Hunting Priorities?

Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
Kinda thinking on the keyboard here, but it's a friendly audience. :)

Health issues took away my planned Africa hunt, and I'm coming to terms with that. I may not be able to travel long distances by air again. Okay. But... I live in "the west" and hunting can be pretty decent out here. :) Looking at hunting/outdoor experiences I'd like to try:

Wildlife photography - I'm including that with hunting as it's much the same, without any gunfire, and it doesn't fill the freezer, directly.

Fly fishing - I used to fish a lot and enjoyed. Would love to get back into it regularly. Just don't seem to make the time for it anymore. Not sure why. I've got good fly fishing very close to home.

Upland game bird hunting with my dog. Grouse, pheasant, chukar, quail etc... LOVE IT!

Annual deer hunt, preferably with my son. Gotta do it. If I can't do any other big game hunting, I want to make sure this always happens.

I'd like to take a deer with my bow... I've never done that.

Pronghorn Antelope - so fun to hunt! I've taken five. All have been delicious. I'd like to hunt them some more!

Bear - I'd really like to do a baited bear hunt. Idaho comes to mind. All mine have been spot & stalk which has been great, but I'd really like to clobber a bear at close range with my 45-70 or even a big-bore handgun. I think lurking around a bait barrel will give me that chance.

Elk - I keep hoping for another cow elk tag. Only a little interested in taking a big bull. Not much space for another big set of elk antlers and cow elk taste so good.. There's a good local tag I keep applying for. Got it in 2016 and it was a great late-season hunt. I'd like to repeat that. Should be getting close to having enough points to draw. Wouldn't mind going out of state for a cow elk either.

Buffalo/Bison - probably not much of a hunt, but... I want to do it, even just a ranch hunt. Great meat, and a good excuse to use the 45-70. :)

Moose - Will I ever draw a tag here in Washington? Kinda doubtful. Thinking Idaho, or possibly British Columbia for shiras moose.

Bighorn Sheep - I keep applying for the tag. Meanwhile I'll shoot 'em with my camera.

Auodad/Barbary Sheep? Hmmm. A reasonable substitute for the bighorn I'd think. I hear that the meat from a ram isn't so good.

Mountain Goat? Again, I keep applying for the Washington tag, but don't have much hope of drawing it. Maybe I can get some good photos.

Gemsbok - that was what I really wanted to hunt in Africa. Know what? They're running around loose and are huntable in New Mexico! :) Meat is supposed to be good, and Mama has encouraged me to explore that hunt.

Caribou was an option, but dang, that seems to have gotten expensive.

Hog hunt - always an option. Haven't done so in more than 30 years.

I'd so much rather spend the cash on hunting than on buying more firearms. :)

Thoughts? Your priorities? Suggestions?


Thanks for bearing with my musing while I sip my coffee and think about hunting.

My priorities are pretty straightforward right now:

My first muley hunt is in December in Kansas.

I apply every year for a pronghorn tag but you need 6 points to draw a tag in Kansas. I have a year or two left.

I'm going to start saving up for a barbary sheep hunt soon.

And finally, I'm going to start putting my name in for gemsbok whenever the application period starts.

Everything else can wait a bit.

Good luck with all your hunts, Guy!
Thoughts? Sounds you you have it figured out, you just need to decide when and where, and if you are hunting with your camera options are endless, weather and seasons can be more favorable. I'd love to see you catch some Wyoming high county mule deer in velvet with your camera.

My Priorities? Living in Montana I have the chance(some slimmer than other) to hunt almost anything that I'd want, I put in for the Moose, Goat and Sheep every year and would be happy to draw just one while I am heathy enough to still hunt them. Elk for me is a reason to be out walking around the mountains, no hurt feelings for not filling the tag at the end of the season. Deer hunting is more about taking my daughters and enjoying our time and having the experience with them, or riding around with my buddy on his ranch doing more catching up and story telling then hunting. I have never had the urge to do a African hunt but Alaska yes. So I guess my priorities are to take advantage of what I can while I can and hope I get lucky every once in a while. the older I get maybe the priorities change but for now that's what I have.

