View Full Version : Whats the best beginner elk hunt.

04-29-2011, 10:37 PM
Where should I go for a first time elk hunt? State and area of state? Bow, muzzleloader, or rifle?

04-29-2011, 11:31 PM
When I was a kid in the late 50's, my neighbor went on his first elk hunt. They left the house at first light and was back at 10:00 AM with a whole elk in the back of his pick-up. It seems that on their way to their chosen hunting spot they saw a 6X6 bull standing on the edge of a road bank. They shot it, backed the truck up to the bank and rolled the elk right into the back of his truck. When they got back home, the man said "what is so hard about hunting elk"! He never hunted them again because there was no challenge.
That was in Grants Pass, Oregon. So if you are looking for an easy hunt that's the place to go!
Seriously, just about all of the western states have their pros and cons. It's not an easy question to answer. Read the elk hunting forum here and you will see that elk are available everywhere but drawing a tag is not always easy. I would look for a state near you, that has good numbers and review the Eastmans MRS section of their magazine. Good luck on your quest!

04-30-2011, 06:33 AM
Just pick one and do it! It's all about the adventure.

If I was to pick, of course I would pick Montana in September. Bow all the way!

Bitterroot Bulls
04-30-2011, 08:30 AM
If you are looking at sheer numbers of elk, over the counter tags, and opportunity at a legal bull, CO is the the place. There are just tons of elk there. I have friends that have been very successful on the Uncompahgre National Forest. Montana and Idaho also have excellent opportunities. Bow or rifle is your choice, but if you want to bowhunt for elk, make sure you are going during the rut. To be successful in public land elk hunting, you have to be willing to work harder than the next guy.

04-30-2011, 11:04 AM
Bitterroot Bulls is spot on with his post.

04-30-2011, 03:50 PM
I agree about Colorado. Hunted many times first rifle hunt with a lot of success - lots of elk, lot of opportunities for branch antlered bulls. I also love Western Wyoming because I can hunt all September archery and all of October with a rifle and count on a tag every other year with a legitimate chance at a big bull. That may not work for some if they have to travel long distances. Been really dissapointed in Idaho last few years. Just my 2 cents.


04-30-2011, 09:15 PM
I went to Colorado on my first elk hunt. I think somewhere you can get an OTC tag with good numbers of elk. There's a lot to learn on your first trip. Good luck!

05-01-2011, 08:36 PM
like we've talked....find someone who can help you out. elk hunting is NOT whitetail hunting, it is work, work, work and a lot more work, and thats just getting started. if you bow hunt, you will have the time of your life hitting the rut. elk are talkin and fightin mad, at least in the area i hunt and there is an excellent chance of a getting on good 6's, with the off chance of a 370ish class bull. but getting on one and killin one are two different books.

i hunt western wyoming for a reason....its not arizona, new mexico or utah for number of big bulls, but it holds a lot of elk and if you can get high enough you can get away from the other hunters. getting away from hunters in one BIG advantage in elk hunting. last year alone, me and two other buddies had at least a dozen shooter bulls within bow range on our 7 day trip. But like i said, getting them in and being able to shoot an elk are two different books. All of us tagged out, but im the only one that brought in a nice 6x6

whatever you decide, try as hard as you can to talk to as many people who hunt THAT area....not all elk country is the same, and the ones that have hunted that area have a better idea on the movements of animals and where they like to call home. you can use the old "hunt the northside slope" idea, but that is not always the case. i know of several south and west slopes that hold elk every year....and some great lookin north slopes that i couldnt catch a cold in. So collect info as much as you can and go with someone that might know the area.

its a lot of money you are going to spend, no matter where you go.....try to find someone local to help you out. you are already starting from behind being from out of state, then with the odds of shooting a bull at about 20% or less...your chances are heading down hill in a hurry. im not an outfitter and im not advocating for them but being successful at elk i would NOT try it on your own the first time. Find a local and mother up or find an outfitter, you will not regret it.

