A few years ago, I noticed my two boys needed some toughening up. Too many trips to all-inclusives or amusement parks. I wanted to start them hunting, but I wanted them to enjoy the experience. I began taking them on guided hunting trips with high success rates to get them excited about it, and it worked. Now a few years later, they are both hooked.
The good news for you is I’ve spent many thousands of dollars trying different trips, and so I can recommend some good ones for you here, and many of them are relatively inexpensive.
I spent many thousands of dollars and tons of time hunting the places on this list so that I could recommend the best trips for you.
Whitetail Deer Hunting in Texas
Price: $2,995 includes whitetail deer and hog hunting for 5 days, AND all your meals and lodging. Not a bad deal!
Deer hunting is usually the first big game hunt that people go on, and whitetail deer in Texas have dense populations, making the shot opportunity very high in many areas.
I hunted at Arrowhead Outfitters in Cameron, Texas a few years ago and had a great experience. They are in a very rural area and hunt truly wild whitetail. They have basic feeders and blinds set up on a very large farm. The feeders are just enough to get the deer interested, but don’t overfeed them to where they become unnaturally large. These are wild animals on a real hunt.
The owner, Mark Tieden and his wife were very accommodating and made sure we had a positive experience.
Based on our experience hunting there, I would say the shot opportunity is about 40% per day you’re there. So if you stay for 3-5 days, you could pretty well count on having an opportunity at a nice whitetail. We didn’t see any monsters there, but we did see a number of respectable nice-looking whitetails that I’d be happy to shoot.
Shots are generally very short at less than 100 yards, so it’s a good opportunity for new or young shooters who will have buck fever when the moment comes.
Watch this video starting at 4:11 and you’ll see the whitetail deer hunt we did at Arrowhead Outfitters.
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African Safari Trophy/Cull Hunt in South Africa
Price: About $4,450 includes flights, lodging, meals, 5 days of hunting, and you can hunt FIVE big game animals!
I know, an African safari? What happened to “inexpensive”? It certainly won’t be as cheap as a simple coyote hunt 45 minutes from home, but what if I told you that you could hunt in Africa for CHEAPER than a guided elk hunt in Idaho or Montana (which would fetch around $6k plus tag fees)?
I have twice hunted with Richard Holmes Safaris in South Africa, and they were two of the best weeks of my entire life since I enjoyed them with my family. We did a combination of cull hunting and trophy hunting, so we took some smaller animals or females, and a few trophies, so as to reduce the cost of the trip.
Here’s what the hunt will likely cost:
- $2,700 – Bargain package at Richard Holmes Safaris which includes meals and lodging, plus 5 animals
- $1,200 – Flights to/from Johannesburg
- $300 – Flights from Joberg to Port Elizabeth
- $250 – One night hotel in Johannesburg, and help at airport with firearms
When you arrive at Richard Holmes Safaris, you’ll be picked up at the airport by one of the owners or their staff. They will drive you to the lodge (several hours away). The lodges are basic by western standards, but quite comfortable. Everyone was very kind and accommodating. The food was great, cleaning service was responsive, and the PH’s (professional hunters) were a pleasure to be with for the week.
You can guarantee 100% shot opportunity. The animals in Africa are far more abundant in the United States. Having said that, you cannot guarantee you’ll get the species you’re after. This is a hunt and not a shoot. If you want a kudu and only a kudu, then you may or may not get your shot. Having said that, we had 18 animals on our package last time we went, and we came home with 17 of them. You will not have difficulty finding game to hunt.
The hunting area is absolutely gargantuan, so don’t expect this to be a shoot. You’ll be hunting. There is no shooting from vehicles or anything crazy like that. It takes a solid 35 minutes+ to drive across the entire hunting area. It’s big. Springbuck, wildebeest, blesbuck, and ostrich are pretty easy to hunt as they are abundant in large herds and you can wait under a bush in the plains. Kudu, zebra, gemsbuck, waterbuck, nyala, and other animals will be more of an active hiking hunt. I’d recommend a hunt that involves a little of both.
My only tips for hunting there are: (1) You absolutely need this chair. You’ll spend many hours on your butt on sharp rocks hiding under bushes waiting for some of the herds to move your way. Seriously, it’s mandatory. (2) Get a swagger bipod. The weeds/brush is just high enough that you can’t quite shoot off your backpack most of the time, so a bipod is perfect. I’d get the 9.75″ to 41.25″ version. The swagger is PERFECT for this hunt because it allows you to move quickly. Many african animals are herd animals, so you’ll need to adjust many times as you pick out which animal in the herd is the one for you to take. Trust me, that’s the bipod you want for this specific hunt.
One thing that could substantially increase the price of this hunt is if you choose to purchase taxidermy. If you don’t get taxidermy at all, then a 20% tax applies, but choosing expensive taxidermy obviously won’t come cheap. In this video, I shared how much I spent on taxidermy. The second time we went to hunt in Africa, we just left everything there for the locals and didn’t do any taxidermy to save money.
Price: About $250 per day, plus lodging and food
Coyote hunts are fantastic because they usually require no tags, have no limits, and usually involve shooting several animals over a few days.
You can easily hunt coyotes yourself without a guide, but my guess is that many of the people searching for inexpensive hunts with high success rates are people who want some help learning to hunt successfully. I count myself in that group since I love learning from guides each time I go.
