As someone who waited until I could afford a hunt, here's what I'd say to others who are younger, who think they can't afford a hunt, etc. Find a way to do what you want to do now. It might mean not buying the latest gadgets, owning a nicer vehicle, etc. I might even mean borrowing some money or finding a secondary source of income.. We never know what tomorrow is going to bring. I'm not saying to put a hunt ahead of your kids and family...they come first, but if you really, really want to go on a hunting adventure, find a way to do it now.
You'll find hunts for moose as well as most other big game (caribou, sheep, bear, elk, etc.) vary considerably in price from area to area.. Generally speaking, the lower the price, either the smaller the critters that are available, the numbers are low, or the hunt is for a shorter period of time. You won't regret paying a little more for a hunt with a top outfitter in a top area... You could pay for a cheaper hunt and either come home with an animal smaller than you were hoping for or none at all..
I always wanted to hunt sheep... I'd love to hunt a dall or a stone sheep, but they are expensive and I chose not to go when I was young and able. I could probably now afford a sheep hunt (it would still be a stretch), but physically I know it would be too much. I waited too long..
Hunts are not going to get any cheaper. Ten years or so ago you could hunt caribou in Quebec for under $4,000. Those prices have doubled (depending on what kind of hunt you choose to do). Unfortunately, licenses, air fare, etc. will continue to rise.
I see more and more hunters going out of state, to Canada, Africa, etc. to hunt. I don't know what the numbers are these days but I'm sure it's doubled in the past 15 or 20 years.... As more and more people travel to hunt, the demand increases and prices will go up. I know people here who have gone to Alaska, Canada, Africa, etc. who wouldn't have dreamed of doing one of those hunts 20 years ago...
You can collect "stuff" until the day you die but experiences and adventures, particularly the kind people on this site long for, are best enjoy earlier in life.
An outfitter I booked a hunt with 25 years ago had a tag line on his website "Do It Now While You Can Still Climb The Mountain". While certainly he was prompting people to get off the fence and send in their hard earned money on a deposit today.....which would be to his direct benefit....it really did resonate with me that some things actually should be acted on vs. over-thought.
I remember that little tag line a quarter of a century later, and while I would not use it as a justification to be selfish, reckeless, or fiscally irresponsible, I do use it as a reminder that adventures should be prioritized appropriately and the sooner you embark on them the longer you will have to remember them.
When you have the time, you don't have the money, and then when you have the money, you don't have the time, or health. Life's tough!
"Do a trip of a lifetime every year" - I heard first from Charlie.
"In order to experience fantastic things, you have to go to fantastic places" - I remember Bou recently quoting something like this.
"Seize the day."
I feel very lucky to have found Bowsite.com . Take care. Mike
I was very lucky to have been brought up knowing that if you want something you just have to make it happen. In my younger days it was motorcycle racing, now I am older and don't heal quite as fast so my hunting hobby has become my outlet. I will be in Africa this year, and northern BC next year chasing moose, elk, and mt. Goat. Started taking hunting trips in 2003, and have been able to do at least 1 big trip a year since then.
I am an electrician, so it takes a little to make this happen...... But there are choices to make if you want to live and do certain things. I hope more people get to actually do the things they dream of rather than hoping for some miracle to happen for them to actually chase a dream. Just decide on a trip, figure out a realistic plan, and do it!
Taking the wife to Africa in July.... Last big trip as a couple before the family starts!!
Get out and do it now.... Lock in prices and make payments!!
If you want it bad enough you can make it happen.
Good luck to all
As the sole income provider for my family it was tough to justify spending thousands of dollars on a hunting trip. I didn't seem to have any trouble justifying spending those thousands for the same trip so could carry a handful of his ashes along with me??? There is no sum of money I wouldn't pay to do that trip with my Dad right now!
This is a DIY trip that I'm now doing with a good friend. It was supposed to be a trio, but now it's a duo. I'm excited about the trip. I'm also struggling with the fact that I didn't do this sooner so my Dad could have ben with us. Granted, My Dad will be with me, but not in the way I wanted.
The doctors still don't know why/how he died. He was the poster-child for health and fitness. There are not words to describe the relationship my Dad and I shared. My life will never be the same. I would rather hunt cottontails with him than Yukon Moose or Bighorn Sheep without him.
