First Western Big Game Hunt where I am applying for tag/tags. Pronghorn and possibly mule deer.

WVgoodguy22

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Agreed, I have been wanting to do a Western turkey trip and put it off the last few years because I could not find anyone to go with. Bought a license this Spring, went and had an awesome time hunting and trout fishing. 2600 miles over 6 days. You can do it too.
That is awesome to hear. I actually want to head out to possibly Nebraska for Merriams and Rios next spring. I am hoping to go with my Dad who is a turkey nut and two of my brothers including one who is still serving the country as a Marine.
 

WVgoodguy22

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Some very good information already on not needing a truck and the ability to hunt solo is more about the obstacles you create for yourself. To second what @GrantK & @wllm already mentioned, I knew this year that I wanted to do an out of state turkey hunt. I cleared it with my wife to either go to Nebraska or Kentucky solo. After watching some THP & Freshtracks Nebraska videos, that sealed the deal on purchasing the tag to go to Nebraska instead of hunting "just another Eastern" in Kentucky. I bought the tag and then after the fact invited my hunting buddies to go. My closest friend and hunting buddy couldn't get away from work. Probably my furthest friend (also lived in a different state) and the person I would have thought to be least likely to go on an out of state turkey hunt agreed to go as soon as I mentioned it to him. I also mentioned my naivety to hunting a specific location in Nebraska and got some really good pointers from some folks here on HT.

There are lots of tag options still available. I actually just posted in the "looking for a hunting partner" channel yesterday about looking for someone to lineup with to apply for antlerless tags in Utah or any of the remaining OTC or leftover/2nd draws still open. The deadline is passed for WY Pronghorn, but there are still plenty of options to hunt out west. I'd even go with you. But putting up your own roadblocks and posting publicly about...

...makes it so I wouldn't want you riding along in my truck ( ;) ;) ) if I'm the one who has to do all the driving!
As I mentioned above to wihunter12 I too want to head out to Nebraska next spring since they have two species of turkeys in the Merriams and Rios and hopefully bring my Dad and two of my brothers. As long as no big life changing events happen all of us should be able to go.
Yes there are some opportunities out there with some OTCs and Leftover draws. If I was more apt with archery equipment I know that there are OTC tags for pronghorn to be had in Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota. My goal and dream is to hunt pronghorn in every state that I can DIY public land style no matter which weapon type gets me the tag the quickest. Then sprinkle in deer and elk, etc...

I havent driven solo more than 3.5 hours. I can drive longer than a couple hours, even if I don't like to. But going on a hunting trip or fishing trip gives one inspiration and a goal to drive towards.
 

oxn939

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Don't over think it too much, I'd 100% fly into Denver rent a cheap sedan and drive up.

This is what I always do. Especially with the way gas is now, driving all that way seems kinda crazy.

Separately, wllm, that's sick you drew up in AK. I expect we applied for some of the same ones. Got some SA on those if you're still in the intel gathering phase of things
 

Khunter

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Have deccided this is the most irrational f*ed up soap opera thread that is painful to event read as a realistic and rational person.

“cant afford to rent a truck”
“never drove over 3.5 hours before a d hate to drive over two”
“ my goal is to hunt pronghorn in every state DIY but it has to be within a 2 hour drive of WV cuz long drives are too daunting”
“worried about expense to hunt lope, my dream animal but gonna blow a wad of cash hunting birds with a brain the size of a pea a thousand miles away”



I wish the OP all the best but surmise he is full of beans…

KHunter OUT!
 
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gwhunter

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I havent driven solo more than 3.5 hours. I can drive longer than a couple hours, even if I don't like to.

I'm not going to go as far as Khunter, but I really think you might be setting some unrealistic goals for yourself; especially since mentioning multiple times how difficult driving a distance is for you.

On my turkey trip this year I drove 5 hours after work to pickup my buddy in Indianapolis and then left his house at 10:00pm and drove straight through to the NF near Chadron and arrived to our camping spot at 2:30pm mountain time (19ish hours continuous driving plus the 5 to Indy) and this was one of the easiest driving trips out west I've ever done, including the times when we stopped at a hotel to sleep for 6 or 7 hours.

