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Self Guided hunts out west

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by gspn, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. gspn

    gspn Well-Known Member

    I was watching an episode of Meat Eater last week and it really got me wondering if a self guided hunt is possible. In the episode I saw he floated down a river in the Missouri Breaks region of Montana, camped on the river, and hunted Mule Deer. It REALLY looked like a fun adventure.

    In my case I wouldn't be able to scout any areas ahead of time. If I could even get a tag I'd have to do all my research online, then drive from TN to where ever it was I'd be hunting. It's easy to get excited by the highlights of the adventure...but I also try to stay grounded in reality...hunting a new place for a new species with no scouting time isn't a recipe for success.

    Who has done it? Who has gone on a self guided trip to a brand new area, camped in the back country and had an adventure. If so were you successful in bagging your target species?
  2. wyohome

    wyohome Well-Known Member

    That might be a cause for 2 trips. Maybe come out for a week or so in the summer or fall, float, camp, scout and fish. Then decide if it is something you would want to do the following year during season.
  3. jmr40

    jmr40 Well-Known Member

    People do similar stuff quite often. Not always on a float trip, but there are folks around here who do self guided hunts in Western states every year. I have a BIL who elk hunts in Colorado every 3 years. He applies for a license every year, but just buys one every 3rd year. You accumulate preference points this way. 3 points is enough to get him into a good area. You can just show up and buy elk tags in over 1/2 the state, but the good areas require little patience.

    In 2010 another BIL and I hooked up with 4 other guys who make a regular trip to Colorado. These guys wanted to deer hunt so we applied for a license in 2 different areas and got our 2nd choice. Doing it on our own required a lot of work. Moving all the camping gear 1800 miles each way and crossing the Rockies both ways during snow storms was a challenge, but was just a big part of the trip.

    The 4 guys we went with had hunted the area before, so that was a huge help. Unfortunately there were simply very few deer in our area that year. It happens. One of our group paid for an over the counter elk tag too. We saw elk by the thousands, but all on private property, or on the opposite of the road that was in a different game management unit we didn't have tags for. Almost as many deer, but in the same places. My BIL was the only one of the 6 to take a deer. A small forkhorn.

    I had planned on going back this Fall, but the guy going with me backed out. It is just too expensive for me to do alone. Having 2-3 guys to split the travel/food costs really helps. I have another trip planned again for next Fall. I'd ask around in your area. I'd bet there are others near you that do this and would be willing to have another to help share costs.


    A video from the area we hunted. I found this posted online, not my video. The road is the boundary of the area we hunted in 2010. I don't know if the guy in this video is headed north or south, but the area we hunted was on the East side of the road. These elk are all either leaving, or entering the unit I hunted. We saw similar herds in 2010, but all in places where we couldn't hunt.

  4. Outlaw Man

    Outlaw Man Well-Known Member

    Wow! That looks like an awesome hunt! That second picture - I bet the view in real life is breathtaking.

    I agree with the idea of two trips. That's exactly how I'd do it if I could afford to.
  5. Patocazador

    Patocazador Well-Known Member

    When hunting or fishing a new area far from home, it's always best to book a hunt or fishing trip with a local guide so that you can learn the ropes in that general area. It would be unethical to come back later and do-it-yourself in the same place as the guide hunts but an adjacent area would be fine. Most of your questions would be answered by doing that. Also, your success ratio will be much higher than on your own.
    You can do it alone in a succeeding year and not wind up lost or in trouble. Allow plenty of extra time to scout and set up camp etc.
    Be prepared to deal with the carcass properly when successful. Find local meat lockers, dry ice sources, etc. before you leave.

    I have done it many times in the past and was successful about half the time.
  6. Vol46

    Vol46 Well-Known Member

    Do some internet research, & make some phone calls to the Fish & Game agencies. Out West, you should be able to identify BLM land and/ or privately owned ranches that will let you hunt for a reasonable fee. Find property & apply for tags in areas that have a good reputation for having good game populations. A friend or contact who lives in the State you want to hunt is a plus.
    I did a trip like this to Wyoming with four of my hunting buddies years ago & it was an unforgettable experience.
  7. jmr40

    jmr40 Well-Known Member

    To add to my previous post. My wife and I are retired teachers. Before retiring we made several camping trips all over the west during summers with our kids. Colorado has always been a prime spot for us because we can get there in 1 day's hard driving from GA. When my BIL went we drove 28 hours straight taking turns driving and sleeping. My wife and I have done the same. I was never able to go in the Fall hunting seasons until I retired, but plan on a trip very 2-3 years as long as my health holds up.

