Big game hunters have long been enticed by the call of tagging an elusive elk. In North America, elk have become the zenith of hunting game, and hunters of all experience levels head out every year to try their hand at tagging that elusive bull. If you’ve decided to heed the call and try your hand at pursuing elk, there’s a bevy of tactics and strategies you need before calling up an experienced outfitter and scheduling your trip. Use this article as your definitive guide to elk hunting trips and be sure to avoid the common pitfalls many elk hunters encounter.
Before beginning your hunt for elk, it’s important to understand the animal you’re looking for. These herbivores can be massive, ranging anywhere from 325 pounds to upwards of 1,100 pounds. Towering at around 5 feet at the shoulders, it’s easy to understand why this game is a worthy pursuit. Elk are one of the largest deer species, and populate North America and Eastern Asia, although they have been introduced to other countries across the globe.
No matter your intended game, it’s vital to understand the laws and stipulations regarding your hunt. Elk hunting regulations vary by state, but it’s essential to understand the permit system of any area you plan on hunting. It’s not always a simple process to acquire a tag, especially if you’re planning your elk hunting trip as a nonresident. The following are the
• General Elk Season
Some states have what is known as general elk season; in these states, you’ll have the opportunity to buy permits over the counter. In some states, you may be required to submit an application.
• Limited Entry
Every state has areas in which hunting is only allowed through special permits. You must apply to hunt in these areas; this application gives you entry into a lottery drawing, which may or not be run through point systems.
• Preference Point Systems
Some states and locales use a preference point system; this means you’ll enter a random drawing to win the chance of hunting in a particular area. Every time you enter and do not get chosen, you receive a preference point. During the drawing each year, those candidates with the most preference points are chosen first. Some states also use modified preference point systems; these allocate a particular percentage of tags with a preference point system, then distribute those leftover through random drawings. These systems can benefit first-time applicants.
• Bonus Points
In Bonus Points systems, you enter a random drawing to hunt. Every time you’re unsuccessful, you’ll be awarded another bonus point. However, unlike preference points, those with more points aren’t necessarily drawn first. The random drawing is luck of the draw, so a first-time applicant may be chosen before someone with six bonus points.
If hiring an outfitter, be sure you’re using someone certified, and always take referrals into consideration.
Before embarking on an elk hunting trip, make sure you’re in shape. While an experienced guide will tailor the journey to their client, it’s important that you’re able to keep up. You’ll be traversing mountains, hiking trails, and crossing streams and rivers in order to find that trophy Elk and fill up your group’s tags. In order to prepare, it’s important to begin cardiovascular training months in advance. This will help prepare your lungs and heart for the journey ahead and better your chances of tagging that prize elk.
It’s important to consider whether you’d prefer to hunt with a rifle or other long gun, or whether you’re hoping to tag your bull with a bow and arrow.
Rifle: Choosing the right elk hunting rifle, and corresponding caliber bullet, is vital. As you begin your search for the right rifle, take manufacturer, stock, caliber, and power scope optics options into consideration. The most popular rifle calibers for elk hunting include the following: .270 Winchester, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300 Winchester Magnum, .308 Winchester Magnum, and 7mm Remington Magnum.
You’ll also need to make the choice between bolt action and semi-automatic rifles. Bolt action rifles are considered the most dependable, and provide excellent accuracy; they also provide less recoil, making it easier to shot and quicker to get off subsequent shots. However, many hunters find that semi-automatic rifles have their own advantages. It’s a question of personal preference, and it’s important to head to a shooting range and practice before heading out on your elk trip.
Archery: If you’d prefer to participate in archery elk hunt, you’ll want to find the right bow and arrow for your trip. Elks are massive, and it’s important to purchase a strong bow set that can shoot completely through their body, both for humane kill purposes and for quicker, more efficient recovery. Experiment with heavy-draw bows, and choose the heaviest you can handle without sacrificing accuracy.
Hunters are increasingly using elk calls, and for good reason. Elk calls are used to lure an elk within the area, and understanding how to properly draw in a bull or cow can increase the chance of tagging that prize elk. There are six types of elk call, with four created for cows and two intended to draw in bulls. Cow elk calls include the cow call, excite cow call, mews and soft chirps and alarm barks. The two bull elk calls include a bugle and a raking. Practice your calls before heading out on your trip and be ready with your call as you wait in the stand.
There are a bevy of states that offer elk hunting opportunities, and renowned outfitters in each. Whether you’re hoping to embark on a Western elk hunt or you’re headed out to see what Montana forests have to offer , you’ll find that there are a variety of benefits to be gleaned from different areas. Check out the amazing outfitters located in some of the top elk hunting states in the country.
LOH Outfitters in Southern New Mexico is your source for New Mexico elk. This outfitter offers some seriously significant success rates in fair chase hunters’ most of their hunters get at least three to five opportunities, with a kill rate of 81 percent. Explore Cibola National Forest and the Gila wilderness, with a one-on-one professional guide from LOH Outfitters.
Amber Elk Ranch in Ludington, Michiganis all about customer satisfaction—if you don’t shoot a bull or a cow on your trip, these outfitters don’t make you pay. Head to Ludington Michigan and join the ranch team to hunt elk with bow, muzzle loader, or rifle. This outfitter provides processing and taxidermy, meaning this really is an all-inclusive outfitter.
If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, love archery, and can’t get enough of the great outdoors, Elk Valley Outfitters in Goshen, Utah is your best bet. Get up close and personal with the Rocky Mountain Elk and hunt with the classic bow and arrow, or check out their rifle deer hunts in October.