I expected 20 more years afield with my Dad. I am unable to think in terms of years anymore. I simply want to enjoy and maximize the opportunity afforded to me each day with my family. I hope to accompany my 4 year old son on some of the trips my Dad and I enjoyed together. I expected those trips to include my son, me and my Dad. The problem with expectations is that many are beyond our control.
"Next year" is only a hope, not a certainty.
BTW, thank you for helping my good friend Adventurewriter on his hunt this year. He couldn't speak any more highly of you, who expected nothing in return.
Adventurewriter is one of the most exceptional human beings I have ever met. He forgot his sleeping pad at my house. I look at it every day before I leave for work. Sitting next to that pad is a red coffee mug that is the last coffee cup I ever saw my Dad drink from. Ted and I were shooting the breeze in my garage as he processed his Oryx. A few inches of snow had fallen the night before. My Dad cruised by on his ATV and shoveled some snow as he drank his coffee. My neighbor then stopped by on his ATV to offer to clear some snow. We were all enjoying each other's company as Ted processed his Oryx.
As my Dad rode away not one of us could have imagined it would be the last time we would see him performing as a strong and capable man. The fact that Ted allowed my Dad and I to accompany him on his Oryx hunt is priceless. That decision allowed us a few more days of doing what we loved together. I owe Ted...adventurewriter...more than I can explain. His friendship is immeasurable.
Reducing cost of living has lead me to some incredible experiences. I have deliberately chosen to spend my money on travel and hunting instead of buying "stuff" and hoping for some sort of capital appreciation as a result. My trips are all priceless. As mentioned, the cost of those trips often goes up over time. I think of it as an investment to plunk down my deposit years in advance and make installments to save several thousand dollars at the time I take the trip. So far, it's working out in my favor on a dollar cost basis.
Airline miles have sure been my friend along the way. Everyone should have a card that awards them. I use my alaska airlines visa to buy almost everything and even pay many of my bills. Amazing how fast they seem to pile up (the miles...and the bills...)
I love to hunt. I can't imagine life without the anticipation of my next adventure. The piles of maps in my office, the marks in pen and pencil, the journals and the antlers are all physical reminders of where I have been and what I have done. The memories are worth more to me than anything and cannot be taken away. I may be broke and destitute later in life, but I will have my memories. They are like a tattoo on my soul, and one I'm damn proud to wear.
I am so thankful for those two guys and love hunting there so much I really don't even think about the high dollar hunts anymore. These hunts don't cost much but they are action packed every year...Big bulls and Big bucks.
This kind of relates to this thread.... My wife and I, about a week before Christmas in 92 were at her parents house and ate dinner with them said goodbye and went home later that night out of the blue.... her mom had a massive heart attack and died at 53 years old.
If going to Alaska or somewhere else to hunt is something you think you need to do you better get after it because every day is a blessing and old age is not guaranteed.
On my Manitoba Caribou hunt I was teamed up with an elderly gentleman from Oregon I'd never met prior to the hunt.. The stories he told are etched in my mind. He'd hunted all over the world and has a 16,000 square foot trophy room in his home....500 mounts and 300 of them are full body mounts! I never would have met him or heard his stories if I'd not gone on that hunt...
Families always come first, as I've stated as have others. The one problem with traveling to other states, provinces, and countries is that it can become very addictive!!!
The great thing about hunts is the anticipation and the recollections. We may plans for years and remember for decades and decades that which occurs in a short 5-10 day trip. The cost of that trip is exorbanent when amortized over a handful of days, but when ammortized over the time you anticipated it and remember it is is just a couple dollars a day.
If you plan for a $15,000 trip for 3 years and remember it for 40 the per day cost is only $0.95 (95 cents a day!).
Honestly I don't know that I would spend $10 to hunt my most fantasized about species if someone told me I would not know until the day before I went that I was going to go on the hunt and that I was going to die the day after the hunt.
At the rate the quality and availability is going down and the price is going up, most of us either need to do it now or find another interest. Open to suggestion on other interest.
Tried to book a relatively expensive hunt last year and was offered a contract. Among other things, one of the conditions was that if the outfitter did not make the hunt happen, for any reason, he did not owe me a refund. Another nice one was that the outfitter retained all rights to photographs of the hunt. Both his and mine.
