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  1. #26

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    You mentioned giving up on elk hunting and going for deer or pronghorn. I wouldn't give up on elk but I would recommend going for deer or antelope first. I went elk hunting my first couple trips and have since hunted deer and pronghorn. Plan on going back elk hunting this year if I get a tag. But feel I could have been more successful on my elk hunts if I had gone deer or lope hunting first. They are a little easier hunt with a higher chance of being successful. Plus you learn so much just coming out your first few years. Go deer hunt the area you think you might want to elk hunt. You will have a decent chance of killing something and will know if it is worth coming back to hunt elk. Or if being successful is very important to you, go hunt lopes first. You will have a blast and figure out the logistics of it all.

  2. #27
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Laramie, WY
    Posts
    9,935

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    Quote Originally Posted by 375H&H View Post
    Don't listen to people saying that there are no elk or deer left in Montana, yes there could be some vast improvements, but it's not like they shot the last passenger pigeon. Hell, dudes are finding huge bull elk dead just by walking so it can't be that bad.

    All the negative talk is fake news. Turn off the TV.
    Right, go hunt unit 202 in MT with a general tag...report back with pictures of that big bull you kill.

    Maybe you'll get lucky and turn up one of the 8 elk the FWP observed on their last population flight.

    As for the OP, don't listen to people that are giving advice and haven't hunted the areas you're talking about.

    If you hang your hat on hunting elk in most of Western Montana as a NR, with no experience in the area, you're setting yourself up for some major disappointment. I personally have hunted a lot of Western Montana, and without exception, its the poorest elk hunting I've had since I started hunting in 1980. I told the lead biologist this at the latest Missoula meeting, and he agreed with my statement, "The hunting in Western Montana, for everything except wolves, turkeys, bears, and lions is worse now than when I started in 1980". He said, "I agree with that".

    Can a person get elk there? Sure, if you have a lifetime of hunting experience, and know the country better than anyone else...yes. The question is, does a person that comes from another state, half-way across the US, with limited elk hunting experience have a reasonable chance? I say no.

    If you're happy to just be taking your rifle for a hike, with a 10% or less chance of taking a bull, hunt Western Montana...that's what statistics tell you. With low bull to cow ratio's, elk harboring, and 120K+ of your best friends to compete with for 11 weeks...that's your reality of elk hunting in MT.

    But, who knows, maybe you'll find a dead bull that was squished by a tree...solid proof of how great the hunting is in Western Montana.
    "...the world outside, which my brother and I soon discovered, was full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the farther one gets from Missoula, Montana." -Norman Maclean

    "They were still so young they hadn't learned to count the odds and to sense they might owe the universe a tragedy"
    -Norman Maclean

  3. #28
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Laramie, WY
    Posts
    9,935

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    Maybe one last thought, the only way you're ever really going to find out about a unit, or learn to hunt elk, is by just getting out there.

    Many have given you solid advice.
    "...the world outside, which my brother and I soon discovered, was full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the farther one gets from Missoula, Montana." -Norman Maclean

    "They were still so young they hadn't learned to count the odds and to sense they might owe the universe a tragedy"
    -Norman Maclean

  4. #29
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Bozeman, Montana
    Posts
    3,448

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    I thought he's been researching Colorado and Wyoming not Montana. I'd agree with Buzz that there are better states for opportunity for a new elk hunter. The reality is though it take years and multiple times out to get things figured 0ut and then get lucky enough to get one. You aren't going to hit a homerun everytime. Give it your best shot, have fun and take notes for the next one. You guys that watch Randy's show obviously missed the seasons where he got skunked on multiple hunts. These are areas he's never hunted and gave it a whirl for 5 days. Many of the areas he's returned to and has learned something from the previous trip to better his odds. Maybe it's a different drainage, different unit or even time of year. Hunting isn't one and done on figuring it out.
    Walmart Athlete and Ambassador
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    But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career

  5. Default Just Do It!

    Hunting, much like life, is what you make it. Get out there and try it. There are no guarantees you will come home with any meat but guaranteed, with the right attitude, you will come back with great memories.

    I have made the trip out west twice thus far and haven’t gotten an elk yet. These were still two of my most memorable hunting experiences. Each time my hunting partner killed an elk and I got to experience the pack out and enjoy in the meat. Last trip I connected on a mule deer.

    We were planning our next trip on the drive home!
    Once you try it you will be hooked.

  6. #31

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    If your research only consists of google searches for a particular unit and reading forum posts you are doomed.

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    One time a guy told me that a certain unit was "the worst unit in that mountain range"...now we just call it "worst unit" and try and draw it every year!!

  8. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnCushman View Post
    All the elk in Colorado went to Wyoming and New Mexico. They're all gone here
    So much for my plan of setting up an ambush at the state line...

  9. #34

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    Yea, Unit 37 really does suck. I recommend finding another unit with less hunters.
    Kalispell Montana home to 75% genuinely good individuals, controlled by 25% of the most arrogant people you will ever meet.

  10. #35
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Pueblo West, Colorado
    Posts
    719

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    Quote Originally Posted by NoWiser View Post
    If you are giving up on elk just doing the research, the hunt is going to eat you up and spit you out.
    Sheesh, no kidding...time to take up golf!

