I’ve been an elk hunter, elk hunt outfitter and elk hunting guide for over 30 years and I’ve seen lots of changes over those years. The good news is that elk populations throughout much of the American and Canadian West have increased dramatically and in many areas, the hunting we enjoy today is far better than what we had 20 or 30 years ago.
However, not all areas have improved and due to a variety of factors, some areas have seen a dramatic decline. Many of the wilderness areas of northwest Wyoming, western Montana, central and northern Idaho have been hard hit by wolf and grizzly predation, and some of these traditionally great elk areas have really suffered. Unfortunately, an elk hunt in some of these areas today can turn into nothing more than a scenic horseback ride and most of our clients want to actually harvest an elk! On the flip side of that coin, areas in central and southern Wyoming – where there might not have been very many elk 30 years ago – now support very strong populations and excellent trophy quality. The same holds true for much of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico. The Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta can be another viable option, especially if you are looking for an old-fashioned, traditional horseback elk hunt, in a remote wilderness area. However, the state of Utah currently offers the very best trophy elk hunting – hands down, no competition – but some of these hunts can be quite pricey.
As professional Hunting Consultants, the staff here at Cabela’s Outdoor Adventures usually look at the following options when a client wants to book an elk hunt:
Some form of guaranteed (no drawing) landowner or tribal elk tags in the states of Utah, Colorado or New Mexico, and a good ranch or reservation to hunt on. We are NOT talking about high fence, captive elk here! These are fair-chase hunts, for free-ranging, wild elk. These are some of our most popular hunts, as success rates are very high and depending on the hunt, trophy quality can be exceptional. It is not uncommon for these hunts to produce close to 100% success, with prices ranging from about $5,000 to $20,000+. Prices are almost entirely driven by trophy quality, as we require all of our outfitters to provide experienced guides, adequate accommodations, good food service and the appropriate equipment. We have excellent elk hunts with very high success in the $5,000 range, but these hunts will typically produce younger age class bulls. Hunts in the $9,000 – $10,000 range produce very high success on bulls averaging in the 300 class and the most expensive hunts, say in the $15,000+ range, will produce our very biggest elk, with some bulls exceeding the magical 400 mark.
Wilderness elk hunts in BC or Alberta. These hunts present the opportunity to do a traditional, wilderness elk hunt, while still maintaining good success and trophy quality. Basically, you’re getting a similar hunt to what you might have enjoyed many years ago in Montana, Idaho or northwestern Wyoming. Many of these areas are restricted to harvesting 6-point or better bulls, so trophy quality is good, with bulls averaging about 300. Success rates won’t be quite as high as the private ranch hunts, but the better ones will still produce 80%+ success, which is excellent for wilderness hunting. Prices for these hunts will range from about $6,000 to $9,000 and if you’re looking for an old-fashioned, traditional elk hunt, they’re perfect.
Limited Quota Tag
Drawing a limited quota tag. If you’re looking for a high quality, trophy elk hunt, but not the price tag that normally goes with it, drawing a special tag may be the best way to go. The states of Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon and New Mexico all offer some excellent elk hunting – if you can draw the right tag. Our license application service, TAGS, can handle all of this for you. They will put you into the best areas; handle all of the application process; and even float the money for license and application fees. If you draw the right tag, you just might be able to get a hunt that could sell for $10,000+, at just a fraction of that price. Once you draw the tag, we can then book you with the best outfitter in the unit, or you may be able to do an unguided hunt. Call Eric Pawlak, manager of TAGS, for all of the details on these hunts at 1-800-755-TAGS. Click here to visit Cabela’s TAGS website.
Lastly, please try to take advantage of some of the great elk hunting that we have today. It’s the best it’s ever been and everything tends to cycle. Get in on a great elk hunt while we’re at the peak of that cycle! Visit Cabela’s Outdoor Adventures website by clicking here.