Check out Madsen Elk Hunting Adventures in Mayfield, Utah and bask in the beauty of their private game reserve. With hunting grounds nestled between Mount Nebo and the Wasatch Mountain range, you’ll find worthy bulls of massive size.
Looking to head up north? Royal Elk Outfitters in Grandview, Canada is your source for elk hunting trips. This outfitter is the mecca for big game in this northern country, with wonderful animal density, and the highest quality deer, bear, and of course, elk. With over 4,500 acres to hunt, you’ll surely find a trophy opportunity with Royal Elk Outfitters.
Head to White Sulphur Springs in Montana to check out Rawhide Guide Service . Guiding hunters since 1960, this outfitter specializes in elk, deer, black bear, and antelope. Those looking for a high-quality western hunt are guaranteed a good time.
Headed to Billings, Montana? Check out Elk Creek Family Outfitters and grab your bow, because these guides cater to bow hunters that are looking for the thrill of the chase on private land. With guide, meals, and accommodations provided, you’re assured a comfortable and exciting hunt.
Looking for a passionate guide who’ll help you learn the lay of the land? Consider Elk Range Outfitters in East Helena, Montana. This outfitter specializes in guided elk hunts, deer hunts, and bear hunting. With owner Bill Montanye by your side, you’re sure to learn the best techniques for capturing that bugling bull.
Experience the majestic beauty of Colorado’s wilderness with Sudden Impact Outfitters, LLC in Maybell, Colorado. With camps located in the Danforth Hills area, nestled in the heart of Elk country, this outfitter provides access to over 5,000 acres of lush land. With limited hunters taken each season, Sudden Impact provides an exclusive experience you won’t find anywhere else.
Check out Southern Colorado Outfitters in Rye, Colorado and head out on a horseback hunting excursion in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. With large herd of trophy class elk, you’ll find this backcountry hunting experience to be indicative of western hospitality. Base camp comes in the form of a traditional western hunting tent, and self-guided drop camp excursions provide you with tents, cots, lanterns, and cookware.
Head to Collbran, Colorado and experience the wonder that is the White River National Forest and Flat Tops wilderness area. After 33 years of guiding elk hunts, mule deer hunts, trout fishing, and more, the professionals at Winterhawk Outfitters are sure to show you a good time. With over 250 square miles to hunt, you’ll encounter bulls and cows. With deluxe camps, professional guides, and specialized attention, this is elk hunting done right.
Head to Wagonhound Outfitters, LLC in Douglas, Wyoming and explore over 250,000 private acres of habitat filled to the brim with elk, whitetail, mule deer, and antelope. Head out on foot, horseback, or by 4WD and take advantage of archery hunting for elk.
Check out Trout Creek Elk Hunts, LLC in Big Piney, Wyoming and learn from experienced guide Brad Carnahan. With years of successful hunts and kills, Carnahan is prepared to guide hunters through Knott Ranch and make every hunt enjoyable with the greatest chance of tagging that bugling bull.
Head out to SilverWing Ranch in Tolley, North Dakota, for a big game Elk, Deer, and Bison hunt. The ranch is located on the breaks of the Souris Valley in Northwestern North Dakota. Their hunting guides are experienced, and their track record speaks for itself.
Check out the guided hunting packages Badlands Elk Ranch in Grassy Butte, North Dakota. You can explore a private ranch teeming with elk bulls that regularly grass score from 300 to 400 points. Food and accommodations are included, and you’ll have a jam-packed four days of fully guide elk hunting.
Rafter C Guide and Outfitting, LLC in Bancroft, Idaho is a great guide service that provides plenty of opportunity in Idaho to tag that prize bull. Try your hand at bow and arrow during rut, or head out with rifle in hand to try your luck at tagging elk during the month of October. Their fully guided hunts come in a variety of lengths, and include all the pack trip essentials you could need.
Head to Elk Springs Outfitters in McCall, Idaho and begin your exploration of the back country in the Franck Church River of No Return Wilderness. An area teaming with wildlife and rife with opportunity for Idaho big game, Elk Spring Outfitters provides access to 65 square miles of scenic country to explore.
Want to experience the magic of a Texas elk hunt? Dancing Elk Alexander Ranch in Mathis, Texas gives the avid hunter plenty of opportunity to hunt down big game. With a diverse habitat, you’ll be provided with all of the essentials to tag that prize bull. DEA Ranch prides itself on offering a variety of hunting techniques to ensure their clients have the best chance of a successful hunt.
Tony’s Trophy Elk Hunts in Baudette, Minnesota will see you embarking on a guided hunt over 1,200 acres of wooded area. Whether you’re looking for trophy bull elk hunts or want to try your luck at tagging a trophy white tail deer, you’ll find Tony Beckel is an experienced guide that can provide a wonderful hunt.
White Elk Ranch in Trenton, Nebraska is teaming with big game. Traverse the lands and encounter bodies of water, heavy tree cover and plenty of cliffs and canyons, perfect for animals to hide in. Owner Tad Puckett has plenty of experience in exotic animals, and will serve as a knowledgeable guide on your elk hunt.
It’s no simple task to choose an outfitter for your elk hunting trip. Your decision can be the make or break factor that determines your chances of tagging that elusive elk. However, armed with these professional and customer-approved outfitters, you’re guaranteed to have a great and successful time on your next elk hunt.