On Your Own Adventure - Making A Western Hunt Your Reality

On Your Own Adventure - Making A Western Hunt Your Reality
On Your Own Adventure - Making A Western Hunt Your Reality

Randy Newberg is the host of On Your Own Adventures, airing on Outdoor Channel. OYOA is the first of its kind hunting show that brings reality to the average hunter. No guide, no outfitters, no high fences, all on accessible lands. As some would say, "Real Hunting." It is Randy's approach to bring a dose of realism to the world of hunting television. He exclusively has penned a 10-step series for OutdoorChannel.com devoted to helping hunters across the country turn their Western dream hunts into reality. Below is part one. For more information about his On Your Own Adventures television program, visit the show page here.

What do you want to hunt? - Sounds too simple, but until you decide what you want to hunt, an On Your Own Adventure remains just a dream. This blog series is designed to help your dream become reality.

The most common reason people delay their western hunt is failure to make decisions. First and foremost of which, is what do you want to hunt.

Once you decide the species you want to hunt, you have to ask yourself some questions. Not just the species, but do you want trophy only, knowing the odds are stacked against you drawing a tag. Or, do you just want to go hunting and are you willing to apply for an easier to draw tag, knowing the trophy quality might not be that great.

Here is my analysis of the spectrum of quality versus quantity, by state, and by species. As you see, it varies greatly.


As you can see by the chart below, some states have high quality for almost all species available. This is a function of the limited habitat and how strictly populations must be managed, given the habitat restrictions. Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah would fall into these categories. These are very arid locations and quality can be very dependent upon moisture and the quality of forage provided by moisture, or lack thereof.

Drawing a quality tag in one the states listed below is no guarantee of a trophy, but in most instances, your odds of seeing one, or multiple mature animals is very good. Many hunters show up for these hunts with the illusion that record book animals are behind every bush. Obviously, that is not the case. Looking at the record book and how few animals qualify, it is apparent that even a coveted tag is not a dead cinch to shooting a record book animal.

Quality (relative to other states)
  Mule Deer Whitetail Deer Coues Deer Antelope Elk Mountain Goat Shiras Moose Rocky Mtn. Bighorn Desert Bighorn California Bighorn
AZ X   X X X       X  
CO X X       X X X    
ID X X       X X X   X
MT   X     X X X X    
NV X     X X X   X X X
NM X   X X X     X X  
UT X     X X X X      
WY X X   X X X X X    


Opportunity to hunt is first and foremost to preserving the future of our pastime. The states listed below have the benefit of offering great non-resident opportunity. This opportunity often comes at a price of quality. Many states are steeped in hunting tradition and the state fish and game agencies respond to that influence by managing for hunter opportunity first, quality second.

Many of the states listed below have the chance to purchase some of these tags over the counter, or as left over tags, following the first draw. Some hunts I have listed are plentiful compared to other states, yet are still very difficult to draw. Example would be any of the moose, goat, or sheep tags.

Do not think for a minute that trophies are absent in these states. Every year, record book heads are taken on the general rifle elk hunts in Montana and Wyoming. The same can be said for mule deer in Colorado and pronghorn in Wyoming. Don't hang your hunting season on one of the lottery odds hunts listed above. Consider one of the states below as an alternative to the likely event you don't draw your dream hunt.

Quantity (relative to other states)
  Mule Deer Whitetail Deer Coues Deer Antelope Elk Mountain Goat Shiras Moose Rocky Mtn. Bighorn Desert Bighorn California Bighorn
AZ     X**           X  
CO X**     X X** X        
ID X** X**     X** X X     X
MT X X   X X X        
NV                 X X
NM     X X X          
UT X     X     X      
WY X** X**   X** X**   X X    

** Over the counter or leftover tags may be available.

Species Easiest State to Obtain a Rifle Tag State with Greatest Trophy Potential
Mule Deer Idaho Colorado
Whitetail Deer Idaho Montana or Colorado
Coues Deer Arizona or New Mexico Arizona
Antelope Wyoming Arizona, New Mexico, or Nevada
Elk Colorado or Idaho Arizona, Utah, or Nevada
Mountain Goat Montana Montana
Shiras Moose Idaho Idaho
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Wyoming Montana
Desert Bighorn Nevada Arizona or Nevada
California Bighorn Idaho Nevada

For the sake these blog entries, I have decided I want to hunt elk. I will walk you through the step-by-step process that will make my out of state elk hunt a reality. Whether I chose my quarry to be elk, mule deer, antelope, or any other western big game species, my approach will be the same.

Having decided that I want to hunt elk, I am going to look at all the western states that offer good non-resident elk hunts.

First, I need to decide if I want to hunt a state that has extreme quality, yet very difficult chances of drawing a tag. Or am I happy with a hunt that might have fewer trophy bulls, but gives me a great chance to draw a tag.

Second, I must determine if I want to hunt bulls, cows, or find a tag that gives me the option to hunt either sex, on the same tag.

Third, I need to identify the states that provide ample public land for me to hunt, given that for most On Your Own hunts, public or other accessible lands are the places that provide the best "cost to quality" ratio for western hunting.

Given all those considerations, I am looking for an elk hunt that would provide me a good chance to draw, and if I am lucky, would possibly find a real nice bull. I also want to apply for a state that has good amounts of public land.

With all those considerations, I am going to apply in Wyoming. I could apply for one of the limited entry hunts that are known for their quality, but given this is the first year I have applied, I don't have any preference points, making for slim odds of drawing one of these limited entry tags.

I have decided I will apply for the General tag in Wyoming. The odds for a non-resident are really good, and if I draw, I can hunt both archery and rifle season, if my schedule allows. Many great elk areas covered as part of this General tag, and most of it is public land.

My decision has been made. Now, all I need to do is get online and apply. Sit back, and hope I am one of the lucky people who draw the tag.

Keep checking OutdoorChannel.com for more exclusive articles from Randy Newberg on how to make your dreams of a Western hunt a reality!

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