Getting out of your comfort zone is important for improving your skills as a hunter, and the best way to push yourself is a destination hunt. You’ll have the opportunity to go after species you’ve never considered before, and in an environment you’re unfamiliar with.
Below are some of the country’s most exciting hunting grounds; if you’re nervous about trying something new, book a trip with an experienced guide who can give you tips, help you track animals, and show you where to position yourself to successfully fill your tag.
African Beasts in Texas
The Lonestar State is one of the most popular places for wild game hunting in the U.S. Its unique regulations permit the hunting of exotic game on private ranches year round, making it one of the country’s most diverse hunting destinations. The climate in Texas Hill Country is also hospitable to many African species. For those seeking species that are native to North America, whitetail deer, bison, and elk hunts are also available.
Boars in Tennessee
Wealthy sportsmen introduced the wild boar to Tennessee’s forests around the turn of the 20th century. It didn’t take long for the population to bloom, and they quickly became an invasive species. Known for their aggressive temperament, boars can cause extensive damage to the habitats of native wildlife and crops grown nearby. Fortunately, they’re an exciting species to hunt, and a number of ranches provide this opportunity at a reasonable price. For under a thousand dollars, you can get a tag, lodging, guides, and dogs to assist you in tracking them.
Ducks in Louisiana
This state may be better known for the raucous parties in New Orleans, but it also has some prime waterfowl hunting grounds. The large southern bayou region is home to numerous ducks that migrate along the Mississippi Flyway.
Mountain Lions in Montana
Montana’s deer, elk, and bighorn sheep season ends in November, but for those looking for some exciting winter action, nothing beats a mountain lion hunt through the snowy mountains of the state. The season lasts from December to February, and tags cost $320 for out-of-state residents. However, this animal is elusive and your chances for a successful hunt will be much higher with a professional guide. A week long, all-inclusive trip can cost over $5000, but it’s an experience you’ll remember for a lifetime.
Lynxes in Alaska
With wide-open spaces and plenty of wildlife, Alaska is a hunter’s paradise. It’s the sort of place that many dream of but few can afford, due to the high costs of transportation and guides. However, if you’ve got the patience and the ability to use a call correctly, lynx hunting can be an incredibly rewarding pursuit as this is a challenging predator to hunt. An Alaska hunting license costs $160, and you’re allowed to harvest two lynxes per year.
Whitetails in North Carolina
Whitetail hunting season ends in November in many states, but the warmer climate of North Carolina’s coastal and Piedmont regions allows for one of the longest rifle hunting seasons in the country, extending from September 1st to New Year’s Day. This makes the state an excellent place to visit once your home state’s hunting season has ended. North Carolina also offers ten-day non-resident licenses for $150, making it quite an affordable place for a destination hunt.
Elk in Wyoming
If you’re looking for wide-open spaces but can’t make it all the way to Alaska, Wyoming might be the next best thing. The snowy plains and the craggy northwest corner are both excellent places to find elk when winter rolls around. Rifle season goes from October 15th to January 31st, and licenses cost just under $600. Getting a license requires entering a lottery in advance, though, so be sure to plan ahead.
Bison in North Dakota
Nothing represents the spirit of this country quite like the North American Bison. Two hundred years ago, these animals covered the Great Plains and provided sustenance to its indigenous inhabitants. Now, they’re much fewer in number, but private ranches in North Dakota can still provide some truly exciting hunts of this regal animal.
Antelope in Oklahoma
This speedy Pronghorn is one of the most exciting species to hunt, and Oklahoma actually has two seasons for it: one for two weeks in mid-September and the other for six weeks from the beginning of December to mid-January. Both are part of the state’s permit drawing program, so you’ll need to apply in advance. If you live in a northern state and are looking for a second chance to fill an antelope tag, Oklahoma is the place to do it.
Having a Successful Hunt
While these are some of the most exciting places to hunt, good hunting can be found in almost every state. Some definitely have more opportunities than others, but with some time and a little bit of planning, almost everywhere has something to enjoy.
As regulations vary significantly among states, you’ll always want to do extensive research before applying for a tag or booking with an outfitter. Even if the guide says they’ll take care of everything, you should try to learn as much as possible. After all, the goal is to become a better hunter, not just to take a vacation.
Adam Metts is an outdoor, ranch and hunting guru. He is the lead guide and liason at the Lazy J Ranch. He is an expert in both native and exotic hunting species as well as conservation.