Who’s Got Game? 7 Places Outdoorsmen Should Visit This Fall

As autumn continues, fall hunting and fishing season begins in many places across the country. Some wildlife populations have rebounded after the spring, and wildlife are on the move to warmer weather.

Waterfowl gathering. Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Randy Shipley

Because so many sporting opportunities exist across the country, we’ve found seven ideal places from USA Today’s 2015 Hunt and Fish Guide for outdoorsmen to find game and see other wildlife. Click here to download a free digital copy of the guide and learn more.

These seven destinations offer ample opportunities to view wildlife this fall (and not just for sport):

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Fisherman

Catching a striped bass. Photo by John Plekos via Flickr Creative Commons

In the fall, striped bass migrate to warmer waters and can be found passing through Cape Cod from September to November. Striped bass migration is known as the blitz, and the blitz occurs each autumn and spring. Anglers can make great catches right off shore or by traveling out in boats.

Other Wildlife to See: Cape Cod offers a variety of wildlife to view on the land and in the sea. Deer, coyotes, and rabbits can be found on shore and inland, and whales, seals, and dolphins are often spotted offshore. If you travel to Cape Cod National Seashore, you can see over 450 of different wildlife like amphibians, shore birds, and mammals.

While you’re there: Consider going to the 70th Annual Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby from Sept. 13 to Oct. 17.

Chesapeake Bay

Canvasback

Canvasback ducks are one of the species found in the Chesapeake Bay. Photo by Carol Foll via Flickr Creative Commons

Over one million ducks, geese and swans journey through the Chesapeake Bay on their migration routes. In Maryland and elsewhere around the Chesapeake, most of the birding season lasts from September to January. About 120,000 to 130,000 ducks, such as the green-winged teal, mallards, and canvasback ducks are harvested around the Bay. Some hunting spots are privately owned, but public waterfowl areas do exist and can be found through the Maryland Department of National Resources website.

Other Wildlife to See: The Chesapeake Bay has a wide diversity of wildlife – over 3600 plant and animal species! This includes fish, invertebrates like oysters and horseshoe crabs, birds like bald eagles and osprey, and reptiles like sea turtles.

While you’re there: Check out the annual Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland from Nov. 13 to 15.

Thomasville, Georgia

Bobwhite quail

Bobwhite quail. Photo by leshoward via Flickr Creative Commons

Although bobwhite quail populations and habitat in most of the Southeast have decreased, some areas in Georgia and Florida have restored bobwhite habitat for the birds to make a comeback. Hunters can reserve time to hunt on private lands, although public hunting areas also exist. The 2015-2016 hunting season is from November to February.

Other Wildlife to See: Thomasville and other areas of southern Georgia are home to an array of wildlife, including birds of prey like hawks and falcons, reptiles like turtles and snakes, amphibians, waterfowl, and mammals. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has a great list of places to watch wildlife.

While you’re there: Stop by the 20th Annual Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival in downtown Thomasville where quail season kicks off from Nov. 20 to 22.

Stuttgart, Arkansas

Mallards. Photo by TexasEagle via Flickr Creative Commons

Mallards. Photo by TexasEagle via Flickr Creative Commons

Similar to the waterfowl that gather around the Chesapeake Bay, mallards and teal also travel through the spot where the Arkansas, White and Mississippi rivers meet. This area is great for duck and waterfowl hunting season which usually lasts from November to January. September also offers teal and goose hunting seasons.

Other Wildlife to See: The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has a list of native wildlife species that one can see, such as catfish and trout, snakes, small mammals like rabbits, and larger mammals like black bears.

While you’re there: Go to the 80th Annual World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest and the Wings Over the Prairie Festival in late November. For more info check out: http://www.stuttgartarkansas.org/

Michigan

American woodcock. Photo by Paco Lyptic via Flickr Creative Commons

American woodcock. Photo by Paco Lyptic via Flickr Creative Commons

In Michigan, grouse and woodcock seasons open in September and run through November. The state even offers a second grouse season throughout the month of December. The Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan are recommended areas for hunters because the areas have higher populations of grouse and woodcock.

Other Wildlife to See: Visitors to Michigan can look for moose, swans, and bats. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ list of wildlife species that can be found may surprise you. Look out for feral swine!

While you’re there: Check to see what events are happening in the area: Upper Peninsula Calendar of Events.

New Mexico

Bull elk i

Bull elk. Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Vaughn Cottman

Thanks to proper wildlife management, New Mexico is a prime place to find trophy bull elk. Because hunting elk here is so popular, the state holds a draw system for hunting tags that often favors state residents. However, trying your luck in the draw is worth it because there’s a 40% success rate for hunting bull elk.

Other Wildlife to See: New Mexico is home to sandhill cranes, bighorn sheep, and river otters. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish offers a list of possible wildlife to see in the state.

While you’re there: Check out New Mexico’s events for a list of possible outings.

Illinois

White-tailed deer

White-tailed deer. Photo from USFWS

Although white-tailed deer can be found across the Midwest, USA Today recommends Illinois if you’re looking for trophy bucks. This could be due to Illinois’ large soybean and corn crop which provides food for the deer. Each season, hunters are allowed to take 5,000 deer off public land. This year, firearm deer season is November to December. For more specific dates, click here.

Other Wildlife to See: Some of the other wildlife species that can be found in Illinois are songbirds, beavers, small mammals, and snakes. The University of Illinois has a directory of Illinois wildlife to see what the state has to offer.

While you’re there: Visit the Illinois Department of Tourism for events.

Explore these places and more in USA Today’s 2015 Hunt and Fish Guide.

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