I guess people actually sign things like that. I don't.
But the single most common reason for not living life to the fullest is not trying. A moose hunt does NOT have to cost 15 grand or more. As a matter of fact one that runs 5 or 6 grand on your own will be as enjoyable and more rewarding than the high priced one. PLUS... if you really take a liking to it you can go back instead of having it be a once in a lifetime hunt. 1 guided hunt equals 3 DIY hunts. Maybe 4.
Since you are already on Bowsite you are a 3rd of the way to coming up with an affordable DIY hunt plan. Look at the homework and research as paying yourself 10 grand to plan the hunt.
My plan is to have enough campfire stories to tell when the day comes that I cannot realistically consider hunts like that. Now is the time to make those memories! The last thing I plan to do is sit in a rocking chair saying I wish I did this, I wish I'd done that. Instead I'll look at those shoulder mounts and euros and say you can take me now Lord because I've seen what this world has to offer.
I guess people actually sign things like that. I don't."
Wow!! That's unbelievable! On my moose hunt last fall with Cassiar Stone Outfitters the agreement stated I would receive a refund of the deposit if anything unforseen occurred with either party... Here's what I copied from the agreement:
"Refund the deposit in the event of cancellation due to uncontrollable circumstances by either party."
Not many outfitters offer that....
I'm going to start another thread about personal mileage tipping points for DIY azzkicker hunts.
Life's truths and hard cold facts. Life doesn't care, it just keeps on spinning. It is the individual person that has to steer and drive his life down the road he wants as best he can, with so much of it out of our control.... a road you never know what is around the next bend. And few in their youth realize the road will run out, end at some point.
Can't argue with anything above. Only thing I could add is to use your drive for the hunt... for the adventure... to keep your health and fitness to the highest level you can, as long as you can. You will extend your hunting life and your passion for it. Honestly, if I didn't have hunting, the obsession to go after the physical hunts... I would likely be 30-40lbs overweight and my biggest excitement would be planning a cruise on a boat where I eat and sleep my way to oblivion. I can't imagine another passion great enough to physically work that hard at it.
It gets harder and harder to do as you get older, have to commit and seriously work on it. When you relax and slide down the hill, what you lose is harder to get back, if you ever do. Have to work harder and commit more every year. I do not intend to age gracefully or peacefully. It is a fight I know I will lose.... but will fight the good fight all the way, all I can.
Everybody hits that wall at the end of their road. If I can... I'd like to hit mine hard enough to leave a dent.....
IMO the hardest hunt to find a good chance at a trophy animal vs. all other game readily available. Meaning sheep are not common many places, moose are.
My wife and had attended the sheep show and I decided it was time to start my sheep hunting. The only problem was I couldn't afford it. I hatched my strategy at that show. first,I had already been applying for bighorn points in Wyoming. Hoped to draw one day. ( I'm sitting on 19 points )
Second,I started applying for desert sheep in all available states.
Third, I canvassed the show and found a Stone sheep outfitter that would take payments. At the time Stone sheep hunts were 12,500-13,500 dollars. Astronomical .i gave him my 2,500$ that was set aside for my elk hunt as a down payment........ Because he offered to take payments until my hunt was paid for AND hold the price. 4 years later I shot my first sheep.
Finally, I booked a Dall hunt , the year after my Stone hunt , but I booked it 3 years out and started chipping away.........I think back then Dall hunts were about $9,000.
Those two hunts stretched my budget , but......."the places I've been & the people I've met. "
I'm 100% draw now in Wyoming for bighorns , and honestly I don't care if I do or don't ever draw a desert sheep tag. It would be nice but three sheep hunts in my lifetime was 3 more than I ever thought I'd get.
Hope my story encourages one young hunter to just get started.......life does speed up as we get older.
I'm surprised to hear that from a methodical planner like you. Everyone here has seen some great bulls taken by people here on DIY hunts. I'm hunting an area with a history of 60+ inch bulls and my cost door to door will be 5 grand. Mixedbag kept his to 4K because of Alaska Air air miles.
