If you want a high-odds hunt to get a newbie in on the action, stock up your freezer with wild game, or just enjoy some laid-back success in the field, plan one of these DIY hunting trips. Outfitted big-game hunts can be pricey, hinge on a successful draw, and come down to a single high-stakes shot. If you're looking for an affordable trip you can do yourself with more shot opportunities, consider one of these hunts.
Wild Hog Hunt in the South
With wild hogs spreading like wildfire across several states and slowly creeping into new areas, this invasive species is becoming easier — and way more affordable — to hunt almost everywhere you can find them, making them a great DIY hunting trip. You'll see wild hogs on public land in several southern states, and you just need a regular hunting license to hunt them in most places. Even if you choose to book with an outfitter, hog hunts are typically much more affordable than other types of guided hunts. A lot of turkey and whitetail outfitters offer these trips in the offseason to keep pig populations in check, and they keep the price low. Choose the right place and you'll be able to take an unlimited number of these disease-spreading, crop-damaging, animal-killing pests.
If you want to plan a hog hunt anytime of the year, consider top hog states such as South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Prairie Dog Hunt in Wyoming
After tagging out on pronghorn in Wyoming a few years back, my hunting crew spent a late summer day picking off prairie dogs — and it was a blast. The state is loaded with these pesky rodents, and like hogs, they can be a major nuisance to farmers and landowners. Ranchers often allow hunters to reduce numbers on their properties, and outfitters offer prairie dog hunts for next to nothing. You can also find prairie dogs on a lot of Wyoming's public land.
Because prairie dogs are considered a non-game species, you won't need any special stamps or licenses to hunt them here. There are no bag limits, so you can continue to shoot until you've had your fill. Beyond not hunting them from vehicles or public roads, Wyoming doesn't have many restrictions on hunting prairie dogs, so it's pretty easy to get started when you've found a spot.
Turkey Hunt in the Midwest
While a wild turkey hunt isn't going to be a gimme, heading to the right place should give you the time and turkey numbers you need to capitalize on an opportunity. Several states in the Midwest offer a diverse mix of subspecies, long seasons, generous bag limits, and affordable, easy-to-get tags. Kansas boasts over a million acres of public land, relatively low-cost non-resident licenses, and birds that are generally considered easier to hunt. For hunters who want to chase turkeys with a bow, next door in Nebraska is one of your best bets, thanks to a long and early archery season. Other nearby states with the best turkey reputations include Missouri and Wisconsin.
Carp Bowfishing Anywhere
While fishing is in the name, this sport is more like hunting and a great way to get in some reps outside of normal archery seasons. Depending on the state, you can bowfish for several species, but carp tops the list for many. Bowfishing is low-pressure, and you'll likely get dozens of shot opportunities on the water.
Booking with a guide is fun and easy, but you can also bowfish on your own from the banks, rent a small boat, or hop on a SUP or kayak for a different kind of adventure. Most states only require you to purchase an affordable fishing license and don't have limits on carp, but be sure to check the regulations. For monster carp — and maybe even some other species — check out Lake Michigan, St. Johns River, Land Between the Lakes, the Mississippi River, and the Tennessee River.
Tips for a Successful Trip
Get your license. Each state has different licensing requirements for hunting different species. While the hunts listed above generally only require a basic license, others might require specific tags you can purchase over the counter or that you have to apply for via a lottery system. A reputable outfitter should be able to help you with the process, but if you're going it on your own, make sure you get your license early and meet any deadlines.
Do your research. Whether you're going to book with an outfitter or DIY it on public land, invest plenty of time in research and planning. Fully vet any guides before giving them a dime and ask people you trust for recommendations first. Scope out potential public land opportunities on apps like onX so you're not going in blind. And double check regulations in the state you'll be traveling to so you can ensure you're doing everything legally.
Take time to practice. Although some hunts will offer lots of shot opportunities, it won't matter if you can't hit your target. Finalize your setup — whether it's a bow or gun — then spend time practicing each week so you can make the most of your DIY hunting trip.
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