Karmik Blogs

What should I put a Karmik decal on?

We hear it all the time….

  • “What do I put a Karmik decal on.”
  • “I cant think of anything to put a decal on.”
  • “I don’t have anything worth protecting.”
  • “I don’t buy expensive gear.”

At Karmik we believe you DO have items worth protecting. As you think about your outdoor or personal gear, try to consider these factors.

Consider these:

COST: expensive items- If something is prohibitively expensive to replace it needs a decal. If it stores a lot of gear (packs and Cases), thus being expensive, it needs a decal. Examples: Spotting Scopes with a tripod. That setup is over $7000 and although it might be hard to lose, it’s worth the cost of Karmik’s lost and found Service, just in case. We like to say our decals have a 2X value. They protect your original purchase price and prevent the need for a repurchase. 

LOSE-ABILITY: Small and portable does not mean inexpensive or non-valuable. However, small and portable DOES equate to easily being lost. If gear is small and portable it might deserve a decal based on that fact alone. Nalgenes or HydroFlask are portable by design and are lost ALL THE TIME! They are not that expensive nor do they often carry sentimental value. But if you don’t want to buy them over and over for yourself or your kids, you should get a decal. Trekking poles are lost quite frequently. You see them at trailheads all the time. Depending on the size of the item our Karmik Anywhere decal is your go to solution. 

SENTIMENTAL: This goes without explanation, somethings are irreplaceable. As outdoor folk we can get attached to our favorite gear and we can have fond memories as we use gear. Also, if someone we are attached to gave us something, that item is automatically irreplaceable. I have a Karmik decal on my Buck knife that my father gave me before my first deer hunt. I can’t get another one, ever; thus, I can’t lose it. Please, do not forget to protect your irreplaceable items. 

If an item is firmly in one of those categories above it MAY warrant a Karmik decal. If an item you posses overlaps with two of them, it SHOULD have a decal. And finally, an item that is expensive, irreplaceable, and easily lost MUST have a decal.

1. COST & SENTIMENTAL: At a fly fishing expo I encountered a lady who stood back from the booth and gazed at Karmik, then came in and started to get teary eyed. She lost a net recently. This net was her brother’s and he gave it to her.  They loved fly fishing together. He passed away after a battle with cancer. Every time she would fish with it, she was reminded of him. It was their bond. She didn’t lose a $198 net, she lost a tangible memory of her late brother. That net might sway far more in the Sentimental value category but the price tag is still there to buy another. Imagine finding a net yourself. Would you be so excited to keep this high dollar item or would you want to return it. Now imagine finding her net and being able to read her story about that item. What lengths would you go to to get it back? A Karmik decal would allow you to see the sentimental value of the item and the ability to get it back.

2. The COST & LOSE-ABILITY overlap is a no brainer. Easily lost and expensive to replace; yep, put a Karmik decal on it. Maybe the most common lost item while hunting is a rangefinder. That is a small item that is easily misplaced in the woods. A single maple leaf can cover your $500 rangefinder! Air Pods are lost all the time. My Garmin In-Reach Mini is with me on pretty much any hunt or backpacking trip or solo adventure. It is small and expensive to replace. 

3. LOSE-ABILITY & SENTIMENTAL: items that are easily lost and sentimental need to be protected. My buddy has a discontinued Sage Fly Rod. He loves it. They don’t make it anymore and if he lost it he simply could not replace it. Fly rods are lost often.

The Trinity or Trifecta or Thrice Level of Importance (hmmm should TM that) you need a Karmik decal on those items. Admittedly, I don’t think I own something that is expensive, lose-able and sentimental. These items are rare and cherished and mean a lot to you. They would not mean the same to a finder. Think of your gear and if it fits in this area, you need a Karmik decal.

  • Robert, Founder of Karmik and clarity bringer.
Karmik Blogs

5 Reasons Why Your Fly Shop Should Start a Rental Program

If you own or manage a fly shop, you may have considered expanding your services beyond selling flies and fishing equipment. One lucrative opportunity worth exploring is starting a rental program. Here are five compelling reasons why this could be a great addition to your business:

  1. Save Time: By offering rental gear, you can save both your employees and customers valuable time and effort. If your shop manages its rentals using excel or worse notebooks or sticky notes you are wasting your employees time. Your rental program should provide a convenient solution, allowing employees and customers to get the gear they need quickly and hassle-free. Every wasted minute trying to book a rental, fulfill an order, looking for gear, shipping, checking an item back in, locating lost gear, etc is costing you money. Also, by making a simple process complicated your customers are bouncing. Let them book gear from the comfort of their homes.
  2. Make Money: A well-managed rental program can be a significant source of revenue for your fly shop. Outdoor enthusiasts are always looking for cost-effective ways to enjoy their hobbies, and renting equipment can be more affordable than buying it outright. This affordability can attract a wider customer base and generate a steady stream of income for your business.

It’s also a great way for people to test newly released gear before making the purchase. New fly fishing gear is expensive and gives people the opportunity to try a new Abel reel or Orvis H3 or Scientific Angler Line or whatever. You should always offer rentals and allow people to experience gear your shop offers. 

