Application season is in full swing in the west and for many it's almost as exciting as hunting season. E-scouting new areas, adding up your preference points and sending off applications allows us to geek out as we plan our upcoming spring and fall hunts. Some of us are even looking at next year already!
Understanding each state's draw process and regulations can be very frustrating. The laws and wording vary from state to state and can be confusing. I have spent most of my life in Wyoming and still didn't understand parts of our draw process until this year. If you're looking at hunting out west this year, or anytime in the future, I'm going to share a few resources I've found that may help you out.
The first option is completely free. Podcasts have become a valuable tool for outdoorsmen over the past few years. Some are informative and some are just entertaining, but one of my favorite podcasts to gather information from is the Jay Scott Outdoors Podcast. Jay is a guide, outfitter and certified Turkey Hunting Nut based in Arizona. Many of his episodes focus on the southwest, but he has an amazing network of friends and guides throughout the West that join him as guests and provide some great information for most western states. The guests break down the draw process for the states they guide or live in, as well as a general overview of the available areas and species in their state. They analyze the statistics and terrain of different units with real world language, giving the listener a clearer perspective than reading draw odds charts ever could. If you don't listen to podcasts or have overlooked the Jay Scott podcast, make sure you subscribe.
The Jay Scott Outdoors podcast is sponsored by GoHunt.com, and that brings me to the second resource I'd like to cover here. The website offers some basic information but where you really starting digging up some gold is by joining and becoming a GoHunt.com Insider. This does cost a little bit of money but the information that becomes available to you is more than worth the price of admission. GoHunt.com breaks down each state by species and unit, and provides draw odds, success rates, bull/buck:cow/doe ratios and more, as well as general advice about the terrain and type of hunt each unit provides. During application season they also publish strategy articles that guide you step-by-step through the draw process for each state and provide recommendations for hunters no matter where they stand in the points game.
It was through these strategy articles that I really began to understand the draw process of the state I've hunted in the most and have been applying in for many years. The language is consistent on the site and allows you to compare your odds in different states without having to learn a new language or navigate to another website. All-in-all this is the most comprehensive guide to applying for tags in the west that you will find. There are other resources available on the web, but I don't believe any of them are as detailed or accurate as GoHunt.com. Jay Scott references the site in his unit breakdowns often and these two resources are dynamite for understanding western draw systems.
As an honorable mention, I would also suggest listening to the Rich Outdoors Podcast as well. Along with great content in general, Cody Rich has been covering the tag lotteries of several states, and provides his perspective on the hunts and tags available. The Rich Outdoors is a good listen for hunting stories and information, and is very entertaining.
A couple of deadlines have already passed us but there is still time to get in the game this year. These resources will put you on the right track. Also I'm happy to help as much as I can so leave a comment or send an email with any questions you have. Good luck this year!