by Justin Fisketjon
Something that we wish to get into is stepping out of our comfort zone and take a few hunting trips when the dollars and cents adds up and we can make it happen. With Justin living so close to Montana while residing in North Dakota, and taking other out of state hunts I figured I would reach out to him and get some of the early basics covered for an out of state hunt.
Where have you found to be the best source of information regarding rules, laws, and regulations?
The best source of information for rules, laws, and regulations is always going to be found on that particular states game and fish or dnr page. Actually calling these state offices is extremely helpful as well and I would encourage becoming familiar with the laws and regulations of the state you are going to hunt well before embarking on your trip because they differ greatly from state to state.
When scouting maps, is the terrain when boots are on the ground similar as expected from a map view?
Before hunting a new state or area I always start with onX scouting and looking at the terrain and marking spots that I believe have potential. Once I get to that area and actually get in to scout it can be quite different and the hardest thing to gauge from aerial scouting is how thick the woods are or were the deer bedding areas truly are. Hunting Iowa and Kansas for example is vastly different than what I hunt back home along the river and the areas that the deer bed are not generally were I would expect. If hunting the rut I still always try to key on pinch points where I think bucks will be traveling through to check different blocks of woods or bedding areas and this strategy is always a good starting point. Aerial scouting always helps to get a good start but can never replace boots on the ground scouting and seeing where and how much sign is an a particular area.
What is something you can not leave home without?
Once again the biggest tool that I utilize when hunting a new area is onX whether on my gps or the app on my phone and I absolutely could not live without it anymore. It is invaluable to my success and my ability to hunt multiple states and areas and keep track of all the sign and sightings throughout my adventures.
Do you hunt harder on an out of state hunt then if you did while at home?
I would definitely say that I do hunt harder on an out of state hunt than I do at home and this is primarily because if I am hunting out of state I usually have consecutive days to do so and its literally the only thing I am there to do. When I hunt around home I fit it in when I can, sometimes before or after work if possible and with an archery season that usually goes into January I always know that I will have time to hunt here after other season in different states close. I may only have a handful of days to try to make it happen on an out of state hunt and thus hunt incredibly hard to try to get opportunities while I am there.
How important is being organized when going on an out of state hunt?
I guess it depends on what your definition of organization is, because as far as my gear goes it is usually all in my vehicle but its not neat and tidy. I always bring more gear than I think I will ever need when it comes to clothes, stands, and any other equipment just so I am prepared for anything. I once again will stress the importance of aerial scouting and familiarizing yourself with the rules and regulations of the state you are going to hunt well before you head out so that you can focus strictly on hunting when you do arrive.
Would you encourage more people to try going on out of state hunts?
I would absolutely encourage other hunters to get out and hunt other states and even other game species as well, it will not only increase your skills as a hunter, but will also provide more opportunities to make memories in the field.
How exciting is it hunting without intel such as trail cams, not knowing what might come by?
The unknown is always my favorite about hunting without intel and until just a couple years ago it was not even legal to use trail cameras in Montana during hunting season. This was a huge advantage for me because not only did it keep people from constantly going into the woods spreading human scent around when checking and hanging trail cameras, but it also kept those who did not put in the time in the tree from knowing the true potential of some of the tracts of public land around here. With social media these days, pictures travel fast and the little hidden gem tracts of land are getting more and more exposed with trail cameras being legal now. I am a firm believer in as little intrusion as possible when it comes to killing mature deer, especially on public ground so my utilization of trail cameras has gone down with every passing year. The anticipation of the unexpected is a key driver in my motivation to crawl out of bed at 4 am in the mornings I head to the woods and it makes for a more enjoyable experience when you truly never know what could step out at any moment.
An out of state hunt can be built to almost any budget with some planning. If you want to truck camp, around a campfire with a case of beer and eat like peasants for a week there should be nothing holding you back. A more polished upscale outfitter is going to hurt the wallet and some convincing from the wife will need to take place. After this don’t think of some out of state hunt as some big monstrous investment but more of an adventure into the unknown.
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