By Mark Kenyon
The 140″ tight and tall 9 pointer slowly rose from his bed and began stiff legging towards the field. About 50 yards away a 170″ toad of a buck with splits on several tines continued on his path down towards the 9, ears back, hairs raised tight on the back of his neck. I meanwhile watched in utter amazement, toes, fingers, arms and legs shaking in nervous excitement. This is why I had made the seven hour drive to Iowa. You just don’t see this kind of thing in Michigan!
For the past five or six years, I’ve packed my bags each fall and headed out of state to chase whitetails across the country – in pursuit of moments just like the one described above. I’ve now hunted Pennsylvania, Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa and Ohio, and soon will be adding a few more states to the list. And now that I’ve enjoyed this kind of hunting away from home, I don’t think I’ll ever have a fall without a trip planned. It’s just that much fun.
That said, if you’re like me and you dream of chasing whitetails across the country, but have never done it before, the unknowns of this kind of adventure might be a little intimidating.
Why read The Freelance Bowhunter?
That’s where The Freelance Bowhunter comes in. To my knowledge, this is the first book ever created specifically focused on planning and executing an out-of-state DIY whitetail hunt. And now after reading through the book and comparing it to my own experiences, I think it does a pretty darn good job of preparing you for just about anything a hunt such as this might entail.
The Freelance Bowhunter is filled with information relevant to those who are packing up and striking out for away-from-home whitetails, and it comes courtesy of Bernie Barringer, an outdoor writer and hunter who has plenty of DIY out-of-state hunts under his belt. Bernie has chased big bucks across many of the Midwest states whitetail hunters dream of and he’s had a whole lot of success. But like all of us, he’s also had a few failures and lessons learned along the way as well. It is these experiences and lessons learned, both good and bad, that Bernie shares within the pages of The Freelance Bowhunter.
Exactly what is covered?
Unlike most hunting literature today, this book isn’t so much about actual deer hunting. Yes, there are some chapters and sections revolved around unique hunting strategies for this kind of trip – and they’re definitely useful. But the most valuable portions of this book, in my opinion, are those devoted more to the logistics of a DIY whitetail trip. If you want to be consistently successful on a DIY whitetail trip, you can’t just decide one day to up and leave, toss your bow in the truck and drive somewhere. Instead, these types of trips require careful planning and preparation. For example; choosing where to hunt, getting access or permission to hunt, figuring out where to stay on your trip, how to handle meals, how and when to prepare your properties, where and how to use trail cameras on short out-of-state hunts, what kind of equipment you’ll need, how to handle butchering or taxidermy. The unique questions that must be answered when planning a deer hunting trip such as this are many, and The Freelance Bowhunter seems to have them all covered.
I’ve done a good number of these kinds of trips and have learned a lot over the years, and still, I was able to glean some helpful new information and ideas from this book. But what might be my favorite content included is the end section devoted to “16 Bowhunting Destination States”. Within this part of the book, each of the “sixteen destination states” are discussed in detail, covering some of the best public land options, hunting season information and other relevant topics related to why you might want to hunt there and how to go about planning that trip. Additionally, each state description includes a county level map, with the number of Pope & Young record book entries included in each of the top counties for each state. It’s an excellent resource to help you quickly identify top areas, and I’m sure I’ll be flipping back to these pages many times in the years to come.
Overall, I’d say The Freelance Bowhunter is a must-read for anyone looking to prepare for their first out-of-state whitetail hunt, and even if you’ve taken many a big buck adventure, it’s well worth a read. This is an enjoyable read, packed with tips for executing a freelance DIY whitetail hunt, and a helpful resource for planning future trips.
For more details straight from the author, check out the quick video clip below.