During the pandemic, many states remained on shutdown, with borders closed, and shops boarded tight. Many of us turned to the much-needed solace of hunting and the wilderness. We rediscovered old trails we hadn't visited in years, found new spaces, and many renewed their hunting hobby while others welcomed a boom of a new generation willing to learn the ins and outs of our wild backyards.
The appreciation for discovering and exploring our country's hidden and wide-open places has remained strong even after restrictions eased. It shows that there is still so much to find close to home. Before the season gets away from you this summer, why not discover (or rediscover) two of the best hunting destinations in the U.S.? Summer hunting destinations can provide many vacation and hunting opportunities, breathtaking views, and the chance to learn something new.
Los Padres National Forest, California
It's easy to mistakenly think California is all about the glitz, glamour, the Hollywood elite, and those aspiring to become actors and actresses. There's much more to California than its beaches and movie stars — but thanks to the great weather, it is one of the perfect summer hunting destinations in the United States. Additionally, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is massive, managing over one million acres of fish and wildlife habitat across more than seven hundred properties. Each area has an incredibly remarkable, rich diversity of wildlife, fish, and plant species, perfect for seasoned and amateur hunters and survivalists.
Los Padres National Forest
Located in the southern and central part of California, this U.S. national forest boasts stunning mountainous landscapes from Ventura to Monterey along the coast. The Jacinto Reyes byway, for example, passes through the Ojai Ranger district and is part of Mount Pinos.
This byway has amazing scenery and fantastic examples of California's diverse terrain, so you will always find something visually arresting while traveling that route. Additionally, suppose you love to mix in trail exploration and hiking. In that case, breathtaking cliffs, lush river bank habitats, rock formations, and more are perfect for hikers and climbers of all skills.
There is such an abundance of unique geology, plant, and animal life that hunters all over the country also love making Los Padres National Forest a summer hunting destination.
Like almost any other spot within the U.S., hunting is a seasonal activity and is permitted during hunting seasons set by the California State Department of Fish and Wildlife, so ensure you have any licenses, tags, and validations you need before visiting Los Padres.
What can you hunt in the Los Padres National Forest?
- Columbian Black-Tailed and California Mule deer
- Black bears
- Wild Boards
You will need a California State Hunting License before you begin, so don't forget.
Missouri's High Adventure
For some hunters, there comes a time during their experiences when they begin to dream of something more. They start thinking about that dream hunt—a trip to New Zealand for a red stag, a vacation to Africa for a springbok.
While being able to fly off to New Zealand for its huge-antlered red stag should be on your to-do list, it might not be achievable for many of us. But luckily for many, the red stag is available to hunt right here in the U.S. at a place in Missouri called High Adventure Ranch. While the ranch's most popular deer hunt is for whitetails, hunters can find various game there.
It was established over forty years ago by founder and owner Charles Pu, whose passion for the hunt began at age nine and never faded. He had the idea of bringing the excitement and experience of big game hunting from around the world to the United States.
Through its four decades, the ranch has grown to hold over thirty different big game species with an estimated population of around two thousand animals at any given time. Hunters from all over the U.S. now consider High Adventure Ranch one of their go-to destinations for both exotic experiences and to try hunting a species not found in their home state.
Hunters can dine together in a large dining hall that will prepare and serve any game they hunt, while cabins and a main lodge offer modern accommodations during your stay. The ranch's acreage covers roughly three square miles of open land, and along with hunting, several ponds and lakes offer unique fishing experiences for members of a family or party that don't want to pursue game.
What can you hunt at the High Adventure Ranch?
- Wild Boar
- Whitetail Deer
- Axis Deer
- Fallow Deer
- Sika Deer
- Blackbuck Antelope
- Red Stag
- Texas Dall, Mouflon, Black Hawaiin, Corsican rams
- Jacob's Four Horns
- Spanish Goats
- Sable Antelope
- Thomson and Grants Gazelle
- Grants Zebra
And the above list is not exhaustive. There is a lot that the High Adventure Ranch provides that you can't generally experience without a more extended, more expensive trip out of the country. It's not just the unusual game that makes High Adventure Ranch different, either—their promise of "no game, no pay" is a guarantee. If you book a hunt with them and don't fill your tag, you don't have to pay!
While there are no doubt hundreds of fantastic summer hunting destinations out there and many we have yet to share—we would run out of space very quickly if we covered them all. We decided to include these two summer hunting destinations because we felt they deserved a little more time to shine in the spotlight and because you might be looking for a new place to inspire and bring back the thrill of the hunt.
Before heading off into the wild, ensure you've got the best gear you'll need for your summer hunting experience! Browse our massive inventory of today's most trusted brands of equipment, weaponry, and accessories every hunter needs to make their next hunt the best one yet.
Have you visited these places and hunted there? Connect with us on Facebook and Instagram to share your experiences and follow us for the latest in products, blogs, and more.