North American Big 29 - average success rates?

biggiesmalls

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Hello,

I am trying to, for personal curiosity reasons, figure out what exactly it would cost someone to accomplish the "Super Slam" of all 29 big game species found in North America. In this, I've factored in the average cost of a hunt for each species, based on costs I've found for popular and unpopular hunting destinations for each species. I've included a variety of destinations, some on public land some on private.

For this, I am assuming all are guided rifle hunts, and I am factoring in costs of a guide (or two), airfare to get to the hunting destination (based on average flights out of Washington DC), any kind of car rental/hotel stay/meals that need to be purchased, cost of a license/tag if needed, and any other miscellaneous charges needed (for example, polar bear hunts require fees paid to an Arctic Research Fund, and medical insurance comes highly recommended on a trip like that as well). I have NOT factored in any equipment for the hunt, as this is preferential based on the guide and hunter. This has given me the average cost of a hunt for each of the 29 species (currently, I have 17 finished and 12 to go).

However, I believe there's an issue with that system - it assumes that every single hunt you would go on, you would bag your trophy on the first try. This would take an unimaginable amount of skill and luck, that I doubt many, if any hunters have. So, this is where success rates comes in.
For example - if a hunt costs $10,000, but has only a 25% average success rate - the hunt is $10K, but on average a hunter would need to do it four times before they got a trophy, meaning that the cost of that animal is $40,000.
For my estimate of the final cost, I need the average success rates of hunts for these species.

So what I am asking - is that you please comment if you have any figures (either from personal experience, rates you've heard, rates you've seen, or something else) on the success rates for these hunts. I do not wish to split them up based on the destination, rather just find the average.
The species are:
  • Whitetail Deer
  • Mule Deer
  • Coues Whitetail Deer
  • Sitka Blacktail Deer
  • Columbia Blacktail Deer
  • Rocky Mountain Elk
  • Roosevelt Elk
  • Tule Elk
  • Canada Moose
  • Shiras Moose
  • Alaska Yukon Moose
  • Barren Ground Caribou
  • Central Canadian Barren Ground Caribou
  • Woodland Caribou
  • Mountain Caribou
  • Quebec Labrador Caribou
  • Polar Bear
  • Alaska Brown Bear
  • Grizzly Bear
  • Black Bear
  • Cougar
  • Muskox
  • Bison
  • American Mountain Goat
  • Pronghorn
  • Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep
  • Dall Sheep
  • Desert Bighorn Sheep
  • Stone Sheep
I will tag @johnnyblues and @SnowLeopard as, per my thread on one caliber for NA hunting, they have suggested that they have hunted the majority of these species over several years - but I invite anyone to reply.

Thank you everyone for your insight,
Drew
 

johnnyblues

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That’s a really hard thing to answer. For instance a stone sheep hunt today is in excess of 30k, not to mention most polar bear hunts about the same. Now factor in hunting the species multi able times . It could easily cost over 200k with all expenses.
 

biggiesmalls

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That’s a really hard thing to answer. For instance a stone sheep hunt today is in excess of 30k, not to mention most polar bear hunts about the same. Now factor in hunting the species multi able times . It could easily cost over 200k with all expenses.
My apologies, I may have worded this a bit differently than I should have.
I just need help figuring the success rates of hunts for these species.
I've figured how to calculate the average cost of a hunt. For example, I found that with airfare, a 12% tip to the guide, any ground transportation/additional lodging needed, licenses, taxes, trophy tags, etc - a guided Stone Sheep hunt could be done for $45,000, and on average it would cost around $52,000 (these are assuming trips in British Columbia/the Yukon). Polar bear could be done for $50,000, but average was $56,000 (in Nunavut).

So I am wondering the success rates so that I can factor that into the cost.
Drew
 

biggiesmalls

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So far with the 17 species I have found costs for (whitetail deer, 2 elk, 5 caribou, 2 moose, polar bear, cougar, muskox, bison, and 3 sheep) - the cost comes out to $410K and some change at minimum, and on average it would cost around $470K. This is assuming all are guided hunts with a 12% tip and all other fees included, AND a 100% success rate.
I still need to factor in success rates and 12 other species - I estimate the cost will be about $600K once the other 12 species are factored in, and once success rates are in it will be between 1.5 and 2 million dollars.

