This time of year finds most of us snug on the couch watching football or out on snowmobiles enjoying the snow. But if you dream of taking an out-of-state trip to hunt some day, you need to start planning now. Hunting in other states does take some planning, but it really isn’t very difficult. Many people think out-of-state hunts are only for that once-in-a-lifetime trophy, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Quality hunts for mature animals aren’t difficult to find and participate in every couple of years if you play your cards right. They can also be a great way to extend your season.

For example, Idaho has over-the-counter deer and elk hunts available. Out-of-state kids can hunt there almost as cheaply as hunting here. You could go there every year. If you faithfully buy preference points in Wyoming, you could hunt deer, elk or antelope there every four or five years. Montana is on the spendy side but offers good hunting opportunities. It takes some time to build up the points to hunt deer in Colorado, but not long to have enough points to hunt elk. Also, buying points in Colorado is pretty cheap.

If you do dream of that monster bull or buck and keep telling yourself, “Someday,” you need to start working toward it now. Many of the trophy units in Utah, Wyoming or Colorado take 15 or more points to draw. Start building our points now while you’re saving your money for the trip. If you have a kid that loves to hunt, start building points for them now. Most states offer deep discounts for kids, making it easy to build up their preference points.

Going about it can be a little tricky. The Oregon regulations make me feel like I need a lawyer to interpret them. Other states aren’t any easier, and each has its own unique quirks. But with some time and effort, it can be done. There are services like Cabela’s TAG service that can do it for you. For a fee, of course. Two magazines I know of that offer good advice and walk you through the application process are Eastmans’ Hunting Journal and Huntin’ Fool. Neither are cheap, but they both have great information on each of the Western states’ drawing systems. You actually have to subscribe to the magazines to get the info. Newsstand copies don’t have it.

However you do it, now is the time to start. Wyoming, Arizona, Utah and Montana all have deadlines in the first three months of the year. Start building your points now. I can’t afford a Utah elk hunt now but hope to be able when I’ve accumulated my 20 points. In 10 years, you may have the money, but if you don’t have the points to get the tag, it isn’t going to matter.

Email your comments to shootingthebreezebme@gmail.com.

Rod Carpenter is a husband, father and hunting fool.

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