Welcome to "The Western Hunter" Blog

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Hi, my name is Mark Richman, and I'm going to be writing The Western Hunter Blog, a new feature here on BigGameHunt.net.  I just wanted to take this first opportunity to introduce myself and give you an overview of what I'll be covering here in the future. 

I've been an avid hunter all my life, but grew up in a non-hunting household in California.  Because my folks didn't have the first clue about where to take me hunting, my interest in big game research began at an early age.  I devoured everything I could that was hunting related, and loved the entire planning process. I studied harvest stats and poured over maps to the best of my young ability. Success did not come easy for me, and I learned a lot of things the hard way. When I went to college at Montana State to study wildlife biology, my eyes were truly opened to what I was missing by just focusing on popular literature and magazines for my hunting knowledge. All hunters must be amateur biologists to some degree, and I chose my wildlife biology classes with an eye toward becoming a better hunter.

Going to school in a place like Southwestern Montana gives you the opportunity to rub elbows with other avid hunters, guides, outfitters, hardcore backpackers and other serious outdoorsmen. While my classes gave me the biological knowledge I was lacking, it was the people I met and hunted with that helped me develop my field crafts and taught me how to apply the science in the field.

After graduating, I ended up going to grad school in South Texas. While I was not impressed by the score-centric hunting culture, their emphasis on trophy quality did begin to rub off on me, to the point that I’m now much more patient with the trigger. I guess that’s also a part of every hunter’s development. Those in the beginning stages are happy with harvesting any legal animal, but once you’ve repeatedly proven to yourself that you can harvest big game, many hunters decide to up the ante, by hunting for more mature animals. After living in Texas, I promised to never score an animal that I kill, but I recognize that it is human nature to want to know where you stack up against others. I’m still focused on enjoyable, public land hunts, where a mature animal just adds to the enjoyment of the hunt and B&C score does not make or break my happiness.

I left Texas to work with bighorn sheep in the Pine Ridge country of Western Nebraska, and then moved to Colorado working for both public and private wildlife conservation groups.

I now call Colorado home, and have developed my hunting area research far beyond a mere passion and into a small business. I’m also a Federal Firearms Licensee, with an interest in custom hunting rifles, especially custom Mausers. I hunt several states each year on public land, but not just in the west. I’m trying to harvest a deer in every state before I die, so when time and money permit, I try to add a new state or two out east to my list each year. Hunter recruitment and retention is another interest of mine, and I try to take new people under my wing each fall through both organized and informal events. Big game is certainly my passion, but my big black Lab, Colter and I try to mix in a little pheasant and duck hunting during lulls between big game seasons.

In future blogs I’ll be covering most aspects of western hunting. I will provide information regarding the draw processes and strategies in each western state, how each state stacks up against others for various big game hunting opportunities, some specific trophy and quality areas in each state, as well as great value units for either low preference points or over-the-counter permits. My primary interest is in mule deer and elk hunting, but I will also cover moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, western whitetails, bears and maybe even some western upland game. I’ll combine those with stories of my own hunts, including the reality of my mistakes and learning opportunities.

I also tend to get roped into the special draw hunts of my friends, so I hope to sprinkle in a little mountain goat, bighorn sheep, moose and bear hunting on top of the usual antelope, deer and elk that make up the bulk of the western hunting menu.

Unlike the usual hunting articles you may have read, I will get into the backstory of how I selected the areas that I will be hunting. I plan to gear my teachable moments to the novice Western Hunter, but experienced hunters may gain a thing or two to incorporate into their hunting plans and techniques.

I hope you enjoy my posts, and if you have any questions, or suggestions for future articles, please feel free to contact me here via PM. Some of you may know me as exbiologist in the forums.


BikerRN's picture



It's very nice to put a face with the name.

I have read your work here and in the various forums that we both frequent. I have always found you to be knowlwdgeable without condescension. That is an admirable trait that I wish I had.

Thank you for taking the time to do this blog. I have learned a lot from you here and on the forums.


groovy mike's picture

looking forward to it

I'm looking forward to reading more from you Mark!  Welcome to the new endeavor!


jim boyd's picture

Mark, I am your perfect


I am your perfect novice!

The photos and tales of the west on this site have spurred me to start with long range plans to go to Colorado for an elk hunt in 2012.

