First time Elk Hunt - Where would you go?


January 30, 2011, 10:31 PM
Hello All,

I would like to ask a question - Where would you reccomend someone to go for a first time Elk Hunt for upcoming 2011 season?:confused:

The hunt will be a non-resident hunt, as there are very few Elk in FL. (a few transplants in game preserves down here, but not hunting... There are Sambar Deer/ Asian Elk on the NWR south of Tallahassee, but tags are rare).
What State is the best for a non-resident, and what region? Is it possible to go for $1500 -2000, and have a successul hunt? I have no preference points for any states.

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January 31, 2011, 04:21 PM
Colorado has more elk than any other state or Canadian province. I don't know how accurate these statistics are anymore, but years ago, I read that in all of North America, there are something like 1,000,000 elk. Almost one third of that million are in Colorado.

You can literally buy a license over the counter at Walmart. Forget about building preference points and entering a drawing. Just come out and start hunting.

Find a large piece of public land, scout around, and wake up early.

January 31, 2011, 09:34 PM
Thanks CoRoMo,
I've looked at CO seriously, and believe that will probably be where i go first. I have talked to some local guys that hunt there annually on private land, and pay about 2500.00 for a place to stay for a week, with good elk on it.
I will admit i'm cheap and would like to hunt for as little investment as possible, but also beleive that success will cost something. (1500 mile one way trip from FL will not be cheap)
Any place in CO that you would reccommend?

January 31, 2011, 10:20 PM
There is a show on the outdoor channel in which the host tells you how to public land hunt as he goes thru the process. The last episode i saw he was hunting mule deer in southern colorado. One of the episodes is an elk hunt in south east colorado. If i can dig up his name and the show i'll let you know.

February 1, 2011, 02:54 PM
Check your PM inbox.

February 1, 2011, 07:56 PM
Well there is big controversy on the alocation of the number of tags sold to out of state residents in NM. However, rumor has it that NM is especially kind to NON resident hunters. I cant confirm or deny, just saying.

February 1, 2011, 08:03 PM
we actually have very very good numbers of elk here in az and as i understand it actually the highest density in the world in certain areas, units 1 and 27 both have scary numbers of animals as do units 5 and 6. Im sure there are other units that are great as well these are just the ones that im most familiar with. Not trying to bash Colorado at all, but i believe that the only reason that they have more elk then we do is they have more physical area of elk country. Utah, idaho, montana, new mexico arizona wyoming and colorado is where i would look.

February 1, 2011, 08:58 PM
For elk hunting on that kind of budget, your best bet might just be Colorado on a do it yourself type of hunt. The license in generally over the counter. My advice would be to take a peek at Eastman's, as they have a lot of good info on DIY public land hunting. I would also start the preference point app process in some very good states like Utah. Just go onto Utah's official website for hunting and they will have a bunch of good info if you dig deep.
This past year I paid a lot of money to hunt Utah, to find myself in camp with a nice lady who drew a tag for the same property after 11 years of trying. She paid only for the tag and the tip for the guide, and got a very big bull. Persistence pays off! (I got a nice bull as well, but for a lot more $!)

February 2, 2011, 05:00 PM
Thanks for all of the information. I'll mention that i have a budget of 4000. that includes travel, permits, tag, food, etc... If i come in under that so much the better.

I believe the good 800.00 hunt is the pipe dream, will see how it goes. - checked my pm box, thanks for the contact.

February 2, 2011, 11:33 PM
Stone Meadow Ranch in Custer, South Dakota. 888-624-0786

Rocking Heart Ranch, Nebraska.

Good hunting to you!


February 3, 2011, 04:38 PM
This past fall, we met up with a father and two sons, out in the middle of nowhere/backcountry Colorado. They did a blind hunt, driving in from Michigan or Minnesota, or somewhere up there. They were not being outfitted or guided. They just found the public land applicable to their tag, and hunted HARD everyday, in an area none of them was familiar with. They called in a NICE bull and just about put an arrow in him. Had they gauged the distance just a little better, he'd be dead. Had they bought cow tags, they'd have meat. Just goes to show that you don't HAVE to fly in and pay an outfitter to get a good chance at elk here.

But it's by no means easy. :evil:

February 4, 2011, 06:01 PM
For a non-resident, Wyoming isn't bad either if you can settle for a cow.
Their left-over cow and calf tags go on sale for half-price in July and are a good deal.

If you are gun hunting and don't have horses, Elk hunting can be daunting in the early season. Most of the public land prohibits the use of ATV's, so its horses only... or on foot.

Wait till the snow runs them out of the high country and they're easier to get to, just expect some really, really, cold hunting.

I'm lucky in that I've got a friend who lives in Jackson, Wy and I stay with him. If the elk are down for the winter, we can hunt from his upstairs living-room window....... Providing you have the correct tags....

I've found that even though there is less elk habitat in Wy, there are less hunters and the elk generally not as spooky.
Downside of Wy is that they do the lottery draw on the tags.....

My younger brother lives in Nevada and hunts Utah as well and he's had good luck getting tags in both states... But you do have to put in for the tags.

For Wyoming, you're already too late for the General Elk tag draw. The deadline for application was Jan. 31st.