Suggestions? Make your Gemsbok hunt a priority so you can sort of close that chapter. Then the whole Western US is full of opportunities for outdoor activates, hunting and others. Many off the beaten path and away from the touristy parks everyone flocks to. Wolf (not on your list but) season in Montana starts next week and goes to March 15th, you can get an over OTC nonresident tag add on a fishing and bird license.
There are also opportunities to volunteer and help out conservation, my schedule never seems to work out but think they would be very enjoyable(Bighorn relocations, mountain goat counts, wildlife survey).
I'd so much rather spend the cash on hunting than on buying more firearms. :)
This statement says alot, for the price of a new rifle you could load your jeep up, pick a direction, drive a day or 2, setup camp and explore for a week, find a way to mount your reunited motorbike onto your adventure trailer and wow! just think of the possibilities. The price of the scope is another week adventure a different direction.
Being that you’re located in the west , you have a lot of good options.
Make a list 1-10 by priority and hunt , then check them off the list.
I’m not a traveler , so my options aren’t that great. Whitetail deer and black bear.
Sounds like you got a lot of options. My big game options are RL posted above.....bear, whitetail. And like him I'm not much of a traveler. Even less in these times.

Small game, I used to kill a lot of squirrels every yr, need to get back into that. It's great practice head shooting squirrels with a 22 out of the top of a 100 ft oak or poplar.

Cottontail rabbit hunting is a lot of fun and also good eating, but I always enjoyed that most with beagles. Don't have any anymore and can't see myself getting back into that.

I think you'd enjoy archery. Fantastic time of the yr to be out. I killed my share with the bow back in the day, but to be honest I more enjoy today hunting and killing a deer with a fine rifle that I worked on loads for.

You've got a lot of quality days in the field left to do, and got more options than some of us. Don't need to go to Africa to experience new things and master new challenges or to be filled with satisfaction at the end of a good day. Might be able to fulfil any of the above in ways not possible in Africa.
My hunting days are increasingly in my rearview mirror. I spent the day working with a woman who is dying planning her funeral. It required quite a bit of walking, and I am increasingly aware of the cost of multiple truck wrecks from my youth as the pain catches up with me. I'm still able to get out for some limited hunts (elk, black bear, mule deer, whitetail). However, success brings its own challenge as I have to clean the animal and get the meat into my truck. Thus, more and more my hunts of necessity include younger men to help me or hunting from a blind in the middle of a field. I'm good with that as I've got a rich store of memories. Guy, I'm hoping you get many more days afield. I'm thankful for the opportunities you have in the western US and Canada.
Do what makes you happy, every year for the past 9 years the wife and I hunt elk, she uses her bow and they talk. She has called in 9 bulls, 1 a year into archery range. Farthest shot was last year at 52 yards. Is it frustrating not being able to harvest a big bull in September oh yes it is. She loves to call to them , i Usually have a great front row seat to the show. I chose to hunt rifle elk, not in the rut and very limited permits for bulls or cows, so spike bulls it is. But it makes her and myself happ. I get to hunt elk every year with 2 of the 3 weapons in Washington. She’s disabled and I can legally harvest her animal for her, but I don’t. Life’s a one way trip , do what makes you happy.
Last night I spoke with an acquaintance, (working on friendship) who was on his way to Utah because his late 20 somthing son got a call from the game and fish in Utah saying that some one had needed to turn back in a limited entry elk tag.... Would the boy be interested? No time to scout or plan but would he want the tag? Apparently the answer was yes because my friend was on his way from Mn to Utah to sit on a ridge with the spotting scope while his son and a buddy go sneaking around the unit looking for a big elk. That is the definition of a hunting priority, if you ask me. Cant wait to hear the story and see the pics when he gets home. CL

I'd start putting in for UT or WY for cow elk. You'll draw every 2-3 years on average and if you put in for both you can draw one nearly every year. Tags are relatively cheap for out of state. You can also work on the antelope and deer draws. You can buy points up until 10/31 for WY.

