Some states, like Colorado have a preference point only option, so you don't risk drawing a unit you didn't want or weren't ready to hunt yet. Other states, like New Mexico and Idaho have no preference points. And yet other states do weighted drawings, so everyone has at least some chance of drawing, even if they don't have points. So you need to decide where you want to go, what you want to hunt and in what unit before you even bother trying to accumulate points. While the very best units are nearly always limited, many over the counter and easy draw units offer pretty respectable hunting. You can then build on that experience to help you decide what you are looking for in a limited unit. For example, fewer hunters, better trophy quality, easier access, etc.
Well im a young guy so i have time to build up points, i want a good area in Colorado and i live in MN so any help would work. I have heard the areas 201, 61, 76 were good ones but i dont really know a lot more. I would make it a DIY hunt on public land so what areas have a good amount of public land? Im a noob when it comes to colorado and elk hunting.
Those areas listed are all very highly regarded, but it will take a minimum of 8 years if you want a rifle season tag. For units like 2,10 or 201 it could take 15 years(how old will you be then? Do you think you'll still have what it takes?). If you just want to go elk hunting, Colorado has lots of unlimited area, so does Idaho. Oregon, Washington and Utah also have numerous areas that anyone can hunt, with plenty of public land. I'm personally not the type to hold out for 10 years and want to go hunting immediately. If it's a trophy unit or nothing, I understand. but you rarely gain more than 10-12 % success in trophy units, so you may end up spending 10 years holding out for a tag that still only has a 35% success rate.
What I'm saying is, get some experience under your belt first. You can still put in for a Colorado preference point, then go hunting with an unlimited tag in 2nd or 3rd season. You'll be able to make better use of your points if you have elk hunted before. It is not easy and you should expect to go home empty handed, but it's a lot of fun if you don't set your expectation level too high. Many people who hold out for years have this problem. They think they are going to get an easy trophy by getting a super limited tag, but that is never the case. The odds say you will still fail in you quest, common sense says that a first time elk hunter will be even more likely to fail ( I wish there was a really good database that could prove my gut feeling).
So come on down, go elk hunting and gain preference points. You'll be better off when you finally do have enough to get into that trophy unit, and you may feel like you know what you're doing. It's just not worth your time (especially if you're young enough to hike past the crowds) to wait until you're in your 40s if you have a hankering to go now. It takes a long time for guys who live in elk country to be successful on a regular basis, so there's no way you can come down here as a nonresident with a coveted tag and hope to be successful. Just because elk are big, it doesn't mean they are easy to find.
As X says. Pick a state, Pick unit and start putting in. Some states you can buy just a preference point. Others you have to go through the draw. Some states require the money for the tag submitted with the application. Others just the amount to cover the draw ( $5-$10) with the balance due when you actually draw a tag. So you might be sending in $700-$900 every jan and not getting it back until April depending on the state.
And as X described, there is no trade off for hunting experience. You need to spend time hunting elk. It would be a real shame to draw a coveted tag and not be successful because you had no experience. Especially since you want to do this DIY on public lands.
I've got 15 points in Utah. I'l draw here soon. But I have gone hunting each and every year. Usually I hunted with somebody who did draw a tag and helped them with their hunt. After helping them harvest their trophey, I'd go back out a couple weeks later in the general season and find me a spike or cow for meat. But hunting in October for meat is very different from hunting in September during the Rut for the big bulls. You learn how to find the elk as the seasons change.
I have done everything possible to get my kids involved in hunting. Every time out whether it be scouting, camping or during the actual hunt, I will challenge them to find their way back without using any electronics (GPS). Also without a compass. They know by now that I am going to challenge one of them, so right off the bat when leaving our vehicle or camp they will start picking out land marks to help them out. Makes me and them feel confident that if we were to somehow separate that they...