For most Western hunters, there is nothing better than chasing big game with your friends and family. The “old school” way of making these trips happen, was for everyone to apply together, in a “party application.” For the most part, everystate allows this and it varies from two people, to five plus people for each party application. The best part about this strategy is everyone has a tag and you all have the opportunity to fill those tags.
Lately, with the increase of applicants, decrease in tags, shortened seasons and point creep, it’s been taking longer and longer to draw tags in several states. For example; a tag that used to take one to two points, is now taking four or five points. Noticing this change over the last several years from researching my options on Insider, I have adjusted my application strategy and found a new way to look at party hunts.
Let’s say I have four people in my party. We apply together and we all draw together. Perfect! But let’s look at some harsh realities. Depending on the state and the unit, what is the probability of us filling all four tags?
Realistically, you might fill two, possibly three. Maybe if it’s a phenomenal year, you might get all four, but that’s getting harder to do.
You also need to look at season dates before you commit to a party hunt. In some states, you might only have a five, seven or a nine day season. That’s a short amount of time to fill a lot of tags. Even if you have a two week season, or a month long season, how much time can you realistically take off work? These are all things to consider. The big picture is, whether you fill all tags or not, everyone in your party is now back to ZERO points. You only get one trip together and another three to five year wait, to do it again.
I personally have run into this exact scenario twice. In both cases, we were in a new unit, in a new state and had a pile of tags. Let’s just say that we bit off a little more than we could chew. In the end, we filled a tag or two and still had a lot of fun, but the reality of losing all those points was a hard pill to swallow. Especially after we just spent all that time learning a new unit. Just imagine if we could hunt those units consecutively for the next couple years. Instead, we had to get back in line and start climbing the points ladder again.
We were like many others. Three to five years of waiting for one year of hunting. Why can’t we reverse those numbers? How can we hunt with our friends year after year? Here’s an example of how to do just that!
Let’s say it takes five points to draw a mule deer tag in Wyoming. You and your friends all have five points now. Instead of applying as a party and burning everyone’s points, only apply one individual. One individual draws a tag, while the others continue to build points. This allows all four friends to hunt together and really focus on that one tag. Not only will this increase your chances of filling that tag, but you can implement this strategy for the next three years! You and your friends just turned one year of hunting together, into four years of hunting together. This approach is extremely beneficial for those hunts with only a five or seven day season. Think about the years to come and how well you’ll know that unit by the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time. But don’t stop there! Remember, if you’re not the individual drawing the tag, you need to be building your points. By the time everyone in your party has drawn tags, the individual who went first, will already be back up to three points and you can repeat the cycle.
Approaching party hunt applications this way helps everyone involved and the more states you apply for, the better. More years in the field with your friends, less wait time and let’s face it; helping your buddy fill his or her tag, is just as satisfying as filling your own tag.