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DO-It-Yourself Whitetail hunts
Tired of watching the pro hunters take monster whitetails on ranches you and I can’t afford? Hey nothing against them, it makes for great television, but it’s time to get in on the action. If you’re like me, planning that once in a lifetime hunt somewhere down the road, what do you do in the meantime? A do-it-yourself whitetail hunt seems like a pretty good option. A do-it-yourself trip can be as elaborate as you wallet will allow. It can and most likely will be much cheaper than most ranch hunts.
I hail from New Jersey so Pennsylvania seemed like a good fit. Northeast Pennsylvania is ski country and there are numerous vacation rentals available. Being the ski season doesn’t get into full swing until after deer season rentals are relatively cheap. Pennsylvania is home to some of the largest tracks of WMA’s and there are plenty of opportunities to take some really nice whitetails. Maybe not as huge as the deer you watch on your favorite hunting show but deer you can be proud of nonetheless. To get the trip rolling I recruited four friends, not hard to do and this obviously cuts down on the cost. Next I hit the web and before long I rented a five bedroom house not far from the WMA we would be hunting. The house had it all, fireplace, two bathrooms, big kitchen, firewood and even a gas grill. The camp had enough space for all our gear and each hunter had his own room. The place was a mere $650 for a five night stay which would start the Friday after Thanksgiving.
We all arrived about mid-afternoon on Friday and by dinner time we had our gear stowed, a fire going in the living room and Thanksgiving leftovers heating in the oven. As we sat fireside we made a food list and roasted chestnuts.
The next morning we headed out early and hit the local grocery store for our week of provisions. When we were done shopping we had two carts loaded to the hilt, a scene reminiscent of the shopping scene in the “Perfect Storm”. Our philosophy, “if you like it throw it in the cart”. Back at camp, the groceries unloaded, we head out into the woods for some afternoon scouting. This is our first trip so we spend time finding stands for Monday Morning. When were finished we head back to camp and get dinner rolling, steaks on the grill. Sunday we lull around, watch football and have a feast that goes all afternoon.
So far with the cost of the trip: $130 for the rental, $60 per person for groceries. Add the cost of the out of state hunting license $100 and it’s a relatively cheap trip, but how is the hunting? There were no complaints Monday night; everyone had seen plenty of deer. I managed to bag a nice four pointer and my buddy took the eight pointer in the photo. As you can see there are some nice bucks running around where we hunt. This was such an added bonus, we expected to see deer but taking a couple nice ones on the first day was definitely a plus. In addition, we also noticed an abundance of wild Turkeys and since they are included in the license we even contemplated a spring trip for gobblers.
The do-it-yourself whitetail hunt was a success for us. The relatively low cost and the success we had hunting turned the hunt into a yearly event. We even managed a wall hanger on the very first time out on public hunting grounds. Granted the deer weren’t the giants you see on television, the hunt was very satisfying and with the total cost just under $500, also very affordable.