February 4, 2011, 09:48 PM
I am told that the New Mexico Rockies has perhaps the best elk hunting.

February 4, 2011, 11:06 PM
I am from NM I hunted and guided there for years. I now live in Colorado where I've hunted elk every year since I moved here 11 years ago.

Here's the deal between NM and Colorado elk hunting. There is some SPECTACULAR elk hunting in NM IF you draw one of the spectacular units. Or can afford to buy a land owner tag in one of the better units. I love hunting elk in NM especially up in the Valle Vidal, Rio Costillo area, the Sacramento Mountains and the Pecos Wilderness.I also enjoy the Colin Neblits area but you have to have horses to make that one work and only hunt the North unit the South is a waste of time IMHO. I'd love to be able to tell you all about hunting the Gila as I know it's awesome too but I haven't spent enough time there to know the area well enough.

Colorado has some SPECTACULAR elk hunting IF you can draw one of the spectacular units. (Sound familiar?) Elk hunting on any of the over the counter units will be a great experience but don't expect to shoot a Booner bull. IN fact shooting a 5x5 or a rag horn 6x6 is doing pretty good. Heck any mature bull taken on public over the counter ground is trophy so is a big old cow. Of course I hunt elk for the total experience not the measurement and if you just want to hunt elk Colorado is the easiest place to be able to do so. MIND you I DID NOT say it was the easiest hunting, far from it, the country is steep the hunting is hard and true wild elk are NEVER easy. Which is why I love it so.

February 5, 2011, 01:17 AM
How much for a non resident Elk tag , bull or cow? That would be nice on the Do it Your Own. Are there more elk in the NE Colorado area than the rest of them ?

February 5, 2011, 07:20 AM

For non resident fee's go here.

There are quite a few elk in the NE corner of CO IF the weather is right. That is for unit's 3&301, units 2 and 201 have a great elk population and some monster bulls and it takes like 18 preference points to draw it so that puts it out of the picture for most people.

If you can hit Units 3, and 301 when the weather is right there thousands of elk up there. But the key to those North Eastern units is big snow in Southern Wyoming. No snow no elk.

February 5, 2011, 10:10 AM
There's really no such thing as an inexpensive non-resident hunt, anywhere. Very much doubt you'll do it for 2 grand. For example, a Colorado non-resident elk bull/any sex licence will cost you $554.00. $354.00 for a cow. I'm not seeing it on Colorado's DNR site(extremely well done site), but most places require non-residents to use a guide too.

February 5, 2011, 09:09 PM
I'm not seeing it on Colorado's DNR site(extremely well done site), but most places require non-residents to use a guide too.

Not in the USA. The only place that a guide is required for elk is in Wyoming and then only for hunts conducted in an area that has been established as a "wilderness area" which has a set usage rules that are different from normal forest service public land.

Canada is all queer about non residents and guide usage. That is why I won't hunt big game in Canada.

February 6, 2011, 11:44 AM
Wow , those tags aint cheap esp for non residents. But must be a real thrill to get a bull or cow inhigh country.

February 6, 2011, 12:09 PM

Nobody has mentioned MT yet. Hunting outfitters (I am fishing) are hurting because of a new initiative that just passed banning the very successful outfitter guaranteed tag program. Now, non-residents must successfully draw a tag. There are some very good outfitters in some incredible areas that are hurting for business. 2011 is a great year to plan a hunt and negotiate your price. The wolves have hurt elk populations in areas, but other area are at all time highs.

Good Luck!!

February 7, 2011, 01:24 PM
Are there more elk in the NE Colorado area than the rest of them ?
...elk in the NE corner of CO... unit's 3&301, units 2 and 201 have a great elk population...

...Units 3, and 301... But the key to those North Eastern units...
Those units are in north WESTERN Colorado. :)
There are not any elk that I know of in the eastern plains, but the pronghorn are aplenty. :cool:

February 7, 2011, 02:30 PM
Ahh yeah that'd be the North Western side DUHHH on me.

February 7, 2011, 10:36 PM
Last Oct, I hunted pronghorn on private land in eastern CO, on the great plains. There were 4 trees as far as i could see over 25 miles in any direction. I harvested a respectable pronghorn there in unit 121, wanted to back and farther west this time, and for elk.

Do you know what you have to do to hunt BLM land? Is it open for public hunting? One area i was looking for has a lot of Oil & Gas infrastructure/ roads on BLM land, have heard it is open for hunting, but not sure of details.
It's west of Meeker, CO.

February 9, 2011, 03:11 PM
BLM and Forrest Service land is mostly open to hunting. It is public land. The majority of Western Colorado is public land.

February 14, 2011, 08:33 PM
Has anyone here ever hunted GMU #22, #23, or other units in NW CO,near Meeker?

February 14, 2011, 08:39 PM
Outfitter - It appears Colorado, will be a closer, and more economical first time hunt for a non-resident hunter... Trophy potential my go up in MT, but i believe CO is more non-resident friendly.

