In today’s economy, the dollar just doesn’t stretch as far as it once did. This leaves many of us out of luck when it comes to fully guided hunts. Even the basic bowhunt for whitetail deer on decent ground has become out of reach for the average blue collar bowhunter, with costs reaching upwards of $3,500, not including licenses and travel expenses.
You can’t really blame an outfitter. He’s feeling the pinch, too, with fuel reaching the $4 per gallon mark in many areas, the government taking ever-bigger bites in the form of “user fees” and professional license costs, and we live in the age of $50,000 pickup trucks.
I have nothing against guided hunts—they’re normally a sound investment if for no other reason than a quick acquisition of hunting knowledge—but the fact remains: Most outfitted hunts are financially out of reach for most of us working stiffs.
However, even for those who can afford a guided hunt, it doesn’t compare to the satisfaction that comes through doing it on your own. The do-it-yourself hunt is an American institution, where a Git-R-Done attitude and plenty of wide-open spaces available to the public allows us to take to the field with family and friends to earn success the old-fashioned way. For those DIYers out there, here are some awesome prospects to consider.
- Wild hogs, wild boars or feral swine — whatever you prefer to call them — are simply just pure fun to bowhunt. They’re normally abundant and subject to fewer regulations than most other big game. Licenses are either dirt cheap or nonexistent; seasons are wide open and most states have liberal bag limits. And pork chops taste good. Better yet, hog hunting normally offers high success rates due to a hog’s poor eyesight, average hearing and devil-may-care attitude, which makes them quite approachable. Just watch that nose, as you’ll never fool a hog’s superior olfactory senses. While wild hogs are found in 42 of 50 states today, according to recent Department of Agriculture reports, the best destinations remain California, Texas and Florida. California hogs can be hunted on public lands in the central and northern portions of the state with affordable licenses. Texas hogs require a modest day-fee arrangement with a willing rancher (normally around $100 to $200 per diem for prime locations) and a $65 non-game permit for non-residents. Florida has plenty of public wildlife areas with state imposed regulations, but private-land hunts can also be arranged cheaply. Check out state game agency web sites and contact area chambers of commerce for leads to bowhunting opportunities.