We did alternate drivers while the other person slept, but a tank of fuel lasts 400 miles in between fill-ups so it was around 5 hours in between stops. I'm thinking you might be better served combing the threads on how to pack for airline travel with firearms and the best places to rent hunting capable vehicles.

I wish you luck, but I think you have some major logistics concerns to figure out or overcome before your first western hunting trip.
 

woods89

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My first elk hunt started with me leaving my house at 6 am and driving 16 hours solo basically only stopping for fuel, and to replace a taillight bulb just east of Wichita. I did that trip in a 14 year old 3/4 ton diesel, and I had a cooler with drinks and sandwiches with me to save time. I got to my buddies house that evening, put my pack together, and we left his house at 3:30am the next morning. I didn't fill a tag that trip, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

About 7 years ago when I was thinking about hunting out west, my buddy told me that if I wanted to do something like this I needed to just put it on the calendar and go. That is one of the better pieces of advice I've been given. I've had opportunities to cancel every time, I think. I did have to cancel one year due to a fire burning in our hunting area, but within reason, you have to commit and overcome the challenges.

I talk to people all the time who are going to do one of these trips "one of these years". In the back of my mind I'm always thinking "yeah right...."

Best of luck, op. None of these trips are easy or convenient.
 

WVgoodguy22

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This is what I always do. Especially with the way gas is now, driving all that way seems kinda crazy.

Separately, wllm, that's sick you drew up in AK. I expect we applied for some of the same ones. Got some SA on those if you're still in the intel gathering phase of things
Yeah $4.70+ for regular unleaded is pretty crazy and long trip prohibitive for many. I have thought of that as an option. I know that when we took the 28+ hour trip to SE Idaho, some folks from the other group flew into Salt Lake City, UT and drove up in AWD and 4x4 crossovers.
I have flown twice now. Once to AK and to SC. The flights out were good but the return flights were horrible. My brother and I had our connecting flight ✈️ from Anchorage to Chicago canceled and couldn’t leave for another 5.5 hours, a 6 hour layover in Seattle all while hoping our salmon and birds wouldn’t unthaw including two I wanted mounted. I was stuck in NYC for 23 hours trying to get back to Pittsburgh from Charleston, SC.
Still an option and I would look into the cost of possibly bringing home game ranging from pronghorn to elk. I know that they do bull moose and caribou from AK many times a year. Thanks 🙏
 

WVgoodguy22

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Have decoded this is the most irrational f*ed up soap opera thread that is painful to event read as a realistic and rational person.

“cant afford to rent a truck”
“never drove over 3.5 hours before a d hate to drive over two”
“ my goal is to hunt pronghorn in every state DIY but it has to be within a 2 hour drive of WV cuz long drives are too daunting”
“worried about expense to hunt lope, my dream animal but gonna blow a wad of cash hunting birds with a brain the size of a pea a thousand miles away”



I wish the OP all the best but surmise he is full of beans…

KHunter OUT!
@Khunter I sincerely apologize for being so all over the place and indecisive that I frustrated you enough to post this.

I know that it’s my fault for not planning financially for this to be a solo trip including travel costs from multiple states away, when I should have as many people who have been through the same thing have stated. Instead of hoping and relying upon having two others or more to split the cost 💲 with. My brother told me that it cost us $700 to rent a new F-150 for 10 days on our trip for mule deer 🦌 in Idaho back in 2019. Not to mention the fuel cost which would be half of what it is now 3 years later.
I don’t have the experience of driving more than about 3.5 hours one way solo, but I have to start somewhere and I have plenty of podcasts and podcasters that are in my rotation to keep me entertained and informed on a long trip. I am sure that the further I go and the more times that I do it, I will get use to it. Just like many motivational speakers and successful entrepreneurs and traveling hunters have said, “you have to get out of your comfort zone to be successful, to start and take risks.” I definitely need to do that for myself.
The Pronghorn Pursuit is definitely a goal and dream of mine. I have 1-3 points in practically every state and I need to start somewhere including making a short to long term plan. Another hunt goal is a Turkey 🦃 Grand Slam and we only have Easterns here in WV, so I have to go west for the Merriams, Rios, and SW for the Goulds and Florida for the Osceolas. Turkey 🦃 is my Dad’s favorite and he needs to experience hunting them outside of around the house 🏡 and so do I.
I need to get more income streams than one so that I can increase my hunting budget and save for other important things in life.
Good luck 🍀 this season in whatever you draw and decide to go after.
 

