First Time Elk Hunt

Thread starter #1

erhunter

Senior Member
Hello All,
Looking at booking a first time Elk Hunt in Delores CO next fall. Prices w this outfitter are 2K$ October for self guided hunt 4K$November guided. Meals included. Tags and flights and packaging and taxidermy are not. Guided hunt only available in Nov hunt
(when bulls are reportedly not calling)

They’re reporting 30% success rate for self guided hunts (where they give you advice on location to setup) and 50% for guided.

Anyone have experience w elk hunts in the fall in Colorado? Any general advice or opinion on the quoted Hunt is appreciated. I’ve never hunted elk before.
 
I haven't hunted there, but I have been applying and building points. I am planning to do a DIY hunt on public land.

If I were going guided, I would come up with a checklist of questions to ask the outfitter:
1) Is it an OTC tag? (I believe they have OTC for 2nd (Oct.) and 3rd (Nov.) rifle seasons)
2) If I need to apply in the draw, does the outfitter apply for me?
3) Public land or private (or both)
4) How will I get out an elk?
5) What kind of weather should I prepare for?

I would also ask for references of past hunters to contact.

You could try asking on Hunt talk forum , these guys have great advice and some locals may chime in about the specific outfitter.

Good luck! They say western hunting is addictive!
 
I would ask for references, specifically those that did NOT harvest elk. I would also want to know if it is private land being hunted and how much pressure.
 
A friend of mine did a similar hunt in that area. He had never elk hunted before but took the self guided route anyways two years in a row. The first year he heard one bugle and saw no elk. The second year he didn’t hear or see an elk. He still says he wishes he had put both years budgets together and went on a fully guided hunt. He said that he got the feeling that the guides took clients to the places where the elk were and the self guided clients got sent everywhere else.

If this is going to your one elk hunt I would at least go fully guided. That price is on the low side for fully guided.

If you want to make a habit of elk hunting and doing it on a budget I would probably just go diy instead of paying for a self guided hunt. Chances are once you go you will want to make a habit of it.
 

godogs57

Senior Member
Be very careful when considering “success rates” when quoted as a percentage to you!

To many guides a “success” in this case translates to a SHOT OPPORTUNITY. Not a dead bull on the ground. To further complicate matters, what denotes an actual shot opportunity? It means different things to various guides/outfitters. Does it mean that he got you within a hundred yards of a feeding bull unaware of your presence? IE: no rush to shoot. OR, does it mean you had your “opportunity” when you busted a herd out of a canyon 600 yards away and they are hauling butt for the next zip code?

I’d ask, “What does your 50% success on guided hunts mean actually? How many hunters did you guide this past season? Did half of them actually have a dead bull on the ground?” An easy way to inflate success rates is to count every sighting as an opportunity. Then you think you’ll be seeing bull elk behind every tree...which ain’t the case.

Those are the realities of dealing with outfitters and why DWBMontana’s post above is dead on.

Another reality: if your hunt is on Public land and not private, count on seeing every Tom, Dick and Harry out there....CO public land hunts are crowded.

Lots of great info posted here...read and study it carefully.
 

godogs57

Senior Member
A friend of mine did a similar hunt in that area. He had never elk hunted before but took the self guided route anyways two years in a row. The first year he heard one bugle and saw no elk. The second year he didn’t hear or see an elk. He still says he wishes he had put both years budgets together and went on a fully guided hunt. He said that he got the feeling that the guides took clients to the places where the elk were and the self guided clients got sent everywhere else.

If this is going to your one elk hunt I would at least go fully guided. That price is on the low side for fully guided.

If you want to make a habit of elk hunting and doing it on a budget I would probably just go diy instead of paying for a self guided hunt. Chances are once you go you will want to make a habit of it.
Posted after my comments. NC your observations are dead on...and very common sense. They are not going to put their self guided guys ($) in the best spots and their guided clients ($$$) in the not so best spots...it doesn’t work that way.

