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GAME DAYS
By: Alex Robinson Fall can be a tough time for college sports fans. With so much hunting and fishing to be done, it's hard to find the time to watch your favorite football teams. Luckily there are great football teams around the country that play just outside of some incredible hunting and fishing territories. To help, we've compiled two lists. The first runs down the best football/hunting/fishing trips. The second list highlights the best outdoor colleges in the country. What could be better than hunting, fishing, football and the college life?
The Team: University of Wisconsin
Your Game: Whitetail Deer The Badgers are 4-1 this season and Madison, the Badger's hometown, is located only a few hours east from some of the best deer hunting territory in the country. Deer hunting is ingrained in cheesehead culture and for good reason: each year the Badger State produces some massive record-book bucks. The rut typically heats up in mid November during bow season and Wisconsin plays fellow Big 10 team Indiana at home on Nov. 13.
The Team: University of Florida
Your Game: Redfish The Gators are a perennial powerhouse in the BCS and this year is no different. They're coming off a tough loss to Alabama, but they're still one of the best teams in the country. "The Swamp" is found in Gainesville, and is located about an hour and a half away from St. Augustine on the Atlantic side, which is a great spot to hook into bull redfish in October. Cedar Key, which is also about an hour away but on the Gulf side, is another classic redfish hotspot. To sweeten the deal, the Gators play LSU on Oct. 9. Photo: Chris Breeze
The Team: Nebraska University
Your Game: Pheasants The Cornhuskers are 4-0 this season and they're as strong as ever. The college is located in Lincoln, which is just a short drive away from pheasant paradise. Drive just a few hours northwest to Wheeler County, which was picked by Pheasants Forever to be one of the top pheasant-producing counties in the state. The Cornhuskers play rival Missouri at home for the pheasant opener on Oct. 30. Photo: Pheasants Forever
The Team: Boise State University
Your Game: Elk and Mule deer Boise State is always a contender in the WAC and is one of the most exciting teams in the country. But even better than The Bronco's blue field and trick plays is the fact that the campus is literally just miles away from outstanding elk and deer hunting in the Sawtooth National Forest. Seasons open in October and November just when the Broncos typically start to play some of their conference rivals.
The Team: USC
Your Game: Tuna, Bonito and Barracuda You can't go through a college football countdown without including the USC Trojans. Love'em or hate'em, the Trojans are a great team in a great conference. They also play home games only 120 miles from San Diego and some of the best saltwater fishing in California. USC plays Oregon and Cal in October when tuna, barracuda, and bonito are all target species for offshore anglers. Photo: Bobak Ha'Eri
The Team: Texas A&M
Your Game: Largemouth Bass What says Texas better than football and bass fishing? The Aggies call College Station, TX home, which is located just three hours west of arguably the two best bass lakes in Texas: Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn. If you want to fish closer, take your pick between Lakes Somerville and Conroe which are also well-known bass lakes. Watch the Aggies take on Big 12 rival Missouri on October 16th and then spend a few days catching trophy bucketmouths. Photo: Larry Bozka
The Team: Penn State
Your Game: Muskies For some classic smash-mouth Big 10 football Penn State vs Michigan is hard to beat. The Nittany Lions play the Wolverines at home on October 30, which also happens to be when muskies are eating everything that swims. State College (is there a better name for a college town?) is only an hour and a half from both Raystown Lake and the lower Juniata River, which are two great muskie waters. Photo: Robert J Verghetta
The Team: Ole Miss
Your Game: Ducks The south takes college football seriously and Mississippi is no exception. On Nov. 30 Ole Miss plays instate rival Mississippi State in the egg bowl -- the 10th longest uninterrupted rivalry in the nation. The first Mississippi duck season (aside from early season teal) is open from Nov. 26 to Nov. 28. What makes the deal even better is that Ole Miss plays in Oxford, which is a short drive from some prime Mississippi delta habitat. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Photo: Mike Baird
The Team: Oregon University
Your Game: Elk and Mule Deer The Oregon Ducks are currently sitting atop the PAC 10, and over the past few seasons they have become one of the most exciting teams in college football. Oregon is still a bit of a secret western hotspot for big mule deer and bull elk. This trip would involve some driving (it's about a six-hour drive to get from Eugene to the prime hunting areas in the eastern part of the state) but it's worth it. There are a variety of deer and elk seasons in September, October and November that run right through the heart of the Ducks' schedule. Photo: Avinash Kunnath
The Team: Hawaii University
Your Game: Marlin What's better than watching a football game in Hawaii? Watching a football game in Hawaii and then going marlin fishing. In September, October and November marlin fishing is at its peak and you'll have a good chance at catching a world-class fish. Expect to see some good football too. The Warriors are always an exciting team and they play in a beautiful stadium full of diehard fans.
