Elk Hunting Outfitters:

Are They Worth the Cost?

Elk hunting outfitters can save you a lot of time and provide quality elk hunts. Elk hunting guides practically eliminate the time consuming research required to find the “best place to hunt” (for that hunt anyway). How much time and money you’re willing to spend hunting dictates many details about where and how you will hunt elk. If, like me, you’re into cheap elk hunting, hiring a hunting guide is out. (My wife would never agree that elk hunting is cheap, regardless.)

On the other hand, you could hire a good elk hunting outfitter for about the same price as buying all the gear (minus the horses) for what I call a “heavy” elk camp in the remote back country. You would then own all the gear for many years of use. (Scroll down to see hunting outfitter links.)

However, a good elk hunting guide WILL get you into elk. They know where the elk are and how they move in the area they guide in. Their business depends on them knowing where and how to get you within shooting range of a bull (or even a cow, if you are willing- click here for that discussion).

If you kill one, the guide will haul it out for you. However, there are no guaranteed elk hunts in the wild. A good elk guide will guarantee that he can get you in on elk. You’ll have to do the rest, including walking long distances on demanding elk terrain. Horses will get you into a remote area , but you still have to walk to find the elk. (Hunting from the back of a horse is not done.)

Hiring a good elk hunting outfitter would be a great way to do some quality elk hunting at least once in your lifetime. Guided elk hunts are rich learning experiences. Plus, having experts at packing meat on your team, with all the packing equipment and horses, is invaluable.

Elk hunting guides want you well rested and energized, so they tend to provide plenty of good food and comfortable sleeping arrangements.

Consider hiring an elk hunting outfitter at least once. The learning experience will be well worth the money.




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Outfitters: The Negative Side

Elk hunting outfitters often find themselves at odds with local hunters, or regular "do it yourself" out of state hunters. An outfitter makes his living taking people where they will not have to compete much, or at all, with do it yourself hunters. This means they often choose to either own or lease expansive pieces of property to take clients hunting on.

Many outfitters also guide on public land and some do exclusively, including the remote Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. Some elk hunting outfitters are not honest and do not provide good service. Do your homework. Check references.

In Montana we have a great program called Block Management that is funded solely from licensing fees. Ranch owners are paid a fee per "hunter days" to participate in the program. The Block Management Areas open up 8.5 million acres of land to hunters.

Some ranches do not participate for various reasons. Some lease their land to outfitters. Occasionally a rancher will stop participating in Block Management to contract with an elk hunting outfitter. That doesn't sit well with those who had enjoyed the privilege of hunting on that land.

Another scenario that drives a wedge between do it yourself hunters and the outfitters is when an outfitter ties up land with a hunting lease contract (or buys the land up outright), then guides lower paying guests on public land and high rollers on the private land.

In our area we have seen an outfitter try to cut off public access to public land beyond their properties in court. In this failed case, a long time public road went through a private (outfitted ranch) to national forest land on the other side. This particular outfitter has also been (probably correctly) accused of guiding on lands for which he does not have a permit to do so.

When these things happen, and they often do, outfitters tend to be considered an enemy of do it yourself hunters. If outfitters can compete with Block Management, hunting areas diminish for the public in MT. This scenario plays itself out in all states, in some way or another.

If you want to use an outfitter, choose carefully, keeping potential negative consequences in mind.

Outfitter Links

Below are links to help you find an outfitter in the area you want to hunt.

(Do you have any experience with guided hunts?)



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Montana Outfitters and Guides Association 

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AfricanHunting.Com: Hunting Safari Community Website

If you have an interest in hunting Africa, I would highly recommend Africa Hunting. Com, hunting safari community & resource. We have no connection to Africa Hunting. Com, but after spending time on the site and spending significant time talking personally with the owner, Jerome Phillipe, I felt compelled to share the link with my visitors.

Africa Hunting. Com is a much needed hunting safari community specific to hunting in Africa. It is a free resource with more information about hunting in Africa than any other website out there, plus a massive directory with 2,800 listings, ratings and reviews.

It would be a vital place to spend time preparing for, or dreaming about, any plans you have for an African hunting safari. He also provides the opportunity to relive your own African safari by sharing your hunting stories, hunting videos, pictures and knowledge with the Africa hunting community.


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Forum Topic Discussions:


How often should I use my cow call?, I am new to the sport of bow hunting elk and my question is how often should I use my cow calls?

295 yard kill with a Kimber Montana 325 WSM, by Don from Dallas: My ELk did not even twitch once. He was dead when he hit the ground.

325 WSM is worth considering, Palmer Lake,CO: I believe that the .325 WSM is the ultimate elk caliber...

30-30 for Elk? : I have a 30 30 with 170 grain round nose bullet. Will this work to shoot an elk ?

(More comments about Best Elk Rifle below)

Submissions

2013 elk bow hunt around Pagosa Springs: by Bobby (Little Rock , Arkansas), looking for someone to join my DIY hunt!...

Unique Elk Talk by Idaho Steve (Hailey, Id ), In the middle of the night, a herd of elk came traveling through the drainage and right past my tent...

Smelly Elk Areas? by Jimmy (New Mexico), I've come across many areas that just stink of elk, literally. I have heard two somewhat contradictory stories...

DIY Gear List Must Have's! by Craig (Florida) "Here are some of the items I use on my DIY hunts in the CO backcountry..."

Elk and Deer Hunting and Mountain Bikes, by Skip Shepherd (Tucson, AZ)~ At 67 I am thinking a lot about investing in a mountain bike to get back into remote areas...


