Best Hunting in the Lower 48


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Freedom_fighter_in_IL
December 12, 2011, 05:53 PM
Having hunted all over the country for various critters, I'd like to get the opinions of you fine folks. What state, in the LOWER 48, would you guys consider to be the best ALL AROUND big game hunting state? Factor in species availability, I.E. numbers. Species versatility, I.E. different animals such as Elk, White Tail or Mule Deer, Moose, upland birds, small game. Open lands for hunter accessibility. And generous tag availability.

This is for someone that just came into a bit of money and would like to move somewhere with the best hunting availability and still be in proximity of towns and such so as the wife doesn't leave with half the money he just came in to which is why I left Alaska out :( which would be my number 1 pick. My pick, after having to subtract AK from the list, was Montana. They currently live here in Illinois close to me and hate it here almost as much as I do.

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broken6r
December 12, 2011, 07:33 PM
Montana has excellent variety, but our numbers have not been so great the last few years. If your friend moves here and buys land, PLEASE ask them to allow other hunters. Far too many people with money move here, buy up all the private land, and refuse to allow hunters on. Then, they complain to the FWP when the deer and elk destroy their fences, damage hunts ensue half the time, and herds get wiped out.

Here is my muley from 2007 http://imgur.com/sul1m
If you know where to go, you'll get into some righteously big ones, but you have to work for them. That buck took myself and a friend around 6.5 hours to drag out to the road, and is on the smaller end of what we run into every year.

**EDIT**
Also, http://fwp.mt.gov

garyh9900
December 12, 2011, 07:51 PM
Kentucky is a decent state for hunting opportunities. Our deer, turkey, waterfowl, and small game licenses are all over the counter. We have a good elk population but its currently through a tag lottery. There is plenty of public land to hunt on. No mulies, moose, or caribou however.

H&Hhunter
December 12, 2011, 08:08 PM
New Mexico,

Has mule deer, whitetail, and Coues Deer, outstanding elk hunting, outstanding pronghorn, desert and rocky mountain big horn,over the top good lion and bear hunting, turkey and predator hunting that is out of this world.

They also have free range exotics like no other state. Barabry sheep, Ibex and Oryx. There is also a little known yet huntable population of chamois in NM and some feral hogs in certain areas.

Tags are getting very difficult in the more desirable areas.

Colorado,

Highest elk populations by far than any other state, some of the finest mule deer in the world, some bruiser whitetails, moose, sheep, goat, pronghorn, very good bear and lion hunting, excellent predator hunting and believe it or not some exotics as well to include Barbary sheep in very limited numbers and feral hogs.

Elk tags range from over the counter to almost impossible to draw as are deer and antelope tags.

Colorado is IMO one of the top five best hunting states when we take variety and bio diversity into account in the lower 48.

These include New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho in no certain order.

I am not including Texas which has out of this world hunting as most of it is on private land and expensive to hunt. I am not including many fine hunting states in the Midwest and the East simply because they do not offer the full bag variety of these western states. Of course for deer hunting you simply can not compare a Colorado the midwest or Texas as they are the whitetail capitols of the world with liberal bag limits and much much higher population density.


So I guess the answer to the question is what kind of hunting is he after? Lots of states offer many great hunting opportunities.

Skyshot
December 12, 2011, 08:10 PM
well you said the magic word "MONEY". If you came into some money you have a lot more options. For us blue collar hunters, its becoming a rich mans sport. I'm still lucky I guess, I have a large National Forest area that I can hunt here in east Tennessee and some small private tracts from family and friends. We also like to hunt in Ohio since thier non-resident licenses are reasonalble. Used to hunt in Texas, New Mexico and Wyoming. Can't afford it anymore and a lot of the places I used to hunt get gobbled by outfitters or you have to apply for tags or you can't get permission. I can even find a decent lease in my home state let alone an out of state lease. Unless that is you got "MONEY" big money!

MCgunner
December 12, 2011, 08:16 PM
I think Texas has some of the best snow goose and duck hunting in the lower 48. I know where there is duck hunting to compare with anywhere in the western hemisphere, though the bag limits may be lower. This is on public land, but takes some getting to, long boat ride.

Yeah, we got hogs and deer. :D We also have some first rate bang up good dove hunting in this state. Great turkey hunting here, but I ain't got access nor the denero to buy the access, not worth what it costs to me IOW.

