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Archery Drop Camp Outfitter Recommendations?

Wondering if anyone has personal experience or recommendations on specific outfitters for a 2012 archery elk hunt? We have a group of guys with some elk experience - looking to go during the bugle, do-it-yourself, drop camp, etc. Open to any of the western states, but probably prefer Colorado or New Mexico. We are not trophy hunters (this would be my first elk), though we would welcome the opportunity for a big one. As a whole, we are very accustomed to doing our own thing, and wish to expand our horizons with elk. I appreciate any advice you can give...

exbiologist's picture
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no, but

I'd first decide on where I was going, not just which state, but also which area.  That will significantly reduce the number of choices you have and should make your job a little easier.

buckykm1's picture
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NM

The odds of drawing in NM are slim, as said above, figure out which State first.

Kevin

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Thanks guys...

We were eyeballing a trip to NM but the price tag just went up a grand and the outfitter just imposed some more size limits that have us wondering what to do? It'll be over 4K for a drop camp hunt by the time we're done, which is getting expensive for this student on a budget.

I'm a fishing guide up here in Minnesota (bigfishhuntdotcom), but love to hunt even more than I love to fish. It's sort of ironic that I'm a guide, but all I have ever done my entire life is do-it-yourself trips - and I've been successful at it - for whitetails, muleys, bear, moose, antelope, coues deer, turkey, javelina, waterfowl, small game, all kinds of fish species, etc.

At the risk of sounding lame...

I put myself back in grad school at the age of 46. Classes and homework are pretty demanding with everything else that is going on.  I've done some research on the elk thing, but it's pretty overwhelming, and the time crunch is getting to me. This is why I decided to jump on a couple of elk hunting forums and see if I could get some input to give me the faster track. It's not typical that I "let someone else do the work for me", but I've done plenty of helping and advice giving in my day on other fishing and hunting forums, shows, seminars, etc. This is a time when the tables have sort of turned, and I could really use some help!

Colorado makes the most sense - would you agree? I've always heard that it has the biggest elk herd, over the counter archery tags, and tons of public land opportunity. I've also read that it has the most hunters.

My cronies and I are not afraid of work, and generally will do WHATEVER IT TAKES to be successful. We've beat ourselves down on hunting trips so many times (to the point of saying we'll never do THAT again), but somehow we keep coming back (smile) - just somewhere else!

We'd love something remote so we can get away from the vast majority of the hunters while getting into some good elk numbers with some unpressured bulls. Some flatter country would be nice (that's why we originally looked at NM), but we can do rugged too. I'd be tickled to call in a raghorn and shoot it with my bow - that would be an awesome introduction into elk hunting.

So lets say Colorado. Any advice from there as to units, outfitters, etc.?

I appreciate it... 

exbiologist's picture
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more resources

I'm not going to suggest a unit, but I will point you to some additional resources.  Because you want to do a backcountry hunt, take a look at this map and the % of wilderness in each unit.

http://wildlife.state.co.us/SiteCollectionDocuments/DOW/Education/pdf/HunterOutreach/BigGameGMUMapWildAreas.pdf

Now compare that to the either sex OTC archery map:

http://wildlife.state.co.us/SiteCollectionDocuments/DOW/Education/pdf/HunterEducation/OTCEitherSexElkArchery1.pdf

Before you go to the stats page, realize that units with the most wilderness will usually have the lowest success rates due to the physical difficulties in getting at the elk.  The vast majority of hunters are not backcountry hunters, but nearly everyone who comes onto a forum claims they are or will be trying it.

So, there's a couple of ways to look at the stats.  If you're staying with the wilderness-heavy units, hopefully you have a couple in mind by now, then look at the past 3-5 years of archery only success rates.  Don't worry about rifle or muzzleloader stats, once again, that's a product of access and visibility as much anything.  It doesn't reflect elk density very accurately, you can compute that separately.

Another way to look at the stats is to throw out the wilderness stuff, and just find some of the better success units with low hunter numbers that you can either draw with however many points you have (assuming 0, and there are limited units that can be drawn with 0 points) or are OTC.  Then to narrow things down, take a look at those places and determine if you can get into the backcountry there(not necessarily federally designated wilderness).  In some places you may be able to find nearby horse rentals or an outfitter willing to drop you off.  Some places you might be able to find a way to camp 1-2 miles off the road (which can be enough to eliminate a lot of pressure) in an area without too much elevation gain or loss, so you can do it by foot.  

Once you set a few parameters your choices will quickly narrow down.

 

 

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