  1. Sell Used Gear: Over time, you’ll accumulate a collection of used gear from your rental program. This gear can be resold to customers who want to purchase equipment at a lower price point. This secondary market can become a profitable arm of your business, allowing you to recoup some of your initial investment in gear and increase overall sales. By using our system you have valuable data on when to sell something. If you want to continuously provide your customers with a high quality experience it is important to provide them with quality gear. Maybe you want to make a policy to sell after 100 rentals. You can easily sell your gear on our platform.  
  2. Collect Rental Data: Running a rental program gives you valuable insights into customer preferences and the most popular gear. You can use this data to fine-tune your inventory, ensuring you have the right equipment available at all times. Additionally, you can identify trends and plan marketing strategies based on what customers are renting most frequently.
  3. Protect Your Gear: Karmik Outdoors lost and found service is included. We have a 78% return rate within one day. Loss happens. People lose gear all the time, including guides. It hurts when it’s your gear! Yes, your customers or guides will have to pay to replace it, but maybe it comes back and they don’t. WIN WIN. We helped a fly shop (and guide) by recovering 3 Sage rental rods. When you sell your used rental gear, consumers can register for the service included at no additional cost.

In conclusion, starting a rental program for outdoor gear in your fly shop is a smart business move that can benefit both you and your customers. It saves time, makes money, creates opportunities to sell used gear, provides valuable rental data, and allows you to protect your gear investment. By offering this service, you’ll not only enhance your customers’ experience but also boost your shop’s profitability and long-term success.

  • Robert, Founder and Owner of Karmik Outdoors and dreamer of Win Win situations.
Karmik Blogs

MY Hunting and Fishing bucket list

Who makes a bucket list?

Photo by Tony Reid

As we embark on a new hunting season I am filled with optimism. I hope to accomplish so much in my life and with hunting and fishing being such an important part of my life naturally, I have goals in accordance with those passions.

A bucket list is a list of things you want to accomplish before you pass on. They are deeply personal and unique. Yet, in the hustle and bustle of our daily routines, it’s easy to lose sight of the incredible adventures waiting to be embraced. That’s why I love the idea of a bucket list to act as a collection of dreams, goals, and desires that serve as a roadmap to a life well-lived. Our unique bucket list(s) is a testament to our individual thirst for adventure. It’s not just a list of extravagant goals; it’s a declaration of our intent to make the most of every moment, to explore, to learn, and to grow. So, whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or someone seeking a little more excitement in your everyday life, let’s try to use this as a powerful tool for transformation and fulfillment. It’s time to unlock your inner explorer, one dream at a time.

Photo by pine watt

I do want to preface that this is MY LIST, and most of the time while fishing or hunting I am looking for contentment. Most days my soul is full when my wife catches a fish or I’m with a buddy who harvests game. It’s the adventure and camaraderie I’m after. So yes, some of these things might seem superficial and maybe a stroke to the ego but they are MY goals in no particular order. Maybe you are content reading 100 books a year and don’t need an adventurous bucket list and that’s fine. 

Below is my “realistic” bucket list. If someday I become a hundred millionaire my list will change but here are some of the things I want to accomplish within my current physical, mental and economic state. You might have accomplished things on my list that are laughable. That’s cool. This is my list; I would love to hear what is on your list.

Photo by Tobi


  • 5 pound bass (Personal Best now, about 1 pound)
  • Fishing Bristol Bay Salmon and Trout
  • Patagonia/Chile fly fishing adventure. I would love to catch trout and golden Dorado. 

Photo by Peter Conlan

  • Saltwater Gamefish on the fly. I live in a landlocked state. The ocean is foreign and exotic to me. 
  • Help my son catch his first fish
Fishing is important in our lives.
  • Help my second son catch his first fish
  • Help others to find a passion for fly fishing (on-going)
  • Maybe guide


  • Archery 350+ bull elk
Photo by Andrew Ly
  • Big deep forked mule deer 4 point. Score doesn’t matter much but 180 sounds good.  
  • Sheep, of any kind
  • Bull Moose
  • Mountain Goat
  • Help my sons harvest their first deer
  • Pheasants in the Midwest
Photo by Jack Seeds
  • Sharp-tail grouse
  • River-bottom whitetail

I guess the next thing to do is to prioritize and set a game plan for these. Researching where they are and how difficult it might be to attain sounds like a good place to start. I can certainly harvest some sharp-tail in a weekend. I have all summer and many lakes to try and get a big ol’ bass. But, moose or sheep, those might take some planning both financially and logistically. 

As I reach my mid-life I fear I have a lot left to accomplish. That is both invigorating and depressing at the same time. I am so optimistic that these items seem like a wonderful adventure and will happen. Realistically, I get depressed because if I am able to checking off one per year, which is highly unlikely, I will be approaching 50. Mentally and spiritually I can accomplish all of these things. Physically and financially, I hope for all of these. Tomorrow is not guaranteed and health should never be taken for granted. Financially, if you want something bad enough you can make it happen. But what if you want 15 things bad enough? Some things can happen now and some things can happen eventually and some may never happen, and that’s ok. That doesn’t mean my life was a failure. 

What’s on your bucket list? Do you have one? 

  • Robert Gillingham, Founder of Karmik Outdoors and Persistent Dreamer 
Karmik Blogs

The Results Are In: Alt Fly Fishing Magazine Tested Karmik

To read the full article it’s linked here.

Essentially, Ippy heard about Karmik and wanted to give it a test for the magazine and test his faith in the angling community. He reached out and we jumped on the opportunity.

We reached out our partners at Montana Fly Company (MFC), and they sent us about 20 fly boxes and some flies. We reached out to our local fly shop Anglers, and they donated a pile of flies. Seriously, like hundreds of flies. Big thanks to MFC and Anglers for helping us make this happen.

We filled the boxes and sent them to Ippy. He recorded the information like a true scientist then dropped them and we waited for results.

