Pancakes, hot coffee, and elk don't seem to go together at first glance, but last night at the local IHOP, those items were both the sustenance and the topic of conversation between my Western big game hunting pal, Doug Rodgers, and yours truly.
Despite the threat of freezing rain and sleet moving into the area and glazing the roads, we stayed well into the night — through several coffee pot refills — hashing out our hunting plans and dreams for 2008.
After all, when it comes to Western big game hunting application deadlines, a hunter has got to take care of his business, Old Man Winter or not.
This year, the first order of business — applying for Wyoming elk and any big game species in Utah — is defined by meeting the Jan. 31 application deadline in each state.
Not to mention buying a non-resident hunting license, as is now required in Utah to get into the tag draw.
Why go through all of this fuss over preference points, unit draw odds, bull-to-cow-ratios, buck-to-doe ratios, non-resident tag numbers, fire information, and gut-level hunches?
Simple. If you want to do the big game hunting dance in the West this year with a bow, muzzleloader, or rifle in your hand, you've got to get everything out on the table now.
Even if that means a little spilled syrup on occasion.
If you're one of those who thinks no one ever draws those coveted limited entry tags, think again.
Two years ago, with only scant preference points accrued, I beat the lottery-like odds and drew one of the West's best archery elk hunting tags.
Unfortunately, I never got to use the tag, since a life-threatening medical emergency kept me sidelined while others hunted that fall.
But I hardly feel cursed. Instead, I feel blessed the Creator has allowed me to see another hunting season, let alone another year with my wife and kids.
Besides, if I were able to beat the horrible draw odds in the computer once, I guess it's possible to do it again, don't you think?
Maybe lightning does strike twice. (In my mailbox, that is.)
Next week right here at H365, be sure to tune back in for a complete rundown of each Western state and their various tag application deadlines, procedures, and trends.
In the meantime, if you dream of chasing bugling elk, big mule deer, pronghorn antelope, wild sheep, mountain goats, or even Shiras moose or bison, keep the following "10 Commandments of Big Game Tag Drawing" in mind.
(Believe it or not, they do occasionally work.)
Hey, somebody's got to draw those tags, right? I'm living proof, in more ways than one.
Hunting 365's Ten Commandments of Big Game Tag Drawing: