Planning an Out of State Hunt Leave a reply

Nov 17, 2018 by Jason Brooks

Start Planning an Out of State Hunt

by Jason Brooks

With hunting season’s going strong in several western states it seems my Social Media pages are full of photos of friends and co-workers filling their tags. This is the time of year when hunters start thinking about extending their seasons or increasing success by hunting in a different state. Maybe it’s a new species that you have always wanted to hunt, or a different terrain, or just a chance at filling a tag. No matter what your reasons are there are a few things to consider when planning an out of state hunt. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Tom Nelson with a nice Montana buck-Tom Nelson

Have realistic expectations. The first thing you need to realize is that traveling a few hundred to a few thousand miles doesn’t mean you will get a record book buck or bull. For all of those success photos you see on the internet there are probably twice as many tags that go unfilled. When you start your research be sure to look at harvest statistics for the area you are thinking of hunting. This will let you know what the reality of filling a tag truly is.

Russ McClellan with his Idaho backcountry bull. Not all hunts end in a Boone & Crocket animal. Have realistic expectations on success.-Jason Brooks

Be sure to pick a place you can get to. Some hunts such as the wilderness areas in Wyoming require a guide, other places like Eastern Montana have extensive private lands. One of my favorite hunts is the backcountry of Idaho where you have to fly in by bush plane. And then there are the Rocky Mountains that climb to over 10,000 feet in places. Hauling a trailer over a mountain pass in October or November means taking it slow and be ready for snow. Not only do you have to research tags, licenses, seasons, game rules and such but also you need to know where there is public land, or how to access private lands and the travel routes on how to get there.

Learn and research where you can hunt so you don’t get locked out of an area when you arrive.-Jason Brooks

Save now for the trip. Out of state hunting is not cheap but if you know how much the trip will cost you then now is the time to start putting a few dollars away to make the trip a reality. One of my out of state hunts costs roughly $1,200 for a deer hunt. I get paid twice a month, so I put $50 a paycheck away and my yearly trip is paid for when it comes time to go. This also means maybe cutting back on a few luxury items, such as that morning latte at $5 a day. That’s $25 a work week and that means if I cut out my infamous Carmel Machiato I can go on a deer hunt in Idaho each year! Be sure to plan for extra’s such as an extended day or two in a motel due to bad weather, extra gas, flat tire fixes, etc.

Preparing and packing for a trip leads to success.-Jason Brooks

Start packing. Yes, actually figure out what gear it will take to go on your hunt and start packing it. This does a couple of things. You will figure out which gear needs replacing or repairing well before your trip begins. It also lets you know what new gear you might need such as crampon’s for boots, a better sleeping bag, a spotting scope, etc. This is really important if you are going to a backcountry area or hunting a species you’ve never hunted before. A few years ago while hunting in Idaho we found a group of elk. Having elk tags I made sure my cow call was handy in case we bumped the elk and I needed to stop them. My hunting partner didn’t have a $20 cow call even though he paid over $400 for his elk tag.

Go for hikes in the off season to be ready for your Out of State hunt.-Jason Brooks

Get in shape. Sure, we as hunters like to say we are ready for the hunt. Eating healthy organic meat and running on the treadmill a few days a week. But get your pack out and put some weight in it. Lace up the hunting boots and go for a hike. If you start to add a few extra workouts now by the time the hunt starts you will be ready for any terrain or extended days out hunting. I live at sea-level and there is no way for me to adjust for altitude but if I go out and do at least one hike a week at a higher elevation I have found that I can adjust much faster to the Idaho backcountry. By incorporating hiking with a heavy pack and wearing your hunting boots for an evening walk you are thinking about your hunt making it that much better when the time comes.

Rob Endsley with a buck he took on an out of state hunt.-Rob Endsley

Hunting a new state allows you to think about hunting all year. Planning it now will help you become more successful and it allows you to enjoy the trip. With all of those success photos on Social Media you can see where people are hunting, which states and maybe even which units or regions. Now is the time to ask them about their hunt and if they are willing to share you can get details you might otherwise miss a few months when you apply for the tags. I get excited about the next upcoming hunt and once the season’s close I am already planning for next fall. Hunting season has no “off season” it only has a “planning and preparing season” and the “hunt” season.


Jason Brooks

The Outdoor Line Field Editor

Jason Brooks Photography

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