Planning for the 2022 hunting season?! The current season isn’t even over! While big game seasons are starting to wind down across the west, many of us still have late season hunts to look forward to. But ready or not, it’s time to start planning for next year.
If you’re hoping to maximize hunting opportunities next season, it’s time to get to work. Limited license applications, e-scouting and gear purchases should begin soon. There are a number of things we can do now to set ourselves up for success next year.
Here are 5 things you can do now to start planning for the 2022 hunting season:
1. Set Your Goals
As we look ahead to next season, there are a myriad of opportunities and options. When looking at all the species in all the states that I could possibly hunt next year, there are more hunts on my bucket list than there is time on the calendar. Where’s the best place to begin?
I like to begin by laying out my goals for next year. This helps prioritize all those possibilities. For example, this year I had the opportunity to hunt pronghorn in two states and to hunt elk. However, my mule deer hunt was a bust. Now, my mule deer obsession is in full-force. I’ve got big, rutty bucks on the brain!
With that in mind, finding one or more good mule deer hunting opportunities is going to be high on my list for next year. What’s at the top of your list for next season? Start by setting those top goals for the year. Then, let those priorities become the filter for the decisions that follow.
2. Get Out the Calendar
The next thing I like to do is open up the calendar and start filling in dates. For example, if I know I want to be hunting mule deer during the 3rd rifle season here in my home state of Colorado, I’ll start by blocking off those dates on the calendar. If I have any other high priorities for next season, I’ll block them off too. Even if it’s a rough guess, putting these possibilities onto a calendar will provide some clarity as you plan next season.
Most importantly, this is a great way to see how you can meet the goals you laid out in the first step, while still keeping work and family obligations in mind. For example, I always avoid planning back-to-back trips. First of all, this won’t allow me to get the most out of my hunts. Moreover, it isn’t good for family or work life. The more I can spread out trips on the calendar, the more successful I’ll be on all fronts. I’ll even look for creative ways to work around my kids’ school calendars – if they have a long weekend off of school, maybe there’s an opportunity for me to take them hunting?
As we continue planning for next season, it’s fun to jump right into our favorite e-scouting tools like GoHunt Insider and OnX maps. However, keep that calendar open. Knowing the season dates and making a realistic plan will ultimately help you be more successful.
3. Set Reminders for Important Dates
Taking advantage of these opportunities is probably going to require limited license applications. Depending on which hunts or which species are at the top of your priority list next year, you may need to apply in multiple states and have backup plans to make sure you draw at least one good tag.
You can’t draw if you don’t apply – so set reminders for those important application deadlines! Some of them are coming up quickly. Idaho’s nonresident OTC general season tags go on sale December 1st. Then the deadline to apply for Alaska big game permits is December 15th. And Wyoming’s nonresident elk application period is coming up in January. Even though the current hunting season isn’t even over, we’re already beginning to make decisions for next year.
Mark those important dates on the calendar now and then work backwards so that you can meet those deadlines. If you’ll need to select a specific unit when you apply, that’s going to require some research and e-scouting. Leave time to do that before the application deadline so that you can make the best possible decisions for next year. For some tips specifically on e-scouting, see our previous article on that subject.
4. Book Reservations
Whether you’re considering a fully guided hunt or perhaps renting horses or pack llamas next season, it’s time to book those things now! In this post-COVID environment, trips and services are booking up faster than ever. Many outfitters are booking out two years or more in advance. Gear rentals and pack animals are becoming harder to find. As soon as you know when and where you want to hunt, don’t delay in making any necessary reservations.
This is especially important if you’re hoping to plan a hunting trip in Alaska. Things like bush plane pilots have always been notoriously difficult to pin down. Now more than ever, making those reservations well in advance is essential. There’s no point in planning a hunt if you can’t find transportation in and out of an area.
5. Find Deals on Gear
Finally, this is a great time of year to plan your gear for next season. Take advantage of Black Friday and Holiday sales to fill in any gaps in your hunting systems.
Start a list of any items that need to be replaced or upgraded for next season. What worked this year and what didn’t work? Consider your clothing systems, sleep system, optics, backpack, tent, boots, weapons and any accessories. Make a priority list of the items that most need to be replaced or purchased for next season.
Once the hunting season is over, it’s easy to forget about your gear until next spring or summer when we start planning those hunts in earnest. But take the time now to consider what items you need and you might be able to find some great end-of-season holiday deals!
Contact Us With Questions
If you have questions about hunting gear or planning for your next adventure, please don’t hesitate to ask! All the gear we carry here in our shop are items that we use in the field. We’d be happy to give you our recommendations and help you get ready for that next big adventure.
By Ryan McSparran
Ryan is an outdoor writer based in Colorado, and is proud to be a part of the team at Caribou Gear.