This is something that I never even considered before and is solely a result of feasting my eyes (and my imagination) on the stories, posts, blogs, etc, that are all over BigGameHunt...

I have enjoyed the reading immensely and can simply not imagine the joy (and awe) I will feel when I finally get out there.

I look at the photos of these mountain vistas - and I see the horse back pack in's - the tent camps - the fires - the seemingly endless mountain ranges and I just wonder how it took me this long to get the bug.

Now, having said that - it is no longer a bug, it feels like a monkey on my back.

I will continue to read your blogs and the rest of the information that is available on this site, to begin to build my knowledge base... even then I know that will not be sufficient.

I know that only several trips - and some experience - will begin to teach me the things I need to know to become even a semi decent western hunter.

Until that day, I am your student and a student of BGH.

Keep the info coming - we need it!

I can not wait for the day that I am back at this desk - writing MY story about MY western hunt - with these beautiful photos that seem to have come from a calendar somewhere.

Thanks for your efforts -we appreciate them!

Jim in SC

ecubackpacker's picture

Well written blog, Ex. I look

Well written blog, Ex. I look forward to reading future blogs as well.

It's nice to here your story. I can now get a sense to the origin of some of your answers in previous posts.

Curious, how did you got interested in hunting when your family didn't hunt? The reason I ask is because I was in the same situation. No one in my immediate family hunted. I got interested in hunting through my grandad, initially. I learned to hunt via my uncles and cousins as my grandad was never able to take me on any hunts before he passed.

Thanks for letting us into your world!

The Western Hunter's picture

I had always been interested in wildlife

But a trip to Alaska and getting more exposure to guns and hunting there and in trips in Wyoming and Montana really set me off.  I started hoarding gun and hunting magazines like they were pornography, afraid my parents would disapprove at first.  They were supportive, but not very knowledgeable help.

ecubackpacker's picture

It sounds like our initial

It sounds like our initial foray into hunting mirrored one another. I still hoard magazines to gain any speck of knowledge that may help me or my hunting buddies.
That's why I really like this site. There is helpful information all throughout this site because of the knowledgeable hunters, like yourself, who regularly post here.
Thanks again for posting this blog. I'll be a regular reader, even after this contest is over.

CVC's picture

i used to read magazines and

i used to read magazines and had several subscriptions, but I rarely read one anymore.  The information is generally just regurgitated past info and I can find the same topics, but with more depth and timely information on the internet.

Look at Western Hunters blog and you won't find that level of information in many magazines. 

ecoroamers's picture

Western Hunter

Great blog, if you can provide the information and details you speak of, there will be many happy people who do not have the ability or opportunity to experience these things.  You can live and give that life to them through your eyes and experiences.  I was raised in a very avid hunting family, and greatly appreciate on a daily basis what my dad and mom taught me.  We learned everything from survival, hunting, hiking, camping, to conservation of natural resources.  That has lead me into a field of Biology as well.  Keep what you've learned with you always and put a little back into every adventure you have.

CVC's picture

What I go to bed and wake up

What I go to bed and wake up expecting to see a new blog entry and nothing?  Come on, you've got my attention and now I want information :)  Seriously, I am looking forward to your blog.  I've got a feeling it is going to have the kind of information that I want and need to be a better western hunter.

CVC's picture

You got my attention.  I am

You got my attention.  I am looking to do dIY in the west so I will be following your blog very closely.  Your intitial post is well-written and has the right mix of pictures.  It is nice to have someone with your background and experience who is willing to share it with us.  I definitely will be asking a  lot of questions so be prepared.

This may be premature, but one thing I am interested in is taking a cow elk.  I have no place in my home for a bull elk's horns so the cow elk is for me.  The question I have is all the hunts I see for cow elk are with a rifle.  Do people hunt cow elk with a bow?  What strategy is used in bow hunting cow elks?

hawkeye270's picture

You the man Mark! I'm looking

You the man Mark! I'm looking forward to all the made-up, fictional stories that you are going to share with everyone haha. I'm just kidding. This is going to be an awesome medium for you to show off your knowledge of western hunting. I am really looking forward to it. I think there are a lot of people on this forum that really look to you to show them the way. This is the perfect opportunity to show them how to do it for themselves rather than babying them through the process and just giving them the easy answers. Good luck on your deer hunt this weekend buddy. I hope you get a brute.