Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2012 is an FPS-style hunting game where players partake in a hunting contest taking place at various locations around the world. The game can be played with a standard controller, or with the Cabela's Top Shot Elite gun peripheral. When played with a controller, the game operates in much the same way as a standard modern First-Person Shooter.
The story is centered around a hunting tournament, in which the player is one of the participants. Each level features three hunts with a variety of animals and challenges, as well as bonus challenges. A hunt may include shooting a red deer, but the bonus may be to shoot it in the heart. Each stage features ample chatter among the participants in the tournament, which is where the bulk of the story is told. Hunts take place in areas all over the world, including Montana and Nigeria, and there are three levels pertaining to each location.
Besides the Story Mode, there are a variety of shooting galleries listed as Arcade, Reflex, and Target. Arcade is simply to score the highest points, Reflex is to hunt animals in a specific order, and Target galleries are simple shooting range style affairs with wooden "pop-up" animals and clay pigeons to shoot.