As for bears, Idaho has tons and if you wanted to DIY bait you could very easily as long as you could source bait. Dog food and syrup or popcorn and syrup has worked for us many many times.

I would probably pay for a guided Onyx/Gemsbok hunt in NM or TX.

For moose it would be DIY in AK but you'd need help and multiple friends are a good idea. Certain areas you can hunt caribou and moose both at the same time. If you do the research then being dropped off or floating a river is much cheaper. Places like Tok Air charge a fortune just to drop you off.

If goat is a high priority I'd do a guided AK or BC hunt.

You might feel uncomfortable spending money on some of the expensive stuff but in reality how many years do you have left to do a hunt like goat? You only live once.

I can help with some of this, as I apply for several states and have moose hunted AK several times.
Well I can’t complain, had a fantastic trip to Africa, don’t know If I can pull off another. I did apply for Antelope, mule deer and elk in Oregon. Only drew the elk tag. Looking forward to that. Did not put in for Montana, first year out of the last 3 I won’t be hunting there. Did not apply in Wyoming either, just points. Now that it’s fall I’m regretting building points because at 67, I’m not sure how long I’ve got.
Couple of my old SWAT Buddies did well with their Montana tags, one of them and his wife have 4 elk tags. If they are still hunting in November after Catherine and I get back from DC I’ll go over for a week to glass and hopefully pack.
That bison freezer filler would be on my list, as well as the continued deer hunt with the son. In fact I’d take him on the bison trip and watch him pull the trigger.
Guy, do what you can, while you can. Sorry to hear about your trip to Africa being cancelled. I can relate.
Hope you can get the chance for gemsbok in New Mexico. There are also other opportunities for African plains game in Texas.

My priorities this fall:
Big game:
Elk hunting for myself, and my wife, daughter and her boyfriend, and stepfather.
Black bear for the wife.
Moose hunting for me and my daughter.
Deer (whitetail and mulies) for myself, wife and daughter.
Bison for myself, if the opportunity presents itself on a couple of planned hunts up north in September/October.
Sheep or mtn goat for myself, if an opportunity arises and my ankle holds up this fall.

Birds and small game:
Grouse, ptarmigan and rabbits for us all as the opportunities arise on the other hunts.
Geese for the stepfather.
Ducks for myself and wife, as the opportunities present themselves.

Pretty much done for the year, but need one more daytrip to catch a few more brookies before freeze up, with the wife, Mom and her husband.

I am currently chatting with a fellow in Australia about a possible hunt Down Under next year for sika, rusa and sambar, and a fallow deer for the wife.
Would love to stop in New Zealand for red deer too!
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Blkram, Sambar Deer are challenging to hunt but provide great reward. I bowhunted them and harvested a 3x3 when I was in the Pacific Micronesian area back in the mid 90’s. They also taste amazing. It’s as good as elk, maybe better And the meat almost has a purplish hue to it for color.

As far as priorities, take those you love any and every time you get the chance. The kill isn’t what you’ll treasure.
I don't think there's a wrong choice so long as it's something you want to do. Any of the options you listed would greatly appeal to me. I'm to the point where whenever I pull the trigger on a deer or bear and start thinking about getting it back to the truck, I almost have to apologize to my knees and back LOL... My priorities have shifted to introducing the grandson to small game hunting and letting him tag along on a hog hunt while the weather is still nice. Those two hunts usually provide lots of action, and I think they'll keep his boredom at bay. But sometime in the near future, while my body still allows it, I want to tackle a Western big game hunt.
Guy, I can easily sympathize with your plight. Going through the same crap myself.You might give Kiowa Hunting services a call for a gemsbok hunt. I haven't talked with Tim since 2019 so I don't know if he retires. I think his son may be running the service now. Anyway he offered a hunt on the White Sands reservation.
Contact info:
Ph: (575) 445-9330

He also has private land cow hunts but they probably would not be your cup of tea. Ride around in a truck till you see game, get out and shoot. With two bad knees that works for me. I want the meat.
I really messed up about 6 years back. I was bringing in my cow elk to the meat packer when a guy brought in a buffalo for processing. We got to talking and his guide said the ranch wanted ti cull 50 cow bison off the ranch. He said I could go with im back to the ranch and for $1,200 shoot a bison. Dummy me, I turned him down. There was still some elk meat from a previous hunt and with the cow I just shot I didn't think I would have enough room for the bison meat. Still kicking myself.