Quote from website:"With the passage of voter Initiative 161 in November 2010, the cost for Montana's 2011 Nonresident Big Game and Deer Combination licenses will increase. Under the new voter-approved law, the following changes go into effect March 1, 2011:

•Outfitter Sponsored Variable Priced licenses, also known as the Outfitter Guaranteed licenses, are no longer available and the quota for those licenses are now in the general category.
•A total of 17,000 Nonresident Big Game Combination licenses, and 4,600 Deer Combination licenses, are now available via a general application process.
•Fees for Nonresident Big Game (Elk and Deer) Combination license increase from $643 to $912.
•Fees for Nonresident Deer Combination license increase from $343 to $542.
•Fees for Nonresident Elk Combination license increase from $593 to $812.
•The revenue generated by the increased license fees is earmarked to fund wildlife habitat conservation and public hunting access programs."

February 14, 2011, 09:59 PM
If you are serious about taking a really good elk I would do a Norther Arizona hunt. If you can't get a tag for Az. I would do New Mexico as a second choice. More world record elk have been killed in Arizona than any other state. A lot of 350 to 400 bulls have been killed in Arizona and world records are nearly always from their. My Son and I were up there a couple of years ago and got to a see a new world record archery bull that gross scored 425 if I remember correctly. But if you are just wanting to get a bull of average score Colorado is good and easier to get a tag.

February 14, 2011, 11:30 PM
Here in Oregon is an option, we have Rocky Mountain in the Cascade/eastern side wich is a little more open country hunting. On the coast we have the big Rosies, which make for a tough hunt in the rainforest.

I've got a little experience on the coast and was close last year, until some clod fell down a hill and scared my spike away into some thick stuff. The season runs in two sections the first being only four days long, starting Nov 12th.

The non resident elk tag is $500, license is around $140
Our general coastal black bear runs until the first of next year as well and it's only an extra $182 so if your trips runs longer it'll give you something to pass the time.

February 15, 2011, 08:34 PM
Has anyone here ever hunted GMU #22, #23, or other units in NW CO,near Meeker?

Yes what would you like to know?

February 16, 2011, 06:46 AM
I read recently that the introduction of wolves has decimated the elk populations. ...we eraticated wolves for a reason and now they are once again a nasty pest thanks to animal activist.

February 16, 2011, 10:28 AM
While there are now wolves in CO the population is very small and they are not sure whether they are even permanent residents or only transients. So there has been no decimation of elk in this state.

In WY, ID, and Mt there are AREAS that have had some reduction in population due to wolves. But the total populations have not been "decimated".

February 22, 2011, 11:47 PM
The units i mentioned earleir will probably be my first choice for the upcoming draw, an either sex elk hunt, 1st rifle. I have an aquaintance that has a cabin in Unit 11, he offered to rent it to us for a fair price. He is north of Meeker, near the town of Maybell, off of hiway 40. The cabin includes 65 acres that borders BLM land. The tag ,if drawn includes unit 22, 23, 11, 211, and several more units in the same hunt code. The statistics look awesome for that general area.
H&H - where would you start in that area?

February 23, 2011, 12:30 AM

The problem with any and all of those areas are that the are very weather dependent. If you don't have hard winter with good snow in Wyoming you have a very meager resident elk population.

Once the elk start moving down you there will thousands of them in all those areas the trick is you have to hit the weather just right.

February 24, 2011, 01:19 AM
Idaho is the cheapest but also one of the farthest for you, plus we now have a thriving wolf population. Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado all have over the counter tags as well. The only state I know any thing about Is Idaho since I lever here. But lots of folks like Colorado.

February 24, 2011, 06:25 PM
Cob, I wouldn't dictate the availability of a friend's cabin dictate where I hunted. But, first envision what you're looking for in an elk hunt, then maybe we can point you in the right direction. Include HOW you want to hunt them.

March 4, 2011, 08:26 PM
I'll specify a high power rifle for the first time hunt. I'm proficient with archery, and have havested over a dozen whitetails and one turkey with my bow, but believe that First rifle season would have the best success rate, according to statistics i found on the "Nonresident's guide to western hunting" forum. (I posted it for simplicity's sake, this is for CO.)

I also am used to "flat land", and would rather let my limitations be limited by terrain, or some factor other than equipment.

I have narrowed it to Western CO, for ease of OTC tags, but will put in for the draw, which BTW starts tomorrow. I'm a forester by trade, and would like to see country with some timber & terrain.
the DIY public land hunt is the cheapest option, but success is a factor, and would not mind paying a bit more if success goes up, but not looking for the high-fence hunt either... prefer the free-chase hunt, which probably rules out the option above in Nebraska.

March 4, 2011, 10:38 PM
Good choice, I live in Utah and own a ranch near Craig, Co. I would however suggest you buy a bonus point for Utah. If Utah is still an option for this year pm me and I ca give you some hints.

March 5, 2011, 05:07 PM
Well there is big controversy on the alocation of the number of tags sold to out of state residents in NM. However, rumor has it that NM is especially kind to NON resident hunters. I cant confirm or deny, just saying.

Hmmm.. I can add to that rumor.

My brother is an avid hunter and really good taxidermist that lives in Aztec, NM... He only draws elk on average once every 5yrs. I live in TX and get tags every time I feel like going. It really chaps his a**.

