DIY Hunts for the Blue Collar Hunter
By Josh Kirchner
As a kid, hunting season to me looked like heading up to annual deer camp with my Dad. Even though I obviously cherished every season out there with Pops, hunting season ended after that point. There was no, “what’s next?” What was next, was next year’s hunting camp. Things like elk hunting sounded like far fetched ideas, especially out of state. A once in a lifetime opportunity.
I’d say the same thing about other species and hunts. Hunting takes time and way more money than either of us have right? I used to think that way. Now that I’m older, hunting has really takes up most of my year. What was once an annual event has turned into a year round pursuit. From the outside looking in, hunting all year after a variety of species might sound like a rich man’s game. I assure you that my wallet is pretty easy to sit on, and these adventures are more than doable for many blue collar hunters out there. Here are some blue collar tips for the DIY blue collar hunter looking to extend their season.
Pick a Species
Before we set off into the hills in hot pursuit of game, we need to figure out what game we are wanting to chase. What has always piqued your interest? If it is something like elk or mule deer, these can both be hunted every year right in the lower 48. Several states out there offer OTC elk and mule deer opportunities during several different seasons, depending on what your cup of tea is. Whether it is archery elk in September or rifle mule deer in October/November, you can absolutely go hunting. Black bears are another animal that offer a wide variety of opportunity. OTC seasons can be found for both spring and fall hunts no matter the weapon choice (within reason). Now, if we’re talking something like caribou, things are a tad different, but still totally in reach. The only thing that would be different is travel costs, which will come with some financial forethought that we’ll talk about later. These may sound like dream hunts, and in their own right they are, but each of them are completely accessible to the regular Joe like you and me.
Need to Have a lot of Money?
“A rich man’s game” is what I mentioned earlier in regard to hunting. I can see why it might seem like this while you’re window shopping for adventure. We live in a world where good times cost money right? You’ve gotta pay for your enjoyment. Whether that’s taking your spouse out to dinner, or going to a concert, you’re paying. There are for sure ways that a hunter can deplete their bank account in the name of adventure. Guided hunts all over the world are a great way to get rid of some extra cash burning a hole in your pocket. For those that prefer their pockets unharmed though, don’t worry. While hunting isn’t free, this isn’t a rich man’s game by any means. So, the answer to the question above is NO. You don’t have to have a lot of money. If that were the case, there would be a whole lot less of us doing this. While we do live some pretty cush lives nowadays, most of us aren’t living on easy street. Nonetheless, those that choose to, make these adventures happen. Why? Because, we prioritize our time and money.
Make Hunting a Priority
There are some folks that are cars and others that may revel in sports. People have their things that they are into, passions and hobbies alike. If hunting is “your thing” and you want to get out in the field more, than you need to prioritize your life a bit. There are many things that I don’t partake in because of my love for the outdoors. I’m not the guy that you’ll find socializing at the local bar. I’m the guy you’ll find filling up his gas tank at 3 a.m. headed for bear country to get some scouting in. Or heading to the archery range first thing in the morning, instead of sitting home and watching T.V. on a day off. Expensive every day clothing or fancy cars aren’t in my to do list either. I’m a jeans and t-shirt, pb&j eating fella, that drives a pickup truck. Instead of eating out every day, I try and save my money for tags, gas, and gear. Outside of family, hunting takes up most of my time, because I’ve chosen to make it that way. It’s “my thing.” You can do the same.
Come up with a Strategy
So, you may not need a lot of money to do this stuff, but I will say that organizing said money really helps out. The first out of state archery elk hunt I ever did took place in Colorado. For years I had contemplated pulling this adventure off, but never went through with it. I had just about had enough about saying “someday.” Finally, I calculated out how much money I’d need to make the trip a reality. From gas money to my tag and everything in between. The number I came up with was $1200. From that point for the next year I saved $100 a month. While it took discipline to not spend as much each month, guess what? At the end of that, I went elk hunting and had a blast doing it. Having that “travel fund” set aside let me not worry about coming up with the money when the time came to pony up for everything. Another thing that one can do to aid here is setting up an automatic transfer into a savings account or something. This will not only build up your hunting fund, but you won’t have to even think about it during the whole process. There won’t be that “oh, I forgot to set that money aside” moment. Out of sight, out of mind.
The point here is to run the numbers on your trip and add up the costs, figure out how much money you can set aside for your hunt, how long it will take you, and then stick to your plan.
We are sitting in what I call “prep season” right now. The time when we’re shooting our bows/rifles, getting gear dialed, and applying for tags across the country. It’s the planning part of the year. An exciting time no doubt, and arguably just as exciting as opening day. The anticipation runs like molasses. Those of us that have structured our lives in the ways mentioned above are sitting here wondering what our year will look like and salivating for the next adventure. We might not know exactly where we’re going, but we know we’ll be out in the field. Whether that is for a coveted elk tag in Arizona or an OTC bear tag right in our home state. Make your own reality and write your own story. Opportunity is out there, it’s just about going and getting it. Sink your teeth in and don’t let go.