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Brand New to Hunting/seeking permit advice and potentially even mentor

1018 Views 15 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Lone_Hunter
Hey all, my name is Joe and I am brand new to hunting. I grew up fly fishing, backpacking, and camping, however, hunting or even guns just weren't part of the family tradition (but i get the sense this forum likes black sheep). I have completed hunters ed, i am a good shot w my .22, and i can hike all day, but i am still brand new and need some guidance.

Helped a guy pack out and elk just over 7 miles this fall and absolutely loved it, even though it was brutal, so i am pretty committed to the sport. I feel like if i didnt hate myself after that, this hunting thing is for me

Should i try and start pooling points for hunts down the line? Should i try and get in field w hunts that have low success rate but high draw odds just for exposure? Do i put in for LE or Once in a lifetime hunts? I understand the value of stockpiling points but would love to get out and really hunt this fall.
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Welcome Jlash!
I've been at this for about 40 years now, and although I have a few things figured out, there are still plenty of days that I become frustrated in the field. Keep that in mind as you are learning the ropes. No one gets good at this overnight, and the great ones at it are almost as rare as NFL or NBA talent. There's a reason they say that 90% of the animals are killed by 10% of hunters. Being successful isn't easy, but it's doable if you are dedicated and put in the work and time.

All this said, going after small game is a great option. Generally, there is more "action" and the opportunity to be successful...even if that success is modest at first. Some have mentioned grouse hunting. What about chukars in the west desert? Ducks on the various WMAs around the state? Rabbits where you find them? Turkeys across the state (hint, they are like hunting elk, except you can throw one over your shoulder and hike out after shooting one). If you enjoy wild game, all of these cook up nicely (with the proper preparation). You can be successful much sooner on small game than you will be likely at big game.

As to big game, the recommendation to get to know one or two areas really good is spot on. If you jump around too much, you'll never learn the patterns of the animals in a particular area - and knowing those patterns will directly correlate into being more successful. I would give an area 3 years. If you don't find what you're looking for in that time period, then move to another area that looks promising. Points can be frustrating for a new hunter just getting into the game because you are WAY behind the curve. That said, I would always apply for general season points for deer in Utah, apply for deer, elk or antelope in the LE draws, and then put in for a Once-In-A-Lifetime species. Build points in your home state, and over time you'll pull some tags. If you do it right, you can hunt deer and elk every year on general season units. Don't let anyone tell you different - it will just depend on whether you are willing to hunt with other weapons (archery or muzzleloader vs. rifle) and potentially less productive areas. Don't forget to apply for antlerless hunts too. In all my years hunting, those hunts are some of the most enjoyable. There are no expectations for antlers and the ladies always eat better!

Last piece of advice I'd give you is to get involved in a couple organizations that line up with your hunting interests. If it's big game, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) is premiere in my mind. Other organizations like Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA), Mule Deer Foundation, etc. are good places to connect with other like-minded hunters. Turkeys - Wild Turkey Foundation. Waterfowl - Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited...shoot, I just became a member of the Utah Airboat Association. I don't have an airboat, but they are cool and I'd love to get to know some of the people out there using them...and maybe get an invite someday to get out on the GSL areas they hunt that I can't. It's all about what you are willing to put in. The more you are involved, the more you will learn, the more people you will meet, and your experience will be more and better rounded (IMO).

Finally, it you ever need help with the big game draws, feel free to PM me and we can discuss it and I can give you some pointers. Utah's application period is March 23 - April 27, so if you want to hunt this big game this fall, you have to apply within this time period (exceptions for OTC elk & antlerless, but that's another discussion). Best of luck in your pursuits. Stick around and try to contribute here where you can!
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Grass is ALWAYS greener somewhere else, but unless you have a premium tag, the grass is likely just as green in an area close to home…wherever that is. Time in the field is the not so secret secret to success, and if you are driving halfway across the state to hunt, odds are you aren’t making too many trips. Hunting within an hour of home allows for much more field time because it may open up something other than weekends to scout / hunt.
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