We will see though!
Drew
 

biggiesmalls

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Taking a bit of a break from finding the average prices (9 to go), here are a few statistics I have found so far:
  • The average North American sheep hunt costs around $52,000 when all said and done - the cheapest on average is about $29,000 for a Dall Sheep withe the most expensive being $73,000 for a Desert Bighorn
  • Canada and the United States both contain hunts for only 19 of the 29 different species needed - in the US, only 12 are hunted in the lower 48 states
  • If you had to pick one place to live to accomplish the slam, British Columbia would be your best bet - 10 species are hunted here (Mule Deer, Rocky Mountain and Roosevelt Elk, Canada and Shiras Moose, Mountain Caribou, Grizzly and Black Bear, Mountain Goat, and Stone Sheep)
  • The runner-up to the last one would be living in Alaska, where you can hunt Sitka Blacktails, Yukon Moose, Barren Ground Caribou, Brown, Grizzly, and Black Bears, Mountain Goats, and Dall Sheep
  • The best of the lower 48 states is New Mexico - where you can hunt Mule Deer, Elk, Black Bear, Mountain Lion, Pronghorn, and Desert Bighorn Sheep
  • Sonora, Mexico has great hunting for 4 species of the slam - Mule and Coues Deer, Mountain Lion, and Desert Bighorns
  • All three subspecies of Moose can be taken in Canada
  • Four of the five caribou subspecies needed for the slam are taken in Canada (the fifth is taken in Alaska)
  • For sheep hunters, living in Canada means you can take three of your four species close to home - a Rocky Mountain Bighorn in Alberta, a Dall in Northwest/Yukon Territories, and Stone in British Columbia or the Yukon Territories
  • Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah are all good states for taking a variety of species - all offer 4-5 species in each (this list also includes Sonora, Mexico and Alberta, Canada)
  • In terms of the slam, none of the 29 species are found in great sizes/numbers in any of the Mid-Atlantic or Southeastern States - and the only one in the Northeast is the Black Bear
  • The Western States don't have a ton either - but they do offer some good Rocky Mountain Elk hunting and the only available Tule Elk hunting
  • The Midwest isn't too much better either - they offer Whitetail and Mule Deer, along with the only Bison
  • The Northwest has more species available than all the past four regions combined - including Elk, Columbia Blacktail, Whitetail, and Mule Deer, Pronghorn, Black Bear, and Mountain Lions
  • By far the best region of the United States to be in for big game hunting is the Southwest - where you can hunt Whitetail, Mule, and Coues Deer, Elk and Shiras Moose, Black Bear and Mountain Lion, Pronghorn, and Desert Bighorns (the only guided sheep hunts in the lower 48)
These were a few little snippets I found that I thought might be fun to share. Once I've got all the hunt costs finished, I will work more on getting the success rates, then I can share everything that I've found on here. Some of those 9 won't be bad, but I'm not looking much forward to the elk, black bear, and mule deer hunts!

Drew
 

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With license costs a moving target, I would find it difficult to find a valid real time amount and even a ballpark number could be off by thousands of dollars. YMMV.
 

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Wow. I am somewhat in awe of anyone who would attempt to run these numbers. Then again, In previous lives, I have threatened to fire employees or subordinates who attempted to show me spread sheets more than once. (Did I ever mention my conclusions about engineers?).

And because you can't take all the hunts during a single economic cycle, both your entry data and eventual total will be largely meaningless with respect to any real effort to accomplish taking all those animals.

Between this and the rifle discussion, why do I have just the faintest sense that I am being played?
 

BWH

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I think you would be well North of $500k, all in... half of that coming from probably just the sheep & bears.
 