WVgoodguy22

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@gwhunter @woods89 thanks for sharing your long distance solo drive stories with me. Opens my eyes more. I will have to get out of my comfort zone and go for it. I can’t keep waiting on others, even family or I won’t be able to go experience things that I want to and dream about as often as I could otherwise.

When my brother and I went to Alaska for that waterfowl hunting giveaway that I won, we didn’t have any real issues with the TSA and our firearms check in. Had a double gun pelican case with approved locks 🔐 that used keys. Our ammo was in plastic ammo boxes with those same TSA locks and put in my luggage 🧳 that had my clothes and was checked in. We arrived 4 hours early to Pittsburgh International thinking that we were going to have issues, but thankfully it went smooth.
I definitely will comb through the threads to learn more. Knowledge is power. Thanks again and good luck 🍀 this year.
 

WVgoodguy22

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Thank you 🙏🏻 everyone who replied on this thread and offered me some good advice and information, called me out in my confusion and trepidation about such a long trip especially if done solo, and the excuses that came with that.
Makes me realize even more how a western hunt or any hunt that is not around the house is a year round venture that one has to plan and budget for as early as possible for the hunt or hunts one wants to do.
Definitely mind and eye 👁 opening. I will have to plan on doing a solo hunt like the Wyoming mule deer 🦌 and pronghorn hunt that I mentioned. Next year I will have 4 points. Hopefully 🙏🏻 they don’t cut tags 🏷 again and go 90/10 for deer/elk/pronghorn.
 

Bob-WY

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fly do Denver and rent a car due to gas????? Have you seen the price of flights?? Looking to fly WY to NH next week, we ended up booking out of Rapid City SD, 3.5 hour drive each way, so that the flights were under $1000 each seat!

It's gotten silly expensive to travel
 

np307

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fly do Denver and rent a car due to gas????? Have you seen the price of flights?? Looking to fly WY to NH next week, we ended up booking out of Rapid City SD, 3.5 hour drive each way, so that the flights were under $1000 each seat!

It's gotten silly expensive to travel
How far out did you try to book? I was looking at hunting season flight prices and could fly NC to Denver for under $500 round trip.
 

np307

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Makes me realize even more how a western hunt or any hunt that is not around the house is a year round venture that one has to plan and budget for as early as possible for the hunt or hunts one wants to do.
One thing I would encourage you to do is to really try to get an idea of what a realistic hunt schedule is. How often do you want to go West? How often is it feasible? I'll give you an example of how I approach that hunting plan.

When I decided to start pursuing Western game I knew that it wasn't feasible to hunt every year for financial, time, family, and work constraints. I would love to spend a month out there every year but it just can't happen without sacrificing things I'm not willing to let go. Every other year, though, is doable.

So my wife and I sat down and talked through what it would look like for all of the other goals we have. Odd numbered years are the trips I plan for. Even numbered years I can put in for hail Mary tags that would be worth shifting some stuff around but not reliable enough to constantly plan on drawing them.

The result? One other buddy wanted to join onto the hunting schedule and so thats how we plan. Next up is mule deer in '23. Some years we may have others go, some day he may have to back out. But the plan is still there. So I know that I need to be watching mule deer draw odds and harvest stats in prep for next year and we will probably decide the '25 trip right after the '23 trip is done.

