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Don’t Sit at Home This Hunting Season!

It can happen, but it shouldn’t. I’m talking about answering a question with:  “I didn’t draw anything.” Don’t let yourself come into a hunting season with no tags in your pocket. In this article we’ll look at ways to make sure you always have some opportunities to get out and hunt every year.

Get familiar With Your Home State:

The cheapest place to hunt is usually your home state. States also allocate the most tags to residents of their state, so your best and most economical options are going to be close to home. Be familiar with what happens in your state. Many states have over-the-counter opportunities where you can simply purchase a tag; some will only have a limited number of tags so be first to the counter or to the website to purchase them. Other states may not have much for OTC opportunities, so be familiar with the lottery systems of your state and don’t miss application deadlines.

There are many advantages to hunting close to home. Pre-season scouting is easier, travel is less expensive, and sometimes you can sleep in your own bed and still hunt. Know your home state, and those areas close to your home to make sure you have a chance to hunt it.

Mule Deer Buck

Buck taken on an OTC tag.

A Plan and a Budget:

Having an application strategy and plan in place will help you pull the trigger on certain tags when you know you probably won’t draw anything else. Your plan doesn’t have to be 5 years out, but that’s how I plan my hunts. I keep a simple spreadsheet that keeps my point totals, units I’m trying to draw, and how many points I expect it to take to draw that unit. It’s fairly easy to forecast draws in some states with preference point systems, so you can plan accordingly and fill in your gaps with something in your home state, or an OTC hunt somewhere else.

A budget is also important when planning hunts. You can figure how much you’ll pay in applications, OTC tags, and even those big trips that you have to save up for. Set aside some money and you’ll be surprised how soon you can afford some of those hunts you thought you’d never do!

Alaska black bear hunts are a great example of a hunt that doesn’t break the bank! Budget and go on out of state hunts!

OTC Hunting Opportunities:

There are tons of OTC opportunities out there for hunters – many of which have ample public land to play on. You can pick up OTC tags for most species, especially if you’re willing to travel. This can add some cost, but by planning your seasons in advance will help you reach your longer term hunting goals.

Sometimes OTC hunts can be a little crowded, and it can take a few years to really dial in specific areas that you like to hunt or find success. The great thing about a lot of OTC areas is you can scout them and if you don’t like what you see, you don’t have to pay for a tag. Other areas, like migration or rut hunts, it may just take a year or two of hunting to find out about certain areas. Or reach out to someone who has hunted it before or use a hunting consultation service to get an idea about a unit before you go there. Many of these services provide good overall information and will help you narrow down units that will meet your expectations.

Pay To Play:

There are a lot of opportunities out there where you can purchase tags, and access with a bit of cash. These hunts will vary from a few hundred dollars up to as much as you want to spend. Look at landowner tags in states that allow landowners to sell tags like Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, etc. Some states allocate tags to outfitters and you can purchase them directly from them. Other hunts, like some in Canada and Alaska are readily available, but you’ll need to pay for transportation, access or an outfitter to hunt them. All of these tags are typically readily available, but the logistics will need to be planned in advance.

Don’t sit at home next fall without a hunt to go on! Many of these hunts are great, and you can find some good quality, even on crowded and hard to hunt areas. Get familiar with the opportunities around you and you’ll be surprised at what’s available!

 

The Best states for an Elk Hunt

Elk are the ultimate hunting quarry. Combine their size, giant antlers, and in your face vocalizations, and you won’t find much more exciting. But hunting elk is a big undertaking. They are big animals, who can inhabit very uninhabitable country. They are much bigger than a deer, and getting that delicious meat out of the backcountry takes a fair bit of effort. You’ll want to be in hunting shape, or bring along someone, or some livestock that is. Planning a first elk hunt will also take considerable effort. When we look at the best states for hunting elk, we first have to consider our expectations. Most non-resident, public land elk hunts must be drawn through the state game and fish agencies. In some cases, it can take decades to accrue enough points to draw the more coveted tags. In other cases, tags can be acquired over the counter, or in just a few years. Therefore, identifying and considering your expectations, timelines, and abilities are paramount. Are you looking for that bull of a lifetime, or do you want an opportunity to hunt bulls more often and experience the hunt (this usually means compromising some trophy potential)? In this article we’ll visit the western elk states and try to break them down to decide which is the best. We will steer clear of giving Elk hunting states a defined ranking, rather — we’ll touch base on each state (from a non-resident perspective) and you can decide which one best suits your needs.