The Team: Iowa University
Your Game: Deer Iowa has a long-standing football tradition and the campus is surrounded by great deer hunting territory in almost every direction. Big corn-fed record bucks are killed in the Hawkeye State every year (especially in the northeast) but finding good hunting on public land can be tricky. On the upside, the Hawkeyes play their hated conference rivals, the Ohio State Buckeyes, on Nov. 20, right in the middle of bow season and in the heat of the rut. Photo: Geoffrey Fairchild
OUTDOORS U.
By: John Taranto The thought of leaving the woods, streams, fields and lakes you've grown up with can make a college-bound student sick. Fear not! At these ten schools, not only can you get a college education, you can do so while hunting and fishing to your heart's content (also, for all those parents who have college-age kids, you'll have something to do on parents' weekend). Plus, all the schools have curricula and clubs for the outdoors-minded. Some are big state schools with prominent athletic programs, others are small private colleges located in rural settings, but all are perfect for the student who just can't get enough of the great outdoors.
University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
Location: Stevens Point, Wisc.
Website: uwsp.edu
Wisconsin, Stevens Point was the first school in the country to offer a major in conservation education (1946) and now its College of Natural Resources is the largest undergraduate natural resources program in the U.S., offering majors in Forestry, Resource Management and Wildlife among others. Student organizations include the Fisheries Society, the Student Law Enforcement Association (which conducts on-campus hunter education courses) and a student chapter of the Izaak Walton League. Hunting and fishing opportunities at UWSP are seemingly limitless. Hunt deer, turkeys, ducks and more on nearly 200,000 acres of forest and wetlands within a 20-mile radius of campus. When you want to wet a line, hit any of the 64 streams and 135 lakes within the same radius. The Wisconsin River runs through town. Great Lakes fishing and the Chequamegon and Nicolet national forests are within easy driving distance. Photo: Thomas Jones
Hampden-Sydney Collge
Location: Hampden-Sydeny, Va.
Website: hsc.edu
Tiny Hampden-Sydney College is located in rural Virginia about 60 miles from Richmond. The men-only school (it's OK, guys, Hampden-Sydeny's sister school, Sweet Briar College, is just about an hour away) owns 1,200 acres, available for a variety of outdoor pursuits. Numerous streams and state parks are situated near the campus, as well. Hunt deer and turkeys in the the George Washington National Forest, just a two-hour drive away. (The school has a gun room where students can store their firearms.) The educational program at HSC is basic liberal arts, but there is a concentration in Environmental Biology. Extracurricular organizations include the Outsiders and Clay Target clubs, the Hampden-Sydney Rifle Association and a Trout Unlimited chapter. Photo: Teddy Llovet
South Dakota State University, Brookings
Costs: $10,316 (South Dakota resident); $11,000--12,000 (non-resident)
Website: www3.sdstate.edu
Every fall, SDSU, Brookings lures the best wildlife and fisheries scientists in the world to campus to give guest lectures and seminars. "All we have to do is take them pheasant hunting, which, of course, is quite an imposition," says David Willis, a professor in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. In addition to being Pheasant Heaven, Brookings is located in the Prairie Pothole region, meaning the surrounding area is an absolute duck and goose magnet. The nearby Ft. Pierre National Grasslands is one of only a few places in the country where a hunter can bag both sharptail grouse and prairie chickens. Eastern South Dakota isn't just about wingshooting, however, as the region also is home to good numbers of whitetail deer and turkeys. Oh yeah, there's fishing, too. Within a 60-mile radius of campus are at least 20 public glacial lakes that feature killer walleye, smallmouth, perch and pike fishing. The Missouri River mainstem reservoirs are about three hours away. Students at SDSU, Brookings can join the Wildlife Conservation Club and the SDSU sub-unit of the American Fisheries Society. Photo: Yotut
Murray State University
Location: Murray, Ky.
Website: murraystate.edu
Murray State's proximity to the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (lbl.org) makes it an outdoorsman's paradise. Fish for bass, crappie, sauger, catfish and bluegill on Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake's combined 220,000 surface acres. Hunt deer, turkeys, ducks, squirrels, rabbits and more in the 170,000 acres of wilderness between the two. A former intern at Outdoor Life was a Murray State student and often told stories about getting up early, heading to the LBL, killing a turkey and being back to campus in time for his 9:00 a.m. class. The school's nationally-recognized rifle team has sent many of its members to the Olympics. Murray State offers a B.S. in Recreation and Leisure Services, with an Outdoor Concentration.
Paul Smith's College
Location: Paul Smiths, N.Y.
