A Rite of Winter: Western Big-Game Hunting Deadlines

The largest populations and widest variety of big-game species can be found west of the Mississippi River. The west is home to elk, bear, antelope, mule deer and whitetails but it also has opportunities for more exotic species like ibex, oryx and javelina.

A big-game hunt in the west provides numerous opportunities to check off most hunter’s bucket lists as well as make progress toward the species of big game listed on the Safari Club International’s “North American 29.”

Hunters take a western big- game hunt for a variety of reasons, but it is an adventure that cannot be entered into without careful consideration. An outfitter can be hired to do all the grunt work, but a fair amount of effort must still be exerted by a hunter and changing conditions can make any routine hunt into a harrowing trip of survival.

States throughout the West don’t make it easy for non-residents to hop on a plane or vehicle and drive west for a quick hunt. Permit deadlines, quotas and license fees make it a hunt not to be entered into lightly. It requires a bit of study, research and navigation of paperwork.

Fortunately, most states have very helpful and informative websites with complete details on how to go about planning and arranging a hunt in their state. Not all of the websites are easy to navigate, but many are improving each year with more information, interactive maps, population reports and quality articles on tactics and trip preparation.

All western states today require non-residents to possess hunter certification before applying while others require it once a license is officially purchased. Hunters need to make sure they take the necessary courses offered by their state’s DNR.

Now is the time to start planning that 2013 big-game hunt because, in some states, the deadlines are rapidly approaching. Cruise through the information here and then dig deeper on the website of the states you are interested in hunting. From there, determine whether you are going to outfit your own trip or use the services of an outfitter/guide. 

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