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When it comes to killing monster bucks and bulls, many hunters believe it is a pay to play game. They believe that to kill a nice animal, you have to have a ranch tag in your pocket and hire an expensive guide.   Although this style of hunting happens often, there are other options for the average hunter. Cody Nelson from Outdoorsmans recently killed a monster mule deer without the help of an outfitter. He did it the old fashioned way. He drew a coveted tag in a great unit, scouted a lot, and hunted hard. “One of the easiest ways for someone to kill a monster buck or bull is to put in for several great tags.  Eventually you will draw one.  The key to killing a nice animal if you don’t have a lot of money to spend is to draw a tag in an area that holds mature animals,” Nelson said. Regardless if you want to kill a big bull elk, chase mountain goats or go after big mule deer, the same rule applies if you are on a budget. Put in for the tags and hope you win the lotto. “Many hunters think they will have to wait years to draw a certain tag and sometimes that is the case. It all depends on what state a person is trying to draw a tag in.  The truth is in some states a person might draw a really good tag the first or second time they apply for it. Hunters just need to play the game and apply,” Nelson added.


Hunters on a budget need to realize that if they don’t have much money, they better have a lot of patience, time and mental toughness. “When I had my tag in hand, I made calls, talked to people who had hunted this area and knew going in it would be a tough hunt,” Nelson said with a laugh. “A buddy and I spent several days glassing and scouting before the hunt and I didn’t kill the buck until the eighth day. There were days I didn’t even see a deer. My truck broke down at one point and we spent days driving around on nasty muddy backcountry roads. We forced ourselves to take the no quit approach and in the end, it paid off.”


Nelson believes that anyone who wants to kill a big buck or bull on their own should spend as much time doing research as they do hunting. “It can take a long time to really figure out a unit,” Nelson said. “I enjoy putting the pieces of the puzzle together and figuring things out. I start planning my hunt months in advance and I suggest everyone else do the same. You can never know enough about a unit and you can never scout too much. Glassing, driving and hunting hard is what is required when hunting on your own.”


Today a guided mule deer hunt costs anywhere from $5,000-$10,000. Sometimes it costs more, depending on where you are hunting.  Nelson had less than $1,500 into this hunt which is proof  that the average hunter can go on a bucket list hunt and be successful without breaking the bank if they work hard and save their nickels.  

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