March 5, 2011, 05:14 PM
It appears Colorado, will be a closer, and more economical first time hunt for a non-resident hunter... Trophy potential my go up in MT, but i believe CO is more non-resident friendly.

Great Choice... While Ive never hunted northern CO I frequently hunt Southern.

My only piece of advice is to bring a VERY good friend packing out a quartered elk by yourself is NOT fun. Esp. since your coming from darn near sea level.

March 5, 2011, 08:11 PM
H&H is dead on about the importance of the weather. I hunted some BLM land on the SW slope of Grand Mesa last year. We had a mild early winter with little snow and the Elk did not come down our way in any meaningful numbers. I got with in spiting distance of a nice young bull, but all I had was a cow tag. The mule deer were thick as fleas on a dogs back. But I had a cow tag.

If you can get a Mule Deer tag with your Elk tag I would do that. Especially on the Western Slope.

March 5, 2011, 08:43 PM
hmmmmmmmm....... that graph looks eerily familiar ;)

March 6, 2011, 05:59 PM

My friends and I hunted elk in the third rifle season of 2008 with H&H outfitters out of Meeker, CO. We hunted public land in what I remember was the White River National Forest. We paid the outfitters $1400 each. For that we rode their horses guided back 6 miles into a base camp. They had sleeping tents and a cook tent. We hunted on our own with maps and GPS. They checked in on us every 2 days and packed out any elk. It was a great experience, but not as difficult as I thought. The weather can be a challenge. We were fortunate. We took 3 cows and 1 5X5 bull in the 7 days.
I'M 62 AND IF I COULD DO IT, so could you.
Check out this outfitter. They are nice folks to work with.

March 7, 2011, 08:59 PM
Thanks for the information... The White River Natl. Forest, and Flat Tops Wilderness area have a large Elk herd, with over 43,000 elk (reported) in that general area. I saw H & H outiftters online, will check with them. Did you see Elk on a daily basis?

Exbiologist, That May have been your graph... Forgive me if i did not correctly refer the source for it. I found it in an article, and saved the article & Graph. (from The Western Hunter, would that be you?) Here's the link:

March 7, 2011, 09:48 PM
yeah that's me, just busting your balls, don't worry about it.
Certainly a lot of elk in The Flat Tops, it's one of the higher density elk populations.

March 7, 2011, 10:28 PM
I visted your website, and read several of your articles, before posting this question. Thanks very much for the information, You articles have been some of the best that i have read in this endeavor, (from near sea level).

March 8, 2011, 05:54 PM
FrednAZ, I talked with H&H outfitters today, and they don't do the pack camps.. Wondered if maybe the name was something different?

March 15, 2011, 11:20 PM
CO 2010 Hunt statistics posted to website today-
narrowed the criteria down to several areas that we should be able get a tag with 0 preference points, as Non Residents, for 1st rifle season. Oct. 15-19 - Either Sex Elk.
The Flat Tops Wilderness and White River NF statistics look good, and tags look relatively easy to obtain.
San Juan NF looks good, in SW Corner, units 70 &71
Gunnision NF, units 54 55, & Rio Grand NF just south of there.
Routt NF, units 4, 441, & 214 look good, tags a little more difficult w/o PP's.
Have 5 hunt choices selected, will attempt a DIY hunt for 1st time.
Probably not a good idea to post plan here, but as i've never been there, not really sharing much. Delorme atlas shipped,
Just how crowded is crowded on some of these Public Land hunts?

March 16, 2011, 10:35 AM
Some of those are pretty crowded. Have you figured out how to use your second choices? I know you've seen some of my other articles, but if you look at the one about draw odds, you'll see that unit 4 could only be drawn by 4% of the nonresidents last year with 0 points. I'd bet a lot of money that that hunt will now take a preference point considering how many people did not draw last year and now gained a point.
The unit 11/12/23/ etc tag, for the Flat Tops is pretty crowded (over 10 hunters per square mile of public land in unit 12) and it can be tough to find a good camp site if you don't show up early.
Unit 54 is separate from 55. 54 has a bit of pressure but not a ton, but the wilderness area is so large, you pretty much have to be committed to backcountry hunting, otherwise it'll be difficult to find elk. And you have a chance of drawing it second choice. 55 has a little better access in my opinion and the country isn't quite as rugged.
70 and 71 are similar, only a tiny bit of wilderness (won't seem tiny if you're out there, but small compared to the other options), some easy mesa and canyon type country. High success like unit 4 and 12 due to the ease of access.
But, of those you listed only 54 can be drawn 2nd choice for an either sex tag, otherwise you need to think about cow tags or hunting OTC in 2nd or 3rd season.

March 16, 2011, 10:57 AM

I read that article, part of it lost me a bit: Let's take unit 4 for example-
(hunt code: EE 003 - 01R) I know Statistics are Categorized by Resident, Non-resident, and Youth. I looked at draw statistics last year, and saw that it had a 49% success rate for being drawn with 0 preference points.

I also saw in the article that the 49% is not really 49% when you factor in the Res / Non Res numbers... How exactly did you determine the 4% from 49% for a nonresident? That is where i got lost.

March 16, 2011, 12:18 PM
Ok, you'll need both the hunt recap and draw summary for this one. Use the draw summary to determine the nonres quota, which was 376. Now, look at the hunt recap, and subtract tags from the quota for everyone with more than 0 preference points (because the preference point guide said it could be drawn with 0 points).

