These are in no particular order. All have their merits, and it’s up to the hunter to decide their game of choice. Hunt responsibly.
1. Wild Hog
If you live in the southeast, Texas, or California, some of the best, most unrestricted hunting can be had with wild hogs. This invasive species can grow to mammoth size as they crash through the understory, and, since the federal government is generally pretty keen on eradicating these beasts from native habitats, there is usually year-round hunting and an absence of special regulations and bag limits. Along with the popularity and competitiveness of hog hunting, these animals are also delicious, providing those that bring one down with enough swine to satiate the hunger of even the most ravenous meat eaters.
Hunting an elk is like hunting a deer that’s been jacked up on Muscle Holocaust. The sheer size of a large elk makes for an impressive creature in the field, and no other game animal may be as iconic in the northern Rockies as these many-tined quadrupeds. Interacting with a bugling elk while high in the pines of a lonely mountain connects you with nature more acutely than almost any other hunting experience, and getting a trophy rack will solidify your reputation among the best of them. The embodiment of grace and grandeur, elk hunting should be near the top of any outdoorsman’s list.
Generally, hunting moose is a once-in-a-lifetime experience because it’s such a challenge. First, tags are hard to draw and expensive to obtain, particularly anywhere south of Alaska and parts of Canada. Second, most people cannot simply go out by themselves to bag a moose. Unless you’re somehow highly familiar with the terrain, not to mention the often-difficult logistics of simply getting to that terrain, you need a guide to ensure success. Finally, moose hunting itself is just inherently difficult. For such enormous creatures, they can be remarkably quiet, not to mention the animal-to-square mile ratio is tiny given their sedentary nature. You can go a long time in the backwoods of some great habitat and never encounter a bull. However, if you do get lucky enough to successfully harvest a specimen, you’ll instantly become the envy of all your friends and make a memory you’ll never forget.
4. Bighorn Sheep
Are there any other racks more instantly recognizable than the massive, curled horns of a mature ram mounted in the study of a high-elevation hunting lodge? The short answer is no. However, similarly to moose, you’re going to have to work hard to bag one. Several populations are severely threatened, such as those in the Sierra Nevadas, but even where they are relatively common, obtaining a tag can be difficult. However, no other hunting experience really gets you out in the elements as much as that of a bighorn trip. Getting out in the backcountry of the windswept, craggy, mountain strongholds these beasts inhabit is an experience in and of itself, and will make you feel like a man even if you don’t get the huge ram you were hoping for.
5. Dall Sheep
See “Bighorn Sheep,” but replace everything with Alaska.
6. Black Bear
Generally, I prefer not to support the hunting of large predators in North America due to their vital ecosystem roles, history of exploitation, and general scarcity (for instance, the mountain lion and the gray wolf). This may be unpopular or NF, but that’s where I personally draw the line. Black Bears, however, I can make an exception for. These relatively abundant ursidae are found, and can be legally hunted, over a large geographic range and appear to actually be expanding in population. Getting a tag is becoming more restrictive, but there are certainly places where you actually have a good shot at bagging a blackie, given the opportunity. Nothing screams testosterone quite like a bear pelt in your foyer, and, contrary to popular belief, the meat is actually quite delicious when prepared properly. Make sure you’re prepared to deal with, you know, the inherent danger of hunting a bear, though.
Yes, you can obtain a hunting/trapping license for wolverine in Alaska. Are you likely to get one? Absolutely not. But can you tell girls that’s how you’re planning to spend your summer? Absolutely.
8. Pronghorn Antelope
Hunting antelope is wildly underrated. In many western states, obtaining a tag is dirt cheap and filthy easy, and hunter success rates are remarkably high for such a speeding creature. Hunting in the plains is an outdoor experience many hunters never encounter, with the biggest challenge being simply to get close to the animals in such a wide open space. But the reward of harvesting the second-fastest land mammal on earth is said to be hard to beat, and you’ll feel like a virile god as you’re hauling in the Usain Bolt of the animal kingdom.
Another Alaskan specialty. It’s similar to hunting pronghorn, but on the frozen and bitter tundra of the North. The racks of big male ‘bous are incredibly impressive, with antler weights exceeding 20 pounds. With their wide spread, huge brow palms, and overall regality, these trophies make an excellent addition to any hunting room. Plus, it’s a festive tribute to all things Christmas come holiday season.
10. Whitetail/Blacktail/Mule Deer
The original, the classic, the timeless. Nothing more needs to be said.
Have fun hunting and get your ass outdoors..