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
December 12, 2011, 08:59 PM
H&H, Tag availability with diversity is why I chose Montana. For residents, it is much easier to obtain tags in good areas for Elk, Deer, and Moose than New Mexico or Colorado. Not to mention Bison, Mountain Lion, Sheep, and various other critters.

I've taken him with me on several hunts over the years and he is particularly fond of Elk hunting and he absolutely LOVES rabbit hunting with me and my dogs. Like me, he just can't get over that beautiful music they make when on a hot trail. He never has gotten in to Archery despite all my attempts at getting him into it. But he has grown fond of large caliber handgun hunting and shooting. Good thing he's got money now cuzz even reloading for my .500 S&W was getting a bit expensive with him around! He likes the .44mag well enough, but the silly grin he gets when shooting my .500 is well worth the expense. Looks like a damn cheshire cat (or however you spell it).

H&Hhunter
December 12, 2011, 10:02 PM
If I could figure out how to make a living there I'd live in Montana too.

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
December 12, 2011, 10:42 PM
I know, seems the only jobs around there are for the lumber industry. Young mans work there! If he plays his cards right and invests properly and doesn't go all crazy buying a huge house and stuff, he will have enough to retire (he's the same age as I am,51) as long as he doesn't go on a huge buying spree. He currently does home remodeling and VERY good at custom cabinet work. May have some jobs out there for him.

sage5907
December 12, 2011, 10:54 PM
I think you need to consider a location that is centrally located so you can hunt in more than one state without travelling long distances. For example, if you lived in Montrose, Colorado you wouldn't be more than a days drive from anywhere in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. You could apply for tags in multiple states and find the best hunting in each. Makes good sense to me. BW

X-Rap
December 12, 2011, 10:56 PM
If I came into a bunch of money I would move to the midwest and hunt as many western states as I could NR. You don't realize how much you miss pheasant hunting or fishing well managed warm water fisheries until you don't have it. Fishing and small game are the day to day staples of the sportsman and IMO the west doesn't match the midwest for those. I have lived in NM & CO for 32 yrs and get back to IA and MN whenever I can.

303tom
December 13, 2011, 10:28 AM
I have taken game all over the lower 48, but I am going to have to say the best is right here at home.

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
December 13, 2011, 02:57 PM
Tom, while Missouri does have some fine white-tail and turkey hunting, it just doesn't have anything else in the big game families. I do like the deer hunting there though. No doubt about that at all!

T.R.
December 13, 2011, 05:38 PM
South Dakota has many big game animals:
- mule deer & whitetails
- pronghorn antelope
- bison
- elk
- mt. goat & bighorn sheep

South Dakota has much upland game:
- ringneck pheasant
- quail
- partridge
- rabbits
- squirrels

South Dakota has areas which are on major flyways:
- geese
- ducks

South Dakota has many turkeys; use of rifle is OK.

*NOTE: Its difficult to make a decent salary within the Black Hills Region plus winters are long and tough.

TR

Cob
December 13, 2011, 09:52 PM
I'll give some advice on places i have lived & hunted:

MS - Awesome whitetail deer hunting, and awesome duck hunting. MS offers some excellent turkey hunting for Eastern turkeys.
AL - Awesome whitetail deer hunting. actually had my best squirrel hunting and rabbit hunting in the state too.
North FL - OK, Whitetail deer hunting (though the deer are small), wilg hog hunting, and a few specialty hunts that you can get in on, including the Alligator hunt. , & there are a disgusting amount of "high fence" operations in the state that cater to exotics & "wild" game... not really hunting, but still fun, and i've had the opportuntity to assist with "game mgt" in some of the places, mainly on culling the herds. FL offers some Excellent turkey hunting for Eastern & Osceola turkeys.

I WOULD NOT move to any of the above mentioned states for hunting, I WOULD/DID move to FL for the Bikinis & the Fishing. The fishing & weather here in FL awesome though, with Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, offering some unique underwater hunting opportunites if you are into spear-fishing, or fishing...numerous lakes and swamps hold some fish, that make the offseason a bit more exciting.

I typically drive out west when i want to hunt though, and have hunted CO several consecutive years now for Elk & Pronghorn. have not gotten my tag for NM yet, still trying.

