Some folks seem to think that you should just be able to wander about wherever you choose, from one state to the next and shoot whatever you want for the cost of a few rounds of ammo. Others apparently live in a cave and haven't any clue whatsoever what the average price of a pronghorn antelope hunt is on a ranch in Wyoming, let alone what it would cost to hunt a desert bighorn.
In the world of free markets and economics 101 we have these things we call "fair market value" and "supply and demand" and for those who are not aware of it, wildlife resources are limited and relatively under tight controls by any given state, not to mention most states have an abundance of residents who usually demand the greater opportunity by virtue of their residency. Many people in the West have applied for a certain tag, for bighorn, mule deer, or goat for their entire adult life and never drew a tag in their own state, and then someone is amazed when a hunt cost as much as an ATV or a Mercedes in the case of a desert bighorn.
I don't mean to be long winded but for those who seem unaware of the elements that drive the price of a hunt, let me first start by simply saying that in Alaska it takes essentially five years before you can meet the minimum qualifications to even take the exam to be a Registered Guide and this is the minimum license one must have before they can even offer big game hunting services! In case you are wondering that is more time than what it takes to get the average bachelor's degree in the US. Then if you just so happen to be a non-resident, such as myself, believing that an American should be able to live in one state and work in any other state they choose, you will have to pay double for that license. In my case that means $1,300 for a two year license. Then you will have to carry a commercial liability policy which does not come cheap, then there are all the state or federal land permits that are required before you can even legally open up your mouth and say "We are ready to book hunts!" It doesn't end there of course for every single day that a client and a guide are in the field there is a fee, and I still have to buy a hunting license, though I already have a guide license, and legally I can't hunt while a client is in the field.
When all of these things are done, you still don't have any clients. They don't fall out of the sky, so you find that you have to begin to spend money to advertise in one way or the other and then you are entering into an industry where most everyone would prefer you do something else for a living. All of these things have to be paid for before a client ever gets off the ground in a place like Alaska. Thousands of dollars spent on gear, tents, and preseason scouting and perhaps you begin to see why it may cost more than a few bucks.
When you consider an Alaskan hunt you should be aware that to fly on a commercial jet to Alaska typically cost $700 or more depending on what part of the country you are coming from, and if you did nothing but rent a car and try to drive around and camp by the road to hunt black bear on your own you would easily spend a couple grand. Nothing else lends itself very well to road hunting up there! If you get in a bush plane you can expect a do it yourself moose hunt to run $4,500 (and this is counting what it cost you to get to Alaska, or what you spend while you are in town!) and then someone wants to complain about a guided hunt that runs 3 times this much. Honestly folks I want to complain about my vehicle costing $30,000 but more guys than I can count around here are driving $45,000-$50,000 pickup trucks and they seem to think it is perfectly normal.
Just a casual glance at stone sheep prices in neighboring Yukon and British Columbia and you will see they are averaging $38,500 and $50,000 is pretty normal for desert bighorn south of the border these days. Plenty of good quality guided elk hunts in the western US run well over $5,000 and I won't even get into what it cost to hunt whitetail in half of the Midwest, and keep in mind there are literally millions of whitetails harvested every year.
On the other hand in Alaska there will be between 700-1,000 Dall sheep harvest annually, and a place like Kodiak Island on sees an annual harvest of around 165 brown bear. Limited resources add to the demand. There are plenty of brown bear hunts in Alaska that are pushing $23,000 and up, and sheep are around that $16,000 average statewide. Western Alaska moose have been at the $20,000 mark for years and I am well aware that hunt sin that price range are not financially feasible for everyone. Personally I have been married for 22 years and my wife and I have never taken a real vacation, and I certainly have never spent a small fortune on a hunt, but plenty of folks are willing and able to spend the kind of money that the market demands for these hunts and if you can't afford it then that is perfectly fine. I'm not spending the money on a desert bighorn this year either, but let's get off fantasy island where folks think they can get something for nothing, and let's give up the silly notion that the people that have spent years of investing years into forging out a unique way of life can simply afford to give away hunts for less than it would cost to wander around Disney World for a day.
Okay, rant over, let's get on with hunting, whatever it is you can afford, and if you are broke, stick with groundhogs and squirrel! Just invite me over when the squirrel is cooked!