8 Bowhunting Destinations to Visit this Fall

Start making plans for bow season. 

8 Bowhunting Destinations to Visit this Fall
Photograph Courtesy of Mike Erb

When the weather starts to cool, sportsmen’s anticipation for the upcoming bow season begins to stir. Along with your usual favorites, make a point of exploring a new bow hunting destination this fall. Between the moose found in the deep woods of Northwestern Maine to the feral hogs running around San Angelo State Park in Texas, taking a species-specific hunt will add an extra hint of adventure to your fall foray. For a little inspiration, here are a few of our favorite bowhunting destinations to try fall.

Whitetail Deer: Tiffany Wildlife Area, Buffalo County, WI

Since 2000, Wisconsin has produced more—by far—Boone and Crockett-scored whitetails than any other state. What does this mean? Wisconsin has some big game when it comes to whitetails. Hunters in the westernmost counties, particularly Buffalo and Trempealeau, have bagged a disproportionate number of trophies. In Buffalo County, the Tiffany Wildlife Area covers 13,000 acres of wooded public land along the Chippewa River, near its confluence with the Mississippi, and it is open to deer hunting. You can find lodging like the Blue Door Inn in the nearby river town of Alma. 

Moose: WMDS 1 and 2, Aroostook County, ME

Bowhunters who wish to target moose will have a good shot at success in Northwestern Maine. The deep woods and plentiful waterways make the region ideal moose habitat. Wildlife Management Districts 1 and 2, near the Allagash Wilderness produce a large number of good-sized moose every year. Keep in mind moose permits are distributed by lottery and can be difficult to obtain. So, once you have the permit, you may want to consider a guide service like Allagash Guide Service to boost your chances of success.

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Pronghorn: Hunting Units 35A and 35B, Near Buffalo, SD

While nearby Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado may have higher population densities of pronghorn (or antelope), South Dakota is a hidden gem for bowhunters: Unlike those other states—which use a lottery system—you are basically guaranteed an archery tag for pronghorn. What’s more, there is very little pressure from bowhunters on antelope. This gives bowhunters a distinct edge when it comes to stalking pronghorn in South Dakota. The extreme northwest corner of the state, which includes hunting subunits 35A and 35B, boasts South Dakota’s highest density of pronghorn, and thus offers the best success rates. 

Feral Hogs and Wild Turkey: San Angelo State Park, TX

Every fall, San Angelo State Park opens up to bowhunters who wish to target feral hogs (wild boar/pigs) and wild turkeys. Although you will need a hunting license, feral hogs are considered a nuisance species, so you will not need a tag or other endorsement. There is currently no bag limit for feral hogs in Texas. If you plan to hunt turkey at the same time, be advised that you will need a turkey tag and must adhere to the strict seasonal bag limits. If you need to gear up before heading into the field, Outdoorsman is just minutes from the park entrance.

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Whitetail Deer: Paul Van Booven WMA, Breathitt County, KY

The number two state for Boone and Crockett trophy whitetails is Kentucky. And just about anybody will tell you that bowhunting in the Bluegrass State is stellar. In terms of productivity, the part of the state that contains the Paul Van Booven Wildlife Management Area sees a lot of quality whitetails every year. What’s more, this 2,300-acre WMA is only open to deer hunting during archery season, so there is little to no pressure from firearm hunters.

Elk: Hunting Unit 13, Near Yampa River State Park, CO

In the Western United States, elk are the premier big game species, prized for both their meat and their beautiful antlers. And few places offer elk hunting that is as good as that in Northwestern Colorado. Head toward the Upper Yampa and Yampa River State Park, where you’ll find Hunting Unit 13, just south of the Wyoming border. The overall success rate for elk archery hunts is better in this unit than any other in the state. Bowhunters will have more luck focusing on the gulches in the southern half of the unit, which are more remote and see less overall hunting pressure than the northern portion. Camping is available in the state park or you’ll find plenty of lodging options, like the Elk Run Inn in the nearby town of Craig.

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Black Bear: Hunting Area 22, Near New Meadows, ID

If you like a little more adrenaline in your bow hunt, then stalking black bear in Western Idaho is the hunt for you. You may find bigger bears elsewhere, but in terms of population density and low hunting pressure, your likelihood of a successful hunt is greater in Western Idaho than just about anywhere else. Spot and stalk hunting are the typical method but baiting and hound hunting are both legal on public lands in the state. Hunting Area 22, along the Snake River in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, offers excellent bear habitat and good odds for a successful hunt.

Whitetail Deer: Paint Creek Lake Wildlife Area, Highland County, OH

Ohio produces more Boone and Crockett whitetails than any state except Wisconsin and Kentucky. And many of those trophy deer come from Highland County and surrounds. A good option for public lands bowhunting in Highland County is the Paint Creek Wildlife Area. Plentiful water, and more than a thousand acres of meadow and grain crops make the 5,000-acre wildlife area perfect habitat for deer. An adjacent 6,000-acre state park expands the habitat even further. Camping is available in Paint Creek State Park or stay at Blueberry Hill Cabins at nearby Rocky Fork Lake.

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