The summer has started. With temperatures across the nation in the 80’s and higher, the cool breezes of fall are often forgotten amongst the summer vacations, baseball practices and time spent with the kids. Unfortunately, the busy activities of summer leaves many hunters unprepared for the fall season, whether it’s because they didn’t make the time they wanted to practice with their weapon, or if it’s because they missed the opportunity to plan their fall season. Since I can’t help you practice shooting, I will offer up some advice on some easy big game tags and where and how to get them filled.
Let’s start with the nation’s most popular game animal, the whitetail. I’m pretty sure that whitetails exist in every continental state now. Their adaptiveness and tendencies to stick to thick cover make them an excellent big game species to pursue, and tags for them are purchased on a no-limit basis in many states.
Kansas is where I call home. The state is comprises of 3 major geographic regions; the eastern, the “Hills” as I call them, and the High Plains. Kansas is almost entirely privately owned. There is one National Grassland which is managed by the Forest Service in Morton County, the South West most county in the state. So, unfortunately, there is little public hunting ground in the state. On the plus side however, all three regions have reservoirs which offer public hunting. These reservoirs are nearly your only choice for finding land to hunt. Don’t be discouraged though, most of them hold plenty of game. You will find the highest concentrations of deer in the Eastern third of the state, which also has most of the public land as well. Coming in a close second is the Western most part of the state. There will be less deer per square mile, but where you do find them, there will be quite a few. Most of the reservoirs also have parks which offer public camping, making a very affordable hunt that takes very little time and planning to execute. Rifle season is very short, but archery season runs from September to December, which gives a lot of choices to the underprepared hunter. What’s the cost of a DIY hunt in Kansas? $395 for your license and tag. If you didn’t get in the draw, no problem, excess tags are sold over the counter, first come, first served, for many units.
The Mule Deer is by far, my favorite game animal to hunt year after year. Maybe that’s only because I can’t afford to hunt sheep every year.
While the Pine Ridge area of Nebraska gets a lot of publicity, there are many other areas to hunt in the state. This includes areas that are closer to civilization. The muzzle loader season in Nebraska runs from December 1st through the 31st. For anyone in search of a great open country hunt that takes little planning to execute, this is certainly one to look at. Any primitive weapons season is bound to draw fewer hunters, and this time of year, you’re looking at the middle to end of the mule deer rut and not to mention, considerable cheaper permits.
I’m not going to lie, hunting all western game is going to be hard this year. With droughts across the central regions of our country two years in a row, resources are at a minimum. Hunters need to be looking at forage and water availability. In this case, places with large amounts of water are where you need to look at. If you see a small or seasonal stream on a map, chances are it will be completely dry this year. But large river bottoms and places with livestock ponds or lakes is where the game will concentrate. As for public land, the Missouri River has quite a bit of reclaimed land from the recent severe flooding that is now owned by the state, as well as the Nebraska National Forest. Most of these places are easily huntable. Nebraska muzzle loader permits will run $209 for a non-resident.
I cannot exclude this option. Hogs are quickly becoming the second most popular game species in North America. Reproducing at a high rate and eating anything that it comes across, the wild hogs have made it from the southern states all the way to our northern border. While hogs exist in at least 15 states that I can think of, none can compete with the numbers that Texas has. There are many outfitters offering hog hunts in Texas. However, as a possible hog hunter, you have several options. One of those options is to hunt public land. In the past I have hunted Texas’ public land for hogs, and certainly found no shortage of them. At the time, there were season restrictions and harvest limitations by area. So I searched for another option. I found no difficulty or resistance in getting permission to hunt hogs on private land. I have made connections in that state that have lasted for years, just by driving around and being friendly and respectful. This nice thing about hog hunting is that it is easy, and they live everywhere, which makes for a great last minute hunt that takes little time to plan. As of now, an authorized agent or lessee is not required to purchase a hunting license and there is no limit on depredating wild hogs.
For those of you that didn’t get your applications in, or won’t get the time to plan your hunts, at least now you have some options for your head start