Stuart and I grew up hunting in Iowa. If we could get within bb gun range, we hunted it. We started with sparrows, then pigeons, rabbits, raccoons, and finally deer. As we progress as hunters we have started to add Western hunts to our plans. Last year Stuart and I each shot an antelope and plan to hunt elk as well this year. We believe that as an Iowa hunter you can still shoot an antelope, elk, and mule deer each year. Here is how we will approach the season.
Antelope are a bit overlooked when it comes to western hunting. They are cheap to hunt, relatively easy, and one of the most unique animals in the west. We hunted Wyoming this past August, we have covered the experience in blogs in the past. You can get a doe tag for under 100 dollars. If you only have a day or two off to go hunting, antelope offers you the best chance at success. Some areas in Wyoming antelope have 90% success rates. We hunt them with our bows until the last day and then switch to a rifle on the third day. You can combine antelope and elk into one vacation, if you spend three days hunting antelope before hunting elk for a week or two. If you want to antelope this fall the draw is open until the end of May. Understanding Wyoming draw odds can be a little tricky, but if you don’t get your application in in time there are leftover antelope tags that go on sale in late July.
Elk hunting is the most talked about western hunt around my hometown. My neighbor, a professional trapper, hunts Colorado and has 6×6 heads to show for it. Elk hunting may take two weeks if you have it and I would recommend Colorado for ease of use. We do some offseason scouting but we have found that meeting hunters in Colorado is invaluable when looking for the best place to hunt. If you can’t get any time off in the summer to go out to Colorado, call all the game wardens and people who have hunted elk in the past twenty years. If you are going to combine your antelope and elk hunting trips you can use whitetail strategies in the first week of elk season. Set up on a wallow and wait for a bull to come through in the first week of the season. You can make cow and calf sounds and rustle leaves to spark the attention of nearby bulls, but it will be a waiting game for the first part of the season.
If you have ever wished you could put a stalk on a whitetail mule deer is your hunt. Mule deer offer a much longer season than the month of elk hunting, so we can flexibly hunt these animals from September to December. Stuart is going to hunt them in South Dakota, and I will hunt them in either Colorado or Washington. If you are still in college, taking a week over Thanksgiving to hunt mule deer can work well. Jared is also considering hunting western Nebraska. If you are going to hunt South Dakota the draw is a bit unique. You can buy an over-the-counter tag for 250 dollars. The tag is an automatic draw, but you get it one month after you apply, so keep that in mind.
I hope some of this article has given you a few ideas to run with this fall. I believe many Midwestern hunters sell themselves out west and can have consistent success if they get in the right location and maximize their time. Good luck.