for out-of-state hunts.
Will the Arizona Strip see 17,000 applicants in 15 more years???
Human Population and Encroachment around your local hunting areas will continue.
So, what is the big deal? There is still public land to hunt in that unit…
Yes there is still public accessible land to hunt, but the hunting experience has decreased.
When I was a kid there was double the mule deer permits in this unit, as compared to what there is today, but we would go the entire 2 week hunting season without seeing a SOUL while hunting. Now the area I hunted as a kid is subdivided and because of access issues in other parts of the unit, you will see 10-15 other hunters hunting this area. The issue of diminishing quality hunting experiences on general hunts is forcing guys like me to look elsewhere for quality hunting experiences (including out-of-state hunts and private land opportunities).
Reality vs your hunting goals?
I would strongly urge you to prioritize your hunting goals. If you have disposable income or if you are spending money on stupid crap, adapt and make a decision to apply for hunts which will allow you to reach those goals. With that said, I don’t know your personal financial situation, but I do know the facts with regards to draw odds for the premium hunts out west.