I'm desperate for an elk hunt!

by David

My neighbor down the road that taunts me

My neighbor down the road that taunts me

I'd prefer the fair-chase places like colorado, Montana, Utah or Arizona, but money just seems to be the big killer. I did the DIY approach in '07 and saw one elk between 3 guys. One guy had a heart condition that limited his waking distances, so it didn't work out quite well for us. Couldn't really make the most of it. I want to go back but it would probably be alone. Friends don't have the money, dad might be able to go, but the cost alone can range from $3500 to $7000 (add in processing and shipping the meat back home, and transportation (whether by truck or plane, there's another $1000 - $1500.

So I started saving. Have about $2200 saved so far (which covers 3-5 days hunt, processing, meals and lodging, + another $600 for the mount) and had been planning on shooting a 5x5 in a 300 ac. high fence enclosure on a 1600ac. ranch - 40 minutes from my house.

Can't bring myself to make a decision. The more it costs to go out west, the more my wife thinks I'm nuts (and we really need to pay off some bills). Desperately want to go west but no "guarantee" on getting an elk, even with a guide. And then she'd really be mad! Close to home and guaranteed sounds nice and convenient, but high fences? And convenience? I'd like to camp out and have it be somewhat challenging.

We've also got the State elk hunt (draw) and I'll have one preference point this year. But the chances of drawing 1 of about 350 tags out of 40-50,000 applications...not exactly good odds. And it's another 8 months away.

Also, I went on a Canadian white tail hunt last year. Sounds great, huh!? We saw 5 deer between 6 guys, all small no shooters - till the last day rolled around. They (not me) shot 3 small 7 and 8 pts. Could've got those at home.

So 2 trips and $4500 later, no elk, no deer.

I don't need a huge trophy, just a nice 5x5 will do. And hopefully I can regain my sanity (and maybe a little pride) back.

I've been battling with the this for more than a year now. I just started bow hunting and I'm hoping that getting my first white tail with a bow under my belt will at least lesson the elk craving I have going on. I think I know a little better how drug addicts and smokers feel now.

I'm 42, my wife and I are trying to foster/adopt kids, so I doubt I will realistically have an opportunity to go again, if I don't do something soon.

Looking for advice, please...

Comments for I'm desperate for an elk hunt!

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Nov 12, 2017
Colorado elk isn’t easy
by: Anonymous

If you want a true Colorado elk hunting experience plan on getting skunked. It’s not a petting zoo. Every elk you get is a trophy. They have a nice shop in gunnison that sells big bull mounts. Best part you don’t even need to hunt! Make up an amazing story and tell it to all the want-a-be yuppies. It takes A lot of time and work to be successful. Some of my best hunts ended with nothing. Also unless you plan on killing your self and ending up with spoiled meat be careful where you shoot them. You can easily ruin a good hunting trip. There is less oxygen at these high altitudes and big mountains. People hunt Colorado because it’s hard! This makes the reward even better when you get your elk. 😉 good luck

Oct 16, 2010
Good Elk Hunting places/info
by: Tim/Ohio

I have taken 3 elk (2 cows/1 5x5 bull), have always hunted public or leased land and have never paid out more than $1500 (including Colorado out-of-state lic of $500+). Where? Who? For an excellent cow elk hunt (for the meat and the experience) check out Mule Deer Specialists website in Craig, CO. Mike offers reasonable guided hunts for Elk, Mule Deer and Antelope all on private lands. His "late season cow elk hunt", anytime in December, is a 3 day hunt for only $600, plus lic, lodging, processing, meals and transportation. It's all easy walking, mostly in meadows, around 7000' elevation.
For a great public land elk or mule deer hunt, check out Beaver Springs Trespass Hunt website in Craig. CO. These hunts are priced "per group", with up to 8 hunters accommodated per group, at $3000. This includes lodging and private land access to 2 million acres of White River National Forest.
If you have any problems finding these sights or would like more info, you can contact me at tramsey4@frontier.com. Hope this helps!

Jun 29, 2010
Me To
by: elkmaster101

somewhere down the fence the grass is always greener , for sure.
though I have made it my commitment to hunt elk every year,
the desire to spend countless hours climbing and sitting in the mountains watching the world spin under my feet...
No wonder people call me elkmaster101
still learning.
know a lot of it, but not all of it.
Can say I'v been there, but there are a lot of the done thats, that have yet to cross my path.

Oct 29, 2009
Still desperate...
by: Dave

Amen to that! Thank you CO!

Michigander, my dad used to go to WY every other year with a group of guys - till I got old enough to go. We finally did plan a trip when I was 17 and it was the most memorable trip I've ever had. We were hunting muledeer (and were successful), but we also got to see a herd of 13 elk walk out into a field grazing for about an hour.

Unfortunately, aside from my dad, I don't know any guys well enough that feel the way I do about elk, could afford it, or take the time off for an elk hunt in CO. Presently, I have the money and I could take the time next year, assuming I can hold on to the money till then:) I'm thinking that if I do go, I'll be going it alone. Which doesn't sound "horrible" but would prefer to go with a few good guys.

Please drop me a line at larsen67@charter.net
I've got a few questions about DIY and since you're from MI...


