The modern hunter depends on a wealth of field fortitude but can also enjoy top-notch gear and at least a little bit of luxury. The balance between these is shown full-bore in a hunter’s bucket list destinations — his dream hunts. While every hunter’s list will be different, we’ve gathered some of the best hunting destinations from around the world that pair great game and beautiful country with creature comforts (plush lodges, vistas for days, and top-notch guide services) more fitting for the top of the food chain.
Near: Talkeetna, Alaska
The Game: moose; caribou; dall sheep; grizzly, black and brown bear; wolf; waterfowl
Best for Hunting What Hunts You: The Last Frontier beckons the hearty hunter — just bring a big rifle. Bears average around 9 feet and the moose population, after a few mild winters, is bustling. Most big game is fair game up there, and there’s plenty of other game to fill out a hunt. Stephan Lake takes hunting tours into the wilderness, mostly by prop plane, from their lodge 140 air miles outside of Anchorage. They’re cleared to hunt in an Alaska Fish & Game-deemed predator control area, which means bear and wolf hunts are allowed year round. Moose and sheep are late-summer hunts (August and September), along with waterfowl.
Near: Alberta, Canada
The Game: mallard, pintail, wigeon, green-winged teal, Canada goose, white-fronted goose, light goose, white-tailed deer, moose, black bear
Best for Ducks and Bucks: The plains of Canada offer world-class whitetail and mule deer, but their skies are also full of geese and ducks. Early September to October is top bird season, as the fowl migrate down from the Arctic and feast on Alberta’s harvested grains. Mallards, pintails, and other dabbling ducks also breed here, giving a nice diversity of fowl to shoot. Blue Sky Outfitters offer affordable waterfowl hunts, and Trophy Hunters Alberta have tours for the bigger game. And if the plains seem too tame, you can always venture farther north to the Yukon, where you can battle the elements to hunt seal, Arctic fox and Captain Ahab’s nemesis, the Beluga Whale.
Farther: Córdoba, Argentina
The Game: dove, duck, pigeon, perdiz, capybara, blackbuck antelope, stag, puma, water buffalo
Best for Birds: No one in the know argues this point: if you want to shoot a lot of birds, you go to Argentina. Plush lodges and hundreds of empty shells come standard down south. The 100-square-mile radius around Córdoba is home to an estimated 50 million doves, so the concern is less whether you’ll get your shots, and more how long your shoulder holds up. The season runs year-round, but March, April and October give the best weather. And if time’s on your side, tack on a week or two to head toward the southern tip of the country, where you can hunt bigger game, including puma and water buffalo.
Farther: Pripyat River, Belarus
The Game: elk, red deer, roe deer, wild boar, European bison, wolf, beaver, otter
Best National Animal to Hunt: The European bison, or wisent, is the national animal of Belarus, and it’s also a national tradition to bring these mammoth creatures down. Alongside the 2,000-pound beast, “White Russia” offers a handful of other big game for hunters, including plenty of deer and wolves. Bison season is October to March, deer season runs mid-May until end of November, and wolves are fair game year-round. Stalker Group runs hunts throughout the heavily wooded country; the bison are found in the southern part of the country, near the Pripyat River.
Farthest: Windhoek, Namibia
The Game: elephant, cheetah, lion, Cape buffalo, hippopotamus, crocodile, giraffe, leopard, rhino, steenbuck, zebra, warthog, eland, wildebeest and a wide variety of birds
Best Safari Destination:Africa’s long been the holy grail of hunting, and among its many destinations, Namibia is on the rise because of its diverse game and top-notch hospitality. Omujeve Hunting Safaris pairs fair-chase hunting (part of the community-based Natural Resource Management the group subscribes to) with white-glove service. From laundry to taxidermy, the family-run, local company has you covered with two comfortable lodges and several tent camps spread throughout the country. After a long day tracking springbok, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest and warthog, the oasis-like comfort is well-deserved.
Farthest: South Island, New Zealand
The Game: red stag, wapiti (elk), tahr, chamois, fallow deer, sambar deer, rusa deer, sika deer, whitetail, wild boar, goat, ram and water buffalo
Best for Big Racks: In NZ, the world’s most harmless animal, the kiwi, is off limits, but all of the world’s largest red stags are fair game. New Zealand is a haven for great mountain animals, and Four Seasons Safaris uses 4x4s, helicopters and good ol’ walking to get you in the right places for a shot among some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. The team puts together personal safaris, catering to whatever size and type of rack turns you on. Prime season is March and April, while the animals are in rut.