The Affordable Dream Outing by Kevin Gardner
No longer should any avid outdoorsman have to sit back and watch others get the hunts that they themselves only dream of having a once in a lifetime chance at. So many great opportunities exist out there for folks willing to pull together their resources and plan together to make all of their dream hunting or fishing trips a reality.
If you have a small group of likeminded friends who would entertain a collective experience, consider the material before you. If you are not in touch with folks who have the interests that you do, turn to local sporting clubs or internet forums like this one where you can make the connections and enjoy what your equipment taxes are providing.
The topics and examples used here are placed within the framework of planning a hunting trip, but have a universal application to almost any outdoor activity in which you may engage yourself. In an effort to be timely for planning the coming season’s activities and meeting potential deadlines for obtaining permits or licensing, the success of these trips will rest on acting now.
A basic camp or group will face the following planning related duties and must react to be productive. Having someone responsible for gathering license information and studying that process, travel, lodging and scouting are true basics, however if planning to stay out of doors on the trip include; firewood gathering, privy and shower accommodations and ideally a dishwasher. If the group is not large enough to have a single person responsible for each, the duties must then be combined, but at least be aware of these considerations in the process of planning. Provided is an outline of each area for consideration:
License or Permits
With many states in the western part of the country rapidly approaching their big game draw license deadlines, know that there are already many that have passed as of late March. Still the Midwest and the East offer much later license purchase timeframes. This may also apply to turkey hunting or fishing for select species like salmon, so keep this in mind for future years.
A great approach to the big game hunt for a larger group is the combination of license within the group. An example would be bear tags, bull elk tags, cow elk tags, buck tags and doe tags all held by different hunters that can be paired together by species to penetrate areas where the particular animal they have a tag for would be likely found. Keeping your mind on one or two species allows you to really do your homework and focus on the habitat and terrain that animal utilizes. This eliminates people having too many tags to really focus on and wind up trying to locate an area that they believe holds both species only to find it marginal for either at best. When paired in combination, the opportunity to have success is much greater.
Travel does indeed have its considerations. If you are planning a more remote trip far from home and the question to fly or drive is volleyed, the time versus money conversation needs to be had. It can be cost effective to do a collective drive-in with the switching of drivers to keep the wheels moving and cut the time as much as possible, but the fatigue of the trip is ever present no matter how many drivers and the additional time can span days. This can play a part in energy level at the time of the hunt as well.
Flying can be effective if booked correctly. There are much better days of the week and times to fly than others and consulting an agent or a friend that does a great deal of business travel may be helpful. With the current state of affairs in the economy, flights can be had cheaply and vehicle rentals on the other end can be pretty efficient as well. This also allows you to rent something that you may never have considered driving half way across the country to use on your trip.
RV rentals are available as well at most destinations, or within reason of one. Again, a piece of equipment you may never consider driving or towing for a thousand plus miles could be rented within a hundred miles of the hunt.
Travel coordinator: someone willing to plan the transportation needs, routes and practical needs of the group pre and post trip. Things like coordinating vehicles that can penetrate the area needed. Ample carrying capacity for gear and game, and the arrangements for returning with game if successful.
The collective group can also split an expense in this area with specialization within the camp. If one person opts in as a camp cook, they can focus on the tools of that trade and seek the accommodations of a cook tent. Perhaps a less glamorous addition to the group would be the designer and keeper of the privy and shown tent, again a focus of one that serves many. All fall under the consideration of lodging needs. Main lodge tents are an expensive venture and could best be served by a couple of folks sharing expenses.
Note: heating considerations may be another responsibility and the person responsible for that equipment may also be responsible for collecting the firewood. Who will be responsible for clean and safe water procurement and replenishment? Again it is the splitting of responsibility that allows several to have a great experience based on specialization and the reliance on others for their specialty.
Hotels or cabins can be an option as well and is a recommended route for the first adventure. This will allow you to see things as they happen during the actual season to consider things about camping out that may not be evident in the mid summer. Things like weather conditions and unexpected closures of areas you selected as potential camp sites. Doing the hotel trip initially can let you look things over the first year subjectively and aid in the planning and equipment selection process.
If at all possible, a dry run in the summer would be highly recommended to not only find little issues out that you may have not considered, such as pounding plastic tent stakes into rocky soil for example. It will also allow for the actual use of equipment in the field before arriving and relying on it untested during the big trip.
Lodging Designer: the hotel planner or someone to take the needs for lodging under their command and be responsible for camp layout, material needed for the construction of framework, the construction of the tents to meet the weather needs and the size of the tents.
There are an awful lot of resources available for scouting prior to the season, even from many hundreds to thousands of miles away. Ariel maps and satellite imagery combined with the latest in GPS technology can really give you a sense of the terrain and the areas to focus your pre-season scouting. Knowing the terrain and cover conditions favored by your target animal will allow you to seek those little niche areas out from afar and be prepared to head directly to them when you arrive.
Planning fishing, hiking or camping trips to the area (or several if possible) will allow you to get a feel for the area in advance and under less stressful conditions. Contacting the states game and fish department in advance and talking to a biologist or game manager will also help immensely in the decision process of where to spend your energy. These folks are such an underutilized resource and are very willing and happy to talk with you.
Scout: if it is not practical for everyone to do their own scouting, having someone in the group do it all for you is a very good investment of your time and money. Supporting a trip or multiple trips for them to the area will go a very long way, strategically, come the start of the season. The scout should be able to have suggestions for every attendee by a week before the trip, considering style of hunting they like, physical condition and tags in possession.
Firewood Coordinator: someone to be responsible for supplying the wood, kindling, starter and procurement upon arrival.
Cook: probably the most significant role in the group, but someone who can plan and execute all of the meals based on needs and diet restrictions. There will be a great deal of planning and expense that can be communicated and shared prior to the trip and this helps eliminate duplication or falsely relying on someone else to have a needed ingredient or tool. An entire article could be devoted to just this topic.
Dishwasher: having someone who takes this responsibility goes a long way to keeping a healthy camp. If the dishwasher has a lack of attention to detail a case of food poisoning can ruin a great camp. Additionally they should familiarize themselves with disposal of the scraps and liquids to keep the camp predator free.
Privy and shower Coordinator: someone to research and understand the requirements of the law regarding camping privy and bathing. They will need to dig holes and provide for the elimination of the gray and black water.
With this basic plan and a sense of adventure, a cost effective time could be had by several. I had a recent conversation with someone whose opinion I value, and they told me that in these trying times that we are in, traditionally people migrate back to their outdoor activities to deal with the stress and concern. I hope they are right and that this information spurs a few together to go out and enjoy your resources.