North America Hunts
Hunting in North America
North America consists of seven different countries: Canada is the largest, followed by Mexico, the USA, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Cuba, and Dominica. The continent covers 9.54 million square miles. Terrain encompasses everything from mountains to deserts. There are over 30 big game animals available to hunt. Here is what is available and where the animal can be found.
Alaskan Brown Bear
Along the Alaskan coast and nearby islands where they have access to spawning salmon. They inhabit the Admiralty, Afognak, Baranof, Chichagof, and Kodiak Islands. An adult boar will tip the scales at 800-1000 pounds.
The black bear is found in many parts of North America; the western United States, Alaska, Canada, the Great Lakes, New England, Appalachia, Ozarks, and the Gulf Coast/Florida states. It is fairly tolerant of humans and is often found in or around populated areas.
This bear is only found in wilderness areas as it does not get along well with humans. The largest populations are in Alaska and Canada. At one time they roamed most of western North America from Mexico to Alaska, but population encroachment has curtailed their movements. They can be hunted on river float trips; spring snowmobile hunts; or ATV hunts in the fall.
The cougar, puma, mountain lion, or whatever it is called, has the widest range of any animal in the western hemisphere. They can be found anywhere from Alaska to Panama. There are even a few of them roaming the streets of Los Angeles. When it comes to hunting them, the best method is by using hunting hounds. Cats are short-winded and will usually tree shortly after being scented by dogs. If hunting by tracking only, the best time of year is when there is snow on the ground and the tracks are fresh. In the drier south, dry-tracking hounds with a good tracking nose are used.
Columbia Blacktail Deer
Found on the Pacific coast of the US, from mid-Canada to Monterey, CA, they are best hunted in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington. The heavy wet forests of Washington and Oregon hold a good population including some trophy-sized bucks.
Coues whitetail deer inhabit drier regions where the terrain is hilly and mountainous in elevations from 4,000 feet to over 8,000 feet. They are found in central and southern Arizona, southwest New Mexico, and Sonora, Mexico. The most common method of hunting them involves spot-and-stalk with a good optic. Shots can be fairly long-range – sometimes up to 500 yards. A good, accurate rifle in the .270 to .300 range with high-end optics and a bipod is almost essential.
Mulies inhabit a wide range of the North American continent from western Canada through the western US and down into both Baja California and the deserts of Mexico. Mule deer hunting is mostly spot-and-stalk using top-end optics. The right rifle/scope combination is very important, but a lot of practice shooting at long ranges is most important.
Sitka Blacktail Deer
These are found on the southwest coast of Alaska and northwest British Columbia. According to Alaska Fish and Game, the Sitka deer is the most frequently hunted species of big game. The largest portion of the harvest is in November during the rut.
Whitetails are very prolific. They are found in most Canadian provinces; most of the lower 48 states; down through Mexico; and all of Central America. Over 6 million are hunted each year. Just about every method of hunting from stand hunting through stalking and spotting, to stalking and still hunting has been employed in the hunt. Down south, hunting the swamps and wetlands with dogs is very popular. Even bow hunting in urban areas to control the over-population of whitetail deer is allowed in some states.
Rocky Mountain Elk
as befits the name, the Rocky Mountain elk inhabits high mountain meadows and forests. Because most elk hunting is done on fairly rough terrain, elk hunters need to be in good shape and prepared to walk and climb at high altitudes. You will need a good rifle, excellent optics, well-broken hiking boots, and patience. Elk are past masters at giving a hunter the slip. Patience and a good plan are critical.
Their habitat encompasses Vancouver Island, BC, the western Canadian mainland, coastal Washington and Oregon, and two main counties in California – Humboldt and Del Norte. The best opportunities for Roosevelt elk hunting are found in Washington and British Colombia. A typical hunt will take place in the wilderness often starting out from a tent camp.
They are only in California in semi-desert and open areas. Getting a Tule elk tag can take a long time. There are approximately 5,800 Tule elk in California. California Fish and game gave out less than 20 tags per year over the past few years. This includes antlerless and doe tags.
