If you could bowhunt 12 months out of the year, would you?
For some, it sounds like a dream opportunity, while others see it as a sure bet for job loss and divorce. Either way, there are, in fact, opportunities to bowhunt every month of the year somewhere across the country.
Here’s a look at how to make it happen when you’re feeling the itch to beef up your bucket list in the years ahead.
January - Coues Deer
A new year brings new opportunities for bowhunting adventure. Most bowhunters have hung their bow up by the time January rolls around, but if you’re planning to bowhunt 12 months out of the year, January is obviously the first month to make it happen.
Arizona and New Mexico are the go-to stops for hunting Coues deer, also known as the Grey Ghost due to their elusive nature. Coues deer are a smaller subspecies of the whitetail deer. They inhabit some of the most varied terrain in the country, so anything is possible when it comes to hunting styles and techniques, from spot-and-stalk to treestands.
Despite their smaller stature – Coues bucks only weighing in around 100 pounds – they are some of the most aggressive deer out there during the rut, which takes place throughout January and February. The Arizona tag will cost you $315, and the New Mexico tag rings up at $270.
February - Mountain Lion
Mountain lion hunting offers one of the most rugged pursuits of the season. Rarely will you find a freebie when it comes to chasing big cats in some of the nastiest country you’ll ever step into. Looking into the eyes of a giant cat as it sits on a limb high above the hounds is a chilling experience. You’ll quickly realize you’re looking into the eyes of a stone cold killer. There’s truly nothing like it.
Hunting with hounds is the game here, so you’ll need to find a friend or guide that has the dogs, goods, and gear to make it happen. The season for hunting lions with hounds is pretty lengthy, but February is one of the best months to make it happen. Give Idaho, Colorado, and Montana a look for some of the best lion hunting options in the west. Tags are priced at $204 (ID), $358 (CO), and $320 (MT).
March - Osceola & Rio Turkeys
Destination turkey hunts have grown in popularity over the last decade. For many, the goal of taking the Grand Slam of wild turkeys has been added to the bucket list. And two of the birds that are the most exciting to start with are the Osceola, found exclusively in Florida, and the Rio Grande, found in abundance throughout Texas. Both of these birds gobble hard and come quickly to the call. They present a really fun way to kick off the spring turkey season.
Public land options are slim to none throughout much of Florida and Texas, so look to a guide, or knock on doors, to nail down private land access for best results.
Because of their openers kicking off in March, these are the perfect birds to start the year off with. Tags are similarly priced with Florida ringing up at $125 and Texas at $126.
April - Hogs
April is another month that delivers the best of the best for turkey hunters. However, if you’re looking to change things up, and add a bonus tag to the mix, try hogs in the month of April. Pound for pound, hog hunting offers one of the best opportunities of the year for plenty of live targets and multiple arrows flung. It’s the perfect off-season pursuit and a great way to fill out the freezer if you find yourself lacking on meat. Texas and Florida are hard to beat when it comes to chasing hogs on a budget-friendly roadtrip.
In Texas, you no longer need to purchase a hunting license for hogs. Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, signed a bill into law in 2019, permitting any landowner, landowner’s agent, or lessee to take wild pigs without a hunting license. It’s a pretty sweet deal. And the same applies to hunt hogs on private land in Florida.
May - Black Bear
There are a number of options when it comes to hunting black bear in the spring, but you won’t likely find better options than Montana and Idaho. These two states offer plenty of room to roam, regardless of what style of bear hunting you prefer.
Montana offers a wealth of wide open country that makes for the ideal conditions to spot and stalk for bears as the snow comes off the mountain. Just across the state line, Idaho is heavily timbered, but you’ll still find plenty of opportunities for glassing bears before making a stalk. Idaho also allows for bear baiting, which is easily the most efficient way to score on a bear in this rugged part of the country.
The Montana black bear tag will cost you $350, while the Idaho tag comes in at just $231, and a second bear tag ringing up for just $41 more. Idaho delivers one of the most budget-friendly bear hunts you’ll find anywhere.
June - Axis Deer
People often think of high-fences and canned exotic hunts when they think of hunting Axis deer. However, opportunities abound for low-fence hunting options on what could easily be classified as the best off-season hunting experience of the year. Axis are also said to rank well above elk and deer when it comes to the best tasting game meat.
The Texas Hill Country region boasts over 30,000 Axis deer, and there’s a number of low-fence ranches that offer free-range Axis hunting. And with public land hunting options in Texas being slim, your best bet is likely to connect with one of these ranches to help you cut right to the chase.
