Do Your Homework
After you identified what you will be hunting, and where, the real work begins. It is extremely important that you spend the time upfront understanding all of the various points of your hunt. Begin by gaining a full understanding of the local and federal laws. During this review of the regulations take notes.
When can I hunt this game animal in this area (seasons, hours, etc.)?
What are the local laws for accessing hunting land?
What are the clothing requirements (blaze orange, etc.) for this area?
What are the licensing requirements (preference points, tags, etc.) for this area?
What are the firearm requirements (archery only, rifle, etc.) for this area?
What are the requirements for managing my kill following the harvest (registration)?
In addition to understanding the regulatory laws, start to get to know the land. Spend time looking at topographical maps and get a feel for the terrain you will be hunting in. Additionally, spend time understanding common weather trends for the time in which you are hunting that specific location.
Reading this article likely means that you’ve reached a point in your life’s hunting journey where you are ready to venture outside of your comfort zone and start experiencing new challenges and memories. Although the thought of traveling to remote ends of the world sounds sensational to most hunters, few new to hunting travel fully understand the amount of pre-work that needs to go into having a successful and safe hunting adventure. Your upfront planning will save you many headaches down the road, so below are some tips to help you in planning for your upcoming hunting trip.
The most important first step is narrowing down and identifying what you would like to hunt and where. On the surface this might seem very simple, but as you get further into the details you’ll quickly see how many options are available. Picking what animal to pursue will simply be a choice of preference. The more difficult question to answer will be where to go on the hunt. Most game species can be hunted in a number of different regions and within those regions in a number of different hunting grounds.
To help in narrowing down the best location for you to hunt, start by answer these couple questions and investigating a more about the various areas of interest.
What is my budget for this hunt?
How will I travel to the destination?
Evaluate hunting success rates in various regions.
Evaluate success rates and preference point requirements for various regions.
If you are struggling in identifying a specific hunting area don’t be afraid to get on the phone with local government wildlife agencies. In most cases you will find educated local biologists who can help point you in the direction of the right area that makes the most sense for you (lots of public land, high harvest rates, migration locations based on time of year, etc.)
Remember that in addition to basic travel requirements, such as having a passport to travel internationally, you may need to travel with firearms through airports, register your firearms with the country you’re traveling into, and in some cases get appropriate vaccines for the region.
Find the Right Guide / Outfitter
Although most hunts and locations do not require a non-resident to be paired with a hunting professional, using a quality guide or outfitter will almost certainly increase your odds of harvesting the trophy you are after. When looking for the right fit for you do not simply base your decision on price. Remember that like with most things you get what you pay for. Here are some additional points of consideration to calculate into your selection.
Reputation – With today’s easy access to digital information read up online using recommendations, reviews, Q&A blogs,
social media sites to help find a list of trusted and reputable businesses. Number of years in business can be a good
indicator of business value, but keep in mind that these businesses often change hands and what was great (or bad) a
decade ago might be totally different today.
When you’ve narrowed your selection down to a couple of options get on the phone and talk to them. Question their track
records, common issues that hunters experience, accommodations, physical needs and readiness, and much more.
Packages – Get a full understanding of what specifically your hunting package includes. We’ve heard a number of horror
stories over the years of elk hunters being dropped on the side of a mountain with a tent, food, and spot, but no idea how to
hunt elk and no guide. Or, the bear hunter that is given a boat and pointed in the direction of a bait station. In some
circumstances these types of hunts are perfect for the hunter who is ready to take them on, but if you come expecting one
thing and get another it can make for a tough and potentially painful experience.
Side Note: If you have never been to a hunting camp keep an open mind and be prepared for each camp to be unique. The quality of camp life can drastically vary from outfitter to outfitter and if you have specific comfort needs make sure these are clearly discussed with the outfitter prior to showing up at camp.
Get In Shape
Being conditioned for the environment you will be hunting in will greatly increase your ability to endure the conditions and travel further, adding to your chances of harvesting a trophy of your lifetime. If you are just starting your conditioning start by walking on flat land for a couple miles per day. After a few weeks increase the workout demands by moving away from flat roads and into the hills. There is no better way to get ready for going up and down hill, then to physically get out there and do just that. Once you are able to hike distances over hills add some weight. Wear a backpack loaded down with 20-40 pounds and this will help you develop the key muscles needed to match the cardio you’ve been working on.
Pack the Right Gear
Many hunts, especially those involving flights or horseback, will limit the amount of gear you can bring along. This is not only important to ensure safe travels, but also remember that what you bring you will need to carry. This will force some discipline in balancing and selecting gear that is important to your trip. Each hunt is different, however doing your homework will help you in selecting clothing, boots, safety equipment, and much more. Depending on your hunt we recommend considering the following gear. If you’ve opted to use a hunting guide and / or outfitter they will typically provide you with a list of recommended gear.
Clothing: Boots, Rain Gear, Cold Weather Gear, Blaze Orange, Camo
Camp: Sleeping Bag, Shelter, Cooking Gear, Water Purification, Food
Safety: Tree Harness, GPS, Cell Phone, Fire Starter, Survival Saw/Knife, Compass, Maps, Flashlights
Hunting: Firearm, Ammunition, Knife, License(s), Regulations, Binoculars, Calls, Scents
Other: Camera (Don’t forget to capture the memories to share with others)
Have a Plan for After the Harvest
As an ethical sportsman you need to make sure you have a clearly laid out plan for how to manage your animal, following a successful hunt. Remember that you will likely be in a new environment and might not have immediate access to a meat processor or freezers. Walk through the post hunt and map out things like:
How do I clean, quarter, and transport my meat in the field?
How do I store my meat to ensure it stays fresh?
Is there a meat processor nearby that can process and ship my meat?
Do I need to declare my harvest with the local government for transport?
What special considerations do I need to take for transporting non-meat items (antlers)?
Do I need to do anything special with the harvest tag?
Hopefully these tips will help you as you begin to plan your hunt. The more time you spend during the planning will result in the more time you have to sit back and enjoy your hunt.