The return results were what we had expected but was definitely reassuring to have an independent test to prove our communities are good and want to return found items. One of the most profound things I discovered with this test was that people are good and inherently want to do the right thing. This is proven because even thought Karmik offers a 5-point return incentive for finders, nearly every finder refused the reward. Only once we explained it was a test and they can keep the fly boxes as a thank you, did they accept the box as a reward. Another finding I love is how connected our communities are. This was a fly fishing test and as such, fly fishermen knew the value of the boxes and wanted to return them. The same could be said with the snow sports communities as well as paddle sports and golf and photography. We need to give people the opportunity to do the right thing because they want to.

Simple drop test of full fly boxes from Alt Fishing Magazine.
Key Stats from the fly fishing box drop test.

Thanks for reading.

  • Robert, found of Karmik and humbled outdoorsman
Karmik Blogs Uncategorized

Why Does Karmik Use QR Codes?

Why QR codes

Think of a QR code as a url that you scan instead of type. It saves time and energy. ‘Scanners’ can be directed to the exact page they need to go to. Accuracy, simplicity and speed. The familiarity of QR codes has exploded in the past decade. Karmik uses QR codes for accuracy, simplicity and convenience. 

QR (Quick Response) codes are two-dimensional barcodes that can be read by a QR code scanner or a smartphone camera. They are useful for a variety of reasons:

QR codes take users to the correct url.
  1. Convenience: QR codes are very simple. QR codes can be scanned quickly and easily with a smartphone camera or a QR code scanner. This makes it easy to access information without having to type in a web address or search for the information manually. Every modern smartphone now has the ability to scan a QR code. Just open your phone’s camera and hover over the QR and a link will popup. Easy as that. QR codes no longer require a special app for you to download thus reducing the barrier for use.  

  1. Versatility: QR codes can be used for a wide range of purposes, such as directing users to a website, providing contact information, accessing coupons or promotions, or providing product information. QR codes allow for incredible accuracy and immediate changes. If you go to a restaurant and scan a QR code for a menu you can see the current price, pictures, happy hour specials etc. Historically, if you change the menu, specials, price, add or change meals you needed to print new menus and that gets expensive and cost prohibitive. Same with all businesses where prices can be volatile. QR codes allow you to keep everything exact. 
  2. Efficiency: QR codes can be used to store a large amount of information in a small space. This can be particularly useful for businesses or organizations that need to share information with their customers or clients. Karmik puts a QR on most of our decals simply for convenience. It takes our members – and finders – to the exact page they need to be at to complete the registration or return gear. We have gotten a few questions about fear from scanning random QR codes and getting a virus. If you’re walking down the street and you see a QR code printed on plain paper and stapled to the phone pole below a ‘lost kitty’ poster, I probably wouldn’t scan it. But if it’s a branded reputable company that you can clearly view their website and see who they are, then Ya, probably a very low risk.
Any large flat surface can fit a Karmik decal.
  1. Data: QR codes can also be used to track the effectiveness of marketing campaigns or measure customer engagement. By using unique QR codes for different campaigns or promotions, businesses can track which codes are being scanned and measure the success of each campaign. QR codes were for marketing purposes almost exclusively for a long time. But the tides are changing and many companies are using them for more aspects of business. They are on everything from fliers to scooters to surveys to menus that the average American has now been so exposed to, they get and trust them (sorta). 

Not all surfaces are eligible for a QR code. QR codes can not scan on bent surfaces very well and have a size restriction for most phones. Your handheld radios or GPS or fishing rod simply can’t have a QR code because of surface area restrictions. Karmik has the ‘Anywhere Decal’ for those applications and it’s the one decal in the lineup that doesn’t have a QR. 

Anywhere Decal
QR codes don’t work well on small or rounded objects.

Thanks for reading,

Robert, Founder at Karmik and simplicity seeker. 

Karmik Blogs

15 Earth Day Conservationists you should probably Thank!

Do you like Nature? 15 Conservationists you need Thank. 

Below is a quick write up of who they are, what they did, why you should care. If not for these people the world would be a much different place, most likely a terrible place. We are responsible for this planet and the flora and fauna of it. At Karmik Outdoors this is not something we give lip service to but actually make important decisions with that notion of responsibility at the top of our mind. The founder, Robert Gillingham is a lifelong outdoor enthusiast and has degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Biology. After college he spent many years in conservation sciences. It is our honor to bring this list to you. 

Here are 15 important conservationists who have made significant contributions to the field of conservation and to your life whether you know it or not.

1. Rachel Carson: American marine biologist and author of “Silent Spring” which sparked a national debate about the use of pesticides and led to the banning of DDT in the United States. It also inspired the formation of environmental organizations such as the Environmental Defense Fund and Greenpeace, and is credited with helping to launch the modern environmental movement.

Rachel Carson’s book helped us to realize the effects of bio-magnification of toxins in humans.

2. Aldo Leopold: American ecologist and author of “A Sand County Almanac,” which promoted the idea of “land ethics” and the importance of preserving wilderness. Heralded as the Father of “Modern Wildlife Management”.

Aldo was a true naturalist who wanted to help people understand nature and farming in a deeper way.

3. Jane Goodall: British primatologist and anthropologist who has spent her life studying and advocating for the conservation of chimpanzees and their habitats. Over the years, Goodall has also been a vocal advocate for animal welfare, conservation, and environmental sustainability.

Conservation of animals begins by conserving their habitat.