Guided elk hunts are one of those things where you really do get what you pay for in most cases. The costs the OP stated are very much low end prices.

Elk hunting is my cocaine, so to speak. I went on my trip of a lifetime in the early 90’s...my one and only elk hunt....or so I thought. Driving back to GA all I could think about is “I’ve got to find a way to get back here”. One time out there and you’ll be hooked.
 
I do not want to hijack your thread, but I will tell you this, I lease a 11,000 ranch here in Montana, I have leased to 3 groups of 4 bowhunters during archery season, it was $2500 a hunter for a week,thus, $10,000, they have the ranch all to themselves, no guiding, they provide their own food and lodging and licenses of course. I believe this is one of the best areas of Montana for elk, even the country. I know outfitter bordering on the west side charges over $9000 per hunter guided.
 
Something you may also want to consider is putting in for tags in a limited draw unit some where like New Mexico. New Mexico doesn’t have preference points so you are just as likely to be drawn as any other non-resident. New Mexico also makes you more likely to get drawn if you have a contract with an outfitter before you put in for tags. Then if you don’t get drawn you can still go with the over the counter tag hunt in Colorado.
 
It really is in your best interest to save a few more years and just do it right with a reputable outfitter. Especially on your first elk hunt. If you are going more for the experience I'd go the drop camp route. If you do look for a drop camp try to find one on private land that backs up to public.

I have elk hunted with an outfitter and DIY in Colorado. With the outfitter we saw elk everyday and I was able to take a large 6x6 on the second day and it was worth every penny to me for that experience. My public land elk experience was great but i also went home without seeing an elk.

Another thought to break you into western hunting is going after a mule deer. Your chances IMO are much higher on deer than an elk for DIY public land.

Good luck
 

shotgun

Senior Member
I hunted in Western Colorado in October on $5000 hunt. When it was all over it cost me $7000 and I got taken BIG TIME. Remember you are buying a hunt not a ELK.
 
DIY on CO public land can be done for $1,500 all inclusive (tag, travel, food, etc.), just go several times and figure it out. There are lots of units with >25% success on either sex, with 12 to 15% on bulls. There are several unit's/seasons that fit this bill that require no points to draw. If you treat it like a process, rather than an event, you'll have more fun and what you kill will mean more to you.
 

Big7

Senior Member
I would take at least one back up rifle. If you don't have two in Elk caliber, I'd borrow one.

It would be bad to go through all that hassle just to find out something brok-ted.
 
Thread starter #14
Thanks for all the advice y’all. I’d really like to hear the elk bugle. So I may just save up points and try to do it guided year after next. Or learn as much as possible and DIY in a couple years.
 
Thanks for all the advice y’all. I’d really like to hear the elk bugle. So I may just save up points and try to do it guided year after next. Or learn as much as possible and DIY in a couple years.
If you want to hear bugling I would go in archery or maybe muzzleloader. They are mostly done by October when the first rifle season starts, we didn't hear any bugling until the last day of the season despite plenty of elk in the area.
 
I hear bugling here in Montana even opening week of general rifle usually, fact is, even a couple years they have been as vocal or more so then earlier September, not all cows are bred their 1st cycle, and competition for remaining cows can be good.
 
Hello All,
Looking at booking a first time Elk Hunt in Delores CO next fall. Prices w this outfitter are 2K$ October for self guided hunt 4K$November guided. Meals included. Tags and flights and packaging and taxidermy are not. Guided hunt only available in Nov hunt
(when bulls are reportedly not calling)

They’re reporting 30% success rate for self guided hunts (where they give you advice on location to setup) and 50% for guided.

Anyone have experience w elk hunts in the fall in Colorado? Any general advice or opinion on the quoted Hunt is appreciated. I’ve never hunted elk before.
when you shoot elk holler run toward the truck
 

cam88

Senior Member
I've been looking to do a DIY hunt in the next couple of years out there. All this info helps out a bunch. I plan on just doing the OTC tag route.
 
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