By Erik Barber
For bowhunters in search of a do-it-yourself hunting adventure, late-season archery hunts are great opportunities often overlooked by other hunters. Those willing to cross state lines in search of venison are presented with some of the best odds of adding another deer to the freezer. Whether you want to beat cabin fever in a warmer climate or chase corn-fed bucks on a budget, these four hunts should be on every bowhunter’s to-do list.
Warm weather, plenty of public land, and a target-rich environment make Arizona the ultimate late-season destination for bowhunters. For less than $400, you’ll get an archery license valid January 1-31 to stalk Coues deer, Javelina, and small game in the arid, desert environment. Even better – January coincides with the Coues deer rut. Spotting and stalking these small, desert-dwelling relatives of the whitetail can lead to an exciting hunt from sunup to sundown. Optics is key on this hunt. Coues deer are notoriously nicknamed “the grey ghost” because of their tendency to disappear, even in plain sight.
In addition to Coues deer, Arizona bowhunters can hunt Javelina and antelope jackrabbits, which tip the scales at almost 9 pounds. Don’t forget your shotgun, as the area also offers incredible upland hunting. You’re sure to be quickly hooked by the smorgasbord of hunting opportunities in Arizona.
Bowhunting whitetails during the late season is great, but finding time away from family and friends during the holiday season can be tough. If you can’t get away during this festive time but still want to hunt, consider bowhunting Ohio whitetails. The archery season in Ohio doesn’t end until February 7. Despite sustaining a long season of hunting pressure, the woods are sometimes void of human activity after muzzleloader season ends January 5. This helps deer return to normal bedding and feeding patterns. By identifying a destination food source when the temperature begins to plummet, you can hunt with confidence knowing deer will be putting on the feed bag to survive the harsh, winter months.
Wisconsin is a budget-friendly bowhunting destination with plenty of public land to go around. Non-resident bowhunters who have never purchased a license in the Badger State qualify for the first-time buyer license, which costs less than $80. Returning buyers pay full price at $165, which is still a bargain compared to most non-resident hunting licenses. Plus, similar to Ohio, some regions of the state extend the archery season through January, offering ample time to plan your trip and hopefully fill a tag.
If you want the most bang for your buck, look no further than Oklahoma. There, a $300 non-resident archery license authorizes you to harvest six deer. Oklahoma lists public properties scattered across the state by region in an easy-to-use website, where hunters can also learn about specific regulations for certain properties. Of the six total deer archery hunters can shoot, two can be bucks and four must be antlerless.
No matter your goal – whether exploring a new place or filling the freezer with lean protein – don’t overlook the late-season hunt. Grab your hunting buddy, buy your license, and plan a bowhunting road trip this winter. You won’t regret it.