11 Fun Off-Season Hunts to Keep You Busy Year-Round

Do you experience that post-season let down once the fall hunting season is over? Melissa Bachman has some suggestions for you to keep the excitement going.

by posted on March 19, 2024
Bachman Fun Stag Pic Old

I’ve attended trade shows nearly every weekend since Christmas. I love meeting all the amazing people, putting on seminars, talking with kids and seeing new products, but I also enjoy chatting with a wide variety of outfitters from around the word. One thing I’m always looking for are hunts that take place outside of the usual fall hunting season. I enjoy looking for adventures that are different and especially love hunts that are out of the ordinary and pursuing opportunities I would only have dreamed of as a young girl.

I’ve compiled a list of my top 11 off season hunts. A few have been completed; some are currently booked; and others are on my bucket list. Again, this isn’t a list that everyone would necessarily choose, but my goal is to spark interest in something out of the ordinary. There are more than 13 million deer hunters out there, but how many people can say they’ve gone bowfishing for giant stingrays or a predator called a black bear?

Iguana. I’m not sure if this is something that has always been popular, but recently I’ve seen more and more hunts targeting iguanas. These appear to be an invasive species and a real nuisance. At SHOT Show, Winchester introduced the new 22 Ranger, and my first thought was, this would be perfect to take on an iguana hunt! The hunts that I’ve checked out are high volume, in tropical areas (very appealing coming from the frozen tundra of South Dakota) and it’s one of those hunts that looks like a fun, social environment without any real pressure to worry about size, age, etc. From what I gather, if you see an iguana, you shoot at an iguana. What a great win-win situation! Nuisance iguanas are managed, and people get to experience a totally different hunt, then get to enjoy roasted iguana over a campfire at night. Just let me know where to sign up!

Stingrays. Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved bowfishing, but never dreamed of having the chance to go after anything but carp. The number of hours I spent shooting carp as a kid was truly astounding, but now I’ve had a chance to go after all sorts of cool things. However, even I was surprised last month by an opportunity. In February I was at the NRA Great American Outdoor Show, and was having a conversation at the DSG Apparel booth when Corey Brossman with Innerlocs Outthere TV and Brossman Boys Bowfishing stopped in to say hello. During our chat he showed me photos of his bowfishing adventures. They go after some giant stingrays. In fact, a couple of my good friends went with him last year. So one thing led to another, and now I’m all setup to try this out in July and can’t wait for the adventure.

Tahr, Chamois, Red Stag in New Zealand. Traveling to New Zealand is an incredible experience as there is so much to see, not to mention the scenery is absolutely stunning. The great news is it also has unbelievable hunting and their seasons are opposite of our U.S. seasons. That means the peak of the red stag rut is in the spring, and they have awesome hunting all the way into our summer. I’ve had the privilege to hunt tahr and stags in New Zealand. Next summer I have another trip planned to take an SCI auction winner to experience her first tahr hunt, and I can’t wait. They are such beautiful animals and live in some pretty rugged conditions. The hunt is tough, but when you get up high in their country the view is worth all the hard work. Being able to take someone on her first tahr adventure will be such a rewarding experience. In advance of the hunt, she and I are going to meet at the DSG Headquarters in Wisconsin for a fun day of shopping to get her geared up for the trip.

Coyote Hunting. Not everybody is as lucky enough to live in a target-rich environment for coyotes like my home state of South Dakota. But this can be both good and bad. The other night when letting Pork Chop outside in the middle of the night I could hear coyotes going crazy within 50 yards of our fence. Yes, there was a 6-foot fence in between them and her, but I was still ready to do whatever necessary to keep her safe in the middle of the night. Even if that meant running out into our yard in my pajamas barefoot in the dead of winter. The good news is that with the high numbers in our area, they definitely keep us busy all winter long. Coyotes are incredibly smart, and everything must be done correctly to call them in. I really believe hunting them all winter helps keep hunters’ skills sharp, and probably makes them even sharper for the fall hunt season. So many of the same principles apply when calling coyotes to calling bear or rattling in bucks. We usually start hunting coyotes the day deer season finishes, and often will hunt them up until turkey season begins.

