Is the western hunting bubble bursting? (Or at least shrinking?)

Jbehredt

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A) It’s roughly a 5% decrease in apps after things had been steadily increasing the last few years, then topped out the last two years at 31k. Does it mean we’re gonna see leftover tags again next year? Probably not. But it’s not insignificant either. 2025 will tell the story if it is a trend or a one off.

That’s the other thing, for preference points, Montana makes you apply every year or lose points now. That was the biggest reason odds improved IMO.

Bonus points are a different story.

Anecdotally I’ve had several friends go on one or two hunts the past few years that have suddenly lost interest.
I know two new hunter Rogan disciples who didn’t bother to apply in CO this year. A dead grouse between them wasn’t enough content for the gram.
 
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It’s not a matter of continually increasing demand, it is a matter of reduced opportunity with consistent demand. CO is likely to get rid of archery OTC. That will funnel that many more people into 2nd/3rd season rifle or to other states (that require a draw) to keep going archery. Eventually the pressure on 2nd/3rd season will force CO to remove OTC for NRs. I don’t see where your optimism comes from or where you think you are going to be going elk hunting every single year as a NR. The gates are closing faster than you are bracing for.
 
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It’s not a matter of continually increasing demand, it is a matter of reduced opportunity with consistent demand. CO is likely to get rid of archery OTC. That will funnel that many more people into 2nd/3rd season rifle or to other states (that require a draw) to keep going archery. Eventually the pressure on 2nd/3rd season will force CO to remove OTC for NRs. I don’t see where your optimism comes from or where you think you are going to be going elk hunting every single year as a NR. The gates are closing faster than you are bracing for.
Idk if I’d say it’ll happen quick. CO has come out in support of keeping OTC for the rifle seasons for at least the next 5 years. Dont see them drastically changing anything anytime in the next decade. Unfortunately, they tipped their hand that they value max revenue for CPW instead of hunt quality when they posted their preferences to the committee.
 
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I've tried to get a few of my friends into western hunting so I could groom a hunting partner. Two of them dropped off when covid hit and money got a little tight. The other one has done a little hunting. I took him on a backpack bear hunt and he was not digging hiking in 8 miles while gaining 2500' of elevation with a heavy pack. I think there will be a lot of guys fall off going out west when tag prices get much higher. That being said, the lower supply of tags and habitat issues coupled with hard winters, I still think it will only get worse. More and more people are moving out west where it's easier and much cheaper to get tags, trying to get away from big cities. Wyoming might turn off folks with high NR tags but there will be more people moving there for OTC cheap resident tags and no state income tax, a lot of folks work from home.

Good old days are behind us boys.
 

Scottf270

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If folks ever figure out the applications scam going on at Huntin Fool and WTA Tags we may see applications continue to drop. They encourage people to apply for everything because they pocket money for each and every entry.

They are right in, you can't draw if you don't apply, but most will never live long enough to draw. If hunters did their own math of their draw odds, they would realize they are throwing money away with zero chance to draw.
 
OP
B
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Idk if I’d say it’ll happen quick. CO has come out in support of keeping OTC for the rifle seasons for at least the next 5 years. Dont see them drastically changing anything anytime in the next decade. Unfortunately, they tipped their hand that they value max revenue for CPW instead of hunt quality when they posted their preferences to the committee.
Yeah the nonresident cash now is never going away for these states.

That said I do worry about outfitter influence/preference in some states, particularly WY/MT. The outfitter organizations have way too much political pull.
 

Pro953

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Colorado data is interesting. I do not think the MT data is great as a lot of folks changed how they approached that state with the bonus point changes a couple of years ago. Though maybe the same could be said for CO and OTC tags/units.

I think if you see a YOY decline is a few states that do not have significant changes in the draw system, you might be able to read into it. Right now, a couple of data points is not really much of a trend.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

CMF

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If folks ever figure out the applications scam going on at Huntin Fool and WTA Tags we may see applications continue to drop. They encourage people to apply for everything because they pocket money for each and every entry.

They are right in, you can't draw if you don't apply, but most will never live long enough to draw. If hunters did their own math of their draw odds, they would realize they are throwing money away with zero chance to draw.
If you want to hunt everything you have to apply for everything.
Certainly, Wyoming MSG is a 0% game for most, but at least other states that are in the %0.1 range for sheep etc usually have different species that combined make it worth applying for, UT comes to mind. And if you want to hunt DIY there really isn't much option. The application fee invested still wouldn't appreciate to the cost of sheep hunt. Maybe it would considering what the services charge, I don't know what they charge, I don't use a service, but I apply for a lot.

Which other hunts do you think people are applying for that is zero chance? Virginia Elk comes to mind.
 

HONEYBADGER

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Jun 27, 2012
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No you still have every service and influencer under the sun willing to hold people's hands and educate them step by step on how to do everything from put in for tags to cape a deer. People from Florida and Pennsylvania are driving to Nevada to hunt if they draw a tag. Its nuts. I dont think the genie is ever going back in the bottle.

New Mexico apps set another all time high record this year by about 3k I believe and that was on top of record numbers each of the two previous years....its not getting any better.

Edit:

New Mexico App Numbers : 2023 - 285k / 2024 - 288k
 
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Soj51hopeful

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Montana
I’ll throw my personal thought in here. I plan to quit building points in a few states once I burn them. 10 or so years ago I started chasing points and have had some good hunts, but with the cost of everything going up and quality of hunts going down I’m over it. I’ll stick with applying in my home state and maybe 2 others.
 