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Arizona
Arizona has BIG bulls, but doesn’t have much for OTC opportunities for elk hunting, but for the amount of habitat and demand for elk that exists in the state, I think they do a good job of managing the hunts and seasons. You’ll look to spend 3-7 points for a decent archery hunt. But these can be very good hunts. Of course the top tier units and rifle hunts will be a longer wait. With a little patience, you will have opportunities to harvest some very nice bulls in Arizona.

California
Tule elk are only found in California, so if you want one– you’ll have to hunt them there. It’s a very hard tag to acquire. California is the only state that has 3 elk species to hunt and hunter harvest success is pretty high. That being said, tag numbers are extremely limited.

Colorado
The reason Colorado sits at the top of the list is because it provides both “trophy” and “opportunity” hunts. Colorado has the most elk of any state in the world, with opportunities to hunt in areas where you can find BIG bulls over 350 inches. There are also a large number of units that hold elk that can be hunted with an over the counter tag every year. Which is great for those who want to put in for a trophy hunt, yet still hunt elk every year.  If you want to hunt big bulls, but don’t want to wait — Colorado also has opportunities to purchase landowner tags to access private and public lands.

Idaho
A few years ago, I probably wouldn’t have recommended Idaho as a very good elk state. Wolves had decimated some of the largest herds in the state. But, Idaho still holds a lot of elk with some exceptional elk hunts. Much like Colorado and Wyoming, there’s opportunity to hunt, but Idaho also has a few units that have been pumping out some monster bulls over the past few years. Do a little bit of homework and you can find areas of the state that have outstanding elk hunting.

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Nevada
Nevada is a desert — there are no elk in Nevada….wrong. Nevada has good elk hunting. Over the past few years Nevada has been producing some great bulls. They use a squared preference point system with no points reserved for max point holders, so you’re technically never guaranteed a tag, but you also have decent odds in some units once you reach 6-8 points. If you draw some of the top units in the state, you may just have a chance to kill a 360+ bull.

Montana
Montana is a great Elk state. Sure they have a few wolves around as well, but Montana does a good job of keeping under the radar. Tag prices have increased recently though, so expect to open your wallet for a chance to hunt. This price increase has made tags a bit more available. Montana has a good mix of big bull areas and opportunity hunts as well. Do your homework before you apply, and you should have a very good hunt.

New Mexico
New Mexico has some very good elk hunting, and good opportunities to purchase landowner tags. But New Mexico also has some great public lands as well. As with most elk states, the best units will take a while to draw, but if you are willing to spend a few thousand on landowner tags (some of which allow you to hunt the public land as well) you can hunt for big bulls often.

Oregon
Oregon is similar to Utah in that there are some outstanding units that take a long time to draw, and some areas that are harder hunting that are easier to get tags. Once again, do your homework, decide if you want to wait to draw a great tag, hunt a tougher unit, or just apply in another state. Roosevelt hunts can be challenging timber hunts, but not many states provide opportunity to kill a Rosey.

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Utah
Utah isn’t quite what it was 10 years ago. But it is still one of the best states for BIG bulls. But you’ll have to wait your turn, unless you’re lucky. The southern end of the state has been producing the biggest bulls, and you have a chance to hunt bulls during the rut with a rifle! Harvest success rates are extremely high on these hunts, but tag numbers are very limited. Archery hunters should keep in mind that seasons are early and mostly pre-rut. You’ll probably be waiting 10+ years just to get an archery tag though. The OTC units in Utah are pretty crowded, but you can find a bull here and there to hunt.

Washington
Washington produces a giant every now and then, although it isn’t really known as a great elk state. Look to the southeast part of the state to find the biggest bulls. Washington also has some opportunity to hunt Roosevelt Elk, so take a look at Washington and Oregon if a Roosevelt bull is on your bucket list.

