By Alex Comstock
Planning an out of state whitetail hunt can take a lot of work and planning to the point where it can even be intimidating if you've never done it before. I do a fair amount of out of state hunting myself and even though it can be strenuous, and difficult to pull off successfully, it can be extremely fun to hunt a new area, or a place that you end up going year after year. To get a little more insight and a different perspective from mine on out of state hunting, I reached out to Michael Mancl of The Breaking Point. Michael has done a ton of out of state hunting and had a lot of good information. You can read all about how to better plan and execute an out of state hunt by reading our Q&A below.
Q: How do you decide in the first place where you want to take an out of state trip? What factors play into this decision?
Michael: One of the biggest factors in deciding where to take an out of state trip would be the season dates and structure. Since I tend to focus on hunting my home state of Wisconsin during the end of October and early November, most of my out of state hunting is planned either during early season, the October lull, or late season. The majority of my hunting is done with my bow, so I try to plan my trips in states where I can take advantage of getting in a quality hunt when archery hunting isn't available or as logical back home.
Q: When it comes to planning an out of state hunt for you, once you've honed in on where you're going to hunt, what's the very first thing you are doing?
Michael: I typically do a few things once I hone in on a state I plan to hunt. First, I look into any information on the major trophy areas. Google usually has the answer for anything, so that's where my research begins. I key a lot on blog topics, articles, and B&C or P&Y state records. Believe it or not, Facebook can provide a lot of beneficial leads as well. There are plenty of hunting groups created for specific states that can point you in the right direction or connect you with people willing to help you in some way. Even if leasing property isn't an option, I will try to spend time looking at hunting lease web pages. They can provide a lot of helpful insight.
I also look into the tag availability and draw odds in those areas. I can then narrow down my options even further. I try to dig up as much research on any public or walk in hunting opportunities as well. There are a lot of great apps available you can utilize to do this. My personal favorite is OnX Hunt.
Q: Once you decide to hunt somewhere out of state, are you looking to plan a scouting trip ahead of time, or do you do all of your scouting and hunting in one trip?
Michael: I usually like to try and plan one scouting trip prior to hunting a new state, but sometimes with work and other life events, that isn't possible. There's nothing wrong with going in blind the first year when hunting a new state. Half the battle with any out of state hunt is getting there. If the first year is primarily dedicated to just getting your feet wet in a state that's ok.
Q: What kind of things are you planning logistically? Do you have any tips or tricks when it comes to packing or travel, or anything of that nature?
Michael: I try to pack as light as possible on any trip. I've found after many trips out of state that you never need the amount of gear, food, etc. you normally take along. With that being said however, going into a new hunt it can be hard to determine, so the first go round I will try to pack light while remaining versatile in case things aren't what I had originally planned for.
Q: What's the most challenging thing, in your opinion, when it comes to not only planning, but executing an out of state hunt? How do you overcome those?
Michael: The number one challenge no matter what hunt you are going on is trying to plan around the weather. The majority of the time my schedule doesn't allow for any sort of long term planning. I'm given a pretty limited amount of time to hunt out of state, so regardless of the weather, I have to try and make the best of it. If it is possible to make more than one trip to a given area, I try to be more strategic in my hunt. If the wind or weather front isn't ideal for that particular trip, I typically try to wait to hunt it another day when I feel my odds are better. You will only get one crack at a mature deer, so if you can be patient and go in when the time is right, your odds tend to be better.
Q: What's your typical sequence of events after arriving to where you are going to hunt for the first time? How could this change depending on what time of year you are doing your trip?
Michael: No matter what time of year I travel out of state to hunt, the first thing I do in the area I'm hunting is find the primary bedding cover and food sources. Those have to be established before hanging any stand or setting a camera. After that I begin to decipher the finer details of the hunt including: when will I hunt, how I will access it, and which areas do I need to focus on further?
Q: If you could only give one piece of advice to someone who is looking to plan their first out of state whitetail hunt this fall, what would it be?
Michael: If you're planning your first out of state hunting trip this fall, begin researching and preparing for it right now. You can never have enough information going into a new hunt. Always have a backup plan as chances are your original plans will change when you arrive at your destination. There are many factors that are out of your control and can alter from year to year (e.g. weather or crop rotation). You need a plan B for when your plan A fails you.