4. E.O. Wilson: American biologist and author who has advanced the field of biodiversity research and conservation biology. Very prominent ecologist (antman), biologist, entomologist sometimes called “Darwin’s protégé” and “Father of Biodiversity” through his many contributions to scientific research. 

His monikers are well deserved based on his scientific accolades. His life is full of amazing scientific accomplishments.

5. Wangari Maathai: Kenyan environmental and political activist. In 1977, Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an organization that focused on promoting environmental conservation, sustainable development, and women’s rights through planting trees, and providing education and resources to communities in Kenya. She was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, in recognition of her efforts to promote sustainable development, democracy, and peace.

“It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.” – Wangari Maathai

6. David Attenborough: British naturalist and broadcaster who has produced numerous documentaries on wildlife and the environment, and has been a vocal advocate for conservation. If you do some digging you will see he is not simply a TV personality or documentary narrator, but is a lifelong learner and advocate of the planet earth and the animals on it.

“It’s surely our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just for us, but for all life on Earth.” – David Attenborough

7. Jane Lubchenco: American marine ecologist and former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who has worked to promote sustainable fisheries and protect marine biodiversity.

The oceans are the controller of our climate and fate of our species. Over half of the human population relies on the ocean one way or another.

8. Sylvia Earle: American marine biologist and oceanographer who has spent her life exploring and studying the ocean, and advocating for its protection. Earle has made over 100 expeditions to explore and study the world’s oceans, including leading the first team of women aquanauts in 1970, and setting a record for the deepest solo dive in 1986. She has also served as the chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and has been a leader in the development of new technologies for ocean exploration and research.

Sylvia Earle is an absolute pioneer and leader in oceanic exploration and studies.

9. Dr. George Schaller: German-American biologist and conservationist who has worked to protect endangered species and their habitats, and has helped establish numerous protected areas around the world. He has spent more than six decades working to protect some of the world’s most endangered species including pandas, tiger, snow leopards, mountain gorillas and more as well as their habitats. He has played a key role in the development of modern conservation biology.

One of my personal conservation idols and real bad ass of a scientist.

10. Theodore Roosevelt: Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States and a passionate conservationist. He established the U.S. Forest Service and created numerous national parks, wildlife refuges, and monuments during his time in office. If you have been to one of our amazing National Parks, you have Mr. Roosevelt to thank for the opportunity.

“While my interest in natural history has added very little to my sum of achievement, it has added immeasurably to my sum of enjoyment in life.” – Theodore Roosevelt

11. John Muir: John Muir was a naturalist and writer who was instrumental in the creation of Yosemite National Park and the preservation of other wilderness areas in the western United States. He co-founded the Sierra Club, which is still a prominent environmental organization today.

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” – John Muir

12. John James Audubon: John James Audubon was an ornithologist and artist who is known for his detailed illustrations of North American birds. His work helped raise awareness of the importance of wildlife conservation.

Nearly every image or painting of Mr. Audubon shows a shotgun in his hand. Harvesting birds was critical to his understanding of ornithology.

13. William Temple Hornaday: William Temple Hornaday was a zoologist and conservationist who founded the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. He was also the first director of the New York Zoological Park (now known as the Bronx Zoo) and was an advocate for wildlife protection and habitat conservation.

“He who knows the wild animals of the world always travels among friends, and in every land he finds a welcome.” – William Temple Hornaday

14. Gaylord Nelson: Gaylord Nelson was a politician who served as a U.S. Senator and Governor of Wisconsin. He is perhaps best known for his role in founding Earth Day, an annual event that raises awareness about environmental issues.

Senator Nelson with JFK. “The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.” – Gaylord Nelson

15. Gifford Pinchot: Gifford Pinchot was a forester and conservationist who served as the first Chief of the United States Forest Service. He advocated for sustainable forestry practices and the conservation of natural resources for future generations.

“Unless we practice conservation, those who come after us will have to pay the price of misery, degradation and failure for the progress and prosperity of our day.” – Gifford Pinchot

16. Bonus Alfred Russell Wallace: The Charles Darwin you never heard of but really should give credit too. “Father of Biogeography” and critical to the foundation of evolution through natural selection. Discovered “Wallace’s Line” and potentially ‘speciation’ prior to Charles Darwin. His many voyages around the world discovering plants and animals are the foundation of modern natural sciences.

Someone I really admire. The amount of bravery it took to publish his work and findings is immense. “If this is not done, future ages will certainly look back upon us as a people so immersed in the pursuit of wealth as to be blind to higher considerations.” – Alfred Russel Wallace

These individuals, among many others, have made significant contributions to the conservation of the natural world and have inspired countless others to do the same. We are grateful for their contributions as we celebrate Earth Day and continue to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Now go outside.

– Robert Gillingham, Owner of Karmik Outdoors and lover of the outdoors.

Karmik Blogs

Does Karmik Work? Real Use Case (Testimonial)

Overwhelmingly the biggest reservation we have to customer adoption is “does it work” but often phrased in a more pessimistic tone more like, “Sure, it’s a great idea but no one is going to return something they found. They will just keep it and I’ll never see my XYZ again.”

We struggle with trying to fight this stigma. We simply can not guarantee that you will get your lost Sawyer Kayak paddle back. We can only guarantee that if you completed the simple registration process on then your gear is IDENTIFIABLE. Conversely,  we can guarantee that without any identification your gear is NOT returnable.

Sawyer x Karmik cobranded decal applied to a paddle.

Trying to convey that this program and our service works, and with it you have a 78-90% chance of a successful return is a difficult thing to convey. Here is a quick testimonial of a recent lost and found scenario from a lifelong fly fishermen named Rison. He purchased one of our MFC co-branded decals and activated his pre-paid decal.

