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Joined: 02/20/2012
Posts: 7
Choosing an outfitter: COA only?

I am sure this has been covered many times before, but I am new to the forum and new into researching outfitters for a elk hunt.  I am looking for an outfitter to use for a fully guided Elk hunt in 2014-2015.  I have not yet picked a particular region/unit, but am starting to contact outfitters to see what they offer and get references.  

My question is kind of simple, but I am sure the answer is not. 

When looking for a Colorado outfitter, should I only consider the ones that are in the Colorado Outfitters Association?  It seems that the overall percentage of outfitters in the association is low compared to the total number of Colorado registered/licensed outfitters?  Are the outfitters in the association any better in terms of quality of hunt, success rates, GMU, camp, etc?  or is belonging to the association more for marketing and advertising? 

While I am not exactly asking for recommendations for outfitters, I would certainly welcome any.  There are many to choose from, and without experiencing any with past hunts, the choice is difficult.  I know I have my homework cut out for me.

 

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Joined: 02/20/2012
Posts: 7
I don't know if it really

I don't know if it really matters for this post, but I am non-resident, group of 4 hunters, looking to hunt 1st rifle if possible.

I have also started looking into RFW hunts based on a recommendation in another thread.

SGM
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Location: Canon City, Colorado
Joined: 08/13/2011
Posts: 900
FLBoy, Welcome to BGH and

FLBoy, Welcome to BGH and hope you stick around and share your knowledge and experiences. First let me tell you not to waste your time looking into RFW. RFW is only open to Colorado residents so since you wrote you are a non-res it will do you no good.

 

 As for a guide I cannot help much as I never used one in Colorado other than for my mountain lion hunt. Not sure limiting yourself to only guides in the association will help or not as I do not know the criteria to be in the association.  If you go to page 6 of the 2012 big game hunting book it has 2 links about outfitters. I suggest you go to these links and read what they have to say and go from there. I hope this helps somewhat and don't hesitate to ask questions. Your hunt will cost a petty penny so make sure you get the best hunt for your money.

 

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Location: Colorado
Joined: 03/10/2002
Posts: 1787
Being a member of the COA

Being a member of the COA does not make an outfitter worse or better, they simply pay some dues to be included. 

One place you can check to see if an outfitter has had any citations is with the Colorado regulatory and licensing agency DORA. You can input an outfitter's name or better yet their license number and see if they've been in trouble. Every outfitter in Colorado must be licensed through the state, if they can't or won't provide their number, there's a problem and it's illegal for anyone to outfit without a license. 

https://www.doradls.state.co.us/alison.php
pick outfitters from the dropdown list 

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Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 3881
Just so that everyone knows

Just so that everyone knows the RFW program in the Colorado draw system is only available to residents of Colorado.  However the ranches that are enrolled in the program offer hunts through guides and outfitters to non residents.  What I suggested in the other thread is to use the RFW list to obtain the web site of the outfitter that is doing the guided hunts on the RFW properties. 

As for choosing a outfitter you need to do a lot of homework.  Figure out what you want in a hunt, decide on your hunter to guide ratio on the hunt.  Do you want a total wilderness type of hunt out of a tent and sleeping bags, or do you want to be pampered at night with large meals and recreation and a queen size bet to sleep in?  Check out the outfitters web site, then once you have it narrowed down to a few start to make phone calls and follow up the phone calls with emails.  Get the names and email addresses of hunters from a few seasons.  Then once you have their emails send them a email telling them of your intentions and ask if it would be OK for you to contact them by phone to talk to them and what would be a good time to call them.  When I did that I sent individual emails to each person on the list and not a bulk email.  I received emails back from all but one of the hunters and they all were glad to talk to me and told me to call them back if I had any other questions.  The price you pay for the hunt should not be the main thing to pick a hunt on but one of many things.  Also decide of what size of animal you are after.  If the outfitter is in a general season tag area don't expect to see 400 pt bulls hiding behind each tree but 250-350 pt bull might be the norm. 

Most outfitters will be happy to give you answers to your questions but don't expect them to answer your phone calls or emails the same day.  Most of them have other jobs during the off season but they should get back to you within a couple of days. 

 

One thing that I should add is create some folders for all of your correspondence.  One for you emails and perhaps a folder on your computer.  Also one for all the hard copy information that you get form them.  Also keep a log of all correspondence along with questions and answers that you get from them or references, just so that you don't repeat yourself.      

Topgun 30-06's picture
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Location: Allegan, MI
Joined: 12/11/2010
Posts: 695
Glad you posted that because

Glad you posted that because a NR can hunt any of those RFW ranches if he has the money to do the guided hunts they offer.  It is the public draw that only allows residents free permits to hunt those ranches and that's how they get into that program to begin with because the public draw and access is mandatory under the program.

Joined: 06/20/2011
Posts: 33
I would highly recomend

I would highly recomend Biggerstaff Outfitters. I have done business with Steve Biggerstaff and have seen his operation and it looks top notch to me. Just check out his website.

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