Wyoming
Wyoming also provides both trophy quality AND opportunity to hunters. You can play the points game and wait for a unit that has a good chance at providing that 350 + inch bull, or you can hunt every year, or every other year in the general hunt areas and have still see a lot of elk. Your chances at killing a monster are much more slim, but you will have an opportunity to see and kill mature bulls in the 300″ range.

Other States:
You’ll find very good elk hunting in a few other states like Kentucky, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania — along with a few other states. These tags are very limited without much public land. Keep tabs on the eastern states, as elk are recovering across much of their historic range, thanks to re-introduction and herd management.

So which state is best for you? Leave us a comment below and let us know about your upcoming elk hunting plans, or ask us a question!

Documenting your Hunting Adventures

Humans have been documenting their hunts for thousands of years. We find cave paintings from many hundreds of years ago adorned with images of bighorn sheep, elk and deer. The hunting tradition must have fostered fond memories for those ancient hunters, much like they do for us today. Photos, videos, taxidermy, and found objects can all serve as great reminders and help us remember some of our hunts more vividly – and in today’s world of social media and internet connectivity – we can share those digital reminders instantly with friends, family, and strangers across the globe.

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Today we have the ability to capture and view our photos and video instantly. Even our cell phones take better pictures than we could take on an expensive camera 20 years ago. Through this article, and subsequent articles, we’ll investigate how we can better document our hunts through photography and videography. While our posterity may not be interested in keeping around a bunch of our old dead animals, hopefully they’ll enjoy viewing our photos, videos, and reading our stories.

We’ll cover the following topics over the next few weeks, so subscribe to our inbox delivery and receive an email when we publish a new post.

Equipment:

We’re fortunate today to have literally hundreds of camera options, from micro cameras, to large cameras with expensive lenses –many of which will take fantastic still AND video images.  It’s really up to you in regards to which make and model you like best. Multiple cameras are a must, and depending on your style of hunting you’ll want options to both zoom to far distances, and quickly grab action shots  when needed. Take a look at the Canon G20, Canon G30, Sony FDR-AX33, and the Sony HDR-CX900. There are many other cameras that capture HD video and provide a decent  zoom lense as well. Of course, everyone needs an action camera  as well.

The leader in point of view (POV) action cameras is GoPro. Their latest offering is the GoPro Hero 4 Black which is one of the best cameras for most types of hunting. Remember these POV cameras lack zoom, but are fantastic to get close range, time lapse, reaction shots, and filler material for your hunting videos. Most of these cameras will also take very good still photos. If you’re looking for something on a smaller budget (under $150) look at the GoPro Hero, or the action cameras from Contour.

Cameras, however, are only part of the equipment equation. Tripods, pan heads, audio equipment, sliders, drones, battery chargers, etc. all play an important part in producing smooth and quality video and photos.

elk feeding

Tactics:

There’s a lot of ways to film and hunt, but realize that whether you’re filming yourself, or bringing along a cameraman — hunting and capturing it all on film makes the hunt much harder. A few years back, I was assigned to be cameraman on my father’s Wyoming bighorn sheep hunt. We purchased a new HD camcorder and thought we had it all figured out. We had no way to recharge equipment and thought we’d wait until the kill shot to start capturing footage. When it came down to the moment of the kill, I set up the shot. The wind was blowing and I started filming the sheep. I stopped after a few minutes to wait for Dad to be ready for his shot. He whispered over the wind and asked if I was ready. I wasn’t and replied that I wasn’t, but he didn’t hear me. He shot, the sheep jumped — but they were out of frame. I missed the shot he wanted most. While we had a great time, it would have been better if I would have nailed that shot on video.

Some types of hunting are much easier to film, like shooting from a tree stand or blind. Spot and stalk hunting is much more challenging to film. In the end, it is worth it.

Plan your Story:

Almost every production you see on television is created using a script and shot lists. While you don’t know the specifics of how a hunt will end, you can typically anticipate a scenario or two that will happen during the hunt. I find that creating a list of photos or video shots before the hunt happens will help you tell your story the way you want, whether or not the hunt ends with an animal on the ground. By planning what shots you want to take, it’s much easier to have the content you needed for the final edit of your film, blog, or journal entry.

