How to plan for an out of state hunt...
I thought if we shared ideas on what we do to prepare for our adventures far from home perhaps we could learn from each other and help those who might be trying to tackle it for the first time. I'm planning a hunt for Wyoming for Mule deer and Antelope next year for myself and a group of friends. This will make my 3rd trip up there and aside from the previous 2 trips I've only hunted close to home. I would love to here from some of you who have hunted with groups of family and friends to figure out what factors into the planning and execution of your hunts. I'm referring to DIY hunts. Aside from the obvious (cheap airfare, hotels, rentel cars, etc.) what has been the things you've found most helpful and also what turned out to be a disaster.
I have searched through all the drawing odds, success rates, etc. from the Game and Fish website. I've narrowed my search down to a couple of areas that I feel best suit the needs of the majority in our group (you can never please everybody). Now that I have the where narrowed down I use the web and search out any info I can find on those areas. You could find hours of reading if you look hard enough. I search out people who might have experience in those areas and reach out to them for help. I have found most people to be really helpful as long as you dont come off like someone who just wants coordinates to the next big buck/bull in the area. I call the regional G&F office and talk to eveybody that will return my messages. I call BLM, NF, State and soak in what info they give me. I take good notes and compare that info with all my other research. I look for consistency and things they may not add up. I take everything with a grain of salt and keep in mind not to let one opinion decide my fate. Ask good questions like public access, type of terrain, typical weather, how are the roads, nearby gas/ food/ lodging, meat processors, and ask about the overall quality of the hunt. I always ask where the majority of hunting pressure is so I can avoid crowds. Thats a double edge sword because sometimes going with the flow can pay off and you might find out after wasting a few days of your hunt there's a reason you haven't seen a soul.
Eventually you just have to trust in your research and hope for the best. Now its time to plan the logistical part of the hunt. Are you driving or flying? Hotel, cabin, drop camp, or bringing camp with you? It has been my experience from AZ to WY its cheapest to drive and bring camp with me. Even though I own big toyhauler I dont want to drag that beast all over the country. I tow a small Jumpin Jack trailer and since we are bringing a big group its a wall tent and cots. Some groceries are bought ahead of time and some picked up at a grocery store on the way. We have decided to start a kitty that everyone will contribute to equally. Mixing money and friends can sometimes lead to problems so make sure to set the rules on how the money is used and make sure everyone agrees before starting it. If you feel the need to have everyone sign a contract its not a bad idea. We aren't taking it that far but we have agreed to make it nonrefundable except in extreme cases (death in the family). If 1 or 2 guys back out at the last minute it could leave the whole group high and dry.
Another question to ask during your research is good places to camp. Planning your travels so that you arrive before lunch helps a lot. Its not easy finding a good spot in the dark in a strange place. When traveling with a group allow for a few hours of delay and even more if you have to travel in bad weather. So now your at camp. Set up, unpack, help each other out and CHECK THE ZERO ON YOUR RIFLE OR BOW. The time to practice and learn the ins and outs of your weapons was the preceding months and years. It should not take but a few rounds to get the zero set. Bring extra ammo just in case it takes more. As a guide here in AZ I've seen first hand guys show up who had no idea how to properly use their equipment. Know your weapon and your ammo! I had one guy show up with 3 or 4 of this type of ammo and a few of that. All your planning and anticipation was for nothing if you cant hit the animal. Of course I know none of you here on LRH would ever do such a thing.
Like I said I've only gone out of state a couple of times and this is what I've learned thus far. This is just a reference to help anybody out who may not know where to start. Keep it simple and fun and remember to make it about a quality experience for the group. Success is not measured in inches. There have been other topics written about backpack hunts and I can't comment on horseback hunts. This is my experience so take it with a grain of salt.
I'd love to hear from you on things that have made your camps memorable. Any suggestions on the logistics of planning a trip or even the best prank to pull on your pals. Best of luck on your next adventure!
If your not questioning your sanity your not hunting hard enough!!!