newsletter sign up
respect the game
field & stream expo
advertise with us
Skip to content
Game Days: Best College Road Trips
Alex Robinson and John Taranto
October 5, 2010
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 territory. To help, we've compiled two lists. The first runs down the best football/hunting/fishing road trips in the country. The second list highlights the best colleges for sportsmen. What could be better than hunting, fishing, football and the college life?
Alabama vs Auburn, Nov. 26
Hogs One of the best college football rivalries of all time was born when Alabama played Auburn in 1983, and since then the rivalry (and hatred) between the two schools has grown. There is so much bad blood between the two schools that from 1907 and 1948 the series was suspend because the two sides couldn't agree on which referees to use. This year the game shouldn't disappoint. Both teams are currently undefeated and ranked in the top 10 nationally. Hogs have been making their way through the south for years and they're firmly rooted in Alabama. A large population of hogs is located in the southwestern part of the state, just a few hours south of the Crimson Tide's home in Tuscaloosa. For the most part, there is no closed season, no bag limits, and you're allowed to hut with a gun, a bow, dogs and even a spear. Photo:
Florida vs. LSU, Oct. 9th
Redfish The Gators are a perennial powerhouse in the BCS and even though they're coming off a tough loss to Alabama, but they're still one of the best teams in the country. LSU is undefeated and has already beat two ranked teams this year. The Gators' "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. Photo:
Nebraska vs. Missouri, Oct. 30
Pheasants The Cornhuskers are 4-0 this season and they're ranked 7th overall. Conference foe, Missouri is also 4-0 and currently ranked 24th in the country. The Huskers play in Lincoln, which is just a short drive away from pheasant paradise and the Husker/Tiger matchup lands on opening day. 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. Photo:
Ohio State vs. Michigan, Nov. 27
Whitetail deer This is the best rivalry game in the Big Ten and, depending on how the rest of the season unfolds, it could determine who wins the conference. These two teams historically dominate the Big 10. Since 1913 they have combined for 70 conference titles. The Buckeye state has made a name for itself when it comes to trophy whitetails, and Columbus is just a short drive to the top buck-harvest counties in the state (Licking, Muskingum, Coshocton and Guernsey). The gun season starts two days after the game, which should give you a little time to do some last-minute scouting. Photo:
Texas vs. Texas A&M, Nov. 25
Largemouth Bass What says Texas better than football and bass fishing? The Texas vs. Texas A&M football game is one of the biggest sporting events in the state and they play in Austin for the last game of the regular season. A five-hour drive from Austin will get you to arguably the best bassin' lake in the country: Lake Amistad. A one-hour drive to the east will Sommerville Lake, which isn't as well known as Amistad, but is still a solid bass option. After the game, you should still be in time for the fall bite. Photo:
Boise State vs. Everyone
Elk and Mule deer Boise State is dominating this season. They're ranked 4th in the country and have outscored their opponents by a margin of 180 to 60. Boise State's schedule doesn't look too tough down the road (they only play one more ranked team this season) but the blue field, high energy offense and trick plays make every game exiting. If that isn't enough, 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 hit the heart of their schedule.
Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State, Nov. 27
Whitetail Deer Both teams are currently undefeated, both teams are ranked nationally and both teams are eyeing the top spot in the Big 12. In the last game of the regular season, the two in-state rivals will play at the Cowboys' home in Stillwater. The Oklahoma gun deer season runs from Nov. 20 to Dec. 5, and Osage county, just a few hours north of Stillwater is consistently one of the best counties for buck harvests. But hunting access can be tough here. Other nearby counties that consistently turn out good buck harvests are Woodward and Woods (both to the northwest). Photo:
Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State University, Nov. 30
Ducks The south takes college football seriously and Mississippi is no exception. The biggest game in the state is when 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:
Miami vs. Florida State, Oct. 9
Keys Bonefish and Permit There's no subtle way to describe this rivalry. The two teams just flat out hate each other. In the last 18 years the Hurricanes and Seminoles have met 13 times when both teams were ranked in the top 10. While neither team is a top-ten squad this year, both are ranked nationally and are battling for the ACC title. Bonefish and Permit fishing hits its peak in the Florida Keys in October and a three-hour drive from Miami will get you to prime water. There should also be good grouper and snapper action in deeper water. Photo:
Penn State vs. Michigan, Oct. 30
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 when muskies are eating everything that swims. State College (is there a better name for a college town?)is less than two hours from both Lake Somerset, Raystown Lake and the lower Juniata River, which are some of the state's best muskie waters. Photo:
Robert J Verghetta
USC vs. Oregon, Oct. 30
Tuna, Bonito and Barracuda Love'em or hate's, you can't go through a college football countdown without including the USC Trojans. But recently the Trojans have lost their stranglehold of the PAC 10 to Oregon, which has quickly become one of the best teams in the nation. The Trojans play home games only 120 miles from San Diego and some of the best saltwater fishing on the West Coast. This time of the year, tuna, bonito and barracuda are all target species for offshore anglers. Photo:
Wisconsin vs. Indiana, Nov. 13
Whitetail Deer The Badgers are 4-1 this season and Indiana is 3-1 right behind them in the Big 10 Conference. 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 big, rut-crazed bucks will become more vulnerable to hunters.
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
Stevens Point, Wisc.
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:
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:
South Dakota State University, Brookings
$10,316 (South Dakota resident); $11,000--12,000 (non-resident)
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:
Murray State University
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
Paul Smiths, N.Y.
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:
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:
Montana State University
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:
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colo.
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:
Oregon State University
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:
Jack O’Connor’s Formula For Shooting Game At Long Range
The Keys to Deer Antler Growth
11 Outdoor Skills You Can Teach Your Child
Fishing the Epic (and Underrated) Shad Run on the Delaware River
9 Migratory Bird Laws You Didn’t Know
18 Best Tips For Finding Your First Shed Antler
10 of the Fastest Compound Bows We Have Ever Tested
3 Reasons You Need an Electric Cooler
Four Camping Chairs Totally Worth a Sit
11 Outdoor Skills You Can Teach Your Child
18 Best Tips For Finding Your First Shed Antler
Will Yellowstone Park Close to Public Visitation?
Tackle Test: The Best New Fishing Rods and Reels for 2020, Ranked and Rated
What’s The Toughest Turkey Subspecies To Hunt?
The 7mm Showdown: 7x57 vs. 7mm-08 Rem. vs. .284 Win.
Will All This New Technology Ruin Hunting? In Short, No
Illinois Closed State Lands to the Public Due to COVID-19