Halibutman "Waiting on a companion to accompany them on the hunt is the most common reason for not going"
Soooo true. I don't hunt with any of my friends that I sped time with the rest of the year. My hunting partners are an entirely different circle of friends. Mixedbag and I have yet to even meet each other! Just two hunting fools sharing a dream that met on an online dating website known as BOWSITE. haha
Where there's a will there's a way to make it happen with proper planning.
OK folks... you heard it in writing right here on Bowsite. Stay tuned.
Did I mention I snore like a freight train and my digestive system has a bad reaction to Mountain House meals? bwaahahaha
I have logged a bunch of great western hunting adventures, but it is time for me to head northward into BC and Alsaka before its too late.
Knee replaced last year. Family first but by all means find the balance and do what you can now. Good luck to all.
The song "Time"..
"When I was young, I dreamed of being older.. Now that I'm older, I dream of being young. I dreamed of a time, when there was no time at all, Now I wonder, where the time has gone..
When I was young, I dreamed of how I'd spend my life. Now that I'm older, I spend my life in dreams... The things I planned I never did... The things I did, I never planned.. And All the while it's later than it seems..
"Time, you're no friend to me... As you go ticking by, I can hear the enemy.. Each day you add a number to things I'll never be.. Oh time, you're no friend to me...
A few of the verses....
My friends and family (including the Loans Manager at my Credit Union)thought I was crazy when I would go on some of my adventures alone to all parts of the world. I consider myself extremely lucky being a blue collar worker and have hunted some of the more expensive animals: Brown, Polar, Moose, Elk, Muskox, Walrus, Cape Buffalo, Hippo, Elephant and several more.
I still drive a very sad looking, tired vehicle but I am happy with that because it is paid for and in the last 2.5 years have over 15,000 in my hunting fund instead of car payments (Yes...I live in Canada and vehicles are more expensive up here!) I have been lucky in that once I have a plan on where I would like to go I do my research and then with some patience I have purchased some great deals on cancellation hunts and auction hunts through WSF and SCI.
I still hope to draw a Sheep tag one day and a top notch Elk Tag and apply every year and part of what drives me is the dreaming and the planning. Bowhunting turkey with a friend of mine who is starting to slow down at 75 is now one of my highlights each year. It is all about the memories and it can all be taken away in a split second so enjoy it while you still can.
Reading all the great stories and adventures and seeing the fabulous photographs shared by fellow bowsiters definitely helps.
P.S. This thread motivated me to ask my 82 year old father to do a fly-in fishing trip to Northern Ontario with me. I have the money and I still have my dad. When I called him he said he will think about it but my mother said just book it and he can think about it when he is sitting in the boat! Arctichill I am sorry for your loss of your father but thank you for kicking my ass.
However, each year I make sure to do at least one hunt with Dad. He even went to Kodiak with me last year! Even though dad won't be with me on each hunt, he is the reason I am there. And it makes each hunt we do together even more special as we share the one thing that has always bonded us together...no matter what is happening in our lives
I realize that some hunt require an outfitter no matter what. Canadian hunt, certain species in Alaska... or hunts overseas. BUT.... there are some incredible DIY opportunities here in the states. Don't try to plan a high success hunt of a lifetime right out of the chute. Just get started. Take small steps. In the long run you can experience success as good or better than on guided hunts. Also... when you do decide to take friends you won't have to talk them into a high dollar hunt and if you want to take kids you won't have to break the bank.
An outfitted hunt can be a great way to start. But even then you should look at it as an education... an investment in future DIY hunts. When you do eventually have a few places where you are happy with DIY hunting you can hunt for a lifetime with family and friends.
One interesting fact is that right here in the lower 48 one of our premier big game animals which is elk offers the most public land to hunt and licenses aren't that big of a deal. So go get your feet wet and start learning to fish!
He was an understated guy, a farmer. As I got to know him I found out he had killed a 63" moose, and grizzly on the same hunt. Later I found out he had killed 20 elk, and I am not sure how many bears and other animals he had taken. Great guy.
To put it another way. My wife is a doctor. When she was younger and doing her internship I can remember her telling me about an older couple. They made a point to tell her to "travel and do thing things you want to now, while you are still healthy and able to." They said they always saved their money. Finally when they were able to retire, they had so many health problems they were not able to travel and do the things they always wanted to. They were not specifically talking about hunting, but I think the point still rings true.