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Shoot, Shoot, Shoot:

I’ve never wished I had taken fewer photos or less video during a hunt. The bad stuff can all be sorted and deleted later. I find that keeping my camera very accessible allows me to take a lot more photos. If it’s tucked away in your pack, you’re much less likely to get it out when you see something. Sometimes the best photos come at unexpected times, and of unexpected objects. That being said — take the time to set up your shots as well. When taking harvest (trophy shots) photos. Taking a few moments to clean and reposition the animal can create a much more respectful image. So keep your camera out, and be sure to share your stories, photos, and videos with us!

Have Fun!

The point of documenting a hunt is to remember it fondly. It’s easy to lose patience at times when trying to film or perfectly photograph a hunt. Don’t let it get in the way of having a good hunt. If you’re there to harvest an animal, or spend time with friends/family — don’t let your camera get in the way of why you’re really out there.

elkhair

 

Spot and Stalk Gila Coues

2014 started off with a bang for me. Well, more of a whack. The whack of a broad head into the side of a Coues Whitetail. This was my first time hunting Coues Deer. I have only hunted whitetail deer a few times (being from Utah) and everything I had heard is that they are even more elusive. That proved to be true. My tag was for the first 2 weeks of January, archery only. Since this story is on Hunt Addicts, obviously this was DIY public land. My father and I had drawn tags for southern New Mexico. The 12 hour drive was, I would find out, a good warm up for this cold weather hunt. Being from the west I am more accustomed to spot and stalk hunting. The thick cover and elusiveness of the Coues lent more to a sit and wait strategy. New Year’s Eve we got into town and met our friends who we would be staying and hunting with. In the morning we would be heading into the Gila National Forest.

There were a few inches of crusty snow that made sneaking difficult. We hunted down a few ridges, and saw some deer sign in the snow. After a couples stands with the grunt tube and rattling antlers we jumped a couple does. They were only 50 yards away, but their tiny bodies made them look much further away. With a flash of white they disappeared into the thick brush. I wanted to go look off the hill where they ran to get the “lay of the land.” I was quickly turned back. The brush was so thick I could barely push through it. When I did make it to the where I would normally be able to see down a ridge, I was only met with more brush.

Still hunting our way back, we jumped a legal buck. However, the bushes in the way and his quick retreat made a shot not possible. We made it back to the vehicles and went to a different drainage. As we were climbing the ridge we jumped a nice mule deer. Our friend Wayne had a mule deer tag and missed a tough up-hill shot. We made a couple more stands to no avail and headed home for the night.

The next day we hunted a little lower, out of the snow. The basin we were in afforded slightly more visibility, but still not a ton. From one side, however, you could glass the other side about 350 yards away. I set up in one part of the basin and my father set up in a different one. He had action in the middle of the day as a nice buck was pushing a doe in front of him. He nearly had a shot, but it didn’t quite work out. The rest of the day was uneventful. I was surprised about how only 150 yards away he could be in deer while I was not. That activity prompted us to hunt the same place the next day. We set up in the same places as before as the sun came up on the junipers. The earth is completely blanketed by them down there.

A little later in the morning my friend Adam and I moved about 100 yards from our initial location where we could get a little different view. It wasn’t very long and I spotted a doe being pushed by a buck close to our original location. They covered the distance to the far side of the basin almost instantly. Another buck appeared and will milling around at the edge of the basin where the doe had gone. I decided I wanted to go after them. We quietly hurried in their direction and snuck up the hill to where we had seen them last. A nice 8 point buck jumped and started away from us. I stopped him with a grunt. The buck was locked on us about 35 yards away directly though a large Juniper. Everything is directly though a large juniper in southern New Mexico. Our standoff seemed to last a long time, but really was only a few moments. I knew he was getting ready to run. I shifted 2 steps to my right to try and sneak and arrow under a large branch, but the buck wasn’t waiting around. He started up the ridge at a brisk pace. Not so quickly that he acted truly spooked. I followed him and busted him one last time before they disappeared of the south facing side and into the super thick growth. We reunited and talked about the stalk. I said I was going to go sit on that doe’s trail. Thinking maybe a buck would follow it at some point in the day.