    My buddies and I have an annual deer hunt in a unit with lots of hunters and average hunting. I think every year the group has gone about 50% on bucks, with a bonus bull elk one year. We've had heat, extreme cold, wind, rain, snow, and even a wildfire. I haven't heard anybody with an unfilled tag complain yet, and everyone signs up for it again the next year. You've got to learn to play the game...

  11. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnCushman View Post
    I would suggest finding a unit that seems pretty good and hunting it on a cow tag to learn the unit. If you're successful you get a freezer full of elk, if you're not successful then you're out a lesser amount of money but you gained knowledge of an area.
    Exactly!!!
    The day I stop hunting is the day I stop breathing.

    You can't eat antlers!!!

  12. #37

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    Makes a guy scratch his head. Why do we do what we do? Some are just into the kill, some into the total experience, some for the challenge, some as a way to get away from people, some for the camping, and some for all of these reasons. Some chase horns, some chase meat, some do both. Some like to make it harder and throw sticks, some like big bore rifles, some like both. Some like to hike, some like to pack in, some like to drive roads, some like to sit on water. Some buy all the new techy stuff, some rely on tradition. Some will throw dollars at it, some are on a budget......get my drift. We hunters are all alike in some respects, but also unique and different in our own approach, our desires of what to get out of it. You have to find out some of these things on your own, on some,you can rely advice. If you get bogged down in choosing where to hunt, you honestly are robbing yourself of the first fun part of a hunt, as in planning a hunt. FUN, not uncertanty, not stress, not fear, not negativity. There is already enough of that in every day life. I could give you my two bits on Colorado, but right now, I say, take a chill pill, get excited that you have the health and means to even consider a hunt. A lot dont

  13. #38

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    Best part, there are 'random' tags in WY...CO you can most likely, just go with a OTC...All depends on what you're looking for!
    2010 BowTech Destroyer 340 HardWoods HD
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  14. #39
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Hodale, Idaho
    Posts
    2,768

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    Picking a unit is easy the statistics are usually available for units. The hard part is picking where in the unit to hunt and what approach is best suited to the topography/animal/season/weather.

    Seriously just pick a unit with good numbers and get to researching the stuff that decides whether or not you will be successful
    “LET ME TELL YOU WHY PEOPLE LIVE IN IDAHO…THEY LIVE IN IDAHO BECAUSE THEY LOVE THEIR PUBLIC LANDS. THEY LIKE ACCESS TO THEM FOR RECREATION, FOR HUNTING AND FISHING, OR ALL THE ACTIVITIES THEY DO ON PUBLIC LANDS.”
    -U.S. Representative Mike Simpson

  15. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnh9411 View Post
    Getting frustrated. Been researching Wyoming and Colorado mostly Wyoming lately trying to find a place to apply but as j dig every place end with it sucking and being a pumpkin patch. I'm okay with hunters but I do want to see critters. I don't know. Maybe be best to give up on my first elk hunt and go for something less in the spot light like mule deer or prong horn. I been looking at unit 37 and in that are north and south of it in Wyoming but to have only 9% draw odds which is about as crappy as I'm willing to go it still seems like the area is rumored to suck. I figured archery only would be better odds.
    Yup! It's not worth the effort and aggravation so I suggest you just quit hunting.
    When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.

    Cree Prophecy

  16. Default

    Several above me have said it but I really suggest you pick a unit and go hunt. Set realistic expectations and have a good time. I promise you that if you do enough digging on forums and message boards you will find bad reports about even the best unit out there. Lots of people tend to set completely unrealistic expectations of what they expect on their hunt. Gerald is spot on, when those expectations aren't met people want to blame things. The weather, the unit, the other hunters etc are the problem. This mentality is completely amplified by any sort of a point system. The more points a hunt takes to draw the higher expectations people put on it and when it doesn't meet those expectations you see a lot of " its wasn't worth the points" "there are better units" "don't burn your points on this one" type comments. Look at the hunt like and adventure and a learning experience for the future and you wont be disappointed with the outcome.

    That all said its not a bad idea if its your first hunt out west to think about an antelope or mule deer hunt as the ice breaker as an elk hunt is a mentally and physically demanding roller coaster. Don't set your sights to high if you aren't ready for it.

  17. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by sundance View Post
    Makes a guy scratch his head. Why do we do what we do? Some are just into the kill, some into the total experience, some for the challenge, some as a way to get away from people, some for the camping, and some for all of these reasons. Some chase horns, some chase meat, some do both. Some like to make it harder and throw sticks, some like big bore rifles, some like both. Some like to hike, some like to pack in, some like to drive roads, some like to sit on water. Some buy all the new techy stuff, some rely on tradition. Some will throw dollars at it, some are on a budget......get my drift. We hunters are all alike in some respects, but also unique and different in our own approach, our desires of what to get out of it. You have to find out some of these things on your own, on some,you can rely advice. If you get bogged down in choosing where to hunt, you honestly are robbing yourself of the first fun part of a hunt, as in planning a hunt. FUN, not uncertanty, not stress, not fear, not negativity. There is already enough of that in every day life. I could give you my two bits on Colorado, but right now, I say, take a chill pill, get excited that you have the health and means to even consider a hunt. A lot dont
    Wow!!!! Very well said.