303tom
December 14, 2011, 12:16 PM
Tom, while Missouri does have some fine white-tail and turkey hunting, it just doesn't have anything else in the big game families. I do like the deer hunting there though. No doubt about that at all!
Everything else in the big game other than moose !

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
December 14, 2011, 12:46 PM
Everything else in the big game other than moose

????? Other than some exotics ranches what do they have other than deer, black bear, and turkey? No sheep, elk, bison, mountain lion, lope, wolf, or anything else that I can think of.

brnmuenchow
December 14, 2011, 01:12 PM
Wow, that's a hard one so I will just go ahead and be a little bias and say come on down to Texas! We got all sorts of critter's, not to mention a hog problem that needs some attention. (You can never have too much bacon.) :D

RevGeo
December 14, 2011, 01:30 PM
Not Idaho. The hunting here sucks. No jobs. You'll starve to death in the bitter cold. Nope, not Idaho for sure.:cool:

George

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
December 14, 2011, 01:35 PM
Not Idaho. The hunting here sucks. No jobs. You'll starve to death in the bitter cold. Nope, not Idaho for sure.

George

HA!!! Funny George!!!

claiborne
December 14, 2011, 01:43 PM
Not Idaho. The hunting here sucks. No jobs. You'll starve to death in the bitter cold. Nope, not Idaho for sure.

George


Ha, I have to agree, I will always regret the many, many, many, many, times I hunted, elk, deer, bear, antelope, pheasant, geese, ducks, quail, dove, coyote, rockchucks, rabbits, whistle pigs, (even shot moose, goats and sheep with a camera).
Yep, it sure did suck growing up in Idaho! :D

oneounceload
December 14, 2011, 01:47 PM
All good suggestions - I'll add one most folks do not think about - NV

Elk, mule deer, pronghorn, 3 kinds of quail, pheasant, turkey, blue, sharptail and ruffed grouse (Carson City area), Himalayan snowcock, chukar, sage grouse, ducks, geese, cotton tails and jacks, ground squirrels, rocky mountain bighorn, desert, nelson, hybrid species of sheep, mountain lion, black bear, mountain goat.

Live in northern Nevada and you are away from the ugliness of Vegas - close to the CA wine country, Lake Tahoe, the Sierras for trout fishing.

Also, NV has no state income tax

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
December 14, 2011, 01:47 PM
Wow, that's a hard one so I will just go ahead and be a little bias and say come on down to Texas! We got all sorts of critter's, not to mention a hog problem that needs some attention. (You can never have too much bacon.)

brnmuenchow (damn thats a strange ID), He has been to Texas with me on several hunting trips and, to be honest, he loved every time we went. But he has absolutely no desire to live there. Like me, he is not a big fan of the heat. Us big, old, fat guys have a bit of a problem with heat :) .

Honestly, H&H nailed it with his top five (and, as usual, we are thinking alike as they were my top five choices for him as well) but with Montana being my top pick simply for Tag availability to residents for choice hunting areas and also MOOSE! That's the only animal in the deer family on this continent I haven't had a chance to hunt simply because I have never drawn a tag and I am NOT paying $10,000 + for a "guided" hunt. Hell I'd be happy to take a nice fat cow moose (Antlers don't even make good soup). He moves to Montana, I'd have a good chance!!!! (selfish ass aint I :D )

brnmuenchow
December 14, 2011, 02:02 PM
Freedom_fighter_in_IL:
I love my home state but I only tolerate the heat, I don't exactly love it. If there was any one thing I wish Texas did not have would be that mixed with humidity! I love going anywhere there is a dry heat, especially on a hunt where I am not going to be miserable.:)
The only problem is that for some of us that live here in South Texas if it gets too cold for us anywhere else, and are not use to that I almost would rather sit in the lodge by the fire and drink instead of hunt! (So it goes both way's I am afraid.)

H&Hhunter
December 14, 2011, 03:17 PM
I'll add one most folks do not think about - NV

I am aware of Nevada and it's great hunting BUT............It's darn near impossible to draw a tag for any big game in that state. Which is why I didn't include it.

