I’ve been minimizing my time in the forums lately waiting for the wave of *****ing, whining, and conspiracy theories to blow over (as they eventually do every year). But despite my efforts, I had some down time today and started reading some posts. And instead of trying to get up to speed on all of them, or respond to all the different comments, I’m just throwing out some thoughts. Love ‘em, hate ‘em, makes no difference to me. Just some stuff that’s started swirling around my head.
(Disclaimer: tag = permit… just out of habit when I get to typing)
Should residents have it better than non-residents? Absolutely. That’s the point. Move if you don’t like it.
I’d love to think that everyone who applies for permits does their homework ahead of time. Personally, I have spreadsheets listing draw statistics for every year on record I can round up, success rates, how permit numbers have changed over time, etc. I look at maps, think about access, try to estimate costs if I would draw a permit. I try to be as educated as possible about the permits I apply for – for my own benefit. If I draw a permit, I want the hunt to be a possibility. I don’t put in for hunts where cost/logistics might well be beyond me.
That said, there’s no way I have the time or resources to research everything about every hunt. There comes a point you have to assume that if you do draw a permit you’ll figure out the rest. Maybe I totally misestimated and it is way more difficult than I thought. **** luck. But no one can foresee everything. Do some people put in for tags without any idea what they’ll have to contend with? Certainly – and I wish (with the rest of you) that it didn’t happen. But it does. And it’s probably a smaller percentage of applicants than we’d imagine. Either way – it’s out of our control, so deal with it.
So someone draws two permits for the same time period. One get’s wasted. That’s life. Fish and Game (whether you approve of their management or not) accounts tags not being filled. If every permit issued was a guarantee, there’d be a lot less of them, and we’d all have a lot smaller chance of getting one and having a reason to spend time out hunting.
REDUCING THE NUMBER OF PERMITS YOU CAN APPLY FOR
First of all, if everyone puts in for 3 permits, in the end the odds of drawing a permit would be the same as if everyone applied for just 1. I think you’re only doing a disservice to yourself if you choose not to apply for all three choices – especially given how cheap they are to apply for.
Since folks are assuming that anyone who draws three or more permits must have some inside connection or be part of a rigged drawing, I guess that means we all acknowledge the odds of drawing more than one or two permits is pretty remote. In fact, as many have pointed out, drawing one permit can be pretty difficult. So why not make the system work for you to the fullest extent possible???
I put in for 3 sheep, 3 caribou, 3 goat, 3 elk, 1 bison. I meant to put in for 3 moose, but waited to follow up on some possible party applications, flew home for Christmas, and then it was January. Oops. Anyway, pretty much same as last year. Drew nothing last year. Drew DS141 this year. Happy as punch about that. But to the point… I looked at the options and had no problem coming up with 3 choices for each species that were within my means as far as time, money, access, etc.
Do I care that people drew two, three, FOUR permits? Nope… that’d be sweet. I’d love to have a sheep permit in August, a goat in September, an elk in October, maybe a late archery moose. Yeah… that’d be an expensive year, but I’d do my best to make every hunt. Because I’d know that the odds are I’m going to have a lot of “I drew nothing” seasons in the years to come.
ONE PERMIT PER HOUSEHOLD
As for limiting it to one permit per household… I don’t have a wife. I don’t have any kids. (I’m hoping one will lead to the other, and am trying my ****dest). But I grew up in a family that hunts. And that meant a lot to me. I don’t ever want to live in a place where one child drawing a permit would automatically cancel out another’s chances… or where if you drew a permit yourself you’d know it resulted in your kid(s) having no chance to draw one themselves. I’m all for families that hunt, and I wish everyone out there the best of luck in next year’s hunt. I can only hope I’ll end up with a wife who’ll be excited to strap on a pack and go hunting with me.
Do the families need the meat? Most cases (not all), probably not. Do I? Certainly not. Don’t get me wrong – I grew up eating game meat. I don’t know if I’ve ever purchased beef at the grocery store (except for the occasional splurge on cheddar brats… is there beef in cheddar brats??). I know that I don’t need to kill anything to survive. But I also know that I sure love having some moose burger or bear sausage out in the freezer for dinner tomorrow night. And beside that… I love to hunt. I hunt, maybe above all other reasons, because I love it – I love the anticipation of a hunt to come, I love the planning, I love the ****ty weather and good memories, I love eating freeze-dried “what’s this” out of a bag, and I love a heavy pack on the trip home. I hunt because I love to hunt, and a big part of that was growing up in a family that hunted, respected hunting, and promoted hunting. All this talk of limiting permits to one a household is just jealous whining in my opinion.
PREFERENCE POINTS (MY EXPERIENCE)
I have a guaranteed rocky mountain bighorn tag waiting for me in Wyoming. All I have to do is apply. Same goes for Sheris moose. How’s that? Well, I have 14 preference points for both. They created the preference point system in Wyoming about the time I was eligible (old enough) to start applying for big game tags in Wyoming. I started applying – and building up preference points – when I was 14 years old. Never did draw either. In fact I knew the odds were pretty slim of me drawing either until I built up some preference points, but you have to start somewhere. Some 11 or 12 years later, having still not drawn either tag, I moved to Alaska. Becoming a nonresident ironically boosted me to the front (or near enough) of the preference point list. And as of last I checked, anyone with my number of points was 100% successful on drawing sheep or moose.