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Some people get all charged up on things like hunting. They get invited to go by a friend or start watching you tube content. They do it for a few years then move on to the next thing. So I don't doubt
you may be seeing this cycle.

I’m not in the west but I hunt the SE and a hunt every year in OH. From 1992-2000 we would have 20 or more guys in our group and another 20 guys in an other group from the same hometown that would go on the hunt in Southern Ohio. By 2021 we had about 4 guys total going down. Guys lost interest and some found hunting opportunities around their hometowns.

In our Alabama lease we have no problem filling our membership of 10 members every year and usually have people wanting in we dont have available memberships for. If someone drops out their membership is filled by a guest that was brought a few years by a member. When the economy crashes you find out pretty quick how dedicated the guys are to hunting.

Not everyone who takes up the sport will be a life long hunter or live the hunting lifestyle. Or even go every year.
 

Rich M

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I’ll throw my personal thought in here. I plan to quit building points in a few states once I burn them. 10 or so years ago I started chasing points and have had some good hunts, but with the cost of everything going up and quality of hunts going down I’m over it. I’ll stick with applying in my home state and maybe 2 others.

That's what I always told folks and was considered a lunatic - buy points in the state you really want to hunt in. And only buy the points for what you want to hunt.

Just flinging money around for points to hunt anywhere isn't my style. Seems like a waste of money but if you gotta just hunt, have at it.
 
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The intermountain west population has gone from 7.7 million to 78.5 million from 1970 to 2020. Thats over a 900% increase in human beings in the region. The percent of people hunting is not declining faster than the population is growing despite the anecdotal information shared here.


The NRA documentation from 2011-2018 shows that the intermountain west hunting bubble has not slowed, this is obviously pre covid madness as well. (https://www.americanhunter.org/arti...stern-states-defy-hunting-s-national-decline/).View attachment 633369

The major hurdles to hunting have been information-based, and those hurdles have largely been demolished. The next (and sustaining) barriers will be legality and availability of intact habitat. And for the folks claiming that new hunters are just following a fad of instafluencers, sorry but we are only a couple years removed from our 2 million year heritage of spending most of our time thinking about/painting about/planning/or moving to hunt. It will take more than a couple years of softening culture, video games and code red mountain dew swilling to remove that genetic program.
Thanks for sharing. This is a cool graphic.
 
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Why is everyone so convinced that hunting is under imminent threat of being abolished unless we recruit every single person possible? This is so stupid.
I do think that the opinions of the general public are a growing problem. In the NJ suburbs where I live, there is good approval for deer hunting because they're so overpopulated here, and it's unlikely that fewer hunters in the voter pool will lead to a closure here. But a majority of those folks remember the wolf induced trophic cascade in Yellowstone film and have taken it to heart that wolves are beneficial for the western landscape. There is also a majority of non-hunters here who think that you can't/don't eat black bears and we have a big problem with that hunt being politicized for many years now due in part to this kind of ignorance. Anti-activists have been making progress in that fight and they'll continue to have success if we're not countering them aggressively.
 

TWHrunner

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Nov 24, 2018
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Calgary
Prices will keep going up, opportunity will keep going down but for the highest bidder. It’s just the way it is. I’m enjoying grouse hunting a lot more these days and I still pack a camp in on horseback to do it. If someone has a big game tag on the trip, we’ll work it as hard as anything but it isn’t the most important thing anymore. Going out of state to buy a Wyoming or Montana elk tag for thousands of dollars just is not going to ever happen. I read somewhere on this forum that a nonresident ram hunt here in Alberta is up to $100K. Insanity is officially here.
 

whaack

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Dec 17, 2015
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Midwest - IL
I feel like the last five years has been the perfect storm for point creep/tag allocation.

We had people like Rinella/Newberg/Rogan popularizing western hunting, as well as a huge baby boomer population that had been buying points in multiple points for decades, a booming economy and lots of people with disposable income, and a Covid pandemic where hunting was one or the only things people could still do.

Covid is now over, the boomer generation is aging out of the game, the economy is in a recession, and we’re seeing a decline in tag allocation to nonresidents and an corresponding increase in tag price.

Are we going to see things like MT combo tags not selling out again?

I doubt it. But I feel like we’ve reached the peak. A lot of guys are going to say it’s not worth it anymore and find other things to do. Point systems will still suck no matter what because they are a Ponzi scheme, but some tags will get more available for guys that have been in the game for years.

I think some general tags will become more available for those willing to pay the price. Those of us who are perfectly fine hunting B tags, etc will still have plenty of opportunities to hunt every year.

I’ve had numerous friends that have gone on one or two hunts for the instagram posts realize that most elk hunting is just a shit load of work and suck with relatively low odds of success compared to let’s say, eastern deer hunting.

Either way, I think we’re finally on the backwards side of the bubble. Does that mean it’s going back to what it was in the 90s? Absolutely not, there has been a paradigm shift… But I think the worst of the bubble is over.

Anyone agree?
Biggest variable is the economy. We keep on FJB plan no one will be able to afford out of state hunts.
 

Wyo_hntr

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Wy
Biggest variable is the economy. We keep on FJB plan no one will be able to afford out of state hunts.
Do you actually believe the president controls the economy? I am no fan of the current president (he should be in a care facility, not the Whithouse), but who keeps voting to print more money, which is driving inflation through the roof?
 
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