From the highest point total, 2 with 9 points, 3 with 8 points, 2 with 7 points, 1 with 6 points, 6 with 5 points, 7 with 4 points, 15 with 3 points, 71 with 2 points, and 249 with 1 point. All of those were guaranteed to draw, that 356 tags out of 376, leaving 20 tags for nonresidents with 0 points. 20 divided by 448 applicants with 0 points equals 4.4%. That also leaves 428 applicants who tried to draw last year with a preference point, which is more than the either sex elk tag quota. Which is why I'm betting money it will take a point for nonresidents to draw that tag.

The reason that the draw summary says 49% is because there were 2162 total first choice applicants and 1075 tags. But it does not factor in the 65/35 res/nonres split.

March 16, 2011, 12:51 PM
Wow - i should go ahead and send the $10 just for that explanation.

March 19, 2011, 12:08 AM
Has anyone here ever hunted GMU #22, #23, or other units in NW CO,near Meeker?

Yes what would you like to know?

- On COW website, it states that "Intense Energy Development" taking place west of the vicinity of Meeker, Rifle area, in GMU 22, 21, oil and gas companies. i talked with a COW Hunt Planner, who reccommended this area as one unit that should have a 100% success rate of first rifle draw in CO, and lot's of new roads have opened up within it due to energy infrastructure. lots of BLM land, statistics look good from years past.
Population estimate is 11,760 elk from 2009. just curious what anyone might could add? Is the terrain steep (does not look to bad on topo map, but again i'm 14' feet above sea level)

March 20, 2011, 12:35 AM
- On COW website, it states that "Intense Energy Development" taking place west of the vicinity of Meeker, Rifle area, in GMU 22, 21, oil and gas companies. i talked with a COW Hunt Planner, who reccommended this area as one unit that should have a 100% success rate of first rifle draw in CO, and lot's of new roads have opened up within it due to energy infrastructure. lots of BLM land, statistics look good from years past.
Population estimate is 11,760 elk from 2009. just curious what anyone might could add? Is the terrain steep (does not look to bad on topo map, but again i'm 14' feet above sea level)
It means they have put a gas/oil pump every half mile and drove the animals out in the process and that is why the loclas aren't buying that units tag giving you a better success rate.

Not trying to discourage you or be negative. But that what it says if you read between the lines. The oil companies have done the same thing to the units I hunt too!

March 20, 2011, 08:42 PM
I read where they had over 2600 oil/natural gas wells drilled at the end of 2008, with over 19,000 planned for Rio Blanco County/ area. That sort of development is enought to keep me out of there, as well as the elk.

March 21, 2011, 10:51 AM
Then you might consider looking at mountainous areas instead, especially those with wilderness areas. All those roads that the energy companies put in for oil services are useful for getting around on (though some are off limits). The units you were talking about can be effectively road hunted (I don't mean shoot out you window, but drive and glass, drive and glass, bail out, etc) because there is good road access and little wilderness. That, combined with good visibility creates a high success situation.
But if that's a turn off for what your idea of an elk hunt ought to be, then look at some places with large amounts of wilderness. Of course success rates will be lower though.

March 21, 2011, 02:28 PM
Exbiologist, in the post your hunting pics section, you posted some pics of some mtn terrain, with some elk in them... That is the sort of place that i would like to hunt. were the pics taken in CO?

March 21, 2011, 02:54 PM
Not all of them, also some New Mexico and Wyoming shots. If you like that kind of terrain, then you would not like those Book and Roan Cliffs and Piceance Basin units that you've asking about.
You need to be focusing on the higher elevation stuff, and I'm pretty sure all those pics were in or alongside wilderness areas, or effectively wilderness (roadless) areas.
I can't think of any shots that I have access to right now of the Douglas Pass country, but it looks similar to this in parts(note the preponderance of scrub oaks and lack of "real" mountains):

And some more Colorado Plateau-type country

Versus "real" mountains, big woods, wilderness, etc

March 21, 2011, 03:02 PM
thanks for posting.. I was able to go to google earth, and look at terrain that way, from the live stream method (little yellow walking man in top right corner, dropping him on the map) a while back I had determined that the country in that area was "flatter".

Where was the pic taken, where a guy was sitting on a rock, near what looked to be the top of a mountain, glassing an area?

March 21, 2011, 03:12 PM

Exbiologist -this is the area that looked pretty good, both "glassing" pics, and elk pics,and the "guy" may very well be you- Is this in CO?

March 21, 2011, 04:05 PM
Yes, those are in Colorado. You may not realize this, but because that's public land, it's a pretty rude thing to ask where exactly that is. That's also why residents will rarely suggest a unit, but will give their take on units that you bring up from your own research.
Anyway, the one with the spotting scope was from a mountain goat scouting trip, and was not in a wilderness area. Notice I'm not even wearing boots in that picture, you're able to drive pretty close to that spot.

The other ones are alongside a wilderness area. Where exactly, are things I'll tell customers, but not something I'm going to openly tell on the internet.

