Each year, thousands of hunters head west dressed in orange to pursue big game. Many of these hunters aren't as successful as they could be because of a lack of
preparation and knowledge about how hunting out west varies from hunting in the midwest. First and foremost, contact the fish and game department of the state that you wish to hunt in. They can
give you basic information that will be valuable. Secondly, nothing beats a local contact to help you out with information and a place to hunt. Many of us will not
have a local contact so a guide is a good option, particularly on our first trip. For those who do not want to do a guided trip, a successful trip can
still be had with proper planning and preparation. It is important to realize that the style of hunting is different out west. Because of the wide open
terrain, less stand hunting is done. Spotting the game and then stalking is the name of the game. Because the hunting style is different, so is the gear needed.
Big Game HUNTING METHODS
Big game hunters new to the west are often intimidated by the vastness of the landscape. The methods and equipment that they have
used successfully in the midwest will not serve them as well in the wide open spaces of the west. Rifles, scopes, and spotting optics need to be purchased
with long distance performance in mind. Bolt action rifles are by far the most popular choice for serious western hunters because of their accuracy and reliability. Flat shooting cartridges such as, 270, 280, and 7mm
mag. are popular choices. Rifle scopes need to have enough magnification for shooting at long distances. Hunters will find that the success of their hunt usually relies on being able to spot
game. High quality binoculars and spotting scopes are a must in order to spot game effectively. When spotting, start with lower powered optics that allows one to scan a large area. Instead of looking for a whole animal, look for something out of the
ordinary in the landscape. It may be the tip of an ear, a slight bit of movement, or part of a leg that is visible. Look for horizontal lines as most things in nature are vertical.
The best big game hunters have learned to spot the objects that stand out from the natural landscape. When something stands out that can't be identified, zoom in on the object to get a closer look. Variable
powered spotting scopes will allow the hunter to do this.
Once the animal is spotted, the proper route to stalk must be planned. A downwind approach is a must. Most
big game animals will believe their noses before their eyes or ears. By planning the stalk downwind, you eliminate the most important part of an animal's defense. Next, plan your stalk to use the terrain to put you out
of sight as much as possible. Big game animals have excellent eyesight and are especially tuned in to spotting movement. Take your time and stay out of sight as much as possible. The third part of an animal's
defense is its hearing and it is important to stay as silent as possible. Some hunters will actually stalk in their socks if they need to get very close. However, with the long distance capability of most rifles, this
usually isn't necessary. Once the stalk is complete, it is important to make a good shot for a clean kill.
A good rest such as a tree or a rock will help or a bipod on the rifle
is handy if the hunter is shooting from an open area. With proper planning and paying attention to the small details, a successful hunt is likely to assured.