The most popular hunting destinations are out there waiting for you. Here's how to prepare for them.
We may not be too objective, but American hunting destinations are some of the finest in the world.
Between both sea shores of the U.S. lies some of the best hunting that can be had anywhere, and we'd like to help you get ready. Hunting is life in our books, and while not everyone may have the chance to tread in some of these states with a rifle, shotgun, or bow we still want you to be prepared should the opportunity present itself.
Whatever big game is on your bucket list, be it whitetail deer, pronghorn antelope, black bear, or mule deer, you can at least think about it while you start saving up for your dream trip. The state with the best big or small game hunting in the land is subjective and an argument for another time, but for now let's just stick to these five based on their terrain, the conditions that you will encounter, and the gear necessary to make it all happen.
Whether you will use an outfitter or do a DIY hunt on public land is up to you, we just want you to have all of the facts before you go. This is a simple way to get charged up for something that you've always wanted to do so make your list, even if your dream hunt doesn't find its way onto this list.
According to South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks, "South Dakota is renowned world-wide for its pheasant hunting, and rightfully so. Did you know the average annual pheasant harvest during the past 10 years is 1.2 million roosters?"
Did they just say 1.2 million roosters? For a pheasant hunter and dog owner this is the hunting trip of a lifetime. In South Dakota you'll get to chase wild pheasants and fill your game bag like so many American generations have before.
With rolling hills and endless prairies, South Dakota may be one of the easier states to hunt. All of this is marked by grain fields and hedgerows with land flat enough to easily walk all day. West of the Missouri River, the state consists of deeper canyons and rolling plains.
South Dakota is comprised of four major land regions; the Drift Prairie, the Dissected Till Plains, the Great Plains, and the Black Hills.
South Dakota fall hunting season conditions are standard for a mid-western state that, geologically speaking, isn't all that far from the Canadian border. Cold nights can be accompanied by mornings that warm quickly, especially when walking. The winds on the plains can get gusty at times, but are rarely bad enough to interfere with your hunt.
Some good waterproof chaps are necessary to keep your legs dry when walking through the higher grass, especially early in the day. A nice midweight shooting shirt with some blaze orange on the shoulders is good in the early season and can be worn under the coat later in the year.
A solid pair of lightweight hunting boots that are comfortable and designed to be walked in all day are a must.
There is no end to the quality brand of firearms that can be used whether it be a pump action gun or a semi-automatic, but many pheasant hunters love to carry an over/under style shotgun.
South Dakota also offers antelope hunting, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, and turkey among other things, but the ringneck pheasant rules.
There are deer, turkey, and even alligators to hunt in Louisiana, but it's waterfowl that is king here. Louisiana is divided into the uplands of the north and the coastlines of the south. This Mississippi Flyway region includes low swamp lands, coastal marshlands and beaches, and barrier islands.
Storms can be a part of the duck hunting world in this Gulf Coast state, which means watching the weather is paramount. As winds intensify, ducks will move to protected areas like river backwaters, coves on lakes, timber pools, and the leeward side of islands.
Since duck hunters will almost exclusively be hunting on or around the water, a good pair of brush-busting waders is a must with a camo pattern dependent on which type of cover you will be setting up around. A good 3-in-1 hunting jacket that is waterproof and will keep you warm is a good investment, along with the best duck call you can blow, but a couple of bags full of mallard decoys and spinners are what the docctor ordered.
For your firearm think of the three Bs: Benelli, Beretta, and Browning, and you cant go wrong. A good box of steel shot number 2s and you are ready for any hardy ducks that may just happen to fly in.
Idaho has a diverse set of game animal species including deer, pronghorn, black bears, mountain lions, wolves, moose, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep, but the elk hunting in the Gem State might have no equal.
Idaho's landscape has a rugged backdrop with some of the largest unspoiled natural areas in the United States. Idaho is also a Rocky Mountain state with abounding in natural resources and scenic vistas. This western state has snow-capped mountain ranges, rivers with rapids, vast lakes, and steep canyons.
Hunting here is for the intrepid, the rugged, and the well conditioned.
The list of gear needed for an elk hunt in Idaho is almost as vast as the state itself. These hunts call for the highest quality pairs of boots, a pair of camp shoes, plenty of pairs of socks, two pairs of gloves, two pair of tough and durable pants, two pairs of long underwear, and one set of decent rain gear.
This is not to mention the requisite binoculars, safety glasses, flashlight, knife, hat, extra shirts, fire starters, and at least two boxes of ammunition.
As far as rifle calibers go, most elk hunters won't use anything less than a .308 for their hunt.
They don't call Montana the Big Sky Country for nothing, and by the look of it you can hunt a lot of game animals.
Species that can be hunted in Montana include black bears, mule deer, whitetail deer, pronghorn antelope, Rocky Mountain elk, Shiras moose, mountain goats, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, turkeys, upland birds, wolves, and bison.
Montana is the fourth largest state in the union behind Alaska, Texas, and California. The state has so many mountain ranges that it's hard to list them all, but let's just say that the western half of the state contains a big part of the Rockies.
Montana is such a large state, and has such a considerable variation in geography, topography, and altitude, that the climate is quite varied. This brings with it every possible consideration for a well-prepped hunter that we listed for Idaho and more.
If you are going to hunt elk, moose, or are lucky enough to draw a bighorn sheep tag you'll need a good quality, high-powered rifle and all of the accoutrements for an elk hunt. If you plan to take advantage of Montana's excellent deer hunting, any caliber up to a .270 should do just fine on big bucks, with anything much heavier crossing into overkill territory for a deer hunt.
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, "The major game animals in Texas are white-tailed deer, mule deer, desert bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, gray or cat squirrel, red or fox squirrel, collared peccary or javelina, and alligators."
They didn't even mention the highly invasive hogs which aren't even considered a regulated game animal. You can hunt feral pigs from a helicopter, at night, and without a full hunting license in the state of Texas. Be sure to check the latest regulations, but count on Texas giving you plenty of hog hunting opportunities.
There are plains, forested areas, and landscapes defined by their rivers, plus scrub land brush. The far western part of Texas is the state's Basin and Range province. This area includes Sand Hills, the Stockton Plateau, desert valleys, wooded mountain slopes, and desert grasslands.
Because of its sheer size, the Lone Star State has a widely ranging climate with the Panhandle area having colder winters and the Gulf Coast having almost none. Maybe the best deer hunting in the state comes from the Texas Hill Country surrounding Austin and San Antonio.
You'll need much the same gear that you would to hunt the wily whitetail anywhere, but there's an exception. The daytime hunts can get quite warm, and after nightfall it can get quite cold. Dressing in layers will help you to avoid spending any time uncomfortable.
Don't forget your scent control or scent blocking materials, plus your favorite deer calls. Big bucks in Texas rut just like everywhere else, just a little later in the year due to its southern location.
Finding good deer hunting spots on public land is difficult in Texas, so a guided hunt from a veteran outfitter is the recommended way to go.
The Best Hunting Destinations in America
Honestly, when it comes to the best hunting destinations there are many missing from this list, because this is North America after all. There are trophy bucks in Iowa, great grouse hunting in Wisconsin, and desert bighorn sheep in Arizona.
Non-resident hunters have a plethora of public hunting opportunities in all of these states making the United States one of the best hunting grounds for sportsmen and women in the world.
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NEXT: 10 VINTAGE HUNTING HATS OUR FOREFATHERS USED TO SPORT
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