This is the month of Thanksgiving and I can honestly say that we have a lot to be thankful for. I’ve spent over 100 days of this year in the field with some of our lucky Pro Membership Sweepstakes winners. We have done everything from Canadian fishing trips to Alaska/Yukon moose hunts. We have topped over 1 million dollars in giveaways since we started back in 2015 and I’ve personally met many of the people that are so thankful for their good fortunes.

When we launched the Pro Membership Sweepstakes, I envisioned people who were just like me, having the opportunity to do hunting and fishing trips they normally couldn’t ever afford. Being able to see this vision become a major reality is something I’m so thankful for.

I have been fortunate enough to be a hunter, fisherman and outdoorsman since I was just a child thanks to my grandfather and great uncle. Many of these winners didn’t have this luxury and have gotten into outdoor activities later in life and have had the pleasure of not only fulfilling a dream, but help to burn that fire within to make sure they teach their kids as well as generations to come. What we are doing is truly perpetuating what we do for the long haul. We appreciate all your support in helping this dream come true for everyone. We will keep working hard to continue making this a reality for as many as possible. Enjoy your Thanksgiving Holiday and your time in the field this month.

On a side note, I would like to address some of the conversations I’ve had with numerous hunters in the field this year. Most revolve around bonus/preference points and waiting years to draw a tag and the expectations that go along with this. The southwest part of the United States had a tremendous drought this year. I talked to some cattlemen who were in their 70’s and they told me that this was some of the worst they can ever remember.

What this means to us as hunters, is that antler/horn growth is going to be affected. I thought that everyone understood this, but after numerous conversations with hunters in the field, I realized that very few people take these things into consideration. It affects the feed for the animals as well as the water they normally drink. We saw water holes totally dried up and areas normally loaded with elk and deer that were totally void of animals. The range had been totally destroyed in some areas and the cattle had wiped out what little food was there. In some area’s, the elk’s bodies were in such poor shape that they never showed signs of coming into estrus and breeding until weeks or even a month late when moisture started to make the range better.

Antler/horn growth was off by 30% in some areas. However, many people who had waited for years to draw a tag didn’t take these factors into account and had goals for their tag that would be lofty even on a great year. I made it a point to get these hunters phone numbers and followed up with them after their hunts. Most were extremely dejected because they didn’t achieve their goal and worst of all is that they didn’t enjoy the experience of the hunt because of the burden they self-imposed.

I’m bringing this up because we will all be applying for tags right around the corner and another group of maximum point-holders will make these same mistakes again next year. It is again reasonable to say that the southwest may very well show lower than average success rates and poor trophy quality again in 2019. Sure, there will be a few needles in the haystack that manage to fall, but overall, the data on paper will look fairly poor. But, this also will mean that there will be some older age class of animals for the 2019 season that, given the right weather conditions, will have some great potential.

There is a lot that goes into getting an animal to its’ maximum trophy potential and we can all just hope we have a tag during that perfect year. If not, enjoy the experience of being in the woods and having the ability to harvest some high-quality table fare. Most importantly, we need to be thankful for our ability to enjoy the great outdoors.