I'm just trying to illustrate the differences in the types of country, and point you in the right direction.
Those areas are much harder to hunt than some of that scrub oak type country. But if you're patient, and have the time to spare, you can do good things in big country.
Here's another resource:

That's a map of the wilderness areas, but it also lists the percentage of wilderness in each unit. If you're trying to do your own research, you need to compare apples to apples, so take a look at a 3 or 5 year average of the success rates of units with a similar percentage of wilderness. Unit 15 in the Sarvis Creek Wilderness, is probably the only wilderness area that I can think of in Colorado that does not have alpine habitat.

Now, not all high mountain areas like that are in wilderness areas either, but the vast majority of them are.

So anyway, you have to decide your priorities for a first elk hunt. If your goal is to kill an elk, than these are not the best options. Instead you need to head to a high pressure, high success unit. If killing an elk is only part of the goal, then you might want to consider these types of places. Low pressure high success units, are mostly, but not entirely limited draw units.

March 21, 2011, 04:54 PM
Yes, those are in Colorado. You may not realize this, but because that's public land, it's a pretty rude thing to ask where exactly that is. That's also why residents will rarely suggest a unit, but will give their take on units that you bring up from your own research.

I was not looking for specific unit numbers, just general area- thought that state was a pretty general sized area. thanks for sharing general location, and the pictures. that makes a good comparison..

got the link, already found it. i was able to obtain NF boundaries, Roadless areas. DAU shapefiles, and general elk information for CO, and have been looking at that information statewide...and will say that when it comes to analyzing data, i have a very fine micrscope, just lack the on the ground information for CO.

March 22, 2011, 08:07 AM
I understand that elk hunts are being conducted in eastern KY. I was told that this was a little publicized fact and the herd numbers about 25,000. Anyone have any details?

March 22, 2011, 08:25 AM
They have a drawing for 800 tags in SE Ketucky, on public & priavte lands that border great smoky mtn. park. The chance at the tag is slim, with over 40,000 people applying last year, and estimated elk population at over 10,000 elk. There are some big ones in the area, they were first transplanted there in 1998, 1999 -The deadline to apply has already past for this year, but the cost to apply for a tag is only $10.00...(which i did) waiting to see results at this point. check KY dept. of game and fish for more information, avaialble online

May 27, 2011, 07:48 PM
I have hunted elk as well as deer in many different states. Mostly Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. At first we started going out on our own, but realized that most of the equipment we needed to get our game out of the woods and back to our truck, or camp cost so much that it was almost half the cost of going with a outfitter, so in 1997 we booked a elk hunt in Colorado, and the hunt was great with the outfitter it was so nice just to be able to worry about actually hunting instead of how are we going to get this big elk out of here. I did not get a elk thanks to my poor shooting, but my brother in law got a okay 5 by 6 bull. The outfitter and his guide took care of getting us on the elk, and getting it back to camp. So the next year we had planned on going back, but my brother in law wanted to go back to Wyoming were we had hunted on our own in 1995 and although we never did get on to any elk we seen many big elk people had taken. So we decided to put in for the Wyoming draw and start our search for a Outfitter. We came upon a Outfitter who at the time had been in business for 45 years. We called and talked to him, and we were excited from the get go. The prices were by far the best we could find in the state if not anywhere. He set aside a date with us right then and there, and told us if we draw that date will be reserved for us. Lucky for us we drew our tags. We flew into the Jackson Hole Airport and were picked up by one of the Outfitters Guides at no extra charge and he drove to the tent camp just south of Jackson Hole. When we first saw the tent camp I was amazed at how much work had to go into setting up such a nice camp. Everything was spotless, and perfect. This was the day before the hunt and I was already so excited I had Goosebumps, because I knew this was the Outfitter that was going to get us onto some big bulls. For dinner that evening we were treated to some of the best food I have ever tasted anywhere. I can still remember it was roast beef, mashed potatoes with gravy, corn, and a salad. The next morning around 4:30 A.M. we were treated to a great breakfast. Then we were off to get on our horses that were already saddled by the guides and ready to go. As we road up the trail and it was still trying to get daylight the elk were bugling all around us. I finally asked on of the guides "are we going to stop here and wait for daylight?" and he said "well we could, but this is nothing we are not even to the good spot yet, but if you want to we can wait here?" at that point I was like lets go to the good spot. Finally as the sun started to crest the eastern mountains we were set out, and the guides started to looking at the openings, and within 15 minuets had spotted out two big muleys, (I wished I would have had a deer tag too) , a cow moose, and four cow elk. They guides knew the area so well one leaned over to me and said "see were that last cow came out of the trees? the trail below that is were the bull that is bugling will probably come through." sure enough no more than ten minuets after that the big bull popped out, and was walking right threw the opening only 100 yards away. Thy guide asked me if I wanted him, and I was Heck YES!!! that's the biggest bull I have ever seen. I pulled up my 7MM, and (thanks to the guide helping make sure my rifle was sighted in the day before) I got him right in the kill spot. Once we got over to him I could see how perfect he was. A perfect six by six bull. (which later scored 365) While two of the guides we taking care of my elk we heard a shot which happened to be my brother in law. He kept shooting, at a elk they said was close to the same size as mine. He never did get it because he was so excited he was shaking. The outfitter and guides did a excellent job of capeing out and taking care of the meat. A process that takes me and someone else around a hour took two guides 30 minuets tops. The meat was taken to a meat processor by the guides, and the next day my brother in law finally got his elk not sure if it was the same one as what he was shooting at the day before, but he says he belives it is. We spent the rest of our seven days riding out with the guides as they kept track of the elk and deer, to see were they were for the next hunt. The experience was just perfect, and we have hunted with this outfitter since then. We have hunted Elk, Moose, and Deer with them. We have both been successful every year. With the exception of one year when I forgot to put ammo in my clip (yes a rookie mistake, and not to mention the guides had said "check your clips for ammo, and check your safetys" before heading out that day.) I have seen some of the best game with this outfitter, and the fact that all of his guides are all family it makes it that much more of a great experience. They have always treated us like kings, and worked their tails off for us. The experience just at camp makes the trip well worth while, and seeing them work like crazy to get us on whatever we are hunting puts the cherry on top. I will never go back to hunting on my own, I will always hunt with Jensen Outfitters just because of the way they operate, and the way they treat us so great. I know that when were we trying to hunt Western Wyoming on our own there was no way we could have got a elk or even a deer out of some of the areas we were in. Not to mention we got turned around twice. I strongly recommend a outfitter for any of western Wyoming, it is tough country and hard to hunt on your own if you don't know the area. And nobody knows the area like Outfitters and guides. these guys even know all the game trails, and are excellent trackers. I strongly recommend Jensen Outfitters if you have a tag for Deer, Moose, or Elk in Western Wyoming. They have a tent camp in the snake river area as well as Cabins on there ranch in Afton. If you have a General tag or a tag in a area they outfit in I recommend getting in touch with them. Cheapest prices in the State of WY. If not anywhere. trust me it is well worth the call. call keth jensen 307 886 3401

