A Call to Become a Traveling Hunter
By Will Bowen | PUBLISHED August 17th, 2023
There will always be a hundred reasons to not go on that out-of-state of hunt. “Money is tight, no available vacation time at work, my family needs me.” Trust me, I get it. This might be the absolute reality for some of you, but I have a feeling that most of you aren’t in that boat. You say money is tight, start putting a little back with a goal year in mind. You say you have no available vacation time, set some aside for future seasons or just go on a shorter hunt. You say your family needs you, take them with you! There is always a way to make something work. If it’s always been your dream to become a traveling hunter, it’s worth finding a way.
I have been fortunate enough to go to some new and exciting places over the last few years to hunt, and I have many more on the docket for future years. But there was definitely a time where I was using the previous excuses, albeit they were valid. Being a broke graduate school student didn’t exactly leave me the time or money to travel. So, I did what everybody should do in that situation: research and plan. I knew that once I graduated and secured a job that I would have more money and possibly more time to make these hunts a possibility. It can happen, you just need to be patient and be ready to pounce on the opportunity once its available.
This is a call for you to become a traveling hunter or at least go on your first over-the-road hunting trip. You’ll grow as a hunter and an outdoorsman all the while getting to experience new places and new game. Now that I’ve brought the idea to your attention, let me help you figure out to make it happen.
Start Small and Work Your Way Up
Time is already running low to plan anything major for this fall and I think it’s wise to just dip your toes in the water when it comes to this traveling hunting thing. A 12-day elk trip to Wyoming might not be the best place to start. While that does sound amazing, there is a lot to learn about traveling and logistics before you can achieve the most out of that hunt. I recommend starting with a 4 or 5 day turkey hunt or whitetail hunt in a neighboring state.
My first time trekking away from my home state of Arkansas was a spring turkey hunting trip to Kansas. I made a lot of mistakes on that trip, but fortunately due to low costs and cheaper travel fees, I was able to turn those instances into lessons. Since that time, I’ve used what I’ve learned about traveling to go to several other states including Oklahoma and New Mexico. Start small and work your way up. Learn how to travel and hunt efficiently.
Explore Your Wants and Set Your Goals
So where do you want to go and what do you want to hunt? There are so many different answers to that question. Options are nearly endless. Maybe you want to head out west and tackle big game, maybe you want to accomplish your Wild Turkey Grand Slam, or maybe you just want to be a roaming whitetail hunter. Whatever your desires, you have to sit down and start setting goals.
I’ve had the goal of going out west for some time and last year I was able to make it a reality. After nearly two years of research and some outside help from contacts out west, I was able to secure a New Mexico mule deer tag. Mule deer had always been my dream but I had to set goals and do the mental work to make it possibility. It might be a year or two before you get to make you trip so you need to decide this: what do you want to do? Start by figuring that out.
Figure Your Logistics
Hopefully after a little bit of time and research you have come down on an idea for your first out-of-state hunt. Well now it’s time to do the leg work and turn an idea into a possibility. You have to figure things like budget, license costs/availability, available hunting land, lodging options, laws regarding transport of game, and much more. This can be a tedious task, especially if you try to cover every detail, which is something I would encourage. It never fails, you won’t be a perfect planner on your first go around, but you will learn and be able to apply that knowledge to your next trip.
I like to center the whole process around where I will be hunting. This is always a good place to start. For example, when planning my Oklahoma turkey trip, I started with research on public land harvests. Then I studied maps of the areas that caught my eye. I then studied the laws involved with the area and found places to stay and fill up the gas tank. I describe it as a snowball. You have to start with a lead and then build from there. If a kind develops in the plan, peel it back and start over. Figuring your logistics early and efficiently can be the deciding factor between a high-quality hunt and a pretty crappy one.
If you only take away one piece of advice from this article, I want it to be this: start now! The longer you wait to get the ball rolling on your out-of-state hunting plans, the longer it will take to get in the woods. Start exploring your options, figuring your logistics, and don’t be afraid to dream a little. Trust me there is always a way, whether it’s a public land option, a shorter trip to a nearby state, or a minimalist camping setup. Like I said before, start now, figure it out, and enjoy it. Becoming a traveling hunter has been one the best decisions I’ve made in my outdoor life, I know it could be for you too.