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Joined: 11/24/2008
Posts: 2
Elk Bear Cougar Hunting

i am planning to plan a trip for me and two-three buddies to go hunting in the Rockies areas this next year. We are all form alabama and have never hunted this area, and i am looking for some tips on some questions?

should we go guided. we are all experienced hunters but like i said that is alabama and we don't know an awful lot about the area. i think we would rather it alone, but without atvs or horses we may not get to the right spots.

how do we know the right spots?

what is the most likely animal we will be able to kill?

how much will it cost to hunt on public lands?

we are on kind of a budget because we are still young so what seems to be the best option?

RUFFNECK's picture
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Location: PUEBLO, CO
Joined: 11/24/2007
Posts: 145
Elk Bear Cougar Hunting

Well what state are you looking to hunt? I would recommend to dyi sure you might have better luck with an outfitter but i think you guys would appreciate your hunt in the rockies more that way! get in shape and hoof it leave the atv's at home!! prices will vary by state

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Joined: 11/24/2008
Posts: 2
Elk Bear Cougar Hunting

not much preference on location but would like to be in that area. i think we would like to do it ourselves, but if the probability is very low then we may get that guide.

you got any more info on the subject i like to hear as much as possible

RUFFNECK's picture
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Location: PUEBLO, CO
Joined: 11/24/2007
Posts: 145
Elk Bear Cougar Hunting

well i would still recomend to diy if you are looking for to kill an elk, colorado has the bigges heard in the U.S. we dont have as many big bulls as some of the other states but they are definately out there! our deer heard is rebounding nicely and there are plenty of people taking quality bucks now.

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Location: gulfport MS
Joined: 12/28/2007
Posts: 52
Elk Bear Cougar Hunting

Hey you hit Idaho unit 27 b tag on the nose if you want you can also throw in a mule deer as well. The hunt is rifle during sept rutting season, in the frank church. And there are many outfitters, but you may look into a nice drop camp depending on the amount of money you want to spend. I hunt idaho now by preference, i hunted utah for 20 yrs and the DWR in utah has become way to money hungry and unflexible in there ways, UT needs a big dose of humility IMHO. But Idaho really caters to non res hunters, you can talk to people who really care about making your expeirence great. The wolves are taking a toll on hunting succsess. I will now be hunting MT or CO until idaho can get the wolves under control. MT folks seem real friendly and seem to also be very hospitable to out of staters. You may think that this is no big deal how you are treated by the locals and fish and game but if somthing goes wrong, witch they always do you want people who will work with you instead of turning up their noses.

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Joined: 01/22/2007
Posts: 120
Elk Bear Cougar Hunting

There are numerous cost that go into a hunt and deciding where you want to go.

How are you going to travel to the area? If you are driving from Alabama, you probably want to stop in Colorado vs MT,UT or ID. It will save you a day each direction on your drive. So you can spend more time hunting and less time driving. And you will save on the fuel cost. If you fly, It's probably cheaper to fly into a major airport like Salt Lake or Denver vs some of the smaller regional airports like Jackson Hole or Helena. You can shop the airfares online.

Once at an airport you will have to rent a vehicle. Any of the resort community airports have SUV, They rent them during the winter ski seasons and summer tourist like them for the drives in the mountains. But they will cost more than renting an economy car. You can then drive to the hunting area and camp or pack into a camp area. You can often drive a car to a guides office, but you will probably need a truck or SUV to get to serious trail head or elk camp.

Some states have over counter tags, Others you will have to draw for the tags. Also some states over lap the hunt dates and some don't.. Meaning if you want to hunt both Elk and Deer, you may have to stay longer. For example Utah's general Season Elk begins the 1st Saturday of Oct, and runs for 10 days. The general season deer hunt begins the 3rd saturday and runs for 10 days. So if you wanted to hunt both species you would be in Utah for 20 days. So you may want to do some research on what species you want to hunt an whichs states may overlap those hunt dates. As well as what tags you can buy vs having to draw in a lottery for.

As far as guides. A fully guided hunt will cost a bunch of money. But they can pick you up at the airport. No rental car needed. If it's on private land, they may have their own season dates and you won't have to worry about the dates set by the state DOW. They know exactly where to hunt, no guess work on your part. You will have a much greater chance of success. Guides on public lands will have to adhere to the seasons, but may offer drop camps or full service trips. A drop camp where they pack your gear in on their horses and come get you in a few days can be cost effective. But you need to bring all your own gear and be prepared for ANY weather. This years hunt was Hot and Dry, But some years early winter storms move in and you can spend the entire hunt trying to survive a blizzard. Some guides will have tags still available the week before a hunt starts, Most Public land tags, will require you to buy your tags Months in advance. Are you or your friends willing to buy tags in advance and then not use them if your schedule changes.

Hunting the west is not like hunting at your home. You don't go out and lease a tract and sit in a tree stand. Public land means free access to anybody, So you may have to share an area with lots of other hunters. You may pick a spot and set up a stand ony to have somebody sitting in it when you arrive opening morning. First come first serve. Elk can easily move 20 miles in a day. You may need to move to get to where the elk have moved. Depending on the season and weather, they may be bunched up in herds or still roaming in singles or small groups. If you are in an area that has private land intermingled with public land, you will need to know where the bounderies for each or located. And respect the private land owner.

The Forest Service and BLM continue to close off travel to ATV's and wheeled vehicles. Old log road that we traveled in the 60's and 70's are now closed. Just because you see the scare of an old road, doesn't mean you can drive an ATV down it. Driving an ATV into a closed area is a good way to get into a confrontation with hunters who went to the trouble to hike or ride a horse in. I don't buy the arguement, that I didn't see a sign that it was closed! You should be able to read a map and know what is open or closed to wheeled travel. Elk are very large animals. Our mountains are very steep. It will physically challenge anybody to pack an elk out any distance on their back.

I have hunted in big game Alaska, Colordao, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, and all Western states have increased their permit fees. Most are now requiring you purchase a hunting license before you can apply for hunt draws, or pay a fee in order to accumulate preference points. The license is a small cost of what the total trip will cost you. It's painful to spend money on a "Maybe I'll get to hunt" But it's becoming the norm. But I have people to be friendly in all states. It doesn't matter where you go, you will bump into somebody that is a jerk. But in general most people are friendly if you are.

There are resources that will help you narrow your choices of where to hunt. Magazines and Website that show the odds of drawing a tag and often what the success rate of hunters was in those areas. Would you rather pay $1000 for a elk tag in an area with a 50% success rate or $500 for a tag in an area with a 10% success rate. Do you want to harvest a true trophy or just an average animal. Just how do you define a GREAT hunt.

There is an old axiom that says,
When I started fishing, I just wanted to catch A fish.
Then soon I wanted to catch LOTS of fish.
The I wanted to catch BIG fish
Now I just want to spend a day out doors and enjoy the outing.

Location: Richfield, Utah
Joined: 11/26/2008
Posts: 64
Elk Bear Cougar Hunting

Plan ahead and Utah could produce for you. Start looking at good units to draw out. We are producing quality animals. good luck.

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