What to Do When You Don't Draw Your Tag

What to Do When You Don't Draw Your Tag

Tears are shed over many things. Death, heartbreak, failure and of course, not pulling your hunting tags. Ohhh the agony! First world problems at its finest.

Every morning for two weeks straight before the Colorado draw date, I’d fire up the computer and search the back door results to see if I’d pulled my tag. And every morning I’d nervously say, “Tomorrow it’ll show.”

Tomorrow never showed and it looks like this fella is joining the hordes that’ll be swarming the mountains with OTC tags in their pockets.  

But to be completely truthful, I don’t care much. I’ve never hunted a “premier” unit and I’m no less the worse for it. I enjoy knowing that I’m going to have to outwork and outsmart (alright, just outwork) my backcountry brethren.

And honestly I enjoy the freedom of an OTC tag. Out of the 186 GMUs in Colorado, 137 of them you can hunt on public land with an archery OTC tag. That’s a sizable portion of the state to explore.

Now we all have our own individual reasons that attract us to hunting. Some it’s the camaraderie, others it to put meat in the freezer or some combination of the two. For me, my satisfaction heavily relies on exploring new country.

I’ve been told this is self sabotage. Anyone who knows much about being successful at putting some fur on the ground year after year knows that learning and hunting one area can significantly increase your odds of success.

Is it a pain in the ass to become familiar with a new unit? Yes. Does it satisfy what hunting means most to me? Absolutely. Am I hindering my success? Well, that’s not as easy to answer.

To me, success typically equates to staying in longer. Or another way of saying it is just long enough to put an animal on the ground.

I learned that one of my weaknesses long ago was boredom. I can’t sit in one place and do the same thing for more than a moment. Hell, I’ve already peed twice, changed my laundry, started dinner and reallocated my assets in my Roth IRA by the time I put a period on the end of this sentence (.)

So, if I had to sit in the same GMU, looking at the same mountainside year after year, I’d probably pack up my tent and head out of there before the first elk bugled.

So why fight it? Learn your weaknesses and adapt. I switch out GMUs just about every year in hopes of seeing something new and fantastical. Maybe there’s a new waterfall with a ten foot tall 14x9 bathing elk shooting rainbows out of its ass that I just need to see! Who knows, this is my magical little world!

All that aside, there’s really only one way to look at anything that is out of our control and that’s positively. Me throwing a temper tantrum in no way changes the outcome of not pulling a tag.

So I just go with it. See it as a sign to go explore something new. I get to look at the same computer screen almost every day of my life, I sure as hell don’t need to take that same feeling of familiarity into what I deem the most unpredictable of sports I take part of.

Hunting is about trying your hardest to get a particular, pre-envisioned outcome to come to fruition. Lay that beast on the ground. Enjoy time spent with hunting buddies. Take the unpredictable path to the unpredictable outcome. Explore.

// Fred