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.