Nevada is a very cool state outside of Reno and Las Vegas that is. I hate Vegas with a passion and I rank the city of Reno just below the 7th ring of hell.;)

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
December 14, 2011, 03:36 PM
Nevada is a very cool state outside of Reno and Las Vegas that is. I hate Vegas with a passion and I rank the city of Reno just below the 7th ring of hell.

H&H you rank it with much more compassion than I. I can't stand either city. And you have about the same chance of drawing an Elk tag, even as a resident, in Nevada as you would in hitting the 7 million dollar slot!

d2wing
December 14, 2011, 04:11 PM
Not Minnesota either, same as Idaho, we have no Bear, Moose, Deer, Pheasants, Grouse, Prairie Chickens, Partridge, Coyotes, Rabbits, squirrels, Turkeys or Sharptail. Fish aren't biting It's cold and no jobs. No ducks or Geese either.
Outdoor life had an article a few months ago about just that topic. The spot near where I live was an error.

IdahoHombre
December 15, 2011, 04:38 PM
I agree with the other posts about Idaho. It stinks here. If you get bored hunting wolves here in the winter, the only other thing to do is to continually get skunked ice fishing for huge trout.

Davek1977
December 16, 2011, 05:18 AM
Having grown up in South Dakota, I can't imagine anywhere else being much better. I wish we had more big game opportunities, but our deer and upland game hunting borders on unreal at times, the Missouri offers much in the way of fishing for nearly species, and the population is low enough that its easy top spend a day afield without ever seeing another hunter. That being said, I hope everyone ignores me and continues to overlook SD for at least another 30-40 years....I'd hate to have happen to SD what has happened to Colorado and other western states in regards to the mass migrations from California and the politics that seem to migrate with the people. I'll hopefully be dead and gone before that happens....

BikerRN
December 22, 2011, 04:02 PM
Colorado, for a central location, and Montana would be my choices.

I'd probably opt for Colorado and look to hunt as a Non-Resident in the surrounding western states.

Biker

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
December 22, 2011, 04:13 PM
I think you need to consider a location that is centrally located so you can hunt in more than one state without travelling long distances. For example, if you lived in Montrose, Colorado you wouldn't be more than a days drive from anywhere in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. You could apply for tags in multiple states and find the best hunting in each. Makes good sense to me. BW

shooter, somehow I missed that most EXCELLENT suggestion. I probably got the email notice late at night and my brain just went by it. From what all he is saying, he really wants to buy a few hundred acres in an area where he could build a decent house, still be close enough to "civilization" to make the wife happy, yet still be able to hop on his horse and go hunting. But your suggestion does have some serious validity to it. Thank you all for the responses so far.

clattin
December 25, 2011, 11:31 AM
I'm surprised I haven't seen anyone really talk about Wyoming....that would be a dream place for me to live someday! Whitetail, mule deer, antelope, elk, moose, bear, upland, coyotes, fishing, turkeys.....seems like a paradise to me.

Chris

Freedom_fighter_in_IL
December 25, 2011, 04:05 PM
Clatten, from what I have heard, lately getting drawn for a resident for a decent area for Elk has been difficult the past few years in Wyoming. My information could be faulty and it's been a few years since I even applied the for a non-resident hunt there. Elk, Moose and White-tail would be his main objective hunting animals. To use his words about turkey hunting wouldn't be high road but I'll paraphrase, "Them stupid *** birds are too ******* easy to hunt even for a rookie like me". I sorta kinda haveta agree with him. They are pretty simple minded though when they get "call shy" they can be a little tricky but, for the most part, I don't think I ever had much problem taking the bird.

H&Hhunter
December 26, 2011, 12:15 AM
I'm surprised I haven't seen anyone really talk about Wyoming.

I love the wide open spaces and the hunting available in Wyoming. But you can have the friggin wind up there in the winter time. Frigid winter winds drives me nuts and that is what a huge chunk of Wyoming is all about.

That's why it didn't make my list and living where I do I can be anywhere in the state of Wyoming in under 8 hours drive time.

wyohome
December 26, 2011, 12:54 AM
The wind in Deaver, WY averages under 4 MPH, there are a lot of animals to hunt and good trapping as well.

H&Hhunter
December 26, 2011, 10:16 PM
The wind in Deaver, WY averages under 4 MPH, there are a lot of animals to hunt and good trapping as well.


Clear out your basement. I'm moving in!:)

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