It sounds like you're thinking the exact same thing we are. I have gone to CO w/ a group that has been going for a long time. I decided pretty quickly that the pressure just wasn't for me, and they finally agree to try somewhere else. We are going to WY to hunt antelope this year in 25. This is just north of what we want to hunt for elk - 19 elk. We plan to hit 19 the next couple of years with cow tags and save up for the bull tag.
The goal this year is to fill a tag quickly on an antelope and run down to check out the area for elk next year. We're actually getting doe tags this year because they're so much cheaper and we're not too concerned with quality on the antelope. The unit for elk has quite a bit of private ground, but there is some hunting management areas that help out. I contacted the casper G&F office and they said this area has high numbers of elk. It's the central part of the state but Eastman's rates it pretty good and I was encouraged after talking to G&F.
I notice that you're from MO. What part? I am in Joplin. Shoot me a PM if you want any more details about what we're trying to do.