  18. #43

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    I ended up hunting a different unit this year because my hunting partner didn't get a tag in our usual unit, waited 2 days and it sold out! When I first got to the new area I couldn't believe the amount of camps and trucks. Thought for sure we were screwed. Took a couple days and we found elk. Then took 2 or 3 days of hunting them and we had a handful of close calls and I ended up getting a decent 6x6. I only saw another hunter 2x in 6 days of hunting when we weren't on the road. Point is, it seems to be true that people won't go a mile off the road.

  19. Default

    Great troll for sure!!
    I’ll let you in on a little secret
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    .
    .
    Every unit everywhere sucks.

  20. #45

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    Interesting perspectives folks. I was beginning to feel a bit like the OP myself. You all are a wealth of information!

  21. #46

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    I hunt OTC in Colorado. 3 years of hunting. 2 bulls, got to see some great country and some great animals. If your just in it to kill stuff maybe hunting isn’t for you. Pick an OTC unit do the research on the area and get out there. Tons of guys on this forum that are willing to help you with unit selection.

    It’s public land there is going to be people, if you are willing to push harder and further you will be successful. Turn that frown upside down and get out in the mountains and enjoy. Good luck out there.

  22. #47

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    People who wine about units just suck at hunting, period. There are good bulls taken in just every unit in ID,CO,MT, and WY every year. Saying there is too much xyz is just a cop out by guys who couldn't hack it and want to place the blame on others.

    Average success rates for elk hunting across the Rockies in OTC units probably something like 10-15% but among people who leave the truck I would imagine it's closer to 30%,and among those few who pack in, work hard, and spend 5-10 days in the field I would imagine it's 80-90%.

    My first 4 seasons I didn't get an elk, simply because I didn't put in the effort.

  23. #48

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    NM sucks....

  24. Default

    I've been hunting elk on public land since '98 (Im a resident of WI) and all of my research is done online, on the phone, or looking at maps. IMHO elk hunting is really not that difficult if you develop a process for evaluating whats most important to you on a particular hunt and stick to it. Don't put too much stock in online opinions and don't psych yourself out of something as great as public land elk hunting! I have 8 pts in WY and my brother has 10, we picked WY this year to draw our elk tag (we have pts in every state that allows for every species we can build for) after spending a few years looking at options and considering what we want out of this hunt. We narrowed down our focus to 2 units and obtained lists from two organizations we subscribe to and starting calling people that have hunted the units we are looking at drawing. I've also talked to biologists in both areas as well. Some guys have said worst hunt they've ever been on and they wouldn't go back. After asking why and digging a little deeper there were reasons within their control that could have lead to a much different result. Several others, that clearly did a lot of homework and were prepared for what the hunt was going to be had great hunts and harvested great bulls. The success rates for elk hunting throughout the west are roughly 20%. Im of the opinion its the same 80% not filling their tags and the same 20% that do (give or take some for luck). A positive attitude and the willingness to hunt hard will determine which group you fall into. My brothers along with myself and my father have hunted a particular unit in northern NM 4 times and our success rate is 75% (im personally 4/4 on bulls, 2 rifle, 2 archery) The unit has an average success rate of less than 25%...

    I enjoy doing the research and planning for a new area while trying to stay in that 20%. I even enrolled in the elk101 class just recently...even though I feel like a seasoned elk hunter there's always something more to learn and improve on!


    my advice is to go to youtube and watch "land of the free" and see what how great of a time can be had on OTC hunts in multiple states. Those guys on that series did a great job showing the ups and downs of hunting public land OTC areas! Their overall positive attitude is infectious!!

    adubs
    Last edited by adubs; 01-15-2018 at 09:49 AM.

  25. #50
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    1,430

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    Quote Originally Posted by wllm1313 View Post
    People who wine about units just suck at hunting, period. There are good bulls taken in just every unit in ID,CO,MT, and WY every year. Saying there is too much xyz is just a cop out by guys who couldn't hack it and want to place the blame on others.

    Average success rates for elk hunting across the Rockies in OTC units probably something like 10-15% but among people who leave the truck I would imagine it's closer to 30%,and among those few who pack in, work hard, and spend 5-10 days in the field I would imagine it's 80-90%.

    My first 4 seasons I didn't get an elk, simply because I didn't put in the effort.
    I agree. The unit that a buddy and I hunt, is an average OTC unit in MT. We drive from NC, so we don't scout all year or spend any time other than the planned 14 day hunt. He's been going for over 20 years, and I have since '14. There are alot of hunters there, with an average of 6% success rate. However, we are averaging as a two man group 75% since I've been going. I realized quick that those 6% averages also account for those who are half hearted and complain about how bad hunting can be, and give up in the first couple days.
    Last edited by genesis273; 01-15-2018 at 02:36 PM.
    Can't figure people down there eating hog when they could feed on elk.
    Bear Claw "Jeremiah Johnson"

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