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Shotguns

Shotguns

For Western Upland Birds.

Hey buddy, you interested in a super deal on a Western hunt?

To many hunters, the part of the United States west of the Mississippi River represents their lifetime dream. East of the Mississippi, the common big-game animals are white-tailed deer and feral pigs, with black bears hunted in several states and moose in a very few, and then only by long-odds lotteries. All four of those animals are also found Out West, along with mule and black-tailed deer, pronghorns, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mountain lions and, these days, wolves.

The trouble with hunting any Western big game, however, is that almost all involve quite a bit of money and even some luck. Residents can buy deer and elk tags over the counter in several Western states, but non-residents can’t hunt even those common animals without drawing a tag in a license lottery. And the non-resident fees are pretty high. In my home state of Montana, a non-resident elk license costs $812, and odds are you won’t draw one the first time you apply, or maybe even the second. Then there’s the cost of travel, food and accommodations and some way to get 200 or 300 pounds of elk meat home. Add in the optional services of an outfitter (not a bad idea for a first elk hunt, especially when getting a dead elk out of the mountains) and a taxidermist, and the total can come to $10,000.

However, there’s another kind of Western hunting that doesn’t involve a lottery, and is cheaper in every way, including bringing meat home, since you can normally stuff the results inside a picnic cooler: The West also has a much wider variety of upland birds than anywhere east of the Mississippi.

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