“In New Mexico, trophy quality can be very high and there’s no tag draw because you can buy a landowner permit,” Derby said. “Hunt cost runs $2,500-$4,500. Arizona has perhaps the biggest bucks of all, but drawing a tag can take more than a decade.
"If you do draw, go guided for sure and expect to pay $3,000 or more for the hunt. Nevada is my next choice for a monster buck, but the draw is also extremely tough and hunts will run $3,000 and up. Next would be Texas, which has landowner permits, so there’s no draw, and the hunts run about $2,750 and up.
“How about a sleeper hunt or two?” Derby continued. “Then think about the northeast corner of northern California, which has a private-land tag program and some huge bucks. Cost would start at about $3,500. And the plains of southern Alberta also hold some whoppers and, again, there’s no tag draw and cost would run $3,500 and up.”