Whether you have been hunting since childhood or have just now stepped into the woods, I can almost promise that dreams of hunting out of your home state have or will enter your mind at some point. Venturing out of your home state in hopes of punching a tag is something that can be exciting yet intimidating. But with the right information and the right mindset, making that out-of-state hunting trip can be a lot more in reach than one might think.
How to Plan Your Out-of-State Hunting Trip
Choose the Right State for Out-Of-State Hunting Trip
Once you make the decision that this year will be the year you finally take that out-of-state trip, there are several things that one must consider before jumping in the truck and putting the pedal to the metal. The first, and arguably the most important, question is, "Where" are you going to go? Choosing the right state for your hunting destination is very important and requires a lot of forethought. Factors to consider while making this decision can come from a variety of factors such as driving distance, trip duration, over-the-counter tag/license access, hunting land access, type of animal desired, and the list goes on.
Before you begin your state research, you need to determine some, if not all these above questions. For example, if you only have three days to hunt, then loading up and driving 20+ hours west in hopes of a monster Bull elk is probably not the best option for you. But, traveling 3 to 5 hours to a neighboring state with over-the-counter/out-of-state tags available is something that can very easily be done.
Access to Public Land
The next item to consider for an out-of-state hunting trip is access to public land,"Assuming that private land access is not an option." Some states are plentiful with public hunting opportunities, whereas others are few and far between. Having a wide rrange of land options to choose from in a state can be a major factor in ensuring that you will have to hunt on once you arrive. With the recent boom in public land hunting, the technology associated with finding, scouting, and hunting public land has also boomed. Apps/ subscription services such as OnX Hunt, Hunt Wise, and Hunt Stand help make finding this information a lot easier. Though one should still consult with local state hunting recourse officers, these apps can be a great tool in finding states with plentiful public land access.
Dig a Little Deeper Into That State
Once your decision has been made on your out-of-state destination, I would encourage you to dig a little deeper into that state and what one can expect while hunting there. Many states offer a wide range of data on their DNR "Department of Natural Recourses" websites that can give you harvest reports, deer per square mile estimates, etc. Digging a little deeper into this information can help you better determine the area within that state and time of year, and give you an idea of how many successful hunters that state has. Using this information can help you make those last-minute final detailed decisions to increase your harvest probability.
Make a Hunting Gear List
Now that your state, location, and time of departure have been selected. The last thing to do is make a hunting gear/ equipment list to determine if you have everything needed to make this trip happen. Don't forget to bring your hunting blinds, chair, rangefinder, and hunting clothes. If new/additional equipment is needed, it is better to plan vs. getting to your new state only to find out that you need different gear than what you have. Making sure that you are prepared for any obstacle or situation that could come up while on your trip is very important and can help make sure you trip is a complete success! Good luck, and shoot straight!