Protect your flies and fly box with an MFC x Karmik prepaid decal.

Rison’s first sentence was this, “I received my fly box last week from Ian who wouldn’t even let me pay for the postage. A good man.” We believe that most people are good and want to do the right thing they just need the chance. Ian is not the exception to the rule, he is the massive average. Here is the rest of Rison’s story:

My name is Rison. I’m a  69 year old retiree and live in Chatham, in south central Virginia.
I attended the wedding of my nephew in Denver, Colorado in September which was my first time in Colorado. My brother-in-law and I managed to get a day free to fly fish. The day before, we went to the fly shop for some flies and advice. We got both and I also picked up a new fly box. That night, I was looking through all my flies accumulated in over 50 years of fishing. I decided to consolidate three smaller boxes into my new box. I saw the return service that came with the box and thought “what the hell” and registered it, doubting it would ever do any good.
The next day we headed out early and found the BLM campground area that was recommended to us. We suited up and my brother in law headed upstream while I tried the water near our car. I was using a borrowed four piece fiberglass rod. I fished for maybe an hour having no luck, I tried a weighted nymph. After awhile I decided to move. My fly was still in the water and when I tried to retrieve it, I was hung up. Not wanting to jerk on it with a borrowed rod, I reached for the line near the tip and broke about three inches off the tip! While fumbling around with that mess, I must have leaned over and the new fly box fell out of my vest! I was helpless and watched it float down the river thinking how smart I was to consolidate three boxes into one the previous night!
In my younger days, I would have cussed, fussed, stomped around, likely drowning. The older me smiled and thought how lucky I was to be standing in that beautiful part of the world. I retired to a picnic table and took in the fresh air and beautiful scenery. I never expected to see my fly box again.
I was absolutely floored when Karmik emailed me that my box was found much further downstream and the man, wanted to return it! I contacted Ian who refused any reward and mailed the box back to me! Unbelievable!
I want to publicly thank Ian and Karmik for this positive experience. I not only have my flies and box back but I have a renewed respect for mankind.
– Rison

Rison wanted to thank Ian with a reward and that is always appreciated and sometimes accepted by the finder. Karmik rewards the finder on behalf of all of our users to help ensure your gear comes back.

For businesses, Karmik service helps your product stand out. Rison stated that he is much more likely to purchase an item that has this service built in. If you are a business owner looking to help your product standout in a marketplace, here we are. At Outdoor Retailer (where we won Innovative Product of the Year) the two most common items were insulated bottles of some kind and backpacks or packs of some kind. They are all great products and have high quality construction or components so what makes them standout? Color, brand recognition and all the other marketing things, but what about outstanding and lasting service. Safety and security and standing behind your customer beyond the purchase. We can help with that.

Innovation Award for creating something new and exciting in the outdoor area.
  • Robert, Owner of Karmik Outdoors and wannabe cultivator of our collective fait in humanity.
Karmik Blogs

Hunting Application Helper

I am a resident of 1 state (you probably are too), as such we are non-residents of 49 other states. All states have unique hunting seasons and regulations and costs. It can be overwhelming looking at other states. Hell, it can be overwhelming in our resident state! If you want to hunt in another state, you have your work cut out for you. You need to start educating yourself about the options and deciding what basket(s) you want to put your eggs in. You need to learn what bonus points are, what preference points are as well as various unit/weapon/game draw odds. You have to learn Nevada’s application process and Utah’s application processes because they are not the same. It is not possible (for most of us) to apply for all the cool hunts in all the cool states. Simply put, it costs too much to apply for everything. Let’s start with the most basic question we need to ask ourselves “how much is this going to cost me”? 

The rewards of hunting big game are greater than simply tagging out.

Most of us are working folk. We have limited time and limited funds to hunt. But I think most of us want to hunt as much as we can and in really cool places chasing really cool game. With the popularity of Western big game hunting on the rise, I thought I would put together a simple spreadsheet for us dreamers to see “how much is this going to cost me”? 

Download Your Hunting Cost Tool Here

Enter your name and email below to receive your download.

Your download will be emailed to you ​shortly.

Most Western states have a combination of OTC and or applications to hunt big game. Typically, applications are for trophy units and offer better quality hunting opportunities. Trophy units and/or trophy game species are always draw hunts. I will clarify “quality hunts” as limited entry or drawing hunts in the various states which implies less people, which implies less pressure, which implies greater sightings of game, which implies a better chance at a more mature/trophy animal. These opportunities are not OTC and require a drawing application process. What states and units and species should you apply for?

Hunting and glassing area.
Western big game hunting takes you to beautiful places.

This Excel started because I could find all the points and odd calculators but I couldn’t find a simple “how much is this going to cost me” calculator that I could download and use. If I want bonus points for elk in Nevada, Montana and Utah, as well as mule deer points in Wyoming, Arizona and Colorado and bison/antelope/moose/goat/sheep points in various states and OTC tags in Idaho and Wyoming how much is it going to cost to hunt and apply for the tags that I know I wont get?

You can use this Excel to help research tags, costs, and other opportunities. How many points do I need to draw archery elk in Nevada on average? How many points do I need to hunt the Arizona strip for mule deer? Those are pretty easy figures to find. But how much does the state charge for an application, hunting license and point? If I have to buy a non-refundable annual hunting license, are there OTC opportunities or opportunities for other cool adventures? Do the hunting licenses come with fishing licenses? When are the application dates and deadlines of the states I want to hunt? When are the results and when will my credit card be charged?