I have not personally hired a guide to hunt coyote, but there are many guided coyote hunts listed on bookyourhunt at extremely affordable rates that have good reviews.
Blacktail Deer Hunting on Kodiak Island, Alaska
Price: $2,475 includes five days of guided blacktail hunting, plus lodging and food. Just add flights.
Kodiak island is home to some of the largest bears on the planet, and the blacktail deer are giants too. Blacktail deer don’t grow massive antlers when compared to whitetail or mule deer, but they are very big-bodied. Best of all, tags are easy to acquire over-the-counter and you can get up to 3 tags per year.
The rut for Kodiak blacktail deer occurs in late October or early November, so prepare for weather and cold. As the saying goes, “Nothing leaves Kodiak dry.” You’ll need top quality gear to be prepared for the elements.
There are many ways to hunt blacktail deer. Some people get a plane in to a remote area and stay alone in a DIY hunt. Others hike with a guide. Most of the locals drive the road system in parts of the forest to spot them. In my case, I’m going on a boat-based hunt on Kodiak in just a couple months with Driftwood Wilderness Lodge. We drive the boat around the shoreline and use binoculars to spot the animals, then park the boat and stalk in.
Shot opportunity is very high, but so is the likelihood of encountering bad weather.
Feral Hog Hunting in Texas
Price: $1,050 includes three days of hunting, lodging, and all meals
Feral hogs are a destructive and invasive species currently wreaking havoc on many areas of Texas and other southern states. They populate quickly, and hunters so far have been unable to keep their populations in check.
I have hunted hogs a couple times, but my top recommendation would be to go with Mark Tieden at Arrowhead Outfitters (same guide I mentioned earlier for whitetail deer hunting). You can certainly do a combo hunt, but if you only hunt hogs, the price goes down.
My recommendation would be to bring night optics. You’ll unquestionably see hogs, but having good optics will dramatically improve your chances of success. I bought this sight for under $1k, and I’m not sure we would have shot our hogs without it. Many people hunt with just a spotlight, which does work for sure, but I was happy to have the night optic.
Baited Black Bear Hunting in Idaho
I live in St George Utah, but I grew up in the great state of Idaho. Idaho is one of the few states that allows bear baiting. There is nothing as exciting as patiently waiting and then seeing a giant black beast sneak in to a bait.
Bears have overpopulated in Idaho, making the cost of tags go down and Idaho even allowing hunters to take two bears in some circumstances.
Black bear is a great quarry because it doesn’t require giant cartridges so it’s accessible for youth shooters and recoil-sensitive shooters, but is still a large animal with heavy bones.
Ox Ranch as a Family Vacation/Hunt
Price: About $3,750 total efor a family of 5 to spend four days and have all your meals and lodging paid-for. Then just the trophy fee for an animal if you kill one. You’re not obligated to hunt. You could just go and enjoy the area and activities and see some cool animals with the family.
Ox Ranch is an absolutely incredible place. You’ll never experience any other hunting ranch quite like it. The owner created a tech company, Hostgator, and when he sold it, he used some of the money to create a hunting mecca in Texas.
I hunted at Ox Ranch with my family in early 2021. My family loved it. We rode ATV’s to see dinosaur footprints, swam in the pool until the wee hours of the morning, caught so many huge bass that our arms were tired, ate great food, stayed in a much better-than-anticipated family cabin, drove and fired a real tank (not kidding), fed a giraffe and kudu, and hunted.
Here’s what I’d say about the hunting at Ox Ranch. For many of the species, it’s a shoot and not a traditional hunt. There are blackbuck, elk, and dozens of other species walking around like a park. Most people shoot safari style from jeeps. The hog blind literally has security cameras all over the woods so you can spot the animals coming in.
For many hunters, this will be a major turn-off. For me, I have no interest in paying thousands of dollars to blast an elk from 100 feet away while sitting on top of a jeep. However, there are some species at Ox Ranch that will require more traditional fair-chase hunting techniques, and by no means have a 100% shot opportunity. I hunted aoudad at Ox Ranch and didn’t see a thing until day 4 with only an hour left in the trip. I was able to seal the deal on a great ram that I was proud of and worked hard for. There is definitely hard, real hunting at Ox Ranch, but you have to know what you’re signing up for and pick an experience that matches that.
I really enjoyed Ox Ranch because it was 70% family vacation, 30% a dad/boys hunting trip. We spent a day in San Antonio to go to Six Flags, then spent four days at Ox Ranch. We had tons of fun family activities all day to keep everyone down to our four-year-old entertained, but then in the mornings and evenings I could put on camo and go hunting.
Don’t Forget About Tips
I don’t think anyone loves the way the tipping system works, but it’s even crazier in the hunting industry. Generally, about 20% of the hunt is expected as a tip. In the pricing above, I’ve included list prices for each of the hunts, but remember that after the hunt, there will be a fee for a tip, and possibly taxidermy if you choose to purchase it.
Are you an outfitter wanting to get recommended on Backfire? We only recommend hunts we actually have experienced ourselves. For the right hunt, I’m often willing to pay for me and my two sons’ travel if an outfitter will take us hunting in exchange for a recommendation. We love trying out new places to see if they are hunts we can recommend to the Backfire audience.