For many of us, an out-of-state whitetail hunt is what we dream of all year. It’s that chance to finally see “the big one,” the opportunity to finally visit the Promised Land. And if planned properly, these trips can be all that we dreamed of and more. On the other hand, if things aren’t quite thought out, they can also be a spectacular waste of time, money, and energy.
That said, here are five easy ways to tank your next out-of-state deer hunt before you even start hunting. Please, please don’t follow any of these steps.
1. Don’t pay attention to the license process
When purchasing an out-of-state hunting license, the devil can be in the details. Often times there are lottery deadlines, necessary habitat stamps to buy, or zoning restrictions that, if glossed over, can lead to you having to change your plans or not being able to hunt at all. Before committing to a hunt, take the time to read over the hunting regulations and license details thoroughly. Plus, it’ll save you from breaking quirky regulations once you’re afield.
2. Ignore your maps
If you’re not a detail kind of guy/gal, maps may not be your thing. But ignore them at your own risk. Hunting in another state on relatively unfamiliar property is inherently challenging, especially when you have limited time. You can speed up that learning curve though by carefully studying maps. Use topos, satellite imagery and GIS maps to understand the layout and habitat diversity of the property, as well as where all relevant property lines are. And if you’re hunting public land, make sure to utilize state-provided online resources to identify and learn about those locations. Resources such as Powderhook.com can help as well.
3. Cancel your scouting trip
It’s tempting to want to cancel (or not even plan) an out-of-state scouting trip and avoid long working days in the scorching summer heat, but don’t do it. Those valuable days scouting a location on the ground, setting stands and hanging trail cameras can pay dividends when the hunting season actually opens. Don’t skip out on them. If you have to shorten your actual hunting time, in order to add a day of scouting, do it. Fewer days hunting smart are worth far more than more days hunting blind.
4. Have no backup locations
If you found a property to hunt out-of-state, you’re in a great position. But don’t get too comfortable. It’s always best to have a back-up location, just in case something goes wrong when you show up to hunt in the fall. Properties get sold or leased, land-owners change their minds, unexpected hunters get permission to hunt along with you. The potential surprises are endless, so make sure you plan for a few alternative spots, just in case.
5. Set expectations based on TV
If you’re setting your expectations for your out-of-state hunt based on what you see on TV, you’re in for a world of disappointment. Yes, many of the states you see hunted on TV are prime big buck producers, but the properties and circumstances being filmed are not representative of the situations that most of us average hunters will find ourselves in. Do some research, talk to local wildlife biologists or other hunters, and find out what a reasonable goal might be for a short out-of-state hunt. And then finally, just have fun. You might not kill a buck like you saw on the Outdoor Channel, but you’re on an adventure and you’re hunting deer. Can’t complain about that.