Can you hunt other game if you have to buy a license for points?

These are all questions I had while looking up the application process. These are all questions you have to keep organized and update annually. 

In Nevada for example, if you want to hunt elk with a rifle, you will likely have to apply for 10 years or more. In Nevada, you have to buy a non-refundable annual license if you want to buy a bonus point for future applications. How much is a non-refundable license and bonus point for elk? Figure that out and multiply by 10 then add the cost of an elk tag. Are you willing to invest that much to hunt Nevada Elk? What about deer? If you are going to apply for elk, might as well apply for deer. Oh and while you’re at it, sheep!  These costs add up quickly and can really hit your checkbook… look up bison tags… you better have the funds for that! Anyway, “how much is this going to cost me” for one state for one species? How much is it for a second species in the state? If I have to buy a license can I hunt for other game? These are all questions you need to look at answering and my spreadsheet makes it easy to see visually. Because it is a living document you can save it and update it every year. Download one for yourself and each of your children.    

spotting scope and glassing from a tripod
Glassing big country for animals is critical to western big game.

First figure out a few basic questions for the state(s) you want to hunt: What states and species do you want to hunt in the next 10 years? How much are the licenses and are they refundable or not with points? Do you want points or do you want to hunt OTC? Can you have points and buy OTC tags concurrently? How much are application fees for the various species? Are there weird stipulations like Nevada where if you don’t apply for a few years you lose all your points? Use this spreadsheet to keep yourself organized.

Some steps or considerations:

Step 1: What animal(s) do you want to hunt the most. Rank them. Then add in the likelihood you will be able to hunt that animal using draw calculators. If it is unlikely you will hunt that animal, are there other opportunities in that great state? Could you chase chukar and huns with your dog? Chase trout in a beautiful mountain stream and look for mule deer while you build a point for Bighorn Sheep? 

Some states offer really great waterfowl or upland opportunities.

My animal hit list:

Moose – Bison – Mountain Goat – Archery Elk – Mule Deer – Sheep, in that order. It is very unlikely that I will draw any of those tags next year. I have to apply knowing I’m likely not hunting those animals.

Many people dream of harvesting a mule deer.

Step 2: What states have those critters and what are the odds you can hunt them? If you live in Florida do you want to drive through three/four states that have elk to hunt in Washington? If you have family in California and think you should apply to hunt elk in California as a non-resident, good luck. This is where a draw odds calculator can come in handy. If you are obsessed with sheep and want a North American Grand Slam then you have to apply for all the states that have sheep hunts and you’ll likely have to apply for a long time.  

My list:

To make it easier we’ll use bison. What states can I hunt wild-free range bison? There is Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, Arizona. Should I apply for all those states? Which states have the best draw odds or most opportunities? I would then focus on applying in those states. 

Nice views everywhere you look.

Step 3: What weapon do you want to use? Archery and muzzleloaders have better draw odds and longer seasons generally. Sometimes archery will have shoulder seasons after a rifle season. Sometimes you can hunt archery and if you’re not successful you can hunt rifle. Do you want to hunt an elk with archery or rifle?  

Archery Seasons are generally during rut hunts for Elk and Deer.

Step 4: Good, you have your species, state, weapon. Great. Now, what do you want from a hunt because it will guide what units to key in on? Do you want to hunt and don’t really care about trophy units or are you looking for the best units in each state for each animal? Do you want to hunt the strip for mule deer? Do you want to hunt the breaks for Elk? Those trophy hunts are hard to get. Are you ready to drop thousands of dollars over the next 10 years or more for that opportunity? 

Step 5: When do you want to hunt or when can you hunt. Those are huge factors. If you get 2 weeks off a year you need to be selective of your season. Some seasons are 10 days or less and you better be sure if you draw that hunt you can actually hunt it. 

Step 6: Are you running solo or doing a party hunt? If you are putting in as a group then everyone needs to be on the same page. Someone who has 6 points might not want to put in with a group of two other dudes with zero points. Points get averaged in a party hunt and thus might not be equitable for everyone in the group. But that is your pill to swallow. 

One of the end goals is to provide meat for your family.

Takeaway. I want to hunt Moose, Sheep, Goat, Bison, Archery Elk but the fact is I should have been putting in for them 15 + years ago. Who has that kind of forethought and money? If you have kids, now is the time to start applying for species in states. There are so many variables and after all, “how much is that going to cost me”?!?!

  • Robert, Owner of Karmik Outdoors and wannabe big game hunter/adventurer.

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Tips to be a Better Chukar Hunter (maybe)

Chukar season is starting – or has started- this month and we wanted to give you some tips on how to bag some devil birds. Maybe you have been out and want to be more successful in harvesting. They say the first time you go chukar hunting it’s for fun; all the rest are for revenge. Here are some tips to make your first, or every trip after, potentially more fun and successful. 

1. Start your hunt in the correct orientation. Late in the season I like to focus my hunting efforts on the south and west facing slopes. The mid-day afternoon sun burns snow off and leaves south and west facing slopes snow free for the birds to mill around. I like to start my hunt hiking from the East to the West if possible. This allows me to crest a ridge and surprise the birds rather than having them watch me peak a hill and watch me the entire time. 

Moving from E to W allows you to “surprise” the birds as you summit the ridge.

2. Use the cuts and canyons to “gain elevation”. As you enter into the cut, which is “uphill”, move into the canyon as deep as possible which will help you gain, or at least, not lose elevation. When you exit the canyon on the other side, you should have a nice elevation boost. 

