The Best States to Long-Range Hunt

The Best States to Long-Range Hunt

Best States to Long-Range Hunt | Where to Hunt

It’s an age-old question that can rile people up immediately: what’s the best place to hunt? This simple question can cause a stir even among friends and family as they guard their favorite places. But jokes aside (mostly) about popular places to hunt, it is a legitimate question to ask if you’re a new hunter or looking to hunt in a totally different location. With our focus on long-range hunting and tools, we’ll pose this question from a more nuanced side. What are some of the best states to long-range hunt?

How to Rank the Best States for Long-Range Hunting

Before we launch into the best states to long-range hunt, here are a few things to think about. While we can offer some general recommendations, you’ll need to consider the topics below to narrow your search a bit more.

  • Species – one of the first things most hunters think about is what kinds of animals they want to hunt. Everyone has their bucket list of animals they want to pursue one day, and maybe this is your time to make it happen. For the sake of this topic, we’ll focus on animals that you could hunt from a long-range distance. This might include varmint animals (e.g., prairie dogs, coyotes, hogs), but most people are really only interested in traveling for big game species (e.g., pronghorn antelope, mule deer, elk, sheep). Depending on the species you choose and the state you hunt in, it may be harder or easier to get a tag for them. States with known trophy animals will likely take longer to draw than others. You can start by searching for some of the best places to hunt these specific animals, which will help you refine your list.
  • Terrain/Habitats – hopefully it’s obvious, but if you’re going to hunt animals at long-range, you first need to find an area that offers enough visibility to be called “long-range” at all. For example, hunting in a dense southeastern swamp or thick Northwoods forest wouldn’t exactly offer you the types of long-range shots you might be looking for. But head west to the plains or up in the mountains and you’re in the right ballpark. Open agricultural fields, sagebrush flats, rolling hills, and even mountain slopes can offer long shots. If you’re truly hoping to use your long-range hunting gear, then you need to find the right areas.
  • Hunting Gear – speaking of long-range hunting gear, you’ll need to make sure you have the right equipment to set yourself up for success in the field. From the long-range rifle you choose to the hunting instruments and accessories, having the right gear will help make you a more successful hunter. Granted, you’ll also need to have spent enough time practicing at a long-range shooting range to be proficient and accurate with that gear. But with that practice, the equipment can help you quickly assess the weather conditions and specific ballistics required to make an accurate long shot the very first time.

Best States to Long-Range Hunt

Without a clear list of criteria (e.g., a specific animal, ease of drawing a tag, conditions, maximum range), it’s difficult to really rank the best states to long-range hunt. And while this list is nowhere near exhaustive, here are some great places to start your own search.

  • Colorado – in addition to its breathtaking scenery, this beautiful state offers plenty of high mountain and open plains hunting opportunities if long-range hunting is your goal. It also holds abundant mule deer and Rocky Mountain elk populations for anyone so inclined to chase them. Depending on what you’re hunting and which hunting units you’re hoping to hunt in, your success can vary, but it’s not hard to draw a tag at least somewhere in the state for a reasonable price.
  • Montana – the “Big Sky Country” state doesn’t disappoint long-range hunters. It’s simply a huge state with plenty of public land hunting opportunities. From elk and mule deer to pronghorn antelope, you shouldn’t have a problem drawing a tag and connecting with something, although some tags can take longer to draw than others. While the license/tag does typically cost quite a bit more than other western states on this list, it’s a worthwhile state to check out due to the sheer amount of land available.
  • New Mexico – if you’re looking for trophy elk, mule deer, or pronghorn (among other species), you can’t go wrong with New Mexico. But if you really want to hunt in some of the most sought-after hunting units, be prepared to put in for a tag for several years. When you’re successful, you’ll get to enjoy a breathtaking arid landscape that’s perfect for long-range shooting opportunities.
  • Idaho – there is an abundant amount of wild country in Idaho for any long-range hunter. Better yet, you can buy a mule deer buck tag over the counter or try for a controlled hunt tag. There is some very rugged territory in Idaho, but you can find mule deer and elk across much of it.
  • Wyoming – another very open state, Wyoming is one of the best states to long-range hunt due to its long shooting opportunities and game species. From the steppe/grassland habitats to the open sagebrush, you can pursue mule deer, pronghorn, and elk. It may take a few attempts to draw an affordable tag as a non-resident in Wyoming, but keep after it.
  • South Dakota – because South Dakota offers a range of habitats from agricultural fields in the east to the rugged Badlands in the west, it also provides many opportunities for long-range shooters. You can find pronghorns, mule deer, and whitetails easily as a non-resident. Depending on your residency, you may have even more exotic options, such as bison, bighorn sheep, and mountain goat.
  • Nebraska – because Nebraska offers flat agricultural areas in the east to hunt whitetails at long-range distances and the rolling sandhills in the west to pursue mule deer, it deserves a spot on our best states to long-range hunt list. Much of the state is privately-owned, so it may take some more effort to find quality public land hunting spots. But the effort can be worth it.

If long-range shooting and hunting are things you love to do, we hope you can use this list to pursue your dream. These states all offer beautiful landscapes and varied habitats. So whether you connect with a big game animal or not, be assured a trip to one of these states will not be wasted.

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