I want to get into elk hunting... and know nothing about it


Well-Known Member
Oct 28, 2009
Magee, MS
hey guys I have been doing a little bit of research on elk hunting over the last few months and I'de like to get into it pretty hard.

BUT I don't know how to get into the points drawings or anything else. Nor do I know anything about the public units in CO.... I have read sooo much about this stuff it has pretty much just confused me! I don't want to pay $8K just for a guided hunt and not be gauranteed an animal(I dont just have that much money to throw away). I have met a few people from my area that do go up just about every year for elk hunting but no information was shared.

If you guys give me ANY information it is MUCH appreciated.

BTW I'm in Mississippi so its a long ride up there.
Joshua, Heres what I would recomend.

First start researching all the states for special draw hunts. Eastmans hunting journal usually has a members research section once a year that really explains each state and how they conduct hunts. For example KY now has an elk hunt every year and you can apply online for $10 and it take all of 5 minutes. Those special draw hunts are where you will make big money if you get drawn,, but are hard to get drawn.

In the meantime though I would start planning a trip to Colorado. They have the largest Elk population and are the most friendly towards non-resident hunters(ie some of the hunts do not require special draw for non-res). then start doing some homework on good areas of national forest that you can hunt. Wildreness areas and Roadless areas are a good start.
Next step is to take a vacation. I would recomend going to that area in the summer and having a little camping trip. Check the area out, look for sign, get comfortable with the lay of the land. if it doesnt look promising pack up and head to a back-up location you have selected. You can do a little trip like this fairly cheap if you drive and it is a hell of alot of fun to get out in the hills and camp for a few days. It will sure pay off to when season rolls around.
Once you have an area selected get a map. I get the topo kind with an overlay of picture, you can find them at mytopo.com. the maps arent cheap but so worth it. when you get your map you can use state websites to determine location of private land, roads, streams,etc, etc. I draw all that stuff in on my map.
After that, mark some time off and just go! I think alot of folks think you need to have an outfitter to elk hunt. absolutely not! the trade off is two fold though. first you need to do a ton of homework(great way to kill time in the off season) by prepping maps, getting the right gear, etc.
The second thing is get ready to work your *** off. Not having horses that an outfitter provides sucks but it just means you need to put boots to ground. So get in shape and be ready to walk a long ways and ready to pack an Elk out on your back if you get one.
Its all very doable just means you have to work a good deal to make it happen. tons of guys on here do this very thing and are every bit as successful as outfitted hunts. Personally i get a great deal of satisfaction out pulling off this kind of hunt, even if i dont get something. Its nothing against guides or taking guided hunts but I just love the acomplishment of going and surviving out in the mountains without any assistance.
I hope this helped a bit and let me know if you have any questions, i know i was pretty broad with what I wrote.
Get ready to be addicted to Elk hunting!
One thing I forgot that might help.
Find your local Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. There will be a ton of folks that love to elk hunt. Now their primary mission is not to help hook-up hunter with hunts but to conserve land for elk and other animals. So dont walk in the door expecting them to take you hunting or anything like that, but I am willing to bet if you come and donate some of your time to this great cause you will make some good friends in the RMEF and you will start getting all kinds of connection into the Elk hunting brotherhood. And who knows, you may have fun doing it to! the Big game banquets are a blast.
I just had to throw my plug in for the RMEF as I am the Chapter chair here in town. Not speaking for any other chapters or members, but anybody that helps/volunteers with us is welcome in my Elk camp. If you want more info let me know and I will be glad to give you some contact info.

8 days and counting until I am in Elk camp-provided I dont get swine flu!!!:D
Colo is a easy place to get started, about the pref points its as easy as putting in for a draw, if you dont get the draw then they issue you a pref point, thats it. On the colo gameand fish web site you can look up areas and how many points it usually take to draw that area. Also they have hunter sucess rates per area. So far they have over the counter bull elk tags, all bull tags require it to be 4 point (per side) or bigger. Thay also have a 5 inch brow tine rule that if it has a 5 inch brow tine its legal. You will need to know what time of the year you want to hunt, early or late we have a total of 4 rifle seasons for elk not inc. muzzleloader. The first and last season is draw only and are either sex hunts with the 4 pt restriction stilll being in effect for bulls. Muzzleloader is a draw only and is in sept. Hmmmmm cant think of anything else to add, if you have questions just ask, I dont mind giving info. The due date for putting in for the draw is usually around may 1st.
DIDDO for the RMEF, THe company I work for has a annual united way drive and you can donate to them or any non profit org. so I have all my donations and company match sent to the RMEF, it equals about 2000.00 per year, kinda chaps there asssss but I sure like looking up at the donation chart at work and seeing RMEF on there LOL makes me feel kinda warm and fuzzy :)
First thought was you got the right caliber/bullet selection?