Barren Ground Caribou
Found in Alaska and the Yukon, they live on the tundra and nearby forests. The open tundra allows them to spot predators and hunters from a great distance. The usual method of hunting barren ground caribou is by stalk-and-spot. Hunts are of generally moderate difficulty although can be quite easy if the animals are migrating.
These are found in Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territory, and Yukon Territory. Most mountain caribou hunts are in combination with an elk, goat, or moose hunt, or a combination of all. These animals tend to be unpredictable, so if you see a good one, don’t hesitate to take it.
Inhabit wooded areas near rivers and lakes where they feed. They are not herding animals and are solitary unless mating. Alaska Fish and Game reports that the largest moose are in Alaska, the Yukon Territory, and the Northwest Territory of Canada. The three most common types of hunts are the Draw hunt, The Registration hunt, and the General Season hunt.
Slightly smaller than the Yukon moose, these animals are found throughout Canada where they inhabit wooded areas near water such as lakes and rivers. In the warm months, they will move up to higher ground to avoid biting insects. The biggest Canadian moose are found in the Yukon Territories, but good-sized moose can be found in all Canadian provinces.
The Shiras moose makes its home in British Columbia, northeastern Washington, Idaho, western Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. They are the smallest of the four North American types of moose both in body and antler size. The best destinations for hunting Shiras moose are British Colombia or Alberta.
Some of the best areas for free-range bison are; Alaska’s Copper River, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and Utah’s Henry Mountains. These hunts are not easy. The success rate is 50% or less. Buffalo are normally hunted by glassing, then spot-and-stalk. Buffalo sign is easy to track even after a couple of months
These animals are believed to have migrated to the farthest north of the continent over the Bering land bridge during the last ice age. If they are on your list, you will have to travel way up in the frozen north into some very desolate areas in Greenland, parts of Alaska, or the Canadian province of Nunavut. The muskox season usually runs from August to October. Sometimes there is a spring season also.
American Mountain Goat
The rigged terrain that the mountain goat calls home can be dangerous. Usually, you have to hunt them on foot, sleeping on the mountain if the hunt covers a number of days. Mountain goats are hunted using the spot-and-stalk method. Because of the steep country they inhabit, they are often glassed from lower elevations which eliminates the necessity of making a dangerous climb to reach a high point above them. This is one of the few hunts that require serious climbing gear.
It is only found in North America. The greatest population is Wyoming with over 500,000 animals, but large numbers of pronghorns can be found in Montana, Colorado, Idaho, Arizona, and Nevada – along with several other states. Compared to other game animals, pronghorns live in fairly level terrain. They live in open country where spotting them can be easy. If you are interested in trophy-sized pronghorns, New Mexico would be an excellent place to hunt provided you can draw a tag.
California Bighorn Sheep
Obviously can be found in California, but they also are in British Columbia, Nevada, Oregon, and some in Washington. Bighorn seasons run from early August and run to October or November. Similar to other high mountain hunts, Bighorns are usually hunted by the spot-and-stalk method. A good spotting scope and binoculars along with an accurate long-range rifle are necessary. You should be capable of making a 400-500 yard shot with confidence.
These hunts are extremely hard. You need to be in excellent condition and able to carry a pack weighing 50 to 75 pounds up and down rough terrain. The Mackenzie Mountains in Canada’s Northwest Territories are known for producing world-record sheep. They can also be hunted on game farms and ranches in Texas.
Desert Bighorn Sheep
Thirteen states hold lottery drawings for a Bighorn tag: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Because the odds of drawing a tag are small, you should apply in all the states if you really want a Desert Bighorn trophy on your wall.
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep
Montana is known for its large bighorn sheep. Here, as in Desert Bighorn hunting, drawing the tag is the hard part of hunting one. The average number of non-resident tags available in any given year is nine. Be careful. Some sheep hunters have said that after a successful bighorn sheep hunt, all other North American hunting pales in comparison.
Stone sheep are found in the south of the Yukon Territory and the north of British Columbia. Stone sheep hunts are not for the casual hunter. They live in some of the roughest territories in North America. Some hunts have horses to do a lot of the work, but you will still have to do the final stalking and hiking up the mountains. British Columbia holds the most record book sheep with a population of over 12,000 animals – over 80% of the world’s population.