Planning A Combo Hunt

Posted on October 30, 2013

Part Two and the conclusion piece in our series: “Combo Hunts.” Make sure you check out “Combo Hunts-Part I” by clicking here!

Combo Hunts-Part II

Planning A Combo Hunt

By Zeke Pipher


Spotting game isn't a problem in this country, the author found. However, getting in within effective bow range of animals is a whole other story.

Spotting game isn’t a problem in this country, the author found. However, getting in within effective bow range of animals is a whole other story.

Twice The Research—Because you’re dealing with two or more species, you need to do a bit more research than if you were planning on hunting just one animal. Many outfitters are particularly good at putting you on one species, but have less success with the second or third one. It’s a special guide who can consistently put you on two species.

When researching guides and outfitters, ask to speak with clients/references. Make sure that the outfitter knows how to hunt both species with equal success. Ask to speak with clients who have successful filled both tags. Before I hunted with Lance, I spoke with another friend and bowhunter from Montana, Brodie Swisher. Brodie knows Lance and highly recommended him. It was because of this strong reference that I went with the particular outfitter.

Twice The Talking—Hunting two species doubles the chance of miscommunication with your guide or outfitter. When you plan a combo hunt, it becomes so much more important to have good, open and honest dialog with your guide before you hunt together. Lance and I discussed how we’d hunt, and we both agreed on a strategy. The guide works for you, so you need to help them understand what your priority species is.

When I hunted with Lance, I genuinely wanted to hunt both animals equally—so that’s what we did. When drove, walked and glassed for both mule deer and antelope, and the first animal that presented a hunting opportunity, we took it (and I’m glad we did!). Make sure that you have a heart-to-heart with your guide about how to hunt these two species, and what species is the higher priority for you.

Twice The Research—You’ll want to read up and be prepared to legally hunt both species. Some states allow mechanical broadheads for some animals, but not for others. Some allow decoying; some don’t. It’s your responsibility to read the rules and regulations pertaining to each species specifically before starting your combo hunt.

Tip: Printed regulations are certainly helpful, but when in doubt, call the state’s wildlife agency and explain your hunt to them. Ask them specific questions about the rules and regulations about hunting each species. More times than not, you can hunt both species with the same gear, but double-check before you hit the field.

Twice the Cooler Space—The only problem (if I dare call it that) that I ran into on my trip west was where to put the heads and antlers on my return drive. I hadn’t planned to return to Nebraska with two animals worthy of taxidermy. When you go on a combo hunt, plan for success. Take an extra cooler, or two, to make sure that you have what you’ll need to get the meat and antlers back home.

Tip: If space in your pickup is limited, you can prepare for the trip home by taking a couple large cardboard boxes and a roll of insulation. The boxes will flatten and the insulation is easily stuffed into a garbage bag. When you tag your two critters, reshape the boxes and line them with the insulation. Add several pounds of dry ice and tape the boxes up. This makeshift cooler will keep your game frozen for a couple days of travel.

Twice The Fun

As much fun as my trip to Montana was, I want to go back and up the ante. Lance’s hunters often come to him with three tags. Talk about a combo hunt! In the past ten years, he’s had four hunters fill an elk tag, mule deer tag and an antelope tag. I’m already dreaming about this triple-hunt…and I’m already losing sleep. I can’t imagine having more fun than I had last fall with him…but chasing that 350-inch bull would certainly do it. And might just cause me to pack up the family and move to Montana.

Add a combo hunt to your plans this next fall and have a ridiculous amount of fun in 2012.


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