Apply Now for Future Bucket List Bowhunts

You can’t take the hunt of a lifetime unless you take the first step and apply for the required species-specific tag. The time to apply is now!

Apply Now for Future Bucket List Bowhunts

It’s the New Year; 2020 is here. Do you know what that means? No, it’s not time for setting resolutions to accomplish throughout the year — well maybe a few. While you’re at it, a resolution worth setting is drawing — or at least applying for — a few coveted big game archery tags.

The majority of application deadlines across the United States for big game species such as whitetail, mule deer, elk, pronghorn, moose, mountain goat, bighorn sheep and others occur between January and June. As each deadline approaches, make sure you have a solid game plan to draw one — or hopefully, two or three — of your dream hunts.

Below is a little insight into my application process for hunts I am hoping to draw either this year or in the near future.

Clear the Calendar

To begin, I identify a few blocks of time — a week or two — that don’t interfere with my home life or my editing responsibilities. I like to find the time for at least one hunt per month from August through January. A few of those hunts may be an OTC tag, knowing I won’t be successful in most draws.

Select Hunts

With my calendar set, I research hunts for the species and states I am interested in hunting. Each year, I apply for most big game species in my home state of Arizona. Additionally, I apply for multiple species in three to five other states, depending on the time I have set aside. The set usually includes Coues whitetail, elk, pronghorn, sheep and whitetail in one of the few draw states, yet this varies every year. 

Know Your Odds

I’m an odds nut! Personally, I am more apt to apply for a hunt that is easier to draw than for its trophy potential. I would rather scout and hunt hard than wait several years to draw a tag. In Arizona, I use data provided by the Game and Fish department to create elaborate spreadsheets to predict my best and true odds. Additionally, I have subscriptions to three of the major online drawing odds services.

My Dream Hunts

In my opinion, there is no more majestic an animal than one of the horned-sheep found across North America. I would give anything — well, not my wife, kids or manly lap dogs — to pursue one with bow in hand. No matter what hunts I apply for each year, the one I would love to draw the most is a bighorn sheep tag here in Arizona. I would rather it be for the Rocky Mountain subspecies, but I usually apply for the desert subspecies knowing I have slightly increased odds.

The most coveted hunt on my wish list is for Dall sheep in Alaska. While stationed at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, Alaska, for four years in the 1990s, I backpacked into the Chugach Range every summer to spot and photograph these magnificent creatures. As a young Airman I was unable to afford a hunt, even though I was a resident at the time. These are even more spendy now! I have a few years left to make it happen and remain hopeful it will. In any case it’s always nice to dream.

Well, I have offered up a little about my application process, the hunts and states I apply for and my most coveted dream hunt, but I would love to hear from you regarding your hunting plans for the upcoming year and future. Please drop me a note describing the hunts you go on every year, the ones you apply for and the dream hunt that is number one on your wish list or bucket list. If it’s one you have already been on, feel free to include a short story about the adventure and a photo as well.

As always, if there is a topic you would like to see highlighted or expanded upon in the pages of Bowhunting World or you would just like to send me a note, please do not hesitate to send an email ( with your thoughts. Best to you!


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