Overview of Hunting Vacations
For the avid outdoor enthusiast, a hunting trip or vacation can be the experience of a lifetime. Many packages exist for many different types of game, from the Dall sheep of the Rockies to the Elk of Colorado. Bird game abounds in the prairies and grasslands of the country, and lion hunting in the grasslands of Africa is second to none. Depending upon budget and one’s willingness to spend the time, there is an outdoor adventure waiting to begin.
Types of Game and Tools for Hunting Vacations
Essentially there are three major types of game: big, small, and game birds. Each category is outlined below and gives a general representation of the sizes of the animals involved.
Big Game: This category includes deer, elk, sheep, bear, antelope, mountain lion, African lion, turkey, boar and others.
Small Game: This category includes all game birds, ducks and other waterfowl, varmints, squirrels, rabbits and others.
Birds: Game birds are included as a different category because hunting waterfowl requires a different set-up than does hunting turkey or pheasant or quail, and entire sportsman’s guides have been devoted solely to the hunting of birds and waterfowl.
The tools used by the sportsman will depend on the type of hunting being done. It is considered highly challenging, and a mark of canny sportsmanship to be able to take one of the bigger game animals with a bow, especially the recurve types of bow. Archery is itself a sport, and requires more skill in tracking and woodsmanship than does hunting with a rifle. One must necessarily be closer to one’s quarry to use a bow, and many sportsmen enjoy this challenge. In many ways, you meet the game on its own turf, and your success depends upon your skills in tracking, tailing, and keeping invisible.
On the other hand, small birds and ducks require a slightly different set of skills, and a different set-up than does game that one desires to track. When bird hunting, the quarry has exceptionally good eyesight, so camouflage and stillness are essential. Clothing that blends with the environment, some form of lure or decoy, and a gun calibrated for the task are probably what the hunter wishes to invest in. With birds there is the added joy of hunting with a well-trained bird dog, and the dog is as much invested in the hunt as the person.
For bigger game rifle hunting, such as bear, whitetail deer, caribou and numerous other types of big game, the type of gun used and the kind of supplies will depend upon the environment in which one is to be hunting. Whitetails are typically found in the woods and in fields, and so the sights and the caliber of the rifle must be adjusted accordingly. Bear are generally in the mountains and woods, and the set-up for hunting them is slightly different, depending on whether one is hunting the brown, the Kodiak, or the black bear.
Wild boar hunting is as popular today as it was in medieval Europe, although boars may be taken differently. Given the strength and toughness of the animal, and given that the tusks of a board can inflict serious harm, these animals are usually hunted from platforms or tree stands. For the truly adventurous, they may be hunted from the ground and with a bow, with the understanding that one may have to run for the nearest tree if the animal turns and charges.
Clothing must be terrain and weather appropriate, and for certain types of trips, layering it is a very good idea. Included under this heading is a good, sturdy pair of boots which ought also to be waterproof if one is heading into or across terrain that is or is likely to become wet. Nothing is more miserable than hiking in cold, wet feet.
For some hunting trips, a tree stand is advisable to bring along, but be advised that many venues offer the stands already in place.
Weapons to take on Hunting Vacations
There are a number of different types of game to hunt, and the supplies and equipment will vary according to the type of game one wishes to pursue.
If game birds are what you’re after, a shotgun is the way to go. Depending on the range and the type of bird, the choke of the gun will be important as well as the weight of the shot. Pheasant and turkey may be taken equally well with a shotgun; but the choke, shot weight and pattern spread for pheasant is different than for turkey.
Likewise, the type of rifle one brings along for bigger game will depend on many things, including the terrain and the animal being hunted. For long-range hunting where the elk, sheep or antelope are wary and uncanny targets, a high-powered scope is a must, as well as a rifle that can accurately handle ranges upwards of 300 yards.
If hunting varmints, one may choose either a shotgun or a rifle. Prairie dogs are especially difficult to shoot at close range, their sight being so keen. These rodents are best taken with a long-range rifle by a good marksman with good equipment. On the other hand, the average gray or red squirrel can be taken with a shotgun and birdshot, either in a tight choke or in a broader pattern.
Locations for Hunting Vacations
The location of the hunt will depend on the type of game one is pursuing. Colorado in particular, as well as other parts of the Rocky Mountains offer superb packages for Elk, Dall Sheep, Brown Bear, and other big game. The midlands of the States offer packages for the wily antelope, as well as pheasant, dove, quail and other small and mid-sized game. Whitetail deer may be found throughout the southeastern part of the States, and private acreage exists that grows the buck of the species to phenomenal sizes. These mature deer are not hunted or shot until they reach a certain size, and by this time they have aged into canny, wily adversaries indeed. Louisiana offers a wide variety of game to fish as well as hunt, as it is known as the sportsman’s paradise.
Things to Consider for Hunting Vacations
Hunting vacations may be tailored as much as one prefers. One may choose to go on a guided hunt, where a professional outdoorsman shows a group the ropes of the country and the game in it, advises on strategy and sets up the experience even up to the shot itself. One may also choose not to have a guide, to scout the area and find the game oneself. One may choose to invest a great deal of money on the trip, the license and the equipment so that one may go it alone.
Neither method increases or decreases one’s chances of bagging a trophy. If one has enough skill and confidence as an outdoorsman, the challenge of finding and tracking the quarry can be as rewarding as actually bagging it. For the less experienced hunting enthusiast, a guided trip may be the way to go.
The clothing one wears will depend upon the terrain and the weather. Since many game animals are able to see into the infrared spectrum, it is advisable to be sure one’s clothing does not register in that spectrum. Chemical treatments remove the residue of modern laundry detergents from camouflage, rendering the clothing once again invisible to a deer or other game animal’s sight.
If one is traveling and wishes to bring the meat of the game home as well as the pictures and perhaps a head for a trophy, one must consider the laws regarding shipment of game meat, and arrange to have it packed and shipped accordingly. It is difficult, for example, to transport elk and cougar meat without the proper authorization. Pheasant meat must be shipped with the feet and spurs accompanying the meat as proof of sex of the bird, as it is illegal to shoot pheasant hens. Be aware of how the animal will return home, if it is to return home at all, and make the appropriate arrangements.