Where to Kill Boone & Crockett Animals in the United States
We’re going to name some of the major categories, rather than delve into lesser query like coues or blacktail deer. Not lesser in a sense that they have lesser value, just as a subspecies to some of the higher class families. And our focus is on horn, not hair.
Remember, just by applying and receiving a tag, booking an outfitter, paying for a flight, and then all the other necessary fees, doesn’t mean you’re also going to shell out extra cash for completed taxidermy on a Boone & Crockett animal that your buddies will drive miles to see. But of course you'll never know until you get out there after them.
Perhaps the most wide-ranging of these animals, whitetail deer roam from the Deep South to the Great White North and far west toward the Pacific. Plus, you can hunt whitetails with a rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader, bow or crossbow.
BUFFALO COUNTY, WISCONSIN
Buffalo County, Wisconsin, has long been heralded as the most productive county in the U.S. for killing record book whitetails. And even though such trends will shift geographically speaking over time, the chances for success are still very good with more than 300 record book bucks being killed over the past decade. Google “Deer Hunting Buffalo County Wisconsin” and a range of outfitters will pop up. Take your pick, and good luck.
MILK RIVER, MONTANA
Not only is the Milk River region of Montana a big-buck mecca, it also happens to be an area that gives out-of-state and non-land-owning hunters an opportunity to still do it themselves without the expense of a guide or outfitter thanks to Montana’s Block Management Program. This BPM is a land cooperative that exists between the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; private landowners and public land management agencies who grant free access to isolated parcels. Block Management areas range in size from 50 acres to the upwards of 100,000. If you choose this route, take a few extra days to just drive and scout. Drive and scout. There are plenty of giant whitetails to go around, and really just a lot of deer in general.
Mule deer inhabit the brush country of the west. Plan on doing a lot of glassing with a binocular or spotting scope and exuding the ultimate virtue of hunting - patience. This doesn’t mean there won’t be a lot of footwork involved, because there typically will be. And though it’s true that mulies don’t see all that well, their hearing is excellent and sense of smell is foolproof.
MONTROSE COUNTY, COLORADO
Montrose County is somewhat of a big-game hotspot with a large number of deer, elk, antelope and sheep. The varied terrain is perfectly suitable for all, especially giant mulies. We’d recommend considering booking a hunt with a guide or outfitter as western Colorado is comprised of a lot of private land. True, there are plenty of public parcels as well, but mule deer are hard to find if you don’t know where to look. Notable outfitters will have long-standing relationships with large landowners that can give you access to the mule deer buck of your dreams.
Southern Utah perennially produces record book mule deer bucks, most of which are killed with a bow as the extended archery seasons runs from early season well into the rut. Tags aren’t necessarily low-hanging fruit in the many different management areas in southern Utah, but once drawn, the chances of toting home a 200” mule deer are pretty good with a a lot of perseverance and a little bit of luck.
Look to the Henry Mountains and Paunsaugunt for two of the best mule deer hunting spots in the nation. It will likely take a few years of applying and racking up points before you draw a tag, but for a DIY mule deer hunt, it’s worth the wait to hunt southern Utah with a bow.
Antelope bucks are extremely aggressive during the rut. The does only come into estrus for about two weeks, so you might imagine how they feel with a mere two weeks out of the whole year to breed. Pronghorn build a harem quickly and will die defending it. For this reason, we’d suggest using a decoy to lure that next trophy antelope into your sights.
RED DESERT, WYOMING
Wyoming has long been heralded the best state to hunt giant pronghorns. Despite the scarcity of water and vegetation, the Red Desert in Wyoming is home to the largest migratory antelope herd in the lower 48. Sixteen-inchers are most prevalent in Unit 60, with Unit 61 being a close second (some would argue the other way around). Mind you, it may take a few years to collect enough points to hunt there, but well worth the wait. And with all the moisture the country has seen throughout this El Nino winter, this coming season itself could be a record book year.
COCONINO NATIONAL FOREST, ARIZONA
Perhaps the best public-land elk hunting lives in Arizona. Year after year, record bulls from Arizona are entered into the book. A popular spot is the Coconino National Forest; popular in that it has a lot of trophies yet hunters are generally dissuaded to hunt it due to motor traffic being illegal in the forest. If you’re going to try Coconino, dedicate at least two weeks in order to hike in, scout, hunt and hopefully haul back out a bunch of meat and horns. And if you don’t have that much time, the rest of the state also holds some really big bulls. In fact, some hunters and guides have designated Arizona as home to some of the biggest bulls on the planet.
NORTHERN NEW MEXICO
The southern Rocky Mountains are an interesting landscape. Imagine walking around a bend and coming out onto a plateau and facing south, seeing nothing but flatlands all the way to the horizon. The weather is peculiar as well. You’re liable to be wishing for the truck in October or in shirt sleeves in December. But if you don’t like the weather in the Rocky Mountains, wait ten minutes, especially in a region where 300-inch bulls are regarded as “average.”
Plenty of public land presents itself just south of the Colorado border. For many, elk hunting is not a solo endeavor. Should you find yourself the lone man in and don’t care to hire a guide, get ready for some heavy hauling, considering you’ve done your home- and legwork.
The hunt of all hunts! Going after moose anywhere is an extremely challenging yet rewarding experience for anyone willing to endure some of the toughest terrain and weather conditions this country has to offer. You likely won’t be scaling mountains, but slogging through any country soaked to the bone is both physically and mentally exhausting. But we guarantee that if you’re fortunate to tag a trophy book bull moose, even the weight of the world would be featherlight due to sheer joy. Quartering the carcass of a downed bull moose is the most fun manual labor on the planet.
BROOKS RANGE MOUNTAINS, ALASKA
The Brooks Range Mountains, and just north into the Arctic Tundra, is some of the most majestic country in the world. As it’s rich with wildlife due to the lack of a human presence, this region is not easily accessible. DIY hunts do exist though you’ll still need to hire an outfitter to fly you in and pick you up. Several offer this service for a fair price.
We can’t say enough about the preparation stage of one of these hunts. Any outfitter that offers self-guided hunts is going to test you before he drops you off out in the Last Frontier. Purchase the right equipment, know how to use a sharp knife and be in shape. The last of which we can’t stress enough because endurance is the one thing that can get you over that next mountain and allow you to make a lethal shot on a trophy moose.