Anyways...99% of the elk I seen in Colorado are migratory during 2nd season cause they go one way and never seen the same elk again. Some year they don't cross an area for a few days, some year they cross once during the whole 2nd season and some years they cross everyday. They are very heavily controlled by hunting pressure. So they are unpredictable, but elk 5 miles away or even further can end up in your area in a day if they don't stop jogging. (They travel fast!)

Elk ears and nose are very sensitive, a whole new level more difficult to sneak up on than muleys. But when elk get shot at, often they just turn their head trying to figure out where the gun shots are coming from, don't stop unless you are positive its going down cause an elk shoulder can stop a bullet. Wounded elk often get can get crazy tough(tracking blood trails for miles and often recover the bull) Hard work but definitely worth it in these worst case scenarios.

Time for me to stop typing(getting long)

Elk hunting is a lot of fun and just keep up with researching. There is always benefits out of researched stuff.
guys I REALLY appreciate your time to chime in here!

the good thing about my work is I so work a 7days on and 7 days off schedule in the gulf of mexico, and I get 2 weeks vacation a year. So it will be perfect for going and doing some scouting, then take my 2 weeks vacation for the hunt. I'm looking @ a 24 hour drive but that isnt that big of a deal, especially if I can drag a friend along. I do have access to horses, I own 3... that would be a tough ride with 2-3 horses in tow, but people do it.

I have got to invest in a GPS, just never really needed one before.

I have a friend of mine that is kind of familair w/ colorado, he worked around Parachute for a little while, im not really sure about the area as far as wildlife goes.

I'm rather sure the hunt will be a spot and stalk w/ shots in the 400-600 yard range, I will be shooting a custom 7mm RUM topped with a ziess 6x24x56(I just had one stolen but it was a sandero not a custom rifle) w/ 180gr bergers.

I am willing to put whatever I need into getting this done!

I will be looking into the RMEF in my area for sure!

There is a family that I know that normally goes yearly, but I doubt they'de allow me to tag along, they are pretty weird.

I'm sure I'll have more questions guys, but I'm very thankful for your help!
Parachute has sum really good elk/deer hunting, I used to work up around there. Its not far from the Flat Top wilderness area. I never hunted that area but have seen a few shows on TV with people hunting it. I am not sure about public land but maybe your friend can hook you up on sum private also. You gun choice snds good, remember its better to call the local game and fish officer and talk to him about where the animals are in the time of year your going to be there then wasting a trip up here then 2 months later trying to go back and hunt that same area. If I went where I hunt 2 months early I probably wouldnt see any sign but come hunting season it seems like the animals are there. CALL A LOCAL OFFICER AND ASK HIM FOR SUGGESTIONS THAT WOULD BE MY BIGGEST ADVICE
I will second that! Getting insider information from "The Man" can save you a whole lot of time. I have never had them tell me exactly where the elk are but they have told me where the elk arent. That was valuable.
I will second that! Getting insider information from "The Man" can save you a whole lot of time. I have never had them tell me exactly where the elk are but they have told me where the elk arent. That was valuable.

Yep, that is helpful.

Another tip is elk are the easiest wild game to spot (in my opinion). They have this certain yellowish back color that makes them easy to see. At first it is difficult to do but once getting used to the color, often they are spotted easily under 1000 yards. Some of us can find them miles away because of that distinct color. The terrains has its effects too.

good luck
Around 2nd season is it generally in the 40s up in the mountains and 20s at night. But it varies up to 60f degrees down to the negatives with extreme weather.

It is later in the season now is probably colder by now. The more weather, the more active they are.
One thing that I would add would be that if you're planning a spot and stalk type of hunt I'd cut that minimum range of 400 yards to maybe 5 feet :). It's amazing how well those big beasts can hide sometimes. I've had a few run ins where I've been glassing a far ridge and failed to see elk just in front of me.

If you're using a variable scope I would recommend having one that has a minimum power of no more than 6x. There's plenty of guys out there that do better than me with more power in there glass, but for me even a 6x at 50 yards can get pretty lost on the broadside of an elk.

It's the same reason that I lock my truck, not really paranoid of anything getting stolen I just know I'd feel pretty stupid if it did. I couldn't imagine how frustrating it would be to go through all that trouble and drive 24 hours only to miss a trophy because it was too close!!!
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