Don’t go up and over. Instead go up and in the canyon.

3. Once I find birds I try to stay at that elevation. If my goal was to get to the top, I abandon that plan for a while and try to find more birds. People say birds move up and down to get water but I’ve found if I find a group of birds there are usually others at that level. If I don’t flush another group for a while I continue my plan to go to the top.

Follow fresh to tracks birds.

4. If you’re side hilling and it’s easy, you’re doing it wrong. You’re probably slowly losing elevation. Pick something 100 yards away and move toward it, being just uphill from it by the time you get to it. Again, side hilling is hard. Make it less sucky by staying even or gaining elevation rather than slowly going down hill.   

5. Observe what everyone else is doing and don’t do that thing. This is a fly fishing tactic I use all the time. Do non-traditional things. Try new stuff. Do an evening hunt in lieu of a morning hunt. Use waders and cross the creek. Use a canoe or boat to access a new piece of land. Hunt the hill that doesn’t have a quad trail. Look at #8 below and find a small public access honey hole.  

Always practice good safety and unload your gun and help each other cross safely.

6. Save a shell for the next bird. I have a 5 shell shotgun. I am nicer than most chukar hunters, I give 3 warning shots. I generally do not shoot 5 times. I like to save 2 for the late flushing bird or cripples. Sometimes when a group flushes there will be a late flush. It’s nice to save a round for the late bird or if I need to dispatch a cripple.

7. Hunt with Binos. I’ve glassed chukar on hills many times. Plus, while you’re out there you can look for sheds or ungulates to hunt during other seasons.  

You can use your binos to see where or if the birds landed.

8. Use your resources. OnX, GoHunt, Guzzler Books, State wildlife agencies, Google Earth. We have amazing tools. Let’s use them. You can and maybe should find water and cover and slopes and ridges that hold birds. Use your tools and download offline maps. You could even make a track and use that to hike in the dim light if needed. 

9. Get a dog. You will kill more birds, find more cripples, and have a better life. If you want a hunting dog to help kill chukar, get a hunting dog. We all have that friend that has a lab/heeler/shepherd mix that is a great dog. I’d rather know I’m getting a hunting dog from proven hunting lines than hope to get lucky buying a dog in the Wal-Mart parking lot. 

Beretta the Bearded Lady sporting her Karmik Anywhere decal on her collar.

10. Don’t get lazy. When my dog goes downhill, I’m reluctant to drop 200 feet and chase her. I know I should. I don’t know why I am often surprised when she goes on point. She has a great nose and instincts. I should just trust her and not get lazy. I have a good hunting buddy who is successful in all of his hunting efforts for all species. When I’m stuck or debating a situation, I think, “What would Joe do?” Then I do that thing and sometimes kill birds. That’s because he’s not doing the easy thing. He goes uphill, or downhill, or over the next ridge, or in the canyon. Don’t get lazy and you’ll kill more birds. 

11. Be quiet. You’re hunting. I hate whistles and bells and yelling. I don’t know if chukar can hear that or if they care. It makes me feel better when I’m hunting birds and we are quiet. I’m not sure it matters all that much for chukar, but I bet you see more game if you’re quiet. 

South and West facing slopes offer birds more food and water opportunities.

12. Open your choke. For years I shot a full choke. It’s not necessary. Now I use a modified and kill birds. 

13. Once you get back home, enjoy the fruits of your labor. Even if you didn’t bag any birds you earned a drink and good nights rest. If you did, do yourself a favor and look up some recipes. These birds are very delicious. 

Now I have birds to clean.

The best and worst thing you can say is “Now I have birds to clean.” The second best and worst thing you can say is “At least I don’t have birds to clean.” Either way, it was a pretty good day.

Well, there you have it. A few tips to help with killing some red legs. Do you have some tips you’ve picked up along the way? Maybe a few suggestions? Do you have a honey hole you want to share with me… [email protected]

Robert- Owner of Karmik Outdoors and wannabe upland guy. 

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Hunting Western Big Game: What gear you need and what you don’t. 


After the ‘Fly Fishing Gear’ blog post I figured the next is western big game need and don’t need list. 

Everyone loves talking about gear and researching gear and buying new gear but then reality hits with all the options and costs varying so much. If you’re just starting, here are my thoughts about what you need for western big game. The west is wild and can be 60 in the day and 20 at night. It can range from -20 in November to 50. That said, this is not an all encompassing list, rather, a general guideline. Even saying ‘western big game’ we need to classify that by saying deer-elk-antelope as this list will change between Alaska Dall Sheep or Wyoming Bison or Idaho Mountain Goat.   

I’m a smaller guy at 5’9” 150lbs and I’m cheap. I tend to focus on weight and cost as my two main points of concern. Obviously, the more you spend the lighter gear is, usually, so I have to find the right middle ground that fits me and my family. I am not a gear junkie and I do not geek out about researching brands and tech specs between object *most of the time*. There are some exceptions for me such as optics and weapons where I try to research as much as I can. Most everything else comes down to a cost and weight ratio that I need to be comfortable with. I always feel guilty buying things for myself because I have a family and not a lot of expendable income. All of these things occupy space in my mind when making a decision. 

This is my setup for rifle or archery hunting. It’s my setup for backpacking or car camping. It’s my setup for early season or late season (with some changes). It’s my setup for deer or elk or antelope (with some changes).   

