I find myself checking my bank account for charges from fish and wildlife organizations in all of the states I applied during the late spring and throughout the summer. Sure enough, I have not seen any of those charges, which means that I wasn’t one of the lucky folks who drew an Arizona elk tag or a New Mexico bighorn sheep tag. In all reality, I hype myself up every year and end up with the same results. When this happens, I end up scrambling to decide how I am going to pull off a hunt or two in the fall.
I have found out a secret loophole that will get you hunting every single year in multiple states. Well, it’s not actually a loophole, but it is something a lot of hunters do not take advantage of and miss opportunities to fill the freezer or put a nice trophy on the wall (whatever you are into).
The first thing I suggest hunters look into if they did not draw tags in their home state is leftover tags. Most states end up allocating more tags in some units than people apply for meaning those controlled hunt tags are not used and will go for sale as leftovers or even sometimes those tags are turned back in and you have the ability to pick one up. The reason I suggest looking in your home state first is because you have probably already bought your hunting license and you may even know the area where there are leftover tags available. You should have a leg up on some out-of-state hunters who don’t know your home state as well as you do. If you are looking for out-of-state opportunities, do your research. GOHUNT Insider is the perfect way to help you determine if there are good animal counts, public land access and trophy potential. Do your research prior to purchasing a leftover tag so you know what the tag consists of exactly. Some tags are specific to youth only, some are cow elk or doe deer only and some are even only for private land.
The second thing I would suggest to hunters who did not draw any tags is to look into picking up general season tags. These typically have high hunter numbers and limited hunting areas, but this is still a way to get into the woods and hunt after you were unsuccessful in the draw. This seems like a no brainer; however, a lot of people give up on their fall hunts that do not capitalize on their opportunities that most states allow. Again, with any general tags or units I would urge hunters to do their research on public land access and big game regulations. Along with general season tags, look into over-the-counter (OTC) tags for out-of-state. These are, in fact, general tags, but I like to consider them a little different when discussing out-of-state OTC tags. Many states have general season/OTC tags that could be amazing hunts if proper planning and some effort is put in. For example, Arizona has a three season OTC deer tag for archery in specific units throughout December and January. The tag could be good for either mule deer or Coues deer. If a hunter planned it correctly he or she could get on a general season home state deer or elk hunt and end up in Arizona with a bow, hunting desert mule deer hunt when most western state hunting seasons are over.
The last suggestion I have for unsuccessful tag applicants is to look into landowner tags and cancellation hunts. When it gets closer to season time and land owners have not been able to sell their landowner tags, they tend to drop their price a bit, which makes hunting their land a lot more affordable. There are plenty of places to find these tags and GOHUNT even posts landowner tags in multiple western states here as well as guided hunt opportunities.
Educating yourself in opportunities will help in your ability to hunt more. Spending time truly learning all of the benefits that GOHUNT provides will give you the best chance of getting out in the woods. There are still many western states that have leftover tags available and also general tags available.
DISCLAIMER: Writer and GOHUNT are not liable or responsible for any disgruntled spouses, children and/or employers now that you will be hunting more.