5 ‘Bucket List’ Hunts That Won’t Break The Bank

We are all going to kick the bucket. The idea of a "bucket list" is to make sure when your time to kick the bucket comes, it's empty.

by Mark Melotik

HuntStand Pro Contributor MORE FROM Mark

Looking for adventure? This thrilling handful of hunts fills the bill, and at a fraction of the cost of typical ‘dream’ hunts.

Bucket1 600We are all going to kick the bucket. The idea of a “bucket list” is to make sure when your time to kick the bucket comes, it’s empty.

I’ve often argued that hunting is all about the shot; planning for it, working to get it, and making it. However, where you do that and what you’re shooting at, matter too. After all, there’s not much appeal to shooting a deer off the back porch. Death is inevitable for us all and if you hang around long enough so are senior citizen discounts, bad knees, and other unmentionable ailments that are treated with drugs with side effects worse than the sickness. Hunt now, while you can.

Here are five not tremendously expensive bucket list hunts that are often overlooked.

Bucket2 600When most think of an African safari they have visions of zebra, kudu, buffalo, leopard, and lion. But, Africa is not all about iconic animals and lots of money. Predator calling works in Africa just like it does in North America. The difference is that in Africa you might call up a predator capable of eating you. Jackals are not a threat to humans but they respond to calling just like the coyotes of North America.

Bucket3 600Fort Richmond Safaris is located just a few miles from Kimberly, South Africa, which is the diamond capitol of the world. They operate a huge concession and part of it is an active sheep ranch. Jackals like sheep just as much as coyotes. For about what it costs to fly to Africa you can spend several days calling and shooting jackals. But, take a little extra cash, there is so much to hunt in Africa you’ll be sorry if you don’t. And, well, there are all those diamonds!

Bucket4 600Many hunters dream of a wilderness western horseback hunt. This dream often coincides with visions of bugling elk. If that is your fantasy your pockets better be deep; you can buy a good used pickup truck for what a hunt like that will cost. The real appeal of a western wilderness big game hunt is the wilderness, and you can experience that for a fraction of the cost of an elk hunting adventure. How about black bear, with a chance for wolf, along the River Of No Return?

Bucket5 600Horse Creek Outfitters of Challis, Idaho are specialists at wilderness hunting. They’ll take you deep into the Frank Church Wilderness along the Salmon River. You’ll do 10 miles on horseback through some of the most rugged and beautiful country on the planet. You’ll sleep in a tent camp along a thundering stream and if you can shoot, you’ll get your bear and maybe a wolf. Leave your cell phone at home, it’s not going to work where you’re going.

Bucket6 600If you grew up reading Jack O’Connor you’ve probably lusted for a sheep hunt and a custom rifle in .270 Winchester. Today, custom rifles in .270 Winchester are expensive, but nowhere near as expensive as a sheep hunt. There is a much more affordable option and the season is open year-round. You can still climb mountains until you feel like you’re going to cough up a lung, and you can still risk falling over a shear drop off, all the way down to a crippled future.

Bucket7 600The Barbary sheep or aoudad was imported to Texas in at the end of WW II and they now roam free in high numbers. They’ll challenge your stamina and your shooting; they seem to know exactly how far 400 yards is and tend to not let you get any closer. Steve Jones of Backcountry Hunts knows where to find them and how to get you close enough for a shot. Here’s a tip: bring good boots and a hydration pack.

Bucket8 600 New Zealand is candy for the eyes and a hunter’s paradise. The vistas are jaw dropping and the game is plentiful. When most think of hunting in New Zealand they think of stags. However, on the South Island there is another werewolf-looking horned creature that lives in the high-country. Country so high and so remote, most hunters take a helicopter to get there. This is not the cheapest of the affordable bucket-list hunts, but the maniac pilot you will probably get will make you forget the pain your credit card is feeling and make you wished you’d passed on breakfast too.

Bucket9 600Wanganui Safaris specializes in all forms of big-game hunting on both the North and South islands of New Zealand. They’ll take your money but they’ll make sure you have an opportunity at a tahr. Making the shot will be all on you. Select a rifle with reach, good bullets, and rain gear that will not leak. If you’re afraid of aerobatic chopper flights, stay home.

Bucket10 600If you’re a real hunter you have at one time probably fantasized about hunting dinosaurs. Of course dinosaurs have been extinct for longer than you have been watching Gunsmoke reruns, and time machines or Jurassic Park are not likely to become a reality before your bucket-kicking time is here. However, there is a critter that lives in the coastal inlands of Florida that’s as close as you’ll get to a t-rex. And, with the right connections you can live out your own version of “Swamp People.”

Bucket11 600You’ll blast along the coastal backwaters of Florida in an air boat searching for a 13-foot alligator that has taken the bait. When you find him, you’ll grab the line that leads to all of his teeth, pull him out of the water, and shoot him in the head with a handgun.

Bucket12 600If the aforementioned does not sound difficult enough, this hunt requires a special permit, and finding an outfitter that has one is part of the allure. I’ll not be responsible for missing fingers, hands, or your premature death should you be drug under, drowned, and eaten. Remember that the goal is to completely check off all your “bucket list” hunts before you check out…



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