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advice on 1st hunt

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Old 12-20-2008, 11:36 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: N. Central Indiana
Posts: 550
Re: advice on 1st hunt

While this isn't specific to Elk, it might help. If you don't have Google Earth, get it. It will allow you to look at areas (albet they might be a few years old) and pick out terrain features. I also have used the program from National Geographic to make my own topo maps. The software is mostly state specific, and might cost as much as 2 to 3 maps from MyTopo.com, but after those first few I look at it as the maps are free.

I'm kinda the same boat as you. While I've never hunted Elk, a buddy and I want to. We've purchased preference points in Wy. since they came out, and while we have enough to pull a tag in most of the General Hunt areas, and a few limited areas, I still don't know whether a DIY is worth it for a first hunt for a couple of rookies.

The guide fee is pretty steep, but my feeling is for us, with the preference points built up, it would be a shame to waste them on a poorly planned DIY hunt. I'm not worried about the shooting part. I'm sure Kirby will get me a first rate gun and it will be up to me to make sure it's pointed in the right place.
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Old 12-25-2008, 03:15 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Tn
Posts: 14
Re: advice on 1st hunt

Check your PM's
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Old 12-26-2008, 04:23 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Chelan Co, Washington
Posts: 519
Re: advice on 1st hunt

On my first elk hunt I was fortunate enough to go along with a very experienced elk hunter. We went to an area he knew well, packed in camp by horseback, nine miles from the road and up at about 9,000' in Wyoming.

I was in good shape, but used to living at about 1,000' above sea level, so it took me a few days to get used to the altitude. We scouted for elk, hiked and fished for a few days before the season. That was a good idea, as we located elk and got me used to living and working at altitude. Other posters have hit hard on the physical conditioning aspect of it - and I'd have to agree, at least for where I hunted. It's not only at high altitude, but it's doggone steep up there! Several days we did a LOT of hiking.

The area was NOT overrun with elk. We didn't see many, I did get a good clear shot at a nice 6x6 bull from about 180 yards and put him down with one 175 grain Nosler Partition from my 7mm Rem mag. My rifle was an inexpensive, off-the rack Rem 700 ADL that I'd done a trigger job on, and had shot a lot. It had a simple 3-9x Leupold, sighted-in at 300 yards. It's not the rifle, it's the shooter. Good bullets are a plus. I read a lot of posts from guys who swear that you need a half MOA rifle shooting 300 grain super slugs at warp speed. Not true, unless of course you're taking elk at a half mile or so. Most elk hunters I know use something like a .30-06 or .300 magnum with good 180 grain bullets. It's a pretty standard combo that works well. If you're pushing the long-range envelope, obviously a more specialized setup is nice.

Once the elk was down this deer hunter finally figured out how big those critters really are... My goodness... Standing there, on a steep hillside a mile or so from camp, at 10,000' up in the Wind River Mtns, with 700+ pounds of dead elk at my feet. I was a little overwhelmed. My buddy was the brains behind dismembering the carcass and he did a fine job of teaching me how it's done. After we had it apart, he headed back to camp for the horses and mules to pack it out, while I carried elk quarters down the mountain to the trail where the horses could reach them. This whole time we kept our rifles and big bore handguns available, as apparently the local grizzly population has learned that a gunshot can mean lunch. It took much of a day to get the elk skinned, quartered and back to camp. It took another day to get the elk nine miles down the trail to our trucks, then to drive the quarters & the head to the meat processor and the taxidermist, and then ride back into camp in a blowing snowstorm. Big day that was.

If you can't connect with a good local hunter, then I'd highly recommend going with a good, experienced outfitter. He'll have the knowledge and the tools to get the job done right. Although I haven't met him in person, I've heard good things about Lee Livingston who guides out of Cody Wyoming. We had a good conversation a couple of years ago about a backcountry mule deer hunt. That hunt fell through when I got hurt and couldn't do a backcountry hunt, so I didn't get to meet Lee in person. I'm sure there's a pile of other good guides too.

Since that hunt I've done some more elk hunting here in my home state of Washington, but not deep in the backcountry like that high altitude Wyoming trip.

Best of luck, do your research. By the way - if you want to hunt in Wyoming, you'll need to get your non-resident application in soon, I believe they're due in January.

Regards, Guy
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Old 12-27-2008, 04:27 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Tn
Posts: 14
Re: advice on 1st hunt

+1 to every thing Guy said. Even so, There is NOTHING you can do to get your lungs ready for breathing at that altitude short of moving out there 6 months in advance of your hunt, or a plastic bag over your head while working out on an elliptical. However plenty of leg work (both walking and weight lifting) will cause your leg muscles to use less of the oxygen available to your body.
Good luck!
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Old 12-27-2008, 08:02 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: N. Central Indiana
Posts: 550
Re: advice on 1st hunt

One thing - drink plenty of water out there. My hunting partner didn't and had a splitting headache for 2 days. Also, the first day he climbed the hills by only using hit toes and balls of the feet - he never put his heel down on the trips up the mountain. His calves paid for it the next few days.

Granted, it was 80* in the middle of the day when we were there, but I went thru 3 literes of water a day plus whatever I drank back at camp that evening. If you aren't stopping to pee, you aren't drinking enough.
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Old 03-12-2009, 10:58 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Sagle, Idaho
Posts: 35
Re: advice on 1st hunt

Originally Posted by bigsal5353 View Post
I'm trying to plan a Elk hunt for the fall of '09 for my dad and I. We are from Western PA and dont know the first thing about Elk hunting.

Can you give me some advice on everything. which state? how to pick a guide? how long of a hunt? how do you get meat back home? etc.....
Each of the traditional Elk states has much opportunity: Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico etc. I would research online comparative non-resident license rates, then focus on filtering outfitters from the chosen state. Unless you had a solid and experienced contact somewhere, I would never, ever consider trying a DIY first trip for elk.

Also, time runs short, as in many states some areas are by draw only for elk permits, and those drawing deadlines are arriving sooner than you might imagine. In some states, there are outfitters allocations, meaning that often times an outfitter can guarantee an available elk tag if you book.

Good outfitters work incredibly hard to produce a memorable experience for their clients. As every real hunter knows, a good experience often does not include harvesting success! Do not even consider an outfitter "guaranteeing success".

Pursue outfitter references relentlessly.

From the outfitters standpoint he would like you to:
Get in shape, including your horseback muscles. If you show up raw and then ride 15 miles the first day heading in, your legs and butt will be paralysed for half of the hunt!
Be as proficient with your rifle as you have ever been in your life! Guides hate it when they spend five days getting you the opportunity of a lifetime on elk and you can't hit your butt with both hands.
Do not show up with flip-up scope covers, they snag, come off and break in scabbards and in the woods in general. They will want you to have the retained-loop neoprenes, scopeshieldalaska style.
The outfitter knows all the details on meat care and shipping and should make it easy for you.

In the end, the power and majesty of the animal and its surroundings make a life experience like few others. I hope you and your Dad can put one together and have a fabulous trip!
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