Experience the thrill, adventure and challenges of targeting a new species with your bow. Photo Credit: John Hafner

Make It Happen: Bowhunt a New Species This Fall

  Cassie Gasaway   ConservationFeatured   April 2, 2024

Bowhunters can legally pursue 29 species of big game in North America, but there are many other hunting opportunities including wild turkeys, predators, small game and even introduced species such as feral hogs and Axis deer.

If you’ve been primarily bowhunting whitetails or elk, challenge yourself and expand your experiences by adding another species to your bowhunting roster. After you commit to the idea, use this five-step plan to make it happen.

Step 1: Start Saving

Whether you choose to bowhunt a close-to-home small-game species or an across-the-country oddity, you’ll need some spending money. At minimum, you’ll likely have to buy another tag or hunting license. You may need new equipment as well, and there will probably be travel expenses including fuel, meals and lodging. Start saving or set aside some funds to ensure finances don’t deter or delay you from targeting a new species this year.

Step 2: Pick a Species


Hunting different wild game presents a challenge and a varied stock of meat in your freezer. Photo Credit: John Hafner


North American big game includes multiple species of deer, elk, moose, caribou and bears and some unique species like pronghorn antelope and American mountain goat. The point is, you have options. Spend some time thinking about your bowhunting goals and decide what species is most exciting to you.

Before deciding what you’d like to hunt, consider the animal’s location, the difficulty of obtaining a tag, and the estimated cost of an outfitter, if one will be required. These factors may influence your decision. For example, sheep hunting tends to be quite expensive, with limited tag availability, so planning a hunt can take several years. A hunt for pronghorns, by comparison, is much more affordable. Some folks suggest starting with a well-known species in your home or neighboring state, while others take the “go big or go home” approach. Pursue what best suits your desires and budget.

Step 3: Research

With so many variances between game animal species, you must conduct research to determine where, when and how to bowhunt your target animal, and what’s legally required.

There’s a plethora of information online, but the best resource is usually the state wildlife agency in the state where you plan to hunt. Agency staff can provide rules, regulations, public land maps and even regional harvest data and population trends. Use the data to zero in on locations with abundant populations and high hunter-success rates to increase your odds.

If you plan to travel out of state to bowhunt a new species, read the Bowhunters United article “The Traveling Bowhunter’s Guide to Hunting Out of State” for details on what you need to know before crossing state lines.

Step 4: Apply for or Get Your Tag


Make sure you purchase licenses and apply for tags for the game you’re going to be hunting. Photo Credit: John Hafner


In your research, you should have determined what kind of tag or license you need and whether you can buy it over the counter or if you need to play the state’s lottery or point system for a chance to be drawn. The application window for tags in some states, especially in the West, begins in early spring, so mark your calendar and plan ahead.

Step 5: Prepare and Follow Through

Once you get your tag or hunting license, you can set aside days to bowhunt and make travel arrangements. If your target species lives in rugged terrain or at a high elevation, start an exercise routine so you’re physically prepared for the quest. Gather your gear, and just before you go, brush up on the notes you took regarding the animal’s nuances and preferred habitat, as well as the hunting strategies you discovered in Step 3.

Make It Happen

Too many bowhunters say, “I’ll do it next year,” and they put off pursuing their dream hunts. Instead of doing that, take steps to make your hunting goals a reality and commit to trying something new. Sure, planning takes time and effort, but you may be surprised by how much you enjoy the change of pace and scenery. Not to mention, the trip will likely be as educational as it will be exciting.



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