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Hunting and The Economy: I Finally Broke Down and Wimped Out on Some Tags

April 22, 2009.

Applications for limited entry hunts have tended to be down 5-15% this year. The decrease in the number of applicants is almost certainly related to the tough economy and the financial uncertainty that it brings.

Personally, my strategy this year was influenced more by family matters than by economics — I've got two kids at home under the age of 2, so have tended to either build points towards future hunts or apply for really good hunts that would be worth the time away from home.

However, the stress of the economy has started to get to me too, and I'm wimping out on (at least) two tags this year.

I apply for New Mexico elk in the outfitter's pool, and my overall odds for drawing this tag are around 1 in 4. I told my outfitter to go ahead and put in for me back in January. But, I just called them back last week and asked them to withdraw my application. If I had drawn, I wouldn't have felt comfortable about spending that much money on a guided elk hunt this year.

Since there are no bonus points to worry about, I feel pretty good about skipping a year in New Mexico.

I'm also wimping out on Idaho. Idaho has some really good draw odds for sheep, moose, and mountain goat hunts. The downside is that you have to pay a nonrefundable $142 license fee to get in on the draw. You also have to front $1,765 for the tag.

I had planned on putting in for sheep in Idaho this year, but the draw odds in the unit I was considering are probably about 1 in 10. If I did draw a sheep tag, I'd feel compelled to get an outfitter and make the most of it — another bunch of cash I'd need to come up with.

All told, I felt it was actually too likely that I might draw an Idaho sheep tag, and I don't think I can really afford it this year.

Since there are no bonus points to worry about, I feel pretty good about skipping a year in Idaho.

Hopefully I'll feel better about getting back in these draws next year.

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