The main benefit of front-country hunting is the ability to be mobile. If you are not seeing what you want where you are hunting, you can easily move. A road system may be one of the best tools for staying mobile and getting to where the animals are. You may have the ability to hunt several different ranges in a single day if needed. Camping and hunting in the front-country allows you access to a greater potential hunting area with less effort than if you were in a backcountry situation. There have been times when I have packed myself into the backcountry only to find that the animals were not there. This makes it a lot tougher to pick-up and move spots when you put in so much work to get there. When setting up a front-country camp keep mobility in mind and find a spot that allows you easy access to several different areas.
The caveat to being mobile is to not fall into the rut of driving around and considering it hunting. When hunting the front-country I hunt all day on foot, using a vehicle only to drive to access points. Just because you are driving through good country does not mean you are effectively hunting the country. Of course you may see game while traveling in a vehicle, but I wouldn’t make that my main source of attempting to find game. The more your boots are on the ground, the greater likelihood you have of finding a trophy.
Hiking allows you the best views of the land as well as promotes more active and quality glassing. Quality glassing in my opinion is the number one thing to consistently taking trophy animals.
Just because there is a road does not mean you have to drive on it. Throughout the west there are many areas littered with rough four-wheeler roads or even gated logging roads that are open to four-wheelers certain times of the year. When hunting I choose to walk these roads even if it may be legal to drive them. It is a hundred times more effective to walk the area and truly hunt it than it is to drive through it. Vehicles can ruin a lot of great opportunity. When hunters get in the habit of driving everywhere they limit their own success.
My brother and I were archery hunting in a remote area of central Nevada. We were walking out after stalking a nice buck when we ran into a guy on a quad. We had seen him numerous times over the past few days driving around and assumed he was chasing the same bucks we were. When we asked how he was doing, he said that he had driven all over the area for three days and only seen a few does and a small buck. After a few minutes of talking it was very apparent he was not feeding us a line, he really had only seen a few deer. My brother and I just smiled and nodded because in the same area he was hunting we were seeing 30+ mature bucks a day. What’s the difference? We were out actively hunting and he was just taking his bow for a four-wheeler ride hoping to get lucky.
Every single year I run into hunters that hunt the same areas I do with completely opposite results. Just because you are not in the backcountry does not mean that you have to drive around and hope to stumble on to something. If you put forth the effort you can become consistently successful wherever you hunt.
The front-country can be one of the best places to take a trophy big game animal in the west. Hunting hard, staying mobile and sometimes actually getting closer to people and agriculture may be your key to being successful. Of course the backcountry has its appeal but there is plenty of great hunting to be had before you even reach the wilderness boundary.