Everyone believes western elk or deer hunts have to cost a ton of money for a non-resident hunter – that is not true – I just completed a 7 day Coues Deer hunt in Arizona for under $1500.
I am planning to hunt elk in Idaho this fall for around the same amount. $1500 will go a long way toward having a memorable time enjoying the western landscapes and wildlife.
When we planned our trip and budget in this post about planning your western DIY hunting trip our average costs and came in just over $2135.00.
Let’s see how much we can reduce that budget through 4 different options, 1) Bring a Friend, 2) Search flights for cheapest rates, 3) Join and Use Rewards Programs, and 4) Reduce Miscellaneous Expenses on Travel Days.
Bring a Friend – Save Over $450 on Your Trip
In all likelihood you are hunting with a buddy or two during this trip. This is not only smart from a safety standpoint, but it also shares some of your trip costs.
Our Part 1 Rental Truck Cost was $560 and three tanks of gas (estimated) was and other $235, with the hotel at $115. With a buddy sharing a 50/50 split on both those costs – you reduce your budget burden by $455.00.
New Total After Friend Chips in His/Her Share – $1681.50
Cheapest Flight Options
Our original flight option came in at $500 for a round trip fare.
One approach is to change your travel dates off of a Friday, Saturday or Sunday – generally these days of the week are higher volume days and some airlines charge more on those days.
For example, a round trip for the same airports but with different days of the week showed a nearly $80 difference.
Additionally, most areas have multiple airports within easy driving distance and each airport has different tax rates and fares. I have to travel 2 ½ hours to Pittsburgh International, but I save over $400 on my flight by doing so.
Well worth the extra $50 -$75 in gas and parking to do so.
New Total After Flight Search (Conservative Estimate – Save $50) – $1631.50
I never advocate getting another credit card, however, several airlines offer free miles for you signing up and paying the annual fee and making a purchase on the card.
So for the annual fee of $90 and a pack of chewing gum purchased, I received miles equivalent to two roundtrip tickets within the continental United States.
With my pack of gum – cost $1.29 and the $90 annual card fee, I am at $91.29.
It is good for two round trip tickets which means my next two hunting trips are going to be flights at a cost of $45.65.
One additional cost to this offer is a baggage fee of $75 for two large bags each way which increases my per flight cost to $195.65. A flight savings of $304.36.
Another credit card reward program which can help your hunting equipment costs for the items you cannot fly with is to use a Cabela’s or similar rewards card and pay your bills throughout the year with those.
I use a rewards program card for several automatic payments and then just send my payment to the credit card company. As long as you don’t leave a large balance, your interest is minuscule and you now have $20-50 dollars in rewards points for your on-ground expenses like butane, heat tabs, etc…
Total After Savings from Reward Program Option (estimated at $325) – $1306.50
Reduce Miscellaneous Costs
Your miscellaneous costs will vary by each trip depending on the flight schedule and layovers. I still plan 3 x $15 for my meals each day and the above mentioned hotel cost.
I do, however, generally only eat one meal a day and use protein bars or drinks to sub for my other meals saving me time and money.
This is very dependent on the trip and your personal situation. You may find the urge to have a few brews to toast your successful hunt or maybe something stronger to drown your chip shot miss at 12 yards – been there – done that.
Time to Start Planning
Given our planning factors, we reduced our $2136 hunt down to around the $1300 mark, a $800 plus savings.
I have driven and saved more on my trip, however, the distance and abuse on your vehicle is a point of consideration.
But if you spend a little time conducting some research and sharing with your buddies, you will be amazed how cheaply you can travel and hunt some great western locations for numerous big game animals.
I just finished an Arizona hunt with two of my friends where I spent less than $1200 on the entire trip and we took two nice Coues bucks.
From right now, you now have 15 months to save $100 per month and be ready for your own western hunt – see you at the terminal!.