There are so many guys out there that need to read this thread, so much great advice.
I waited for so many guys that finally I had enough. My inspiration and mentor Ridgerunner Ron gave me the kick in the butt I needed and I will do everything I can to enjoy traveling and hunting. I've met the most amazing people and wouldn't trade a minute of it.
Attached is a link to a short story I wrote recently that some of you may enjoy reading. The story is titled "Tree of Life" and begins on the first page.
Also, in the spirit of Father's Day, I would strongly recommend reading the cover article, written by Carl Abrams (smarba on Bowsite). I was very fortunate to have been able to follow the incredible year that Carl's writing was based on play by play as he kept me informed along the way. Every time he shared another story of his daughter's hunts with me the first thing I did was call my Dad to spread the great news.
There's no question in my mind that parents and kids sharing the passion that is hunting creates one of the most special bonds that could ever exist.
Happy Father's day (a wee bit early) to all the Dad's on Bowsite.
I started my hunts out west with antelope and mule deer. On public land in Carbon County WY I quickly found out that 3 of us could all kill antelope bucks in 2 days... 3 at the most before the mule deer season started. Then we would venture into some mountains to hunt the mulies.
I would stumble across elk in the mountains and also way out on the sage flats.... which puzzled me. Pretty soon it became obvious that I could have killed some nice bulls if I had the tag.
So I booked a guided elk hunt knowing that I had lots to learn figuring a guided hunt would be somewhat of an education. It was! My guide sucked. We got lost. Didn't even see that many elk IN AN AREA THAT I NOW KILL LOTS OF NICE 6 POINT BULLS! haha
So right away I was like.. "I can do this on my own". So we did. Hunting up and down the entire west side of Montana my brother and I burned through some partners which taught me that although we thought elk hunting was the best thing on earth... it is NOT for everyone.
15 years later I had gone from a kid from Pennsylvania chasing antelope to a full blown horse and mule packing elk, mule deer, and lion outfitter punching my own elk tag every year. You can do it! Just take it one step at a time. Set realistic goals. Be sure of your partners. Take the time to make detailed hunt plans. And listen to your fellow Bowsiters!
There is nothing wrong with outfitted hunts. But I honestly believe that you can do just as good on your own, hunting from the truck, and be way happier having done it on your own and spending less than a 3rd of the money.
A quality guided Alaska or Yukon moose hunt: 15 to 18K plus licenses, airfare, processing etc. Try finding a partner to commit to that once let alone yearly.
My moose hunt in the exact same area as one of the top outfitters: Less than 5 grand door to door. And I had fun putting the plan together. PLUS... I can go back every year if I want and I have people beating my door down to be a partner.
$10,000 is a lot of money, but then again it really isn't. I'm not a rich man by any stretch of the imagination.... I still think gas should be 50 cents a gallon and bread should be 25 cents a loaf, but it is what it is. Try finding a decent pickup for under $10,000. Shoot, people spend a lot more than that on their toys (boats, campers, etc.).. You can't even buy an older pickup in decent shape with 100,000 miles on it for $10,000..
DIY hunts are great if you are young and in shape, have the time, etc. but for us older farts it's a tough challenge.. I remember when I was in my early 50's and in good shape I thought the older guys I knew were just lazy and out of shape.. By the time I hit 55 or so the body started to balk at what my brain wanted it to do.. Things hurt that never hurt before..Hills got steeper and the trails got longer. I began to understand what my older friends were dealing with..
I really have no problem paying a good outfitter for a quality hunt... I could not have killed my moose and caribou without an outfitter and they were two of the best adventures of my life... I thoroughly enjoyed every penny I spent. Odds of killing what you are after increase dramatically with a good outfitter...it's money well spent in my opinion... The outfitters and guides I've hunted with earned every cent...
Take a trip of a lifetime (or 2) every year!
I've been hunting elk and mule deer for the last ten years even though I have to drive all the way from Virginia to do it.
Moose is the one that has eluded me. Like others have said, it's hard to find a solid hunting partner. I've been hunting elk and deer solo but I think that a moose would be too much.
Are there any ideas for how to hunt moose solo in Alaska? On the cheap if possible...