IdaRam

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Well, I’ll take a poke at success rates with a few other comments thrown in :)
Along with the acknowledgement that there is infinite variability when all the factors are thrown in, so any answer is potentially 100% correct or wildly inaccurate and the discussion becomes somewhat academic. Also assuming 100% free range, wild animals with well researched outfitters and proven track records in good areas. Also assuming representative trophies of each species and not giant animals. Book animals change the $ and success rates on an order of magnitude, so assuming it’s about the completion of the Slam and not about hunting Big trophies. Also some sure thing, 100% success hunts are going to get fouled up one way or another (weather, injury, drought, famine, plague ;)) and other hunts may end on day 1.
Also (is there an echo in here?) if you are not in peak physical condition you should decrease success by about 100% for some species.
Anyway, taking each species/hunt individually here’s what you might plug into the spreadsheet o_O
  • Whitetail Deer......................................100%
  • Mule Deer ...............................................75%
  • Coues Whitetail Deer.............................50%
  • Sitka Blacktail Deer..............................100%
  • Columbia Blacktail Deer........................50%
  • Rocky Mountain Elk...............................75%
  • Roosevelt Elk.............................................?% (Tag?)
  • Tule Elk......................................................?% (Tag?)
  • Canada Moose.......................................100%
  • Shiras Moose...........................................75% (Tag?)
  • Alaska Yukon Moose...............................75%
  • Barren Ground Caribou........................100%
  • Central Canadian Barren Ground Caribou.......100%
  • Woodland Caribou.....................................? (Tag?)
  • Mountain Caribou......................................? (Tag?)
  • Quebec Labrador Caribou.....................100%
  • Polar Bear................................................50%
  • Alaska Brown Bear..................................50%
  • Grizzly Bear.............................................50%
  • Black Bear..............................................100% (bait or dogs)
  • Cougar......................................................75% (dogs)
  • Muskox...................................................100% (Greenland)
  • Bison..............................................100% (Indian Tag) (Lottery Tag Need Luck)
  • American Mountain Goat........................50%
  • Pronghorn...............................................100%
  • Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep..............50%
  • Dall Sheep.................................................50%
  • Desert Bighorn Sheep.....................50% if you pay big bucks for tag, otherwise...
  • Stone Sheep..............................................50%
Well, that oughta earn me some grief! :eek:
Politics or religion anyone? :ROFLMAO:
 

JES Adventures

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I’m in the same boat, at 17 with 12 to go. I hope to knock off one of the difficult ones this season in Mexico as I am hunting Sonora for Desert Bighorn. My goal keeps getting pushed forward but I hope to complete the quest in 6 years.

A lot of good comments and opinions here. The one factor @biggiesmalls didn’t mention is age/physical condition and shooting skills. The latter is manageable regardless of age and physical condition. Likewise, physical condition can be managed as well and must be when pursuing any of North Americas Mountain Game. Age on the otherhand continues to move on and has increasingly become a factor for me the past few years.

I believe @IdaRam is pretty accurate on his opinion of success but I am a bit more optimistic and belive the odds of success to be greater if the right outfitter is chosen.

What makes the NA 29 more difficult than most any other Slam is that most hunts are conducted during the Fall/Winter hunting seasons in North America.

Weather is no doubt the biggest factor in lost hunting days which many times equals an unsuccessful hunt.

I’ve never thought about creating a budget or running the numbers, I just carry on one hunt at a time.
 
Last edited:

JES Adventures

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BTW - Out of the 17, I had to hunt the following speices more than once;

Polar Bear - 2 trips
Grizzly Bear - 2 trips
Brown Bear - 3 trips
Stone Sheep - 2 trips
Rocky Mountain Elk - 2 trips
 

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And here I was thinking that completing the Super 10 Slam would be the achievement of a lifetime. I’m in absolute awe of anyone who is even considering themseveles capable of completing the Super Slam of North American Big Game.
 

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@biggiesmalls & @JES Adventures , congrats to you both on your sucesses so far! The NA29 is quite an undertaking and I wish you both the best in accomplishing your goal.
On a separate but related note :sneaky: With the hunts you guys have been on to get this far in, I know there MUST be some interesting/exciting stories to be told and/or pics to post. Would be great to hear a little about some of the more exciting adventures on your journey and see a pic or two :) If you’ve already shared them, take a sec and post links.
 

