The United States is a huge country with diverse terrain, almost two dozen species of big game, and a wide variety of waterfowl, small game, and upland birds. There are few places in the world more exciting and challenging to hunt. From the snowy peaks of the northern Rockies to the deserts of the Southwest to the hardwood forests of the East and Midwest, the wide variety of landscapes provide a breathtaking array of hunting experiences for a plentiful selection of game animals. Whether you desire pronghorn, mountain goat, moose, white-tailed deer, bighorn sheep, black bear, mule deer, elk, or mountain lion, each offers a different adventure.
Because hunting in the USA is managed on a state-by-state basis and the game and terrain is so varied, it’s easy to find a trip perfect for your skill level, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hunter. From stand hunting for whitetails to spot-and-stalk hunting for elk to pursuing mountain lions over a pack of hounds, there is something for every hunter in the vast forests, plains, and mountains of the United States.
What you need to know:
Planning your trip
Visas, laws, and regulations
The United States requires a visa for entry, but citizens or nationals from Canada and Bermuda, as well as of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program, are exempt from the requirement if they are traveling to the United States for 90 days or less.
Travelers must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months from their planned departure to the USA, and those using the Visa Waiver Program must have an e-passport.
Visiting hunters who are not citizens or legal residents of the United States are required to obtain a federal permit for their firearms and ammunition in advance of their arrival through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and firearms (ATF). You will need to obtain and complete ATF Form 6NIA (5330.3D Application/Permit for Temporary Importation of Firearms and Ammunition by Nonimmigrant Aliens) to apply for the ATF permit.
Licenses and Tags
All states in the United States require hunters to have a state-issued hunting license to hunt within the borders of that state. In many cases an additional permit for the specific animal, or “tag,” is also required. In many states, a valid hunting license from your home country will allow you to purchase the required hunting license; in some states, however, you may be required to prove that you have completed a hunter education course in order to buy a license. If you are hunting migratory birds, including ducks and doves, you will also be required to purchase a Federal Migratory Bird Stamp. Your outfitter will provide you with details of what licenses and tags are required for your specific hunt and how to purchase them.
The United States is a huge country with diverse terrain, almost two dozen species of big game, and a wide variety of waterfowl, small game, and upland birds.
Upon arrival into the United States you will go through passport control then proceed on to collect your bags and firearms for customs inspection. You’ll re-check your bags with your airline for your next flight and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official will check your firearm, then escort it to your plane. TSA regulations require that firearms must be transported unloaded in a hard-sided, locked case, and ammunition must be checked in a separate bag. Certain airlines may have additional restrictions.
Wildlife management in the United States is handled on a state-by-state basis. Each state has its own hunting rules and regulations, and even within a particular state, hunting styles as well as gear and clothing may differ widely. Most outfitters can be relied upon to provide a list of recommended gear and clothing, as well as suggestions for firearm types and calibers. Stand hunts, for example, often call for heavy, warm clothing, while hunters venturing to the mountains or taking on strenuous spot-and-stalk hunts should dress in layers. Comfortable boots appropriate to the terrain are a must for any hunt. Some states require hunters to wear a fluorescent orange hat, vest, or sometimes both. Because enforcement of hunting regulations is taken very seriously in the United States, it’s a good idea to obtain a copy of the state regulations where you will be hunting and familiarize yourself with them. Look for these regulations on the website of the fish and game agency in the state you plan to hunt.
After the hunt
Tipping is generally expected and appreciated on most hunts in the USA. Tips generally range from 5 to 15 percent of the total hunt cost.
Your outfitter should be able to recommend local taxidermists and meat processors, but these services are not included in the hunt cost. Discuss these aspects with your outfitter before arrival. Local taxidermists can prepare and pack trophies to your specifications, but it will be up to you to check legalities and arrange transport and shipment of the trophies to your home.