First season without a doubt. 5 year average drops from 36 in first to 24 to 14 by third season. I don't have all the 4th season data compiled, but you could compare those two. Any time you can hunt a controlled season it is better than an unlimited season.
But you might want to look into your tactics also. That being said, welcome to elk hunting, even during first season the average hunter only harvests once out of three years. So maybe this is your year?
Others have offered up a sighting of roughly 2 inches high at 100 yards as a good sighting scheme. In my own experience I have come to favor a sighting of 3.5 inches high at 100 yards. This allows for the individual to hold dead-on (directly in the middle of the top and bottom) the animal out to roughly 350 yards.
Magnum calibers such as the 7mm Remington and 300 Winchester will extend this slightly. At 400 yards I hold directly on the backbone of the animal. The drop at this range allows the...