Midwest Honkers and Bucks
Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri are at the top of the list when it comes to trophy white-tailed deer hunting. Firearm and muzzleloading seasons are typically set for late fall and early winter in these states. That's usually around the tail end of the whitetail rut, when trophy bucks are still actively competing for available does. When the rut is over, bucks begin packing on the pounds lost during the rigors of the breeding season and can be targeted while moving from bedding to feeding areas. A blast of cold air from the north can put deer on their feet early in the day, and if you can tolerate the chill, hunting from a tree stand can be very productive.
Cold weather can also send thousands of ducks and geese winging their way through the Missouri and Mississippi river corridors. Northern Illinois remains a prime spot for Canada goose hunting, while the big rivers in Missouri, from St. Joseph all the way to the Bootheel, are home to legendary duck clubs and outstanding public gunning.
Montana Geese and Trout
Montana is a huge state with an enormous amount of hunting and fishing opportunities. In addition to outstanding big game and upland bird hunting, the waterfowl hunting in Big Sky Country is truly amazing. I hunted geese in the sugar beet fields along the Yellowstone River last winter, and we had no trouble filling our limits each morning. I also saw more Canada geese there than anywhere I've ever hunted in my life.
We hunted in early December, which was a little too late for the ducks and a bit chilly for fishing. But if you go a few weeks earlier you can experience prime duck hunting and world-class trout fishing. The state has numerous rivers and hundreds of small streams and lakes that teem with wild trout. So if you like to catch beautiful wild trout on a fly rod in a pristine mountain setting, Montana is the place to go.