My gear

Pack and in the pack:
  • Eberlestock Mainframe with add-ons: Vapor 5000 duffle, gun scabbard, upland hunting pouch 
  • Seat pad
  • Sawyer water filter. In line plugin filter
  • Trekking poles with duct tape
  • Bugle
  • First aid kit/Oh shit kit
    • Toilet Paper
    • Bandaids/moleskin
    • Petroleum jelly on cotton balls (fire starter and for cuts)
    • Wrap for sprain and strains
    • Tylenol and personal medication
    • 2 fire starting devices in a ziplock bag. Metal match and lighter.
    • Dry tinder and paper in ziplock bag
    • Aluminum blanket
    • Printed map of hunting area
  • Water bottles/bladder. 2L bladder and extra L water bottle 
  • InReach Mini
  • Portable charger and 3 chords for 3 devices
  • Food. Everything for a day in a ziplock bag except a dehydrated dinner. Bags are between 2300-2500 Cal 
  • Kill kit
    • Elk game bags
    • Flagging tape
    • 2 knives. One is a Havalon with 4 replaceable blades. The other is a fixed blade. 
    • Paracord

My backpack is secondhand from a buddy who was selling it. I upgraded the bag to the Vapor 5000 at an expo when they were on sale. I love the pack. It is very lightweight and modular and holds all my gear. Being a smaller guy having an adjustable pack is important for me to get the right fit, and this does. I have a really nice upland hunting pack that I take one of the shell pouches off. It attaches to the waist belt of my hunting pack for snacks, bugle tube and other gear. I like having snacks at the ready during a hike. It’s amazing how quickly a little piece of candy can give you a quick burst of energy for a push up a hill. 

Favorite piece of gear:

I hate needing to take my bladder out of my bag to refill it; so I got the quick connect in-line filter. The squeeze filter is really light weight, inexpensive, and fast.

The Gamin InReach mini is a game changer also. I would recommend some kind of satellite communication device if you have a family.  

Bino chest pack:

I love having my binos and rangefinder protected but quickly accessible. Not much to say here other than the chest pack was a thing I was hesitant to add but am happy I did. Elk calls and wind checkers are often in my pocket or in the pouch.

Favorite piece of gear:

Vortex rangefinder. It has angle adjustment and compensation which is a great feature to have. I cant imagine not having it with me for archery or rifle.   

Bow and carry:
  • Bow: Bowtech Carbon Knight
  • Arrows. I buy cheaper ones. Not the cheapest, maybe mid-grade. 
  • I shoot a Fletcher J-hook release
  • Broadheads (Muzzy and shuttle t-lock). Fixed blade. 

I love my bow. It is not the fastest or latest cool bow but it is light and shoots well. Hunting is hiking. You will go hiking, you might shoot your bow. You might hike for days and days, miles and miles, without ever shooting your bow. Having a weapon that is light and easy to carry is important for me given that fact. 

I first shot Shuttle t-lock broadheads. They were absolutely trash. One or two shots at a target and they were dull. They flew inconsistently and my confidence was very low with them. I switched to Muzzy. They stay sharp and fly great. Can’t ask for more.  

Favorite piece of gear:

My bow. I can and will change my arrows and veins and points, both broadhead and field points. My bow is light and shoots great. I feel very confident with it and that is the most important thing with a weapon. 

Gun and carry:
  • Gun- .270 WSM 
  • Sling. 
  • Scope- Leopold 3×9 
  • Scope Lens Cover.

I bought the gun and don’t love it. It is hard to find ammo and it is very expensive when I find it. I even got reloading supplies but even those are hard to come by sometimes. The bullet is fast and shoots very flat. But it’s loud and kicks pretty good. The scope is a used scope from a buddy and I like it but might upgrade. 

Favorite Piece of Gear:

None really. I might add a break to the muzzle and new scope or I might sell it and get something entirely different. I would absolutely recommend some kind of lense cover for rain or snow with any rifle. You can’t shoot at game you can’t see. 


I think clothing is worth the investment. I prefer material over patterns and I prefer quality over brands. I’d rather have a nice wool sweater from Kuhl than a camo hunting brand that costs more. The right clothing can make a hunt much more enjoyable and knowing how to layer is a great skill. You can use high quality outdoor brands and despite common beliefs you don’t need matching camo – you don’t need camo at all.

Favorite Piece of Gear:

This is a hard one. My bamboo shirts are my favorite piece of clothing for fishing, hiking, hunting, snowboarding or going to a movie. But having lightweight down jackets and pants for glassing are necessary. Rain gear is a must if you want to be comfortable. If I had to pick one thing I would pick my socks. Good high quality socks are so necessary for western hunting. If you’re climbing 1500 feet and hiking 5 miles or more you need to take care of your feet. I love them. 

Equipment I want to upgrade:

  • Binos. I have 8×42 and want another pair that are bigger. I am thinking 12 or 15 power binos. 
  • Boots. I’ve ran Asolo boots for a few years and they do just fine. I’m looking at Crispi boots. We both sponsor the same conservation groups and if I can spend my money to support a group that supports my interests I like to do that. 
  • Scope. If I keep my rifle I’ll upgrade my scope. A 3×9 scope is fine but there are soooo many great options out there for slightly better distance shooting. 
  • Game Bags (lighter is better). What I have is fine but there are bags that weigh half as much. Ounces equal pounds, pounds equal pain. 
  • Arrow tools to build and work on arrows. I love fly fishing and the intricacies and nuances of it. I love how deep you can get into entomology and tying your own bugs. Archery is a lot like that. You can go so deep as to make your own bow and arrows if you want. I like that I can make and fit arrows to me and my bow and I would enjoy that.