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Outfitter recommendations for Elk Hunt?


Hozzie

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I know we have quite a few guys here who do a lot of hunting around various places.  I want to book an Elk hunt for next year in Colorado or one of the surrounding areas.   I am looking for recommendations for an outfitter that you know or have used or have someone you know well who has used it.

My main goals:

1) I am not looking to rough it.  No backcountry horse rides, etc.  It doesn't have to be fancy, but it does need to be comfortable.  This doesn't mean shooting from an ATV or anything like that.  Some long distance trekking is ok, but I want to sleep in a real bed at night.

2) A real chance for a quality, large elk.  I want it to be fair chase, so nothing stocked, etc.  I am not looking for guarantees, but would like to know there is a track record of nice elk.

3) I am willing to pay a fair amount.  I would be ok with $5-7k all in.  I am sure there is a large range of options available and if it took a little more, I am open to that.   I will have a buddy go as well, so a 2-1 guide is ok.

 

Anyone have any decent recommendations/leads I can look into?

Thanks,
Jamie

 

Edited by Hozzie
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I am heading out on a Elk hunt in two weeks with Black Mountain Outfitters. I will let you know how they are when I get back. 

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Couple of quick pointers: 

If you can book a 2021 hunt now, chances are the outfitter ain't that great. The good ones (at least in Wyoming & Montana) are generally booked 2-3 years out. 

Do you have the preference points to be able to get a tag? If not, you're going to be investing your deposit with an outfitter for a few years anyway. 

5-7 grand, whilst still an absolute arse-load of money, probably isn't going to get you a decent elk hunt. Realistically you're looking at near 10, after tips. 

If I might make a suggestion; start buying points for the state you want. Research how many it's going to take in a state/unit you want to hunt & book your hunt one you have enough points to guarantee a tag. Your only real alternative is landowner tags on a private ranch & 10 grand would maybe just get your toe in the door. They generally run 12K+ for a chance of a 350+" bull. The only 2 ways of having a half decent chance of a trophy bull are DIY sweat-equity hunts, year after year of becoming familiar with a unit, glassing, driving & hiking, OR...... throw a crap load of cash at it. 

Sorry, probably not what you want to hear, but after 10 years of chasing the big buggers around Colorado & Wyoming, that's my experience. 😥

Edited by Handsome Rob
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40 minutes ago, Handsome Rob said:

Couple of quick pointers: 

If you can book a 2021 hunt now, chances are the outfitter ain't that great. The good ones (at least in Wyoming & Montana) are generally booked 2-3 years out. 

Do you have the preference points to be able to get a tag? If not, you're going to be investing your deposit with an outfitter for a few years anyway. 

5-7 grand, whilst still an absolute arse-load of money, probably isn't going to get you a decent elk hunt. Realistically you're looking at near 10, after tips. 

If I might make a suggestion; start buying points for the state you want. Research how many it's going to take in a state/unit you want to hunt & book your hunt one you have enough points to guarantee a tag. Your only real alternative is landowner tags on a private ranch & 10 grand would maybe just get your toe in the door. They generally run 12K+ for a chance of a 350+" bull. The only 2 ways of having a half decent chance of a trophy bull are DIY sweat-equity hunts, year after year of becoming familiar with a unit, glassing, driving & hiking, OR...... throw a crap load of cash at it. 

Sorry, probably not what you want to hear, but after 10 years of chasing the big buggers around Colorado & Wyoming, that's my experience. 😥

I have friends who live and hunt in CO, WY, MT, and UT. I’ve talked to them about coming out west and what you’ve said here is 100% spot on. 
 

Sometimes the best and most helpful advice is the last thing we want to hear, but I’d start my planning around this if I were you. It will save you a lot of heartache and money in the long run. Nothing is more expensive than wasting money by throwing it away chasing an easy or fast way to your destination. 

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Addendum: If you're not prepared to 'rough it' elk hunting probably isn't for you, unless you're prepared to shoot one inside a Texas fence. I've been looking at a Wyoming Thoroughfare hunt for next year (it HAS to be outfitted due to the Wilderness laws there) 6 days total, 2 on horseback just getting to & from the area. Wall tent style camp. I've got the points to guarantee a draw. It's my best shot at a real, public land, free range, trophy bull. I've spoken to 2 outfits out there and both are fully booked until 2022 & I wouldn't get a penny back from 11 grand. Doing it from a cushy lodge? The only places I've found are New Mexico & unless you've got 12 years worth of preference points,  a landowner or governors tag are your only options & neither can be done for less than 14. That's fourteen THOUSAND for a 3 day hunt........

Edited by Handsome Rob
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Thanks Rob.  If 10-12k is what it takes I am not against that.  At the end of the day it will take what it takes.  I will start checking out the preference points and see what it takes.  

I/we (my buddy and I) may have an in with a hunt in New Mexico with an outfitter my buddy has used to go to Africa twice.  I didn't give that much thought when I posted before and didn't realize he also does hunts all over the US.  My buddy has a call into him so we'll see what that brings.

Basically, we have been talking about doing some kind of hunt here for 5 years.  I am tired of the talk and we can both afford it so it's time to just do it.  Like anything, I want a Mercedes at a Chevy price 🙂 .

I appreciate great feedback.  I am all about reality.
 

Jamie

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One outfit you might want to try, that fits your budget, would be Full Draw Outfitters. 

Fred Eichler is one hell of a nice dude & i know his hints are very, very well run. He runs bow & rifle elk hunts from his ranch in Colorado for about 8k for (i think) a 5 day hunt. Success rates are about average at 50-ish percent. However, getting a Colorado rifle tag is a tough prospect for a non resident, during the best part of the season. Usually, we only get chances at 3rd rifle season which is super late November & you'll be hunting highly pressured elk. I know a guy hunted archery antelope with Fred & Michelle (their specialty) and he has nothing but praise for them. 

I think their elk hunts are run out of camps, rather than the ranch house, but sleeping on a cot, to me, would be a pretty minor inconvenience. Comparatively. 

 

Edited by Handsome Rob
Fat fingers, small phone.
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53 minutes ago, Handsome Rob said:

One outfit you might want to try, that fits your budget, would be Full Draw Outfitters. 

Fred Eichler is one hell of a nice dude & i know his hints are very, very well run. He runs bow & rifle elk hunts from his ranch in Colorado for about 8k for (i think) a 5 day hunt. Success rates are about average at 50-ish percent. However, getting a Colorado rifle tag is a tough prospect for a non resident, during the best part of the season. Usually, we only get chances at 3rd rifle season which is super late November & you'll be hunting highly pressured elk. I know a guy hunted archery antelope with Fred & Michelle (their specialty) and he has nothing but praise for them. 

I think their elk hunts are run out of camps, rather than the ranch house, but sleeping on a cot, to me, would be a pretty minor inconvenience. Comparatively. 

 

Thanks.  I may give them a call depending what my buddy finds out.

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