The Journey IS the Destination


Active Member
The 2024 application season is upon us....So far NM and AZ (elk, pronghorn) showed me no love. Utah and Nevada and Wyoming are next up....fingers crossed. I do know that I should draw a WY elk tag this year as I have ample points for the zones applied for. This WY elk hunt has influenced my choices in other states as the time I am allotting for it conflicts with many of the hunts in other states I typically apply for...thus a little change of strategy this year is in order. For mule deer I will be exclusively applying for those difficult to draw "late season" November and December hunts....ditto for AZ coues deer. Needless to say, if I draw one of my choices, I expect it will be a really good hunt.

In my home state of California I'm in a new situation regarding my application for mule deer....I now have 0-points due to drawing a premium hunt last season. The zone I was successful in drawinig in 2023 was one had gone "all-in" on many years ago, dedicating my first choice to it each and every year for well over 30 years. It was worth the wait as I was able to capitalize by harvesting a tremendous buck (CA standards). So what to do now? I'm now in my mid-50's so waiting my turn for that tag again is out of the question. There are several x-zones that I can draw with 1-4 preference points so I'll probably choose one of those that I am fairly knowledgeable of and concentrate there...maybe I'll get lucky in the random drawing (no pref points)...if not, I'll settle for my home zone (D-6) like I have for the majority of my adult years. This is not my only hope for California however.....Here we can purchase a second tag for some of the other "general" zones. I jumped on this opportunity and will be attempting to scout one of the B-zones on the north coast this summer and then hunt it in the fall. This should offer the adventure I am hoping for....I'm really excited to learn something new!

As more drawing results trickle in over the next month the path I end up on for this journey will become more clear....
As predicted, I have a Wyoming elk tag to carry with me into the field this fall. Also, trying to fill two general OTC tags for here in California should also provide some opportunity. No luck anywhere else for me. However… My little brother as well as a great friend of mine BOTH drew late season deer tags here in California for one of the most sought after zones this myself last year and look forward to returning again and hope of finding some monsters this December.

Usually by this time, I’m well into my scouting routine. As a teacher, I have my summers off and enjoy spending time in the high country looking for nooks and crannies holding bucks in several of the premium zones located nearby. Typically I have a friend or two draw one of these zones every year that I end up helping out so the time I spend during the summer poking around works out to be quite valuable. Unfortunately, this year is starting out a little bit differently. I’ve only managed to get out for a couple of short little hikes due to an ongoing battle with plantar fasciitis in my right foot. Some days I feel OK… But most days I don’t, and hiking is out of the question. I’ve got an appointment with the foot specialist next week that hopefully will be able to get me some relief and put me on a path towards a quick recovery. Sitting around nursing this injury is not fun!

If all goes well with the doctor, and I’m feeling up to it, I have a scouting trip planned for a remote region of Northern California in a little over a week. I’m not holding my breath… but I am still remaining hopeful. Even if I’m unable to hike, at least all be able to drive around a bit and locate trailheads, etc.. that’s better than nothing.

Here’s a few photos from a hike I did a couple weeks ago with my brother that really tore me up. We were going to check out a few areas in the zone that I hunted last year myself and that he will be hunting this year. We managed to find the remains of my buck… Not much left! I felt good going into it but about midway through the day my foot started acting up and boy did it hurt by the time I got back to the truck. Wasn’t really able to walk for a day or two afterwards… and only do so now with a pretty good limp.




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