Best of Summer

Global Opportunities About Right Now

By Craig Boddington

In North America, mid-summer is the slowest time for hunting. Back east, serious varmint hunters are working on the woodchucks, and in the west, it’s a great time for prairie dogs and rockchucks.

In Texas, axis deer are in full rut. It might be getting a bit warm, but it is a great time to find a monster buck. Here on California’s Central Coast, the barley is ripe, making it a perfect time for wild hogs. Our tule elk are on an early schedule; they’re bugling right now, with some seasons opening in July.

Our archery deer season also opens in July. Way up north, there’s some cari­bou hunting in Alaska, and Nunavut is gearing up for summer walrus and polar bear hunts. Across this continent, I can’t think of much else in these dog days of summer.

So, let’s take a quick look around the globe. In southern Africa, it is mid-win­ter and peak safari season. Hunting is in full swing in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimba­bwe and Tanzania. Elsewhere on that big continent, hunting may be better at other times of the year because of long grass and rains, but July and August are won­derful safari opportunities in the southernmost countries. 

It’s winter in South America, too. Ar­gentina holds the majority of the conti­nent’s big game opportunities. There, the red deer roar is over, but all antlered game remains in hard antler, with hunt­ing still open and still good. July is a great month for axis deer, blackbuck, water buffalo and all the rest. Winter is also perfect for the world’s best bird shooting. 

What SCI refers to as the South Pacific isn’t a continent, but a huge region with some important hunting hotspots. It’s winter in New Zealand, with much the same situation as Argentina: The red deer roar and fallow deer rut are over, but deer hunting is still good. On the South Island, Himalayan tahr and chamois can be hunted throughout the winter. When planning, keep in mind that the Southern Alps can catch a lot of snow.

Australia is a continent, but, semi­tropical, more a matter of wet and dry versus hot and cold. In Victoria, hunting season is open for axis, fallow, red, rusa and sambar. Only hog deer, with a short April season, is closed. However, for most deer species, this is not considered the best time to find bucks in hard antler. Farther north, in New South Wales and Queensland, rusa deer are expanding rapidly, with antler quality increasing. 

A fantastic water buffalo, photographed in Greg Pennicott’s area in Northern Territories, Australia. July onward is considered the ideal time.

Australia’s massive Northern Territo­ries, the Outback, is the place for water buffalo and banteng. Here it’s a matter of wet and dry. Depending on rains, some roads may be impassable until, well, right about now. Hunting is practical earlier, but transportation can be limited, so our midsummer, their dry winter, is the best time for northern Australia.

New Caledonia is a hidden gem in the South Pacific, long famous for her big rusa deer. These deer rut a bit later, with July being prime time for rutting stags. New Caledonia is a long journey but, once you get there, it’s a tropical paradise offering one of the world’s very best deer hunts. 

Asia takes us back to the Northern Hemi­sphere, so we’re in summer again, with autumn around the corner. Considering the vastness of Asia, there are surprisingly few opportunities during the summer months. There are opportu­nities to hunt wild boar, which applies almost worldwide, but most of Asia’s antlered and horned game opens a bit later. 

There are exceptions. July was a great month for tur in the Caucasus but, sadly, and despite rumors, Azerbaijan has not yet reopened after covid. Hopefully next year! 

Mongolia’s hunting season opened in July, a mild and excellent month for ibex and argali. As we all know, Mongolia has the world’s largest wild sheep, but they are expensive. Mongolia’s two races of ibex are not expensive, often hunted from the same camps as sheep, with the same guides. For any of her game, in any month, Mon­golia is a magnificent place, a must-do bucket list hunt, and a fine summer option. 

As with our own continent, there isn’t much summer hunting in Europe. Hunting seasons tend to be long, but usually later. As in North America and Asia, most antlered game is not in hard antler, but there is one notable excep­tion: Summer is the time for roebuck! Roebucks come into hard antler in late spring, with many hunting seasons opening by early May. The roebuck has a large range. So, like our whitetails, the roebuck rut varies across Europe. European hunters love their roe deer, just like we love our whitetails. I also love those classy little roebucks. They are just one of a surprising number of fine summer hunts around the world.

Col. Craig Boddington is an author, hunter and longtime SCI member. He is Past President of the Los Angeles Chapter, a decorated Marine and C.J. McElroy Award winner.