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.
Combine topo and aerial photo maps of your hunting areas to do some computer trip scouting. Here is an easy, cheap or even free way to view and print maps.
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.
Below are links to help you find an outfitter in the area you want to hunt.
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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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