    Wyoming, Utah, and Montana are nice too, especially Yellowstone, but require another day's drive. Went all the way to Yellowstone once. Glad I went, but for general camping Colorado is hard to beat. We want to get to Glacier NP and into Canada one day. I have been getting a feel for different parts of the state and talking to local hunters on all of our trips. A summer family camping trip would be good for you and your family first.

    Going with a group really helps. I had planned going with one other guy in Oct. of this year, but when he backed out I figured on about $900 for gas. Not too bad split 2-3 ways, but more than I wanted to pay solo. Especially with $500 elk tags and other expenses. Wasn't crazy about a wilderness hunt 1800 miles from home solo either.

    Not to discourage you going to any other state, but Colorado offers more opportunities for out of state hunters, especially for elk on public land.

    Once you start narrowing down where you want to hunt there are lots of good resources. With google earth you can get great views of possible areas.
  8. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Well-Known Member

    I did it on my very first elk hunt in Colorado. We hired an outfitter for a "drop camp" which means he loads our stuff on horses, packs us in 12 miles, drops us and our stuff off in the San Juan Wilderness area and says "I'll come check on y'all in a few days".

    I hunted like I hunt any new place; sit somewhere that I can see lots of country where game is likely to feed. It worked and I got a bull.

    Fast forward 15 or so years to New Mexico. Same thing except now we have our own horses. Ride a couple of hours into the mountains, find an open area where elk are bound to feed and sit. Got another bull.

    It isn't always that easy, but it's worked for me more often than not.

  9. MrMarty51

    MrMarty51 Well-Known Member

    Here is a website that could get You on a start.
    Also check out the "Block Management" area too.
    Usually, the guide services uses every resource available for You to bag a critter, using guvernment lands and usually has hunting rights leased up to keep anyone else off of that farm or ranch.
    A lot of government land to hunt in Montana and Wyoming too.
    Nice on the pics. too by the ways.
  10. T.R.

    T.R. Well-Known Member

    My Dad and I started hunting in western South Dakota in 1994 for mulies and antelope. Here is some good info for you.

    For deer hunting, we stay at a furnished cabin in Rapid City named Canyon Lake Campgrounds. We hunt within the vast Black Hills National Forest. Maps available from USDA. Best places for mulies are near older forest fire burn sites. We've had excellent luck using this method to locate such hot spots. A few phone calls with Federal forest rangers will yield good info.

    For antelope hunting the BEST areas are private lands leased by Game Commission for public hunting. They publish a book of detailed maps each year called the Walk In Atlas. We've had best luck within western portions of Butte and Harding Counties.

    I suggest a good pair of binoculars such as Bushnell 10X and an accurate rifle such as .308, 270, or .243. But Dad always had great success with his antique 300 Savage rifle. Shots for mulies tend to be 100 yards to 175 yards. Shots for antelope tend to be 275 yards or a bit farther.

    Good hunting to you!
  11. elktrout

    elktrout Well-Known Member

    You need to remember that while Rinella is probably the best at portraying the difficulties in his hunts, it is still a television show. Hunting the west is usually the most physically demanding trip you will take. The best hunting is far off the beaten path and miles from the nearest road. It is also far from the four wheelers running back and forth on open access roads. It is usually at 7000 feet altitude or higher, which will tax you physically even if you come here in good shape.

    Don't be discouraged, but you must account for all the difficulties that you will face on your own. Colorado Parks and Wildlife has numerous helpful resources for planning your trip as well as plenty of information identifying the obstacles you will likely encounter on your path to success.

    Finally, remember that even a deer is nearly impossible to simply drag out of the mountains here. You will have to know how to quarter animals and pack them out. The work really begins once you get the animal down. Good luck.
  12. Ankeny

    Ankeny Well-Known Member

    Depends. If you can get the access, the best hunting is not very physical at all. More and more trophy game is coming from transition areas between agricultural land and public lands.

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