Braden Cooper with Elk he hunted via an elk tag

Consultant’s Corner with Braden Cooper: Ensure You Have an Elk Tag Every Year

Right now is the time to start making your plans for next year’s hunts–especially when it comes to elk tags. There is not much rest between this year’s hunting season and next year’s application season. With Wyoming Elk applications due at the end of Jan and Arizona Elk due mid February, your mind should turn to the new year and opportunities that await. It is important to understand that these 5 steps can get you hunting elk every year as well as give you the opportunity to potentially hunt elk in trophy units in multiple states.

1. Figure out your budget

State license and application fees can be expensive. Add the actual cost of the permit and expenses of the trip to it and the totals can put a crunch on your hunting plans. If you can’t hunt one year then put a little money aside so it makes it easier financially to hunt the next year. Understanding what you can spend each year will help you decide which states to focus on in the strategy you put together.

2. Hunt with a more primitive weapon for more chances at that elk tag

Most states typically offer more opportunities to hunt with primitive weapons. This means states allocate more permits to the draws or quota hunts and usually longer season dates for archery and Muzzleloader seasons. States like Colorado, Utah and Idaho have over the counter archery permits with other states offering a general permit that are relatively easier to draw. So if you are not proficient with a muzzleloader or archery equipment, you should be!

3. Identify states that have opportunities

The first thing I look at here is what states do I actually want to hunt and what is their proximity to where I live. You need to look at their over the counter licenses and general seasons/units.  These states and opportunities are important because they will fill the gaps while you are building points to draw permits in other states. The states with these opportunities that I personally like the best that fall into this category are Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and Idaho.

4. Put together your Strategy

To explain this step, it is probably best that I explain some of my own strategy. I start out my planning by focusing on the next 10 years. I look at the states that have trophy units that I want to hunt but are harder to draw and could take 10-plus years to draw. These states in my opinion are Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. I know that in the next 10 years, my chances of drawing tags in 2 of these states are realistic. But also remembering these are also states that at anytime I can get lucky and draw sooner. I then look at states that have permits that are fairly easy to draw but you are required to draw the permit. These states you can possibly draw every year or every other year. These states for me are Wyoming, Colorado and Montana. Then I look at the states that I know I can hunt every year on an over the counter permit. Colorado, Idaho, and Utah are the states I focus on here. Once you have categorized the states like this you can see that laying out 10 years’ worth of permits is fairly easy. There are some states in the states mentioned that I prefer to hunt over others, so I will focus on them because I am more familiar with them and the places to hunt, etc. The outliers for me will be if I get lucky and draw an unexpected permit or if a group of friends decide they want to try and hunt together. If either one of those situation happen then it is a bonus to me and I substitute for another year.

5. Be Persistent and have faith in your plan

Sometimes it gets tedious and frustrating trying to figure out state units and draws. It is important that if you start applying that you continue to apply if not for anything get the points only. You will have things come up over this 10 year plan that might make it so you can not hunt that year but if you get your points or put money aside you still leave the ability for great Elk hunts in the future. The goal here to have an Elk Tag in your pocket every year! Don’t hesitate to call a TAGS consultant so they can help you formulate a game plan that works for you.

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