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Joined: 05/15/2013
Posts: 9
Public land or hire a guide service?

I have hunted whitetail here in Kentucky for over 15 years with pretty good success. But I'm looking to branch out and pursue other types of hunting. One thing on my list is elk. I been doing some research and I've found that where there are elk there is a lot of public land to hunt in most cases. But I'm wondering, for a first time elk hunter do you think it would be wise and money ahead to go ahead n hire a guide opposed to trying to find a good bull on my own? I'm looking to go on the hunt in the next couple years. I'd like to stay here in KY but our draw is so tough I doubt I get to. I know Colorado is the top elk producer but do you guys have any suggestions for other states where I can get a tag fairly easy?

exbiologist's picture
Location: Colorado
Joined: 09/19/2008
Posts: 2397

I would never hire a guide to do something I could do on my own, but that's just me.  I think you'd enjoy the experience more and force yourself to learn more if you do the legwork yourself.  If the only way I could hunt something meant I had I to pay for it ( say hunt in Canada or Africa), then I'd do it, however all you've got to do is try decide you want to go and then start the learning curve for something like elk in the lower 48

Location: Arizona
Joined: 06/07/2002
Posts: 506
Public land or hire a guide service?

I've never used a guide service and only hunt public land for Elk, or for anything else frankly, so not of much help. I suppose if you have the money, little time to do any pre-hunt scouting, then your odds for sucess may improve with a guide if drawn somewhere? From what I've heard, it's not all that hard to get an Elk tag from one of the various Indian Reservations, but you'll pay a hefty price for one. I believe they mandate their guides as well...

Location: Colorado
Joined: 07/13/2011
Posts: 924
If you end up doing a DIY

If you end up doing a DIY hunt. Forget what you know about hunting whitetails. Elk are very different.

Striker's picture
Location: Kuna, ID
Joined: 10/29/2012
Posts: 223
elk hunting

I agree with ex. Hunting DIY is much more rewarding then a guide doing all the work for you. Think about it. If you were to build a house or complete a project of some kind at work that you did by yourself would you feel a greater sense of pride? Of course you would! No offense to those who use guides, but a hunter that hunts DIY public lands will "always" hold hirer regards from his fellow hunting peers. Instead of relying on someone else, you learn and gain experience and become the master. Besides, once you have been elk hunting you'll get addicted and want to go again and again. May as well start learning. That being said, your odds of bagging a elk will go down without a guide but when you do get one it will be more rewarding. I recommend finding some friends that are experienced that can help you on your road and you can bet they are probably not going to empty your wallet and may be just as good or better then some of the guides out there.

Topgun 30-06's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Allegan, MI
Joined: 12/11/2010
Posts: 693
I'd suggest buying a

I'd suggest buying a Preference Point (PP) between 7/1 and 9/30 in Wyoming for $50. Then apply for a General License next January in the draw while buying another PP at that time. You may not get the license next year with 1 PP, but should draw it easily in 2015 with the two PPs you would then have. There are a lot of units you can hunt on a General License and they won't be nearly as crowded as if you bought an OTC license in Colorado. Elk are really on the increase in Wyoming in most areas too.

dotkayk's picture
Joined: 09/01/2012
Posts: 8

do you want an elk, or an experience ?

elk are highly mobile, upon being hunted on public land they get spooky and nocturnal too. My son and I have hunted elk DIY for four years in CO, seen two at long range in that time, never a shot fired. DIY is kinda hard..

second the WY suggestion, there are fewer elk but also less pressure, more elk per hunter I suspect. I haven't hunted WY except for deer, because we can get in-state tags in CO much cheaper. If we were out-of-state I'd try WY first..

Location: north idaho
Joined: 06/11/2004
Posts: 610
if this is a once in a

if this is a once in a lifetime trip, go guided.

If you lived out here and was going to be hunting the west all the time, diy is a good way to go. And after doing a guided hunt, you would see what it takes to go elk hunting and than can figure out if you want to go guided or diy next time.

Make the most of the expierence and enjoy the hunt, not where am I going to set up camp, where am I going to hunt, how am I getting into the hunting country, do I rent horses, etc etc.

Striker's picture
Location: Kuna, ID
Joined: 10/29/2012
Posts: 223
Another option

Another option is to make friends with someone in a state you want to hunt who can show you some of the ropes. They would kinda of be like your unpaid guide. You still have to worry about a lot of stuff but your chances of getting into elk are higher then by yourself and you don't break the pocket book. If things go well it could become a yearly event for you. And your friend may be more willing to teach you where a guide wants you to come back and pay him again the next year. I guess it all depends on your preference. Just a one time experience...get a guide and fork the money over. If it's something you want to start doing more frequently then DIY, preferebly with an experienced friend.

Joined: 07/16/2013
Posts: 3
Public land or hire guide

Wyoming is a pretty good chance at drawing a tag at least every two years for a general tag. Wyoming also gives the non resident the opportunity to apply for what is called the special permit which is double the price of a regular tag and your chances of drawing go up greatly. I don't really know of anyone that has done it this way and not drawn every year. Granite some people can't afford that price but if you can its recommended. Also if your interested in a DIY hunt some outfitters out here provide drop camps. This is pretty much the best way to go DIY if you do not know the areas and have not hunted elk much. For intstance depending on the guide or outfitter that you choose, they will take you in to the location and everything is provided in camp. Food, shelter, cots, etc. and some suggestions of where to start hunting in that area. That will help reduce your scouting time and spend more time huntiKnowledge sledge is priceless.   You still have to hunt them even though someone told you where to go. Elk travel!  Drop camps are fun if your up for the challenge, but you must get into great physical shape the altitude is a killer. 


Joined: 07/16/2009
Posts: 70
You want to swim at at the

You want to swim at at the inner city, public pool or splash around at the private county club pool? It's not a hard choice if money isn't an issue. I've been hunting elk on public land in CO since 1996 and it's hard, very hard. I can say I've got some great stories, had great experiences and will continue to do so. But my success in CO is very low too. That being said if I wanted a trophy moose (about the only animal I can say I'd "trophy" hunt), I'd hire a guide. I know little about moose hunting and don't want to take another decade to figure it out.