Because it’s considered an exotic species, the only thing you’ll need for hunting Axis deer in Texas is a non-resident 5-day Special Hunting license, priced at just $48. If you’re wanting an even more exotic hunt for Axis, give Hawaii a look for an abundance of off-season Axis hunting opportunities, as well as sheep, goats, and hogs. The tag is just $125 to hunt critters on one of the most beautiful landscapes you’ll ever find.
July - Blacktail Deer & Deep South Florida Whitetail
For anyone wishing they could hunt deer in the middle of summer, California and Florida may be just the place to plan your summer hunting vacation. Both states offer deer hunting opportunities in the month of July. If you can handle the heat, these hunts make for a truly unique bowhunting experience in some beautiful country.
Getting to your treestand is half the adventure when it comes to the Florida swamp experience, particularly when gators are in the mix. Don’t forget your headlamp, and watch where you step!
Both states are also loaded with hogs making the trip a chance to double dip for a mixed bag option. California’s deer season begins in early July (regional) with tags ringing up at $317, while the Florida season cranks up the last weekend of July with a non-resident tag priced at $156.
August - Antelope
For bowhunters in the western part of the country, August 15th is nearly as exciting as Christmas morning. It’s the official kick-off to another hunting season. It’s a great chance to break in new hunting gear and draw first blood of the fall season. Where’s the best place to make it happen? Antelope can be found throughout much of the west, but two of the best places to find success are Wyoming and Montana.
As mentioned above, seasons start in these states on August 15th, and while these dates come several weeks prior to the peak of rutting activity for antelope, opportunities abound for sitting water holes, or a spot and stalk attempt where the terrain allows it.
Expect to pay $326 for the Wyoming antelope tag and $205 for the opportunity in Montana.
September - Elk
September is the month for bugling bulls in the high country. It’s the equivalent to the whitetail rut in November. It’s the month elk hunters live for. It’s an experience every bowhunter should add to the bucket list at some point.
Some of the most popular states to make it happen are Idaho and Colorado, with over the counter tags that allow you to make the trip every year, without worrying about drawing a tag. Both states see their fair share of non-resident hunters each season, but being more centrally located, Colorado tends to get the bulk of the traffic each year from hunters across the country. Having multiple hunting options, and a willingness to walk farther than the next, will be key to your success here.
The Colorado tag has gone up over the years and now rings up at $670, while the Idaho tag comes in at $651.
October - Moose
A moose tag won’t come easy, but the odds of securing one may be better than you might think, particularly in the state of Idaho. Shiras moose are found across the state, with quality bulls present in most every unit. Surprisingly, draw odds from 10%-25% are not uncommon in Idaho, which is not too shabby when compared to other western states with a 20+ year wait for a moose tag.
Maine is another state to consider when targeting the moose hunt of your dreams. The state often goes overlooked among hunters, despite holding the largest moose population in the lower 48 states. However, drawing odds are slim with over 23,000 non-residents vying for some 320 moose tags. A non-resident moose tag in Idaho will cost you $2101, and the Maine moose for a non-resident rings up at $585.
November - Rutting Whitetail Deer
November is the month when dreams become reality for the whitetail deer hunter. It’s an incredibly special time to be in the woods. Deer hunting in November accounts for more vacation time, missed meetings, skipped school – and even divorce – than any other time of the year.
There are a handful of southern states where the rut falls later on the calendar, but for most hunters across the country, November is the month when the good stuff happens. States like Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas continue to be at the top of the list for hunters in search of a big buck road trip. However, deer are plentiful most everywhere, making this one of the most achievable big game hunts of the year, regardless of whether you choose to hunt at home, or across the country.
December - Sika Deer
If you’re wanting to try something completely different, you may consider adding Sika deer to your bowhunting bucket list. According to Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, the state’s exotic Sika deer is native to southern Japan, and first appeared on Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore when Clement Henry released them on James Island in 1916. Sika deer now inhabit all of the lower Eastern Shore counties, with the highest density located in the marshes and wetlands of southern Dorchester County.
Opportunities for hunting Sika deer begin in September and continue throughout the month of January, but the December hunting segment offers the perfect hunting opportunity if you’re looking to extend your hunting options beyond the whitetail rut in November. Sika deer are basically miniature elk. They look, and sound, much like a scaled down version of the elk that hunters chase in September. It’s a unique experience that delivers a nice change in pace from the normal critters you’ll pursue throughout the season. The Sika deer tag will cost you $130, and hunting opportunities can be found on both private and public land.
Check out a Sika deer hunt with the Tethrd crew in the video below…
Bowhunting 12 months out of the year is not likely to be the best choice a hunter can make. Doing so would no doubt be detrimental to your bank account and marriage.
However, making a goal of bowhunting big game in every month of the year – over the next 12-15 years – could be a pretty exciting bucket list endeavor to help keep the fire alive.
What about you? What species on the list above have you hunted so far? Comment below, and let us know.