05-01-2011, 11:27 PM
Thanks for the suggestions. I put this thread out to help find as much info as I can about elk hunting. I'm trying to absorb as much info as possible from the forum before I make the big plung and just do it ( as string music put it). I can't find many people in my area that are as interested as me in elk hunting. I've been muley hunting a few times, a couple diy and one guided trip. The guided trip wasn't such a good experience and was quite a stretch on the wallet. Despite this the country and animals have hooked me on the western hunting thing. I'm not looking for an easy way out and love the west because of the sense of adventure out there. Something that were I live has lacked since I was a kid. Thanks for the replies especially wileywapiti and goneforelk!

05-02-2011, 11:10 AM
Come out to McCall...Ill take you out for elk. I bow hunt, so I go out on the early hunts. My zone goes from the Salmon river in Rigins all the way south to WarmLake. Super remote rugged places, but easy access to most of it. Im not a trophy hunter, I will shoot what makes me happy. If I am blessed with a shot at a picture perfect bull, just the icing on the cake. Our regs are online, look up Idaho Fish and Game. Not Game and Fish, we are a** backwards with it here, lol, its an easy PDF to browse through.

05-20-2011, 07:27 AM
I would suggest that if you have never killed an elk, apply for the first rifle hunt in the areas north of Hayden, Colorado for cow elk. Forget the antlers until you have a couple under your belt. You will spend less money, have just as much fun and have a much better chance of filling your freezer if you start out hunting cows. Antlers are way over-rated and you can hunt years before you find and kill a good bull. You can get a preference point on your first choice and usually get drawn for the cow hunt on a second choice and protect your preference point for the chance at a good area for bulls later on.

Be ready to work very hard anywhere you go. The area I mentioned is essentially roadless and you will not usually drive to an elk. All of the elk that my kids, friends, and I have killed there (nine in all) have come out on our backs. We filled every tag that we have had in the area and most pack-outs were over two miles.

Just my two cents.

05-20-2011, 09:46 AM
I would recommend Colorado. They have OTC tags and lots of elk. Trophy potential will be low, but for your first trip, any elk will be a trophy. If you can afford it, I would buy the any sex tag and then shoot the first legal animal you can (spike, cow, calf, etc.). As far as weapon choice, that's entirely up to you. If you are a bowhunter, than go bowhunting. The reality of shooting an elk on your first hunt is probably pretty low. So, if you don't plan on hunting elk again or just wont' be ok without harvesting an animal, I would seriously consider hiring an outfitter. Another way to up your odds is to do a muzzleloader hunt, which still allows you to hunt during the rut. I went on my first elk hunt in CO and went with my brother. We did everything ourselves and hunted off our backs for 8 days. It was a steep learning curve and we went home without an elk. We had an amazing time though and wouldn't have done it any other way.

05-21-2011, 10:33 AM
obviously you want to go to a good spot and kill an elk but, dont get so caught up in the killing that u forget about the adventure as Stringmusic stated. My first elk hunt was in 2008 in MT hunted my but off for 7 days never saw a elk didnt know what I was doing realy either, but in 2010 I moved to MT from Indiana. Thats how much the adventure impacted me, never saw a elk and still had to move here to be able to put more time into it. last year I didnt have a tag because I was not yet a resident but since I now live here and had the time to become familiar with a spot I had several opportunities at elk, to bad I had to just take pictures, cant wait for this years season to get here, elk hunting is awsome . anyway thats my two cent. good luck

Umpqua Hunter
06-05-2011, 08:54 PM
If this is something you are planning for the future, start buying a preference point in Colorado each year. Even if you go with an over the counter tag in the near future, you can use the preference points that you build for a premium hunt in the future.

07-06-2011, 08:52 PM
I may just be favoring my state.. but I would go for Wyoming! My first year of elk hunting, I was in bulls every day! I had a chance at a 360s bull and didnt take it.. which I still kick myself for everyday. I would just pick a state that you are thinking and make a friend that is willing to help you out. I've found that hunters really seems to like helping each other out so I dont think you will have any problems finding someone that is willing. :)