This is a question we receive often. Unfortunately there is not a simple answer because when we build a Hunt Plan. The reason for this is because rarely do we work with two hunters who are looking to accomplish the same goals and being that a Hunt Plan is designed to address your goals then the idea of trying to put them in a box and saying that this Hunt Plan is the best would be completely against what a Hunt Plan is designed to do.
Who are you going to hunt with?
Whether it be a father and a son or two buddies who hunt together often when designing a hunt plan we find that everyone has slightly different ideas of what they are interested in. Not only are they not always interested in the same things in the present time but being that hunting is such a progressive sport there is even a larger chance that they will not likely have identical interests in ten years from now. This is where a Hunt Plan that is built specifically for you is in fact the best Hunt Plan.
What are you going to hunt?
So where do we start? The first step is to identify what is the species you are most interested in hunting. Once you know this it will help to identify what is going to be one of the main pillars or the main pillar of your Hunt Plan. For many this is sheep. If this is you then we really need to jump into Sheep 101 in order to have a 10,000 foot view of what this entails and essentially how much you are wanting to invest per year in seeing this become a reality. Moose and Mountain goats can be similar but not quite as complex as bighorn sheep. If you are more interested in say Elk or Mule Deer, Antelope or Whitetails then this is where we can expect to see results much sooner and with more consistency.
What weapon will you hunt with?
Once you have identified your primary species then we need to discuss what weapons you are willing to hunt with. You may be a die hard archer but if you have never hunted out west previously you may want to hedge your bets with a rifle hunt in order to at least increase your odds of success on your initial investment. Meanwhile if done correctly we may progress into archery hunting sooner than later it all depends on your comfort level and your goals. Now that we have discussed the primary species then we need to identify how often if you could simply wiggle your nose and make it happen would you hunt that species in the next ten years.
How often are you planning on hunting?
If you would like to hunt every year and you are say “getting into” hunting that species then this would dictate what states you should consider applying for. If you are more say, checking the species off of your bucket list, you may not need multiple states, and can accomplish the goal you are wanting to with maybe even as little as one application and a couple years worth of points.
How much money are you going to spend hunting?
Now that you have your foundation set, it’s time to reflect a little. If you have an interest at all in some of the other species found in some of the states you have already decided to apply in based on your previous selections on your Hunt Plan. For example: if you were to decide to apply for Arizona elk this would require the purchase of a $160 annual hunting license. Then you would need to submit an application for an additional $20. At this point if you were interested in say sheep, Mule deer, or even Coues deer hunting it would be reckless and unfortunate to not apply for all species of interest for the additional $20 per species. Often when this is done, being that it is not the focal species of the Hunt Plan these application have a way of going under the radar and before we know it, there are some top shelf options to consider even if we never intended for that to be, and more importantly we have received as much value out of the hunting license we were required to purchase each year anyways.
Where to hunt?
So now that we are down to the point that we are choosing what states to get started in, It may be best to start getting a little more specific. We want to discuss what applications are going to have guaranteed hunt options associated with them sooner than later. We will talk about what those hunt options are to include what age class of animal, style of hunting, time of year etc. in order to ensure that the hunt lines up with our current goals. The whole goal of the Hunt Plan is to get you in the field as often as you would like. Based on your goals this could be as early as that year, it could take 1-2 years for the first hunt to transpire, or possibly say if you were only focused on sheep, again it is not about a time frame but we are simply trying to get lucky. Getting a bead on the first hunt that is likely to transpire and understanding the time frame and cost associated with that first hunt is a big part of the plan, because like anything if these are all goal oriented selections then we need to see some results or we are likely to get board with the process and lose interest before we are able to see the real benefit in the investment that we are making each year.
Write down your hunt plan.
So in short, what is the best Hunt Plan, it’s a plan that you understand, it is a plan that is designed around your current goals as a hunter, and it is a plan that addresses your progression as a hunter so that there is continual growth happening throughout the processes. By doing this you will hunt more often, your odds of success will go up, and instead of hoping and dreaming about hunting you will be doing it as often as you would like.