What could be better than taking your Jeep off-roading? Well, how about off-roading AND hunting, all in the same trip? We couldn’t think of a better pairing of out-door activities so we thought you’d like to see 5 of the best spots to go hunting and wheeling, all in the same fun packed adventure.
BE AWARE: Most National and State Parks open up to hunting during the season, allowing hunters to bag a certain amount of game for the dinner table. However, each state has different dates set on when hunting season is open and rules on limits for each game animal, so be sure to check the fish and game regulations before entering a game reserve. Hunting licenses are required for most game animals and some states limit the number of licenses dispensed per game species, giving preferences to local hunters. In many states, it’s far less expensive to get a hunting license for your state of residence than an out of state license, so hunting in your own state may not only be more convenient, but less expensive than targeting a distant state.
Those dedicated individuals who live for travel might also want to check out our list of top historic trails that you can go off-roading and plan a trip that no outdoors enthusiast should miss out on.
Allegheny National Forest
For those living in the northern East Coast states, the Allegheny National Forest provides ample opportunity for off-roading and hunting alike. Turkey hunting is the most common sport, with white-tailed deer a close second. There are also a number of small game animals that are also legal to hunt, including several species of squirrel, grouse, woodcocks, wood ducks and snowshoe hare. In some areas, there is even an opportunity to bag a black bear.
Locals say McKean and Bedford Counties play host to the best hunting experiences. They advise following the old logging trails that are slowly deteriorating but are still amply used by hunters. Containing over 500,000 acres of public land for hunting use, Outdoor Life rated McKean and Bedford Counties among the top destinations in the Continental US for bagging your game animal of choice.
Chattahoochee – Oconee National Forest
Georgia isn’t just known for peaches – It has nearly one million acres of public land set aside as national forest area, with over one hundred game management reserves, most of which lie in the extensive Chattahoochee – Oconee National Forest. The trail system is extensive, with several marked specifically for ATVs and Wranglers, although experienced hunters say your best options are to use the old logging trails.
Georgia operates on priority points for favorite quota hunts, so you will need to apply for a WMA (wildlife management area) stamp. All prospective hunters born after 1961 are required to take a hunting safety course. Quota point game includes park deer, bears, hogs, alligator, waterfowl, turkey and quail. Locals advise taking Highway 75 north until you reach the top of the mountains, than look for a deserted logging road. Other good hunting areas are Augustine Gap and Martin Branch. unfortunately, the deer are not very plentiful, but bear hunting is said to be quite good. The trails are very rugged as they course through the tops of the mountains. Do not try to hunt from the Jeep trails, but look for animal tracks and follow them. Hunting season in Georgia is open in the winter. Since you are in the high mountains, dress very warmly and bring additional clothing.
Amberg Wildlife Area
Wisconsin has 47 state parks, 13 state forests, 76 state wildlife areas and 23 state wildlife management areas. A popular game management region is the Amberg Wildlife Area. Located in north-central Marinette County, southeast of the community of Amberg, the majority of the nearly two thousand acres is young, dense swamp conifer. You can get there by taking Highway 141 out of Amberg, and then take your Wrangler west on county highway V. A series of two rut roads and firebreaks provide access into the game preserve.
You will be able to buy a non-resident hunting license in Wisconsin, which can be purchased online and allows you to legally hunt in the state if you are not from Wisconsin. Each license is for a particular species and includes licenses for shooting, archery and trapping. Non-residents must also have a hunting license from their home state. As well as a license, Wisconsin runs a lottery system, granting permits for some species. These species include wild geese, bobcat, black bear, wild turkey and sharp tailed grouse. You will be advised of your permit status online. Other game includes deer, wild duck, waterfowl, pheasant and wolf harvesting.
Keep in mind, all hunters born after January 1, 1973 must sign up for a hunter safety course. You also may not hunt or trap within one hundred yards of a designated use area, such as a campground, picnic area or beach.
Okanogan – Wenatchee National Forest
Washington State is big game country. One of its largest big game hunting areas is the Okanogan -Wenatchee National Forest. With more than four million acres, it runs through the center of the state, beginning at the Canadian border, with its tip nearly touching Oregon. The area is open to hunting from September 1, to January 28. It contains numerous Jeep trails, but check with park management first, as several have been closed due to damage from flooding, snows and wild fires.
Non-resident licenses are available for out of state hunters, but they are expensive; as much as eight to ten times higher than for residents. Hunting licenses cover deer, elk, bear, cougar, small game, turkey and migratory birds. Moose, mountain goat and bighorn sheep licenses are selected through random drawing. You will need a discover pass to hunt within Washington’s forests, but the fee is applied to maintenance and conservation efforts.
WARNING: It is currently illegal to use hounds for hunting in the state of Washington. Hunting is allowed for some predatory animals, such as cougar, coyote, raccoon and bobcat, but not for wolves or grizzly bear. It is also illegal to hunt any animal in the state of Washington at night.
Kaibab National Forest
Hunting is permitted throughout most of Arizona, although it contains six reservations where special permission is required. Permission to hunt on the reservations can be very expensive. Nearly all state and national parks do permit hunting, including the Kaibab National Forest, which has a wonderful trail for Wranglers. The Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Stage Route climbs to an elevation of 5,700 feet and is located twelve miles from the Kaibab visitor center.
Residents and non-residents can receive general licenses for the hunting of Coues Deer, Mule Deer, buffalo, Arizona turkey, Pronghorn Antelope, javelina, elk, black bears, mountain lion, Big Horn Sheep and bobcat, but for each large game animal, they must also buy a tag. Non-resident licenses and tags are considerably higher than for residents, and in many areas the rules are changing so non-residents can only hunt small game.
You may submit only one application per genus of wildlife in any calendar year. Each genus of wildlife must be submitted on a separate application. Permit tags are drawn through a lottery. There are no hunting safety requirement classes except for children under twelve. Children under twelve who go hunting must be accompanied by an adult.
GENERAL TIP: If you are hunting out of state, it is best to use a guide service as most states require that you hunt away from the trails and roads. Carry a compass as GPS finders are not always reliable in back country areas. Check all hunting regulations to make sure you are in compliance. Apply for licenses and permits early, practice hunting safety and enjoy your trip into the great outdoors.