Solo archery hunting -- tips for calling/set up?, by Idaho Steve (Hailey, ID )~ I hunt by myself a lot...I'd love to hear your thoughts on strategic set-ups when solo hunting and calling.

Non- Lead Bullets for Elk?, by Dave, Elk Hunting Tips.Net (Garrison, MT)~ What do you ballistics guys think about the use of non-lead bullets for elk? According to this story...

Rage Broadheads by Chris, ...my buddy gave me a rage practice tip and when I shot it you could not pick out the broadhead from the field points. I was sold...

Recent Submissions:

Finally filled the freezer..., Colorado Rockies~ "I was bummed when I got to the property and no elk, nor any hoof prints in the snow. ...I pulled each of the elk into shade then started gutting..."


Wounded Veteran Elk hunts, by Joshua FL), I am a disabled veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and have always dreamed of hunting elk. I am posting this to see if anyone would know of any elk hunts free to disabled vets....

First Elk with a Bow, by Ryan H. (Colorado), ...Finally after many years of hunting with a bow "I got er did"!

First Elk!, by Tater (Sheridan, Arkansas) I took the advice I received from this website and was successful…I wanted to Thank You and Your Forum and the folks that share on here for the knowledge and information that helped me find an elk I was quite happy with.


Questions

Any success in Unit 14?, by: Dave (MI), "I'm planning on doing a DIY in Unit 14 for 2012..."


Share Elk Hunting Secrets


Bugle in Herd bulls, by Swiltbank (Az) The key to calling in a herd bull is to get into his bedding grounds and threaten his herd. Start off sounding like…


Best Big Game Rifle?

Best Rifle Caliber?, by Buglemup (Superior, MT), "I've been reading what people have been writing about rifle calibers and here is what 16 years of guiding elk has taught me."

7mm Remington Magnum, by Dean (Helena, MT. USA) I use my Liberty Ruger M77, 7mm Rem. Mag. for antelope, deer, elk... Comment: "What do you guys think about the idea of hunting elk with a 270? I also know a guy who kills elk with a 243."


338 Marlin Express, "Light, fast shooting, hard hitting, manageable recoil, and for a lever gun - very accurate."


Guns I like for Elk, by Mountain Walker (Kootenays east B.C. Canada),"I think the gun you shoot Elk with should be one you shoot a lot with... "


.35 Remington, by Bill Smith "...my .35 Rem appears to have dropped a medium deer flawlessly, but I now have serious doubts as to its capability to take an elk."


Arizona Elk Hunting

Where to hunt in Az unit 3B?, by Cliffjumper (Tucson, Az) ~ I got a late bull muzzle loader hunt in Arizona unit 3b. Does anyone know how to hunt bulls in the late season?...

First time elk hunter hunting Arizona unit 6A , by Rob Marchio (Omaha, Ne)~ I'm a first time elk hunter hunting Arizona's unit 6A. I'm planning on staying in the Pine Grove campground...


Elk Hunting Colorado

Help needed for 1st DIY Hunt w/Son, by Patrick (Parker, CO), "I was looking for some advice on my 1st DIY hunt for 2014 in CO with my 13 yr old son. I have countless hrs going over stats, topo maps & Google Earth"

Elk Hunting Colorado in 2013, By William (Midland, TX) "I am planning an elk hunt next year in Colorado and I wanted to know if hunting Gunnison National Forest..."

Unit 60 Elk 4th Rifle Season Nov 13-17 Either Sex 2013, By Chester "...Any general advice about the unit would be appreciated!"


Idaho Elk Hunting


Elk Hunting Idaho Unit 8 8A 11, This is my first year seriously trying to track down some elk. Is there anyone that has hunted in any of these units and can give me some friendly advice? Mitchell, Moscow Idaho

Elk Hunting Pocatello by Cameron (Pocatello) Where is the best place to elk hunt around Pocatello, Idaho? I'm a student at ISU and I'm looking for somewhere around here to hunt next season.

How is the elk hunting in unit 30A in Idaho?, by Terry (Richland Center, WI) Has anyone archery elk hunted in unit 30A in Idaho? What can you tell me about the area?


Elk Hunting In Montana

Hunting in Western Montana, by Mike A. (Alabama)

I did not draw a tag for Missouri breaks where I have hunted in the past. Having to start over and try western Montana.


New Mexico Elk Hunting

New Mexico Unit 49, by Silas (Los Alamos, NM)

If anyone has tips on areas to start scouting, I'd really appreciate it.

First Elk Hunt First Elk Hunt, by Big "R" (NM)

I finally got drawn for a late elk hunt in Unit 28, north of Road 506 and south of the boundary line of the Lincoln National Forest...


Elk Hunting Nevada

Cow elk in Nevada's unit 222:

"Any good places known in unit 222?"

Northeast Nevada Early Elk hunt, by John (Carson City,NV)

"Any suggestions on what areas I may see some signs of elk?"


Questions from Novice Hunters

Retired USMC MSgt Needs Advice, by Ken Wing USMCRET (Bealeton, Va)


Big Game Recipes

Popcorn VenisonPopcorn Venison with Maple Syrup?

Elk or Venison Steaks Grilled to Perfection Here's how to turn them into steakhouse steaks!

Spice-Crusted Grilled Venison Roast Recipe This Spice-Crusted, Grilled Venison Roast recipe works great for any red meat roasts, including elk, deer or beef roast...

Corned Elk Recipe You can easily make corned venison and elk, moose or corned beef from these instructions...


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