International Hunting, Should I Or Should I Not?

As traditional western big game hunters, we often get wrapped up in thoughts of 200" mulies and 400" bull elk, all while forgetting that the hunting world has a lot to offer outside of our own borders. The world is a big place with tons of exciting opportunities for the sportsman who’s willing to spread his wings and fly. It’s not only the hunting you are missing out on, but also the people, the culture, and the experience of seeing, smelling, hearing, touching, and tasting what’s available to all of us if we simply think outside the box. As hunters, we often fancy ourselves as adventurers, and the greatest adventures I have ever had while chasing my hunting dreams have been outside the good ol’ USA. If you are up to it, I would highly suggest giving it a try. I am certain you won’t be disappointed.

One of the most frequent questions I get regarding international hunting is, "Where can I safely take my family while looking for a good hunt? Is there something everyone can enjoy, even if some of my family doesn’t want to hunt?" The easy answer here is one of my favorite locations for such a trip, which is New Zealand. It is very safe, extremely beautiful, and has great accommodations, great people, plenty to do, and some great hunting. New Zealand offers a variety of species in a myriad of locations all while providing something for the casual hunter all the way up to the most rugged, adventurous hunter. If you are looking for a seriously rugged experience, the New Zealand mountains can offer it. The last time I was there, I spent 48 hours in a high mountain cabin hoping to hunt Chamois on foot while 2 1/2' of snow accumulated outside the door. Needless to say, plans changed. Regardless of your ability and/or desire, New Zealand is definitely a destination worth considering. The stag, tahr, and chamois hunting in particular is world-class. However, don’t forget the close neighbor to New Zealand, Australia. Buffalo hunting there is out of this world.

I'm going to lump Alaska in with Canada for this article. I know a lot of hunters have been there, but I am still surprised by how many guys have not been up north. Alaska and Canada are definitely safe destinations for the traveling sportsman. The real draw is pristine adventure, beauty beyond words, and hunting that is out of this world. Between Alaska, the Yukon, the NWT, British Columbia, and the Arctic, I’ve been up north roughly 15 times, all of which are hunts I long to repeat. My favorite hunt will always be the coastal brown bear, which I have hunted numerous times, but the single greatest adventure I have ever experienced was my hunt for “Nanook,” the ice bear, in 2003. Hunting polar bear on a dogsled while traversing the frozen north was simply an experience that will never be matched, culminating in the taking of what I consider one of my greatest trophies, a 9'5" polar bear.

The North Country provides so much hunting that to experience it all would take numerous trips. However, getting started can be as easy as a caribou hunt with your buddies or, if you’re feeling brave, a coastal brownie with your bow. For the rugged tough guys, there are also plenty of backpack sheep hunts. If the Arctic is your desire but a polar bear is out of reach, consider a muskox. It is also a fabulous trip. If adventure is really what you are looking for, north is where you should be looking. Take it from a guy who has pretty much done all of the hunts that these places offer, it doesn’t get much better.

Asia and Europe also have a whole lot to see and experience. I haven't done it all, but I have done enough to know that I look forward to continued trips across the pond. I have managed to hunt Mongolia, Spain, Turkey, Pakistan, and more, but knowing that there’s much more to be had keeps me pointing in that direction. I also want to emphasize that travel to these far off locales, for the most part, is pretty safe. Never have I nor any client that I have booked experienced any problems, and that includes Pakistan where our host for all that that beautiful country offers is royal family. His roots are deep, his security is tight, and his love of hunting is strong. I consider him a friend, and I hope to return there someday.

Much of Asia and Europe offer what I think would be a big draw for Huntin' Fool members, fabulous hunting for mountain game. We all pride ourselves as mountain men, and a lot of the mountains over there are all you could want. I especially liked the rugged country of Turkey while in pursuit of the Bezoar ibex. It reminded me of some of the difficult terrain I’ve hunted in my home state of Colorado. For those who are willing and able, many species of sheep and goat are available across these two continents. If, like me, you’ve hunted all of them in North America, perhaps it’s time to start looking elsewhere for your next mountain high.

Africa is my favorite place in the world. I’m surprised I didn’t move there 10 years ago as I did seriously consider it. I’ve spent over 1,000 days hunting on the African continent, and I wish I could spend 1,000 more. Nothing gives me greater excitement and heightens my senses to a greater level than when I’m in pursuit of dangerous game. There’s just nothing like it. Knowing your prey can and sometimes does hunt you back is my drug of choice. Waiting on that big maned lion to slink into the bait at last light, following the tracks of a big bull elephant and hoping with anticipation that he carries big teeth, and peering into a group of “Dagga Boys” from 50 yards away, desperately searching for the bull over 40" are all simply captivating to me and are experiences that race my heart unlike any other. Of course, Africa isn’t just about hunting dangerous game, but it certainly is a big draw. For those who are looking to see and hunt countless species that are found nowhere else, Africa is simply a must. It is a place that will bring you back time and time again. The diversity, cultures, and people vary so much from place to place that it would take 50 safaris to really feel like you had experienced it all.

The world is your oyster, and as a sportsman, you really should get out there and experience all it has to offer. We all get one chance in life, and I believe in making mine count. How about you?