After about an hour a buck appeared on the far side of the basin and started tracking the doe. I could tell he was going to come right to me. When he went behind a tree at about 200 yards, I moved to an ambush position under, you guessed it, a large juniper. I had a clear view of the path the doe had taken and I quickly ranged a few trees to know my shots. I didn’t want to overestimate the range on the small-bodied deer. The buck materialized directly below me. It caught me by surprise because he had left the trail I had thought he would travel. I remained still and drew as he passed a clump of grass. At 10 yards I let the arrow fly and it found its mark. He never knew I was there. I had got both lungs and he only went about 20 yards. I signaled the “fist pump of success” to Adam and he returned the gesture. It was settling in that I had actually sealed the deal on one of the gray ghosts.


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Radio Time!

Earlier this week I was a guest on “The Revolution with Jim and Trav.” They run a popular outdoor related podcast/radio show that is aired on over 400 radio stations nationwide. This week they are talking about whitetail hunting, and they had me run them through our famous “DIY European Mount” article. Be sure to check their show out this week.

To find out when and where it will be aired in your area, CLICK HERE.

Or you can download their podcast every week from Itunes.

For more information on this week’s program you can view the release on Outdoor Hub:
http://www.outdoorhub.com/news/this-week-on-the-revolution-with-jim-and-trav-late-season-whitetails/

2012 Photo Contest

It’s that time of year again. We’re excited to get our annual photo contest rolling again this year. This year’s prizes will be bigger than ever. A special thanks to our sponsors: Nielson Productions Taxidermy, Wac’em Broadheads, and Quick Draw Decals.

Last year we had a great contest was a great success, so we’re ramping things up a bit this year. We have some great prizes to give away like Wac’em broadheads from Wac’em Archery Products, some awesome decals from Quick Draw Decals, and a free shoulder mount from NpTaxidermy.com! We’re adding more prizes over the next few weeks, so keep checking back.

In the meantime, we’d appreciate you sharing our contest with your buddies, and if you have some photos to share — send them in!

For more information about our contest, entry info, and contest details visit our Contest Page.

Here’s a few photos from previous contests. Good luck this season!

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New Decals!

I hope the draws have treated you well. Mine were a bit sparse this year, but at least I’ll be chasing bucks in Colorado with an old friend of mine.

We’ve added a new decal to our lineup- expect more soon as we’ve decided to get a few more made. The latest is for all of us Elk hunters. It features a pretty herd bull pushing a few cows – and I think it turned out pretty awesome. We’ve got these available in white and silver in 8 inch and 15 inch widths. If you need a custom size or color, email me and I’ll see what I can do. (brad@huntaddicts.com). As summer rolls along, we’ve got some exciting new product reviews, contest, articles, and some very unique and cool map products coming your way.

Leave a comment on what type of decal you’d like to see, and let us know what tags you drew!

New Decal – order one today!

 

2011 Photo Contest Winners

[singlepic id=225 w=320 h=240 float=right]Thanks to two of our great sponsors (Nielson Productions Taxidermy and Golden Valley Meat Snacks) our contest for 2011 was a huge success. We had a lot of great entries — here are the winners: (The winners were chosen by a panel of judges in early February):

Travis long went home with the grand prize – a free shoulder mount from NP Taxidermy, some jerky, and some huntaddicts swag. We felt this photo really portrayed the DIY hunter as many of us have been in similar situations. Thanks Travis! (Photo on right)

Initially we were only going to pick a couple of runner ups, but because we had so many great entries we picked six. Each of our runner ups get some Golden Valley Meat Snacks Jerky and HuntAddicts premium window decals. Thanks for all of your entries. Almost every judge commented on how difficult it was to judge this contest.

Keep in mind that we are doing this again for 2012. Nielson Productions Taxidermy is gracious enough to donate another mount, and we’ll be adding a few additional prizes this year as well! So keep your cameras handy this season. Happy Hunting!

Here are all of the winning photos:
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