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Managing Your Expectations on Out-of-State Hunts

A hunter has got to know their limitations, especially when hunting out of state.

Managing Your Expectations on Out-of-State Hunts

Putting down a mature whitetail is no easy feat, so learning how to manage your expectations as a hunter is vital, especially when traveling to new destinations. (Photo courtesy of Alex Comstock)

Hunting out of state can seem daunting. Especially if you’ve never ventured outside of your home state to hunt, it can be overwhelming. Where do you start, where do you even go, what do you bring, heck what if you actually shoot something? There’s a lot of questions that need to be answered. I did my first out of state hunt roughly seven years ago in 2014 to Nebraska. Since then, other than my home state of Minnesota, I’ve hunted Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin. I’ve also filmed hunts as far as Alberta, so I’ve had my fair share of experiences. When figuring out how to pull it off and what your expectations should be, it begins at the first stage, and that’s figuring out where to hunt.

When I first started hunting out of state, I wanted to do it somewhat close. And I’d highly recommend that, especially for starting out. Obviously, a lot depends on where you live, but look at what states border you or are a state or two away?

With me, Nebraska and North Dakota made the most sense, given that I knew I could find good hunting in both states. From there, you need to identify whether you’re hunting public or private. Your goals could change drastically depending on what you come up with here. In Nebraska, I focus on permission ground because my cousin lives down there and is able to get us on private pieces. In North Dakota, I’ve mainly focused on public land because there is so much of it and a lack of hunter pressure.


Managing Your Expectations on Out-of-State Hunts
Scouting can look different for every hunter, but no matter where you go, be sure to observe as much as you can before your first hunt, even if that means using online resources. (Photo courtesy of Alex Comstock)

Once you determine where to hunt, the next step is scouting and figuring out where to hunt within the general area you’ve selected. The scouting step can look different for everyone, depending on your situation. In a perfect world, you’re able to spend as much time e-scouting as possible, then go get boots on the ground for a weekend ahead of time. If you can plan ahead of time, I like to do my initial e-scouting in the winter so I can do my boots on the ground scouting in the spring, before summer. It doesn’t always work out that way, but if you can make it happen that way, that’s the best. It can be much harder to scout new areas in the summer compared to the spring.

Once you get into the actual hunt, there are a lot of things to consider. What do you need to pack, where are you going to stay, are you going alone or with a buddy? Heck, how do you know what to consider a “shooter” when hunting out of state. All these things must be thought of.

When I’m hunting out of state, I’m always looking for the most affordable lodging option. It’s actually a big reason why I hunt where I do in North Dakota and Nebraska. In North Dakota, I stay with buddies and in Nebraska, I stay with my cousin. Therefore, I don’t have to pay for lodging at all. Obviously, this isn’t typically the case in most situations. I’d recommend looking into cheap motels or a camping system whether you find a campground you can throw up a tent.

Don't Travel Alone

Managing Your Expectations on Out-of-State Hunts
Grab some buddies and hit the road this fall! Our guess is you'll make memories that last a lifetime regardless of the hunting success. (Photo courtesy of Alex Comstock)

I always prefer going on an out-of-state trip with a buddy. For me, deer hunting is so much about creating memories and the people I spend time with doing it. For that reason alone, I prefer doing a trip with someone. Some people like to hunt alone, but even for those of you that prefer that, you can still do the hunting trip with a buddy; just go your separate ways when hunting, even if you’re hunting the same parcel of land. Having someone with you allows you to come back from hunting and share stories and split costs for the trip, not to mention it makes hunting much more enjoyable. Lastly, it's always safer to have another hunter with you. Someone to help out and someone who knows exactly where you've set off to. 

Be Prepped for Adversity

Managing Your Expectations on Out-of-State Hunts
Author Alex Comstock pictured here with his out-of-state velvet buck. (Photo courtesy of Alex Comstock)

A couple of other things to consider, especially when it comes to managing expectations on an out-of-state hunt is the local hunting pressure, what gear you need to bring and what to consider a shooter. I feel as you’ve got to base everything around what kind of pressure there is. For instance, I always bring a hang and hunt system because I never know how much pressure there could be. I want to be as mobile as possible at all times. If there’s a ton of pressure, it can be much harder to get on a good buck in a week’s time. When it comes to deciding what you should shoot, I want to shoot a “representative” buck. I’m not necessarily going to hold out for the biggest buck in the area, but I’m not going to drive seven hours to shoot a two-year-old buck either. Shoot what makes you happy, but don’t feel as though you have to shoot a giant just because you traveled to a state like Kansas to hunt.

As you think about planning and managing an out-of-state hunt, keep these things at the forefront of your mind. They’re all important and play a vital role in not only your success but for you to have the most enjoyable experience possible.

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