For far too long, we’ve listened to our guys plan all the exciting adventures and book all the hunts. We go — often with their friends or work buddies — because we want to hunt, too. But how many ladies have ever considered turning the tables to plan their own out-of-state — or maybe even home state — hunts?
In an era of cell phones, GPS technology, freeze-dried food and pop-up tents, planning a hunt has never been easier or more fun.
To avoid being intimidated by anyone who acts like you don’t know what you’re doing, do your homework. Put in the time required so that your adventure is not only hassle-free, but one where everyone has an excellent chance of success.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
Find out who in your party still needs hunter education certification. This is usually required of anyone applying for or purchasing deer licenses. People born before a certain date are sometimes, but not always, exempted. Your entire party should either become certified or know they’re exempted by the time applications are due or licenses must be purchased.
Choose a destination. States with the greatest numbers of whitetails AND the highest percentages of public lands usually have the most available licenses. Many of the states with the finest hunting — Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri and Maine, for example — usually don’t require time-consuming application processes for most licenses.
If that’s the case, you can purchase licenses from any of the state’s vendors. Limited (which often means trophy), special or urban drawings usually require application well in advance of the season and often additional fees, so check ahead of time to be sure. If your party wants to hunt does, for instance, understand that doe licenses may be easy to come by in Missouri but scarce in Wyoming.
Check with wildlife officials in your desired locale about sleeper areas where hunters have a good chance of success. If camping is in your plans, ask about nearby public or private campgrounds, reservation policies and whether it’s legal to pitch a tent anywhere on public land. If reservations for an RV or motel are needed, book them as far ahead as possible.
Pore over hunting regulations for your destination state or province to determine season dates and legal shooting times. If it says sunrise to sunset, get your state’s solar charts. These can be downloaded at no cost on many Internet sites. Verify the minimum legal caliber or gauge for hunting big game such as a whitetail.
If you’ll be bowhunting, learn the minimum legal requirement for draw weight, arrow weight or the distance a bow must shoot an arrow of a particular weight. Determine the minimum amount of hunter orange that must be worn when firearms hunting. Ask if orange camouflage is legal. Be sure not to plan a hunt anywhere non-residents must be accompanied by a licensed guide or outfitter unless you have a budget to cover that expense.
Learn what constitutes wanton waste where you’ll be hunting. Some agencies are extremely strict, down to requiring the stripping of meat remnants from ribs and lower legs; others are less so. Do deer have to be transported in one piece, field-dressed, to a wildlife check station? If so, that could put a damper on any all-female hunt since an intact deer can be big and heavy. Most agencies are converting to telephone check-in systems, or telecheck systems, but don’t assume anything.
Learn the procedure to abide by a state’s game transport laws so as not to inadvertently violate the federal Lacey Act. Head, hide, horns/antlers and meat usually must be tagged or identified in some manner during transport. There are different procedures in place if you plan to give part or all of a deer to someone else. This usually involves getting a game transport tag or donation form from the wildlife agency office or a licensed meat processor.
A hunter may also have to write a note to the effect that she’s giving the meat to a particular individual, while also including her (the hunter’s) name, address and license number. Such documentation must remain with the meat until it’s consumed.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers will sometimes erect roadblocks to make it easier to search vehicles at those checkpoints. State and federal agencies will often work hand-in-hand in setting up stings to catch poachers with their ill-gotten wildlife gains. Make certain your party's paperwork is in order and all firearms are being transported in accordance with the laws of the states you’re visiting before you leave or return home.
This article was published in the October 2006 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.