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Well, I’ll take a poke at success rates with a few other comments thrown in :)
Along with the acknowledgement that there is infinite variability when all the factors are thrown in, so any answer is potentially 100% correct or wildly inaccurate and the discussion becomes somewhat academic. Also assuming 100% free range, wild animals with well researched outfitters and proven track records in good areas. Also assuming representative trophies of each species and not giant animals. Book animals change the $ and success rates on an order of magnitude, so assuming it’s about the completion of the Slam and not about hunting Big trophies. Also some sure thing, 100% success hunts are going to get fouled up one way or another (weather, injury, drought, famine, plague ;)) and other hunts may end on day 1.
Also (is there an echo in here?) if you are not in peak physical condition you should decrease success by about 100% for some species.
Anyway, taking each species/hunt individually here’s what you might plug into the spreadsheet o_O
  • Whitetail Deer......................................100%
  • Mule Deer ...............................................75%
  • Coues Whitetail Deer.............................50%
  • Sitka Blacktail Deer..............................100%
  • Columbia Blacktail Deer........................50%
  • Rocky Mountain Elk...............................75%
  • Roosevelt Elk.............................................?% (Tag?)
  • Tule Elk......................................................?% (Tag?)
  • Canada Moose.......................................100%
  • Shiras Moose...........................................75% (Tag?)
  • Alaska Yukon Moose...............................75%
  • Barren Ground Caribou........................100%
  • Central Canadian Barren Ground Caribou.......100%
  • Woodland Caribou.....................................? (Tag?)
  • Mountain Caribou......................................? (Tag?)
  • Quebec Labrador Caribou.....................100%
  • Polar Bear................................................50%
  • Alaska Brown Bear..................................50%
  • Grizzly Bear.............................................50%
  • Black Bear..............................................100% (bait or dogs)
  • Cougar......................................................75% (dogs)
  • Muskox...................................................100% (Greenland)
  • Bison..............................................100% (Indian Tag) (Lottery Tag Need Luck)
  • American Mountain Goat........................50%
  • Pronghorn...............................................100%
  • Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep..............50%
  • Dall Sheep.................................................50%
  • Desert Bighorn Sheep.....................50% if you pay big bucks for tag, otherwise...
  • Stone Sheep..............................................50%
Well, that oughta earn me some grief! :eek:
Politics or religion anyone? :ROFLMAO:

I’d put the brown bear at 100%. When I ran a boat on the coast of Alaska, if I couldn’t come up with a decent brown bear in 2 to 3 days something was seriously wrong.
 

WAB

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Here’s a twist for you, what would it take to harvest all 29 unguided? Having lived in WY, AK and Canada most of my adult life, I’ve done all my NA hunting unguided. I don’t really collect species, but I have a fair few on the list just from hunting everywhere I’ve lived. Interesting to think about where, and how long you’d have to live in different places to get it done. As an example, if I remember correctly, my grizzly tags were $25 and my sheep tags were free.
 

LivingTheDream

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Man success rate is so hard to factor especially with with so many different things that go wrong. I mean just weather alone can end a hunt fast. I also think Desert sheep would be close to 100% if you paid the money for Mexico.

Just thinking Tule Elk and all the caribou,you have to be pushing 100k or more. Sheep I think you better plan on 125 to 175k depending on Tags, Cancellation hunts etc, but still would assume 100% success rate, figure you would at least need one extra hunt in there and that would make it an additional 40k minimum.

I'm not even factoring in tips or airfare in those costs....I just hope my wife never sees this thread.
 

375 Ruger Fan

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Thinking on what a difficult accomplishment the North American Super Slam is, then thinking Chuck Adams did it with a bow..........https://www.realtree.com/chuck-adams or what Jim Shockey accomplished with black powder.
 

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375 Ruger Fan

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JES Adventures

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I’d put the brown bear at 100%. When I ran a boat on the coast of Alaska, if I couldn’t come up with a decent brown bear in 2 to 3 days something was seriously wrong.
@WAB is spot on, I got my bear on a boat based hunt in Southeast Alaska.

Got weathered out on the first hunt and Missed one on the second hunt
 

enysse

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I have been applying for tags for almost 20 years, so there is some cost savings. The stone sheep, tule elk and polar bear are pretty steep in price. A lot of hunts have gotten harder to do. 20 years ago, I thought most of the northern species were affordable. Now the caribou are more scarce and muskox prices have gone crazy. Oh well, I don't even think about it anymore, I would like to get a grizzly, dall sheep, mountain goat and moose from Alaska or Yukon.....I still have to save the money or start working a lot more OT.
 

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