Twenty-some years ago I became enamored with the idea of traveling around the continent in search of big game. I was a young teen then and a faithful reader of outdoor magazines and books. I followed many popular outdoor writers as they journeyed for magnificent trophies in wild places. I knew one day I wanted to follow in their footsteps.
I somehow stayed steadfast to this plan. I became an outdoor writer myself and eventually went on many of the same adventures. The formula for success seemed simple: work hard, set goals, balance family life, and save a few bucks, all while earning an average mans salary. Then, go on a big hunt every now and then, and enjoy. Thats what I did and you can read about my experiences here.
Today, however, it may be different. What seemed so untapped and affordable back then has now become commercialized and out of reach financially for most guys, including me, no matter how you prioritize your life (going into debt is not an option, of course). For example, 10 years ago, a guided mountain goat hunt would run $3,500 or $4,500. Today, this same hunt will likely cost in excess of $10,000, not including the ancillaries.
Guided, fully outfitted hunts arent the only concern. Even applying for limited-drawing permits out-West has become overly inflated. Just a couple weeks ago I applied for bighorn sheep and mountain goat in Colorado. As a nonresident, I was required to send in a check for $3,638! Few can extract that kind of money from their bank accounts on a regular basis, especially in these times. Some states even require you to purchase a non-refundable hunting license in order to apply and/or gain bonus points for a species. Most of the time you dont draw, and youre out $100 to $200 dollars. Of course, this concerns me, not just because I wanted to fulfill my own American dream, but because I believe increased hunting costs could hurt the sport by drawing in less participants.
Only time will tell. For now Im trying to adopt a new perspective, one that keeps me more motivated and focused. Of course, I will not lose hope, and I will continue to save and apply where I can for these big hunts. But I will not let it ruin my spirit or love for the sport. I will shift my thinking. I believe its time.
I will keep my mind on the real prize at hand: to keep bowhunting simple and enjoyable, and nothing more. Perhaps that is where my focus should have been all along. To be content with any hunt that is within my reach. As long as there are affordable deer, antelope and elk tags around, and wild places to bowhunt, I will be 100-percent devoted and engaged in my passion. You can read more about my experiences with bowhunting at tacticalgearexpert.com.