I think there's another outfitter in Raton but I never bothered to look him up. All my elk hunts with Kiowa were on the Vermejo Park ranch.

Again for cow elk, the NRA's Whittington Center is there and I believe they do elk hunts. Might find a hunt there.

That's about the best I can do for you. I don't doubt they'd accomodate you with a fair chase hunt for the cow elk if you asked.
Paul B.
Well I can’t complain, had a fantastic trip to Africa, don’t know If I can pull off another. I did apply for Antelope, mule deer and elk in Oregon. Only drew the elk tag. Looking forward to that. Did not put in for Montana, first year out of the last 3 I won’t be hunting there. Did not apply in Wyoming either, just points. Now that it’s fall I’m regretting building points because at 67, I’m not sure how long I’ve got.
Couple of my old SWAT Buddies did well with their Montana tags, one of them and his wife have 4 elk tags. If they are still hunting in November after Catherine and I get back from DC I’ll go over for a week to glass and hopefully pack.
I'm even questioning the point game in WY and UT at 51. I'm staying in until I draw 1 good elk, deer and antelope tag in each state and then I'll look at other options. When I started putting in for WY it was 5 points to draw a region G deer tag. It's now 7 or 8 and might be 9 by the time I draw and I have 6 points, it will be 7 when I buy my points this year. I don't expect to draw until 24 or 25, at 54 or 55 and don't know if I want to donate for 10 years again to do it at 65. You can draw a general elk tag with about 3 points now in WY. You might want to burn your points for that or pick a unit a bit easier to draw for.

Sorry to hear about your Africa trip. My spring hunt was in Idaho, for bear, over bait. It was freezing cold, constantly raining, the food was meh, and I absolutely loved it. My shot was at just about 40 yards, so a 45-70 or a handgun would do just fine. And, if you go up north, where I was, you can get a second bear tag and a wolf tag. They also have a lot of color phase bears, so you can look for one of those, if you are so interested. Now, all of that is OTC, so no need to worry about a draw. You can also DIY for elk in Colorado with OTC tags in 3rd and 4th rifle seasons. You can buy OTC elk for Idaho as well; they are limited in number (lots of them - like almost 13,000) and go on sale beginning December 1. You can do deer the same way in both CO and ID. Never had the opportunity to hunt moose, so I can't offer anything in that regard, except to say that everywhere I've looked has been draw, except for Alaska and Canada; even Maine is lottery for them now.

Almost forgot - my priorities:
Deer - Every season.
Fish - I don't fish enough.
Bear - Really, really, want a color phase. And bear meat is yummy.
Elk - Failed hunt in CO in 2019, and I want revenge.
Elk, Archery - Just the idea of getting that close to one gets me excited.
Hog - Want to see what wild bacon tastes like.
Moose - Because it's yummy, and there sure is a lot to take home when you're done.
Antelope - Probably should go above moose, because I'm more likely to hunt it.
Upland birds, particularly grouse - Never had it, never hunted it, but I hear it's very tasty.
African Plains Game - Because Africa.
Cape Buff - Because Cape Buff. In Africa. Yes, this is more of a fantasy because of cost, but really, who wouldn't?
Gator - May seem a bit strange, but I lived in Louisiana for a while and it intrigues me.

Honorable mention - Wolf - This is a tough one for me, because I try to only hunt animals I will eat. Wolves, however, are rather a problem in some places.
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