Alligator Gar. The first time I saw photos of an alligator gar I instantly wondered why on earth anyone would ever swim or get in the water where these monsters live! I did a hunt in Texas years ago and we worked hard hoping to get a chance at one of these big fish rolling and finally our long hours cruising the rivers paid off. A huge gar rolled in front of our boat, and it was truly a team effort to land this monster fish.

Axis Deer & Hogs. One of the fun things about Texas is all the different species of animals available to hunt and, of course, axis deer and hogs can be hunted almost any time of the year. This was Pork Chop’s and my first adventure together when she was a brand-new pup, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. She did such a good job, and I had no idea it would be the start of her amazing hunting career—and also her amazing collection of proud hunting photos.

Bowfishing Tuna. I’ll be honest, an off-shore bowfishing trip was not something I had ever considered, that is until my friends at Boss Buck Feeders invited me down to Louisiana on an action-packed trip with Chris Moran of C Morgan’s Marina. The trip ended off-shore while shooting a tuna that can darting past our boat. With the waves were rocking, I stood up on the edge with the captain holding on to me. Of course, Pork Chop had her life jacket on while watching it all go down while on the boat.

Africa Croc & Hippo by Day; Predators by Night. The allure of Africa has always been there for many years, ever since my very first experience filming a group of hunters in Namibia. I’ve had the chance to do a variety of hunts and experience so many different locations, but one hunt I’m really looking forward to is this summer. I agreed to help raise money for the Dallas Safari Club Utah Chapter to auction off a hunt where a vet and I will head to Africa for a trip of a lifetime. I’ll be hunting predators at night with thermals—a hunt that has been on my bucket list for some time. There is something about hitting a predator call in Africa and not knowing what might come in that really gets my blood pumping. Further down the road I hope to go after a croc and hippo—a fun hunt to add to the bucket list and something that can be done outside our normal fall hunting season.

Wingshooting Argentina. For anyone who loves non-stop shooting and action, Argentina is the place for you. Years back hunted with Paco Riestra in Argentina and had such a fun time. We hunted doves, ducks, perdiz and pigeons. Down there you can literally shoot nonstop until you’re sick of shooting. The hunting is world class, the food is exceptional, and the overall experience is top notch. Ever since I was a young girl I loved duck hunting but had never experienced a duck hunt like we did down there. They pulled us out to our blind in a boat behind a horse, and the shooting was constant. We used our dead ducks as decoys and propped them up with sticks. We had such an incredible time. The limits were higher than anything I’ve ever seen, so when we finished up for the morning I could hardly believe it—and never wanted the fun to end.

Calling Black Bear in Alaska. Spring bear hunts have always been pretty popular, but I’ve never been a big fan of sitting over a bait pile waiting on a bear to show. To spice things up a bit one year we started calling black bear, and the results speak for themselves. Three years we called in big old boars right to our call. I always enjoyed everything about Alaska but especially getting out in the spring after turkey season to hunt a big game species. Since then, they have gone to a draw so it’s been quite some time since I’ve had the opportunity to hunt bears, but just last week I received a call from Huntin’ Fool who informed me that I drew the Alaska Spring Prince of Wales black bear tag, so next spring you’ll know right where to find me!

Gator Hunting. There are many states across the country in which you can hunt alligators, but each state has its own set of rules, traditions, etc. The good thing about alligators is you can hunt them by day or night, however, we’ve had the best luck calling them at night. It’s usually best in the heat of the summer because they are cold-blooded so they soak up the sun all day and then hunt and swim around all night. My favorite way to go after alligators is down in Florida where we can shoot them with a bow.

These are just a few ideas to keep you busy and having fun during the off season. Many of these are highly social hunts so find something that interests you, grab a friend or family and go experience something fun and new.

 



 

 

 

 

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