So why don’t I get myself a ram for the wall. The $2266 cost of a nonresident sheep tag is part of it. Not to mention airfare back, possibly the cost of a wrangler to pack me into where I want to hunt (and oh yes, I know where I plan on going), and hopefully a taxidermist. One side… knowing I’m going to draw once I apply is pretty nice. Now I just need to round up $5K and some time off. Because on the other side I know it’ll probably be another 10 or 20 years before I earn enough preference points to have a half a chance in hell of drawing another tag. So I better make the most of it.
Until then… I keep shelling out $100 a year to buy my sheep preference point and $75 a year for my moose. I’m sure it’ll be well worth the investment when I do get to pull the trigger on a ram (in 2 or 3 years more time that way I see it at this point), but until then there is a weird irony in paying out $175 a year just to stay eligible for drawing a permit some year down the road.
BONUS POINTS (MY EXPERIENCE)
Well it’s April, and that means I just gave another $160 to the Nevada Division of Wildlife. For some reason I think it’d be sweet to hunt a desert bighorn in NV some day. True, it’s less than $20 to apply for a desert bighorn permit. But if I’m ever going to draw a tag (at least to play the odds in my favor), I’ve got to rack up some bonus points so my name goes in the hat more than once. Once you get 10+ bonus points, things get funky in an exponential sort of way regarding how many times your name goes in the hat. That’s pretty cool (although if everyone else is racking up just as many bonus points as me do I really have any sort of statistical advantage???). Of course, to get my bonus points I have to buy a non-resident hunting license. That’s where the other $140 comes into play. When I lived Outside I used to at least make a trip to Nevada once a year to hunt quail and chukar to get some use out of that license. Hopefully next January I’ll have enough airline miles I’ll actually get to make a hunt down there.
There is point where I wonder, though – if I took that $160 and invested it every year – how long until I could buy myself a desert sheep hunt in Mexico? Because there’s still no guarantee, no matter how many bonus points I accumulate, that I’ll ever draw a desert bighorn tag in Nevada. But I keep doing it just the same. Maybe because my grandfather’s been hunting and guiding sheep in NV since before I was born, so it just seems like the right place for me to kill a desert ram.
CONSPIRACY THEORIES, RIGGED SYSTEMS, ETC.
Some people are lucky. Life’s not fair. It’s no one’s job to make it fair.
Could the system be rigged? I suppose, and maybe some people do have some connections. Do I think it’s rigged? Probably not. Hell, a guy I knew who applied for the first time drew a cow moose permit in the valley and a Chugach sheep – odds on both were crappy. Some guys are lucky. Do I care? Nope. Overall, Alaska has one of the simplest, easiest application processes, and I like it just how it is. It’s more fair than any of the other systems I know of (most, ironically, designed to somehow make things more fair or even or whatever).
I’VE BEEN APPLYING FOR 20, 30, 40 (ETC.) YEARS…
…and haven’t drawn a tag.
I’m sorry. That sucks. Seriously. Maybe try some different areas. Maybe save up for the transportation costs associated with going into some more remote areas where the odds of drawing are better.
I don’t know… just like some people have the luck, some people don’t. But ripping on people who are fortunate and draw a permit because you haven’t (AGAIN!) just diminishes the experience for them and makes you look petty. Maybe a “congratulations” instead of a “what BS!” would help turn karma in your favor and you’d have better luck down the road. Who knows?
HARVEST TAGS (don’t take them for granted)
Speaking of NV, here’s a state where harvest (general, over the counter, etc.) type hunts are just about non-existent – even for residents. So if you’re going to hunt big game you have to get lucky in the draw. I have several uncles, cousins, etc. down in NV who hunt plenty – but many years all they end up hunting for is chukar and quail (which isn’t a bad thing, don’t get me wrong!). But if they don’t draw a big game tag, that’s it for any hopes of hunting elk, deer, pronghorn, etc. that year. They’ve all gotten into muzzleloaders and hunting cow elk and anything they can to increase there draw odds, but some years it doesn’t matter.
Having been a resident in AK for only a couple years now, it still blows my mind that I can hunt a dall sheep, or moose, or grizzly/brown bear, or mountain goat EVERY YEAR – even if I don’t draw a permit!!! Sure, I’d love to draw a Delta Bison or a Tok Sheep or any other of awesome permits. But it’s so cool that even if I don’t draw anything (like last year) I can still plan any number of such hunts. A lot of the world doesn’t work that way, so don’t take it for granted. Be thankful you still have ample excuse to spend time in the field.
I can’t wait until this post-draw circus winds down for the year. Part of me hates myself for even posting this and continuing the discussion. You’d all do me a favor by not replying and drawing this out any further. Hopefully this snow will disappear and people will start getting out from behind their computers and looking for bears, getting in shape, scouting out new areas, prepping gear – in other words: less talk, more hunt.
Good luck to everyone who drew a permit on your upcoming hunt. Good luck to all those who didn’t draw come next year. Good luck to all those planning harvest hunts. I can’t wait to see some pictures.