May 28, 2011, 04:10 PM
Thanks or information. - I see that's your 1st post as well!..THR really provides some unique interaction with hunters and liars from all over the county/ world... I've put in for tags for a couple states, and i'll admit i researched Colorado like crazy, religiously, for about a month before the draw, then jumped out of that boat, and put in for archery Elk in Units 51 & 52 in Carson Natl Forest, in NM... mainly cause i got an invitiation to go with a group who hunted in that area before. still waiting on draw results, June 8. If unlucky for NM, then will revert back to CO. I was unsuccessful in KY, got a PP in CO, and still waiting on NM.... also applied for the 1 non-resident tag in TN, about a 1:15,000 chance at best...

I won a "vacation" thru work and wull be flying to Albuquerque August 6... hope the NM tag pulls thu, and i get a chance to do some pre-season scouting.

September 25, 2011, 04:04 PM
Anyone have any information on unit 77 or 78, near Pagosa Springs, CO?
Should I expect much snow around 9,000', Oct. 22-30?

Beautiful Country,- i didn't see any elk there while scouting a month ago. Maybe that will change a bit when further from the roads.

Here's a view from Wolf Creek Pass area.

35 Whelen
September 25, 2011, 10:57 PM
Well there is big controversy on the alocation of the number of tags sold to out of state residents in NM. However, rumor has it that NM is especially kind to NON resident hunters. I cant confirm or deny, just saying.

Well, as a NON-resident of New Mexico who is on his 8th consecutive year of non-guided hunting there, let me be the first to dispell that rumor. From the NM Game & Fish website:

New Mexico’s big game drawing is subject to a quota system. In accordance with state law, the draw attempts to distribute 78 percent of the licenses for each hunt to New Mexico residents, 12 percent to nonresidents who’ve contracted with an outfitter and 10 percent to nonresidents who have not contracted with an outfitter (this does not prohibit nonresidents in the 10 percent pool from contracting with an outfitter if they are lucky in the draw).

That's right, residents get 78% of the tags. In the unit in which my father and I hunt, first rifle season there are 75 bull tags. That means that non-guided hunters like myself and my father have a shot at 7-8 tags...for the entire unit. Guided non-residents get 9 tags, and residents get about 59 tags.
Next rifle season, 125 bull tags, so my father and I are competing for 12-13 tags, NR guided about 15 tags, and residents about 98 tags.
The last two seasons are for antlerless and there are 90 tags each season. You do the math.
NM's draw for the season is a lottery style, in other words, no preference points. It's completely random from a clean slate every year.

I fail to see how there could be any controversy as residents get over 3/4 of the tags, as they should.

The first 6 years we went, we drew bull tags and 4 of those six years we got a bull. Last year and this year however, we've dranw cow tags and though I love shooting the bulls, I just feel lucky to have been drawn at all.

For a first time elk hunter, I'd highly recommend Colorado and a couple of pieces of advice:

Be prepared to get as far away from roads as possible. Most hunters are lazy and if they can't find them by puttering down the road or walking a short distance into the woods, they're not going to expend any more effort.

Understand what you're dealing with if you kill one, especially away from roads and trails. They're not like deer in that you can't just gut 'em and drag 'em to the nearest road. Gutting, skinning and quartering a bull elk is similar to doing the same to a yearling steer. It's hard work. Nothing like you see in the glossy page hunting magazines:

Bt when you're done, you'll KNOW you've been hunting!!

