Looking at two states for future elk hunts and will add a third next year when I get the Hunter Ed requirements out of the way.
AZ for a trophy elk, start buying your Bonus Points early.
WY for a represenative size for the wall and meat.
CO for meat and represenative size once the Hunter Ed requirements are taken care of. Colorado offers the best opportunities I think, and the most elk, but I've never had to have a Hunter Ed course in other places due to my age so I've never bothered with it. That's changing as my opportunities to hunt become more frequent as I get older and get more discretionary income.
Start buying those Bonus Points now if you think you may want to hunt a species later! Some states let you buy Bonus Points, at minimal cost, and other make you pay the NR Fee for a license as well. That can make it costly unless you can find some other species to hunt in that state every year. AZ is one that makes you buy a license to buy a Bonus Point. It's a good thing coyotes are in season year 'round there. I'll have to look deeper at CO and see if I need a NR License there to buy a point.
If you have kids that you want to hunt with you in the future start buying them points as early as you can. I think a great gift would be a bunch of points for a hard to draw tag like Bighorn. What better way to tell your kids you love them then to start buying them tags for a hunt they may not otherwise consider until later in life? Start buying them tags early and maybe even buy continue to buy points for them as adults so they can be set up to hunt the animals that are financially out of their reach? By the time some of us get financially able to hunt something like a "once in a lifetime" bighorn we are too old to do so. Let your kids do it as a way to share the love of hunting and hunt through them.
I wish my parents had been hunters and had taken advantage of this opportunity.