Oct 29, 2009
Elk Hunting near Almont Co.
by: Michigander

I am amazed at how many of these comments are Michiganders wanting to be elk hunting in Co. I started hunting in the Almont area about 8 years ago with relatives. We make the trip an every other year adventure. We try to have 4 to 5 guys. Costs are not bad for a trip like this. We drive from Mi towing a large trailer. We haul all our gear which includes our tent ( an old military tent picked up at a garage sale ) stove, cooking equipment etc.
We split the costs of gas, food, one night stay in a motel when we get there before setting up camp, etc and the costs total about $1,500 even with the bull tag at $500 of that. It is 28 hours of driving and some hard work setting up but it is worth it.
We have different age and ability in our groups so the old guys post at spots they can get to with the truck and us "young guys" around 50 some hike up the mountain. We have had some success in the area. If your willing to harvest a cow your odds here greatly improve. There are some great mule deer bucks in the area but you will need about 5+ preference points to draw that tag.
I am thinking of trying to convince the group to make this an every year trip. I miss it on the off year.
If you can get a group together of guys you can get along with and all have a desire to elk hunt and have a great camp your desire can come true.
Good luck in your quest. It is not as hard to do or as high cost as you may think. It does take work and planning to get it done but it is well worth it in the end.
Also thank goodness that there is still a place like Co that we can do this if we want. The tag is over the counter and you can camp almost anywhere. Thank you Co for the opportunity.

Oct 27, 2009
Small world
by: Dave

Wow. Small world! If she ever needs anything, or if you ever need me to do something for you here, please don't hesitate to ask. I'd be glad to help out.

On the 2nd to last day of the hunt, we found some guys (mountain men type) camping at the base of Round Mountain, south of Crested Butte. They had taken 4 or 5 nice bulls from the back side of the mountain in the "saddle". Next day, dad dropped me off at the public access off the main highway and I started the long hike around to the backside. At one point I could see an open area near some aspen just over a small ridge on the side of the mountain. I crept up slowly, wind in my face and peeked over some rocks expecting to see some bedded elk. No elk. But I could smell them. Thought they had been bedded there overnight and were long gone. Last year I read that if you smell elk, keep walking. I didn't. I turned back and continued around to the back side of the mountain (large hill, really). By the time I got to the backside, I only had enough time to walk back to be picked up. One of the many lessons I've learned since returning home. Won't make that mistake again. Chalk one up for the elk!
But overall, it was a very nice trip. Caught a nice 20" brown on my 2nd cast out there, and a kokanee salmon.

From what I remember the '07 harvest wasn't all that great. I'll try to keep tabs on the herds and maybe I'll end up back there. At least I'll know the area fairly well.

Ironically, when I got back home, I met a guy through work whose brother worked at the same resort we stayed at, Three Rivers Resort. REALLY small world! Maybe there's a reason I'm connecting with all these people:)

Take care, and again, if there's anything I can do for you here in TC, let me know.


Oct 26, 2009
just a couple more things
by: Tim in Colorado

I actually hunt not too far from Almont in the Fossil Ridge Wilderness Area. You are in a good area if you decide to go back there when you're ready. Just keep on eye out on the next couple of winters; there was quite a bit of winter kill during the winter/spring of '07/'08. This especially affected deer (more so than elk).

My mom lives in Traverse and my in-laws are in Gaylord. Nice country!! Take care and again, good luck!

Oct 26, 2009
Exactly what I needed...
by: Dave

Colorado Tim,

I can't tell you how much I appreciate your advice. So many things I did not even consider. You obviously put a lot of thought into your response. Thank you very much! I will put it to good use. I've already made a few contacts with some Colorado residents that are more than happy to share their knowledge of the better areas to hunt (elkheaven.com). I'll keep building on this and hopefully I'll amass enough insight to be successful when I do finally make it out there. When I was out there in '07 (hunted around Almont area), I really did not have the "fever" or the appeciation for where I was or what I was doing - until after I got back. Sometimes I really hate hindsight.

I will continue researching my future Colorado elk hunt, and hopefully I will be able to refer back to these posts in a year or two and post a few pictures.

Until then, I will keep putting in my application for the MI elk hunt and be looking for all the comments, advice, testimonials and thoughts from anyone that cares to share.

Thanks again,

p.s. I'm in the Traverse City area.

Oct 26, 2009
you're not alone
by: Tim in Colorado

There are many people out there with the desire you have. Don't sweat it. Here's my advice...for what it's worth.

I say stay home and hunt in Michigan and enjoy that experience while saving money for the next couple years. I was a wildlife manager in Michigan and am well aware of the vast number of hunting opportunities that exist; world-class white-tailed deer hunting, ruffed grouse/woodcock, black bear, waterfowl...there are lots of things you can enjoy.

Use this time wisely. It sounds like you spent an awful lot of money on recent hunts. You can do a DIY hunt out west for A LOT less than what you might think. One of the ways you can use your time wisely is to do some shopping...at garage sales, on the internet, etc. Start shopping for some used gear that you can use for camping and hunting. Sounds like you're gathering quite a family crew (i.e. 'pack horses' for the future ;)). Why not take them camping? You don't have to buy a $1500 wall tent; you can get something like the Springbar tents (awesome, by the way), a used Coleman stove from a garage sale...you get the idea. This would be for a road-side camp. You can get by a little cheaper yet if you go with backpacking gear to pack in; the tents are cheaper but still need to be high-quality.

Staying in a motel ("lodging") is awful expense in travel time and money. You'll have a better experience being 'out there' anyway. Over the span of a couple years, you can gather your equipment (check this site to see what others are using and recommending), take the family camping to try out and get totally familiar with your gear, and save money for your eventual trip out west.

To get used to backpacking or more of a wilderness type of hunting experience, you could have a great trip during deer season in the U.P., or even in the larger chunks of state/national forest land in the northern lower. I don't know where you live, but there are a lot of great places up there to backpack in, set up a camp, be all by yourself (away from 99% of the other hunters), get used to wilderness, use your gear, make improvements, etc.

You can also use the time to call foresters and biologists in the western states you are interested in, do on-line 'scouting', study maps, etc...and really pin point where you want to go. Believe me, this well-spent time would really pay off for you. I think if you do these things, you'll have a much better experience, a better chance at success, and you'll save money in the process. Good luck!!

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