If you are an Eastern hunter you probably have dreamed about a guided, big game hunt out west. Maybe for sheep? If so you can partially blame that on Jack O’Connor and Outdoor Life but understand that Sheep hunts are expensive! In most cases you can buy a used pickup in very good shape or even new one for the price of a guided big horn, desert, dall or stone sheep hunt.
Guided elk hunts can be pricey too. On top of the $ 6000 to $ 10,000 price tag there is no guarantee you will even get a shot unless you book a hunt behind a high fence and if that’s your plan, why go all the way to Colorado? High fence elk hunting operations exist all over the East coast. Of course there is mule deer. But now, like whitetail deer, expect to pay in excess of $ 3000 for a quality, guided mule deer hunt. I had an excellent mule deer hunt in 2006 but it dug deep into my pocket and freelance writers have either shallow pockets or pockets with holes in them.
The way to go for a first time, guided, Western hunt is pronghorn and here is why:
1. Pronghorn hunts are affordable, usually starting at around $ 1700 for three days.
2. The hunting is not physically demanding. You will spend about half the time in a truck or in a blind.
3. You won’t need a great deal of gear: A rifle, scope, binoculars and clothing for moderate weather will usually suffice.
4. Deer rifles work on pronghorn, no are magnums required. Most any .243, .30-06 and even a .30 -30 can work just fine.
5. If you have heard rumors that antelope meat is not good to eat, you heard wrong. Pronghorns taste great and are small enough to home in a cooler.
6. You will see plenty of animals and have the opportunity to pick from many bucks.
7. You can combine an antelope hunt with some prairie dog shooting, in many cases for no additional cost.
8. It is a great social hunt that you can share with a young kid, a spouse or maybe your father who has bad knees.
Another thing to consider is if you have not been on a guided hunt before, a $ 6000 hunt is not the hunt you want to learn about all the things you should have asked the outfitter about before you booked. If you have been heading to deer camp for several years you have learned the game, what to take and how much of it. With an outfitted hunt things are different and the best way to learn what questions to ask the outfitter is to actually go on an outfitted hunt. This will give you an opportunity to learn what services an outfitter generally provides and which ones are important to you.
My first pronghorn hunt was with Kahles Optics. They had contracted the services of Doug Miller near Gillette, Wyoming. We stayed at Doug’s house which he has configured for hunters and his wife fed us good home cooking. By noon on the first day I had seen more antelope than I knew existed. By dark we had two pronghorns that would make SCI and one that would make Boone & Crocket.
A fully guided, Western big-game hunt is something every hunter should experience. But it’s also a learning experience. With pronghorn you will learn about license applications, the outfitting process and get your first taste of western hunting at a price that won’t have you sleeping on the couch for a week. Some may consider a first, western hunt for pronghorn as staring small but pronghorn, which are neither antelope nor goat, are one of the most unique animals on the planet and one of my favorite to hunt.
Contact: Miller Outfitting; (307) 682-5815; www.milleroutfitting.com