View Full Version : Elk Hunting Questions

May 21, 2006, 05:20 PM
Please help. I've gotten the bug badly to go elk hunt after hearing my buddy's story a few times about arrowing his big bull in an aspen grove in Colo., and now I'm serious about it and determined to go at the latest next fall, but possibly this year if I can swing it. But I have many, many unanswered questions - here are a few of the biggest ones, focused mainly on where & when to hunt:

1. (a) What state has the most number of tags available for being drawn during muzzleloader or rifle, as an out-of-stater, or I should say, highest tags-available number to applicant number ratio? (b) Are there any states where it's NOT a lottery; i.e. where it's just a matter of paying the fee to get the tag (however high that may be)?

2. Archery, Blackpowder, or Rifle hunt - which to try first? One buddy says Archery is better because tag is a sure thing, not a lottery (Colo.), and that they are bugling, so it's more fun, and you might call one in. Other buddy says no, they're not bugling in earnest until muzzleloader season, and so that's the best time (if you can get a tag). (a) But I assume that different states have different seasons - so which states' archery seasons most closely coincide with the rut/bugling, and what states' muzzleloader season most closely correlates to the rut/bugling? (a) Which states have which limitations on primitive/muzzleloader? - for example, I believe that in Colorado, no scopes/irons only, and no smokeless powder - any states prohibit inlines/209 guns? Which states are the most generous and most restrictive on the ML rules? (c) Is it in fact more fun to hunt during the rut? My buddy says rifle hunting them is just glassing and stalking, which sound like fun, but he says not nearly AS exciting. I'm leaning toward archery, so you might answer the questions below with Archery in mind a little more...

3. In what state(s) and what area(s) of that state/those states am I going to find a very high success rate for bulls, assuming I can GET a tag?

4. What about costs of tags? What are each states costs for archery/ML/rifle?

5. What about a composite result - which state should I start looking at first (chamber of commerce, wildlife department, etc.), that's likely to have the highest composite combination of (a) High success rate if you get a tag, (b) High chance of being drawn for a tag, and (c) Low cost of tag? WY, SD, ND, MT, ID, CO, UT, AZ, NM, what?

6. Any specific guide service you might recommend in any state? I want a free-range hunt, not a canned hunt; just an ordinary guide service with a high success rate and fairly low cost. Actually, I'd probably go guideless, just for financial reasons, but it wouldn't hurt to have some guide recommendations in case I can find one I can afford that will lead to a much higher chance of getting on some herds.

Anything else you can tell me? I want a big bull, but not concerned with making the record books, so no need to pay a premium for NM Indian Reservation tag, etc.

May 21, 2006, 05:31 PM
This outfitter has no peer for bow and muzzle loader elk, also regular rifle hunts. At the base of the Continental Divide above Taylor Park, Colorado. Spectacular hunting grounds. Highly experienced guides. Great chowline. Good hunting.


May 21, 2006, 09:14 PM
Can't help you with a guide service, but I do have some thoughts on some of your other questions.

First, Colorado has an amazing number of *leftover* tags each year. LEFTOVER the key word, as you've already missed the big game tag draw if you planned on hunting here this year. The good news is that there are alot of over the counter non-resident licenses available so anyone who wants to come to Colorado to hunt elk, CAN.

The rut here depends a lot on the weather, but IN GENERAL, the archery seasons are the earliest, followed by muzzleloader, then rifle season. For the best chance at catching the rut, I'd look into the muzzleloader or early-to-mid rifle seasons. I typically archery hunt for elk (as I accumulate preference points for a better rifle tag) and it's usually a recipe for a good suntan.

In Colorado, smokeless power is illegal, as is pellitized powder. Granulated Pyrodex, for example, IS legal but all powder must be loaded from the muzzle - no loading from the breech! Shotshell primers and in-line muzzleloaders are legal but you're right, scopes are not.

There's some other requirements so check the regulations.

All success rates by hunt type and game management unit are posted on the Colorado Dept of Wildlife webpage, so what I would do is look for a unit with good success rate and available tags, then compare that to a map to make sure there is good public access.

See you in the field,


May 22, 2006, 07:07 AM
Remember min caliber for elk is a .50 caliber an bullets must be at least 170grains. No sabots are allowed in Colorado either.

May 22, 2006, 09:53 AM
what about powerbelts?

May 22, 2006, 11:03 AM
I'm not sue on powerbelts, one of the guys I hunt with used them last deer season. I haven't seen anything that says they are in the same catagory as sabots. I'd contact DOW http://wildlife.state.co.us/ just to be on the safe side.

May 22, 2006, 11:20 AM
Funny that I can't use my .45 cal ML with 275 gr powerbelts that I like, which will have more penetration than the same weight in a .50 cal, and much much better penetration than a 170 gr .50 cal, which is allowed.

May 22, 2006, 03:28 PM
Hey FF,

I can't argue with you on that point. All I can say is that I don't make the rules, I just live with them.