Maybe you don't want to hunt that often. Maybe you can only swing 3 hunts a decade. Thats fine. That means your planning will end up more "quality" unit driven rather than "accessible" driven.

All that rambling to say: you're right. This isn't the kind of thing you can just "wish" your way into doing. You've gotta follow draw odds and unit choices to figure out a plan.
 

2rocky

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Don't let Analysis paralysis burn up your hunting slush fund. Use your gohunt and pick some hunts you can draw.

Use an online program to collect money throughout the year leading up to the hunt to make your group have $kin in the game. Cheddarup is an example. It breaks it down in to manageable chunks....If they have money saved up then they WILL want to go.
 

WVgoodguy22

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One thing I would encourage you to do is to really try to get an idea of what a realistic hunt schedule is. How often do you want to go West? How often is it feasible? I'll give you an example of how I approach that hunting plan.

When I decided to start pursuing Western game I knew that it wasn't feasible to hunt every year for financial, time, family, and work constraints. I would love to spend a month out there every year but it just can't happen without sacrificing things I'm not willing to let go. Every other year, though, is doable.

So my wife and I sat down and talked through what it would look like for all of the other goals we have. Odd numbered years are the trips I plan for. Even numbered years I can put in for hail Mary tags that would be worth shifting some stuff around but not reliable enough to constantly plan on drawing them.

The result? One other buddy wanted to join onto the hunting schedule and so thats how we plan. Next up is mule deer in '23. Some years we may have others go, some day he may have to back out. But the plan is still there. So I know that I need to be watching mule deer draw odds and harvest stats in prep for next year and we will probably decide the '25 trip right after the '23 trip is done.

Maybe you don't want to hunt that often. Maybe you can only swing 3 hunts a decade. Thats fine. That means your planning will end up more "quality" unit driven rather than "accessible" driven.

All that rambling to say: you're right. This isn't the kind of thing you can just "wish" your way into doing. You've gotta follow draw odds and unit choices to figure out a plan.
Such a great point. I myself would love to have a ten day window in the fall not including the two days driving on each end to hunt every fall. But I believe that it’s more realistic, for the many reasons that you mentioned to go every other year. I have 1-3 points for elk. Deer 🦌 and pronghorn in the majority of states with points.
 

woods89

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One thing I would encourage you to do is to really try to get an idea of what a realistic hunt schedule is. How often do you want to go West? How often is it feasible? I'll give you an example of how I approach that hunting plan.

When I decided to start pursuing Western game I knew that it wasn't feasible to hunt every year for financial, time, family, and work constraints. I would love to spend a month out there every year but it just can't happen without sacrificing things I'm not willing to let go. Every other year, though, is doable.

So my wife and I sat down and talked through what it would look like for all of the other goals we have. Odd numbered years are the trips I plan for. Even numbered years I can put in for hail Mary tags that would be worth shifting some stuff around but not reliable enough to constantly plan on drawing them.

The result? One other buddy wanted to join onto the hunting schedule and so thats how we plan. Next up is mule deer in '23. Some years we may have others go, some day he may have to back out. But the plan is still there. So I know that I need to be watching mule deer draw odds and harvest stats in prep for next year and we will probably decide the '25 trip right after the '23 trip is done.

Maybe you don't want to hunt that often. Maybe you can only swing 3 hunts a decade. Thats fine. That means your planning will end up more "quality" unit driven rather than "accessible" driven.

All that rambling to say: you're right. This isn't the kind of thing you can just "wish" your way into doing. You've gotta follow draw odds and unit choices to figure out a plan.
This is a great post. My wife and I had the same conversation, and I also go west every other year. I try to use the off year to upgrade gear that i think needs to be replaced.
 

WVgoodguy22

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This is a great post. My wife and I had the same conversation, and I also go west every other year. I try to use the off year to upgrade gear that i think needs to be replaced.
I actually am game for that. There are hunt opportunities in the east that one can do on the off western hunting year. Whether another whitetail hunting state, fall bear 🐻, wild boar 🐗 etc…
 

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