Good luck!

September 26, 2011, 11:24 AM
That's far from true FNA. I hunted unit 22 yesterday and work in the Oil and Gas industry. We see elk around our equipment all the time. Unit's 22,23 are great elk hunting unit's be sure to buy a BLM map marking private and public or get the GPS version. The oilfields install thousands of miles of pipeline. In order to do this they have to clear large right of way's accross the mountains. These get re-seeded and gorw the kind of crp type of foods that really help strengthen the herds. The elk don't give a hoot what we do up in the hills they just keep their distance and not much at that. I have had them walk less than a hundred yards from me and pay no mind to what I am doing. Anyway hunt where you want, but ignore the oilfield hate retoric. The hills are alive and healthy. This is a public land bull I shot opening morning of my second year elk hunting. Grossed304. Contrary to popular belief this animal was taken at 5600' 1st rifle season. Not all the elk go up the mountain and a lot of them come down it for the rut and stay down. Get a good cow call like the mossback widow maker. You can use it to locate your elk or you can go where elk are blow it and wait for a shot. Glass a lot and don't move around too much where you think they may be bedded down. Busting an elk herd sucks.

September 26, 2011, 11:34 AM
BTW..I took my Blaze orange off and put it on the highest branch by where we were working on this elk. In the draw that we were at there would have been no other way for others to have known we were there. The only thing that I will really really stress is that you must be prepared to haul a dead animal dang near the size of a horse horse in pieces on your back. So if the elk is down in a canyon then you get to put big pieces of it on your back and pack it back out of that canyon. This can be absolutelly horrible, but very rewarding.

December 15, 2011, 11:19 PM
Hey Cob how was your Elk hunt this year? Here is some Wyoming Elk pictures for you, now you know why that’s where I go first post or not. Oh and there is more where these came from. I am not lying, just enthusiastic about getting out and enjoying the outdoors with friends and family. Yeah my first post may have sounded to good to be true, and that’s okay I just like sharing my hunting stories. I have searched around for years trying to find the perfect place, and now that I have I love bragging about it. Don't get me wrong there are some years finding the elk is tougher than others, but that is hunting some days you may be surrounded by game and the next there may be nothing in the same place. That’s why it's called hunting. I am sorry if I offended you by talking so highly about my hunts in Wyoming on my first post. I hope you had a wonderful hunt this year the area looks beautiful. Great pics. ( (

December 18, 2011, 10:09 AM
I would go to Unit 52 or 53 in the Sunlight area of northern Wyoming. There are usually left over cow tags there. The wolves are getting pretty bad, so I would not expect that herd to last much longer. I don't hunt for antlers, so that is an easy one day harvest for me.

CSA 357
December 18, 2011, 01:22 PM
newmexico elk hunt is my dream, i was born there and would love to go back and take a nice elk, or even a cow!

December 18, 2011, 08:34 PM
Man, I don't know if I'd wanna bother doing an elk hunt without pack horses, unless all you're after is the mount. That much meat is a might more than I'd wanna pack out of rough country on foot, especially at my age. It would take MULTIPLE trips even for several guys and some of the country my friends have hunted, like the San Juans of western Colorado, is VERY rugged.

I used to look around New Mexico a lot for mulies and elk. I have hunted mulies there, but never got to elk, but the area I was looking at is the Lincoln NF south of Cloudcroft. I've not scouted those mountains, but the success rates 20 years ago were in the 25 percent range. That's pretty danged impressive. Never got out there, did kill a mulie in the Guadalupes up near Queens. There's an elk herd there and shooting one is a good way to do hard time. They're real proud of that herd. :D It is the only indigenous wild herd that Texas can claim, the Guadalupe NP being part of their range.

The guys I've known that hunt elk in Colorado have horses. It's really the best way to get into the rough country that needs to be gotten in to out there and it's STILL a chore. :D There's no more beautiful area in the country than around Silverton, Colorado IMHO, though. I'd LOVE to get a hunt up there ...maybe I'll hit the lotto or something.

December 19, 2011, 04:45 PM
Regardless of whether or not you are just in it for the "mount," you have to pack out the meat. I wasn't sure if you were insinuating that you wouldn't have to if you were just taking the head out. Pack horses would be all the more helpful if you kill a monster bull.

If you don't pack out all of the meat, the game wardens will nail you with some hefty fines.

December 19, 2011, 05:11 PM
Put in for a Roosevelt elk on Afognak Island, near Kodiak. Roosevelt elk are much larger than the puny variety found down in the Rockies ;)

December 19, 2011, 10:04 PM
Hey Cob how was your Elk hunt this year?

Wow, almost forgot about this thread, my first elk hunt was an excellent one; the whole story with pics is here:

Since getting back to FL, I have already began getting ready for next year.

I've read about the Kodiak island Elk, you just might see some Big Bear there, and I may be wrong, but is not there one other game species there too?

December 20, 2011, 04:23 PM
I've read about the Kodiak island Elk, you just might see some Big Bear there, and I may be wrong, but is not there one other game species there too?

Sitka Blacktail deer, and some of the best mountain goat hunting in the world.

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