Website: paulsmith.edu
On the shores of the Lower St. Regis River, one of the northeast's best smallmouth fisheries, sits the campus of Paul Smith's College, the only four-year institution within the boundaries of the six million-acre Adirondack Park. Hunting and fishing both are allowed on the 14,200-acre campus which is located within the St. Regis Canoe Area, providing abundant fishing on any of the 20-plus lakes in the chain accessible by water or portage. The fabled Ausable River offers trout fishing nearby. Firearms and ammunition can be kept with campus security and checked out for hunting. Academic concentrations include Ecology & Field Biology, Conservation Science, Environmental Science, Fisheries Sciences, Wildlife Sciences, Ecological Forest Management, Natural Resources Management and Policy and more. Student organizations include the Fish and Game and Outing clubs. Photo: Mwanner
Auburn University
Location: Auburn, Ala.
Website: auburn.edu
Auburn's Department of Fisheries, the largest freshwater fisheries program in the country, manages 30 large ponds on 1,600 acres of forested land five miles from campus. At any time five to 10 of these ponds are open to students and faculty for fishing. There are also a number of private hunting clubs nearby. The Lee County and Chambers County public fishing lakes, managed by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are a 30-minute drive from campus. Another hour's drive will get fisherman to three major rivers with four large reservoirs. In addition to the Dept. of Fisheries, Auburn also has a Wildlife Sciences curriculum for students who wish to become wildlife biologists or conservation officers. The Wildlife Society and the Forestry Club bring in speakers to discuss current issues in wildlife and forestry and hold events such as a Big Buck Contest, Youth Dove Hunt and Critter Cook. Photo: JGlover
Montana State University
Location: Bozeman, Mont.
Website: montana.edu
Known to many as "Trout U.," Montana State University, and Bozeman in general, has drawn kids who love to fish for as long as it has existed. Just 20 miles from campus, the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin rivers converge to form the headwaters of the Missouri River. In addition to the abundant nearby fishing opportunities, the school's reputation as a bastion of fishing is bolstered by its library's copious materials on trout and salmonids, a growing collection of 7,200 volumes. Far from being just a fishing school, students are free to traipse around the 2 million-acre Gallatin National Forest and the Bridger, Bangtail, Gallatin and Madison mountain ranges in search of big game. The Extension Wildlife Program at MSU connects Montana landowners who want hunters to help them control deer, elk and antelope populations with students looking for hunting access (doecowhunt.montana.edu). MSU also boasts chapters of the American Fisheries Society and Wildlife Society. Curricula include degree programs in Ecology and Evolution, Fish and Wildlife Management, Organismal Biology and Biology Teaching. Photo: Nils Rinaldi
Colorado State University
Location: Fort Collins, Colo.
Website: colostate.edu
Some of the West's best elk and deer hunting can be had within 30 to 45 minutes from campus on a number of state wildlife areas and National Forest lands. Upland, small game and waterfowl hunting is in abundance, too. World-class trout fishing is available in the upper reaches of the Cache La Poudre River and the South Platte River in Wyoming. Horsetooth, Douglas, Dixon and Carter reservoirs offer fishing for numerous warm- and cold-water species. In fact, state records for channel catfish, yellow perch, drum, common carp and green sunfish have been caught in Larimer County. The school's Department of Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism offers concentrations in Parks and Protected Area Management and Natural Resource Tourism, which allows students to work as guides, managers or owners for private hunting lodges or fly-fishing or hunting guides and outfitters. There are a bevy of student clubs and organizations, including chapters of the American Fisheries Society and Ducks Unlimited and the Angler's Club, Shotgun Sports Club, Society for Conservation Biology and Wildlife Society. Photo: banspy
Oregon State University
Location:
Bend, Ore.
Website: oregonstate.edu
Oregon State's Fish and Wildlife program is unique in that it allows students to design their concentrations to give them specialized instruction based on their area of interest, be that enforcement, environmental education, large mammal biology or any number of others. OSU has two research forests, located just five miles from campus that offer special blacktail deer hunts. A 35-minute drive from campus puts students on the North Fork of the Alsea river, where they can often be found tossing spinners and corkies during the winter steelhead run. The main fork of the Alsea offers great fall Chinook salmon fishing, in addition to steelheading. The Siletz River boasts both winter and summer steelhead runs. The Siletz and Elk rivers both have terrific fall Chinook runs, too. The Pacific Ocean--and its boundless saltwater fishing opportunities--is just an hour's drive from campus. Students hunt blacktails, black bears and Roosevelt elk in the Siuslaw National Forest, just west of Corvallis, and turkeys, which are booming, in the hills outside of town. Photo: sarahMCD