Plan Your Next Big-Game Hunt Now
Hunting has never been called easy by anyone who actually knows what they’re talking about. If you’re what we like to call a “gentleman hunter,” meaning you only hunt afternoon green fields during the whitetail rifle season, that’s fine and dandy, but it certainly won’t help you in the expansive west. Most of us are of the weekend warrior variety and simply can’t spend weeks scouting, camping and hunting. And that’s fine. We just have to use our time wisely by only procuring good guides and outfitters through proper research.
Some years back, in college, we regarded that word like nails on a chalkboard. While it may have saved someone money back then by not flunking, we can say for certain that today it’s the only way to get the most enjoyment out of your hunt. If you’re adamant about public land DIY hunts, that’s fine. But if you’re venturing into unchartered territory, why not hire a guide for at least the first time?
The point of going on a hunt of this magnitude is for nothing else than to please yourself. Don’t worry about the way that anyone else hunts or thinks. If you come across a reputable outfitter that has a near perfect harvest record yet doesn’t fit the criteria for the type of hunter you are, pass. There are plenty more of them out there.
Know Your Goals
Ask yourself, “What outcome would I like to see at the end of this hunt?” If you’re point is to kill anything within the legal limits, it shouldn’t be hard to find an outfit that’ll make it happen. If the term “Boone & Crockett” needs to somehow work its way into the story you tell later, that is certainly a possibility.
Set A Budget
Big-game hunts are expensive. This is not meant to deter anyone from doing it because, most times, the experience is worth every dollar. Consider the cost by adding non-resident license fees, outfitter fees, tips for the guide, airfare (including checked bags), costs of taxidermy and shipping meat, possible hotel stays, depending on travel; and incidentals.
There are some very reputable booking agents available that can connect you with the right outfitter. Going through organizations like the Boone & Crockett Club, National Rifle Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, etc., will ensure the reputation of a guide service or booking agent.
To get the most enjoyment out of your hunt, be prepared. If you’re going on a seven-day pack hunt for elk in the Rocky Mountains, get ready to ride a horse, hike at high altitude and make long shots. If it’s a hunt for antelope on the Wyoming prairie, practice every imaginable scenario that may arise. Purchase the right gear for rain, snow or sunshine. There are some fantastic hunting apparel companies on the market that make speciality clothes for hunts in all weather conditions.
Be meticulous before money changes hands. Once you’re booked, and you know it’s going to be a good relationship, then you can relax. We’ve said it before and we’ll use the word again, enjoy the hunt. That’s why we do it.