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Old June 27, 2021, 08:23 AM   #1
std7mag
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Help choosing state ffor elk & mule deer hunt.

So my wife finally said, " go out west & hunt if that's what you want to do".
Even knowing there's better than 50/50 chance i may not come back to Pennsylvania.

2 friends of mine are a "heck yeah i'll go!"
But one wants to hunt mule deer instead of elk.
While 2 of us would kinda like to get both tags.

Having zero points, which state would you reccommend?
Colorado, Wyoming?
Or another option?

Thanks!
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Old June 27, 2021, 01:43 PM   #2
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Utah, Idaho even Nevada and Arizona offer both tags
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Old June 27, 2021, 03:20 PM   #3
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Much depends on what you are looking for. Colorado probably will afford the most likely opportunity to hunt but will have very low success rates. Arizona you can get some great trophy potential in the right units ie. the strip for mule deer but good luck pulling that tag anytime in the near future. Most residents need 10-20 points before they pull that tag. Out of state who knows because AZ caps out of state tags to a maximum of 10% of the available tags for a particular species and unit.

Best bet figure out what you want, a successful hunt with tags filled or a western state hunting experience. Then start looking at what state will get you there the fastest.

Above all start applying for all the states you think you may want to hunt in hopes of pulling tags well down the road.
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Old June 28, 2021, 01:14 AM   #4
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I've hunted Colorado a couple of times and vacationed there several times in summers. It is really the only western state that I'm familiar with.

Roughly 2/3 of Colorado is open for elk hunting with over the counter tags after the 1st season. If you want to hunt 1st season you'll likely need to have points and get drawn. But 2nd, 3rd, and 4th seasons have plenty of opportunities.


Lots of elk, but there can be lots of hunters too. If you do your research and pick an area carefully, AND if you get lucky with the migration you just might take one. Snows during 3rd and 4th seasons force elk to move around and if you're in the right spot and if the weather cooperates you'll see elk.

Adding deer complicates things in Colorado though. You're probably not going to buy over the counter deer tags. And it may take a few years to get drawn for deer. Then you've got to find deer AND elk in the same unit you got drawn for to deer hunt.

If you bow hunt you have many more opportunities. The 4 rifle seasons usually last 5-7 days each. Archery season is basically the entire month of September and lots more of the state is open for you to hunt without being drawn.
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Old June 28, 2021, 06:23 AM   #5
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Go to Colorado.

I am presuming you are doing it yourself, not with an outfitter. I lived and hunted in both Idaho and Colorado for some years, but this is strictly anecdotal.

Both have a lot of public land, but in general it is easier to drive to a good camping and hunting spot in and around one of the "parks" in CO. We went several times to an area past the Sunlight Ski area near Glenwood Springs. You need 4WD mostly for the weather possibilities. (One year is was 4 wheel chains for the whole week!) It was then an over-the-counter tag area. We saw elk, but didn't kill any. Our success was in an area surprisingly close to Denver, a draw area just past Bailey. Filled 5 bull tags there one year. My brother and a buddy came out another year, and we did a "drop camp" with an outfitter above Redstone. Something to consider. One of those 5 Bailey bulls went back to camp on my back. Horses are nice.

Idaho is more rugged, but somewhat lower. Every elk hunt in Colorado was at or near 10,000 ft. The highest peak in Idaho is just over 11,000. But there are fewer parks, and they tend to be private farms and ranches. Areas we hunted included a surprisingly wild area east of Idaho Falls and south of Palisades Lake. The biologists track wolverines in there. Didn't have a tag, but I "counted coupe" on the biggest moose I ever saw in the lower 48 in that country. Another area is the Bitterroot ridge on the Montana border. Grizzly country, if that bothers you. Don't know the current tag situation there, but think all nonresident tags are limited.

Now, elk vs. mule deer. It's true that you usually pick a spot for one or the other. The only muley I killed was on an odd mountain the stuck up alone in the southeast area of the state. Shaped like a volcano, but I don't think it was. Surrounded by farms and ranches, there were lots of deer. That said, when my father and I went with a guide in western Idaho, Dad saw the biggest buck of his life (no tag). When we did the drop camp, I encountered two enormous bucks together. Again, no tag. But the outfitter told me I should have applied. That was during the recession, and tags were going begging. And when we were back in camp in the park behind Sunlight, a muley buck came out at dusk and just danced around about half a mile away across the park. So they do inhabit the same terrain sometimes.

If (when) I go back out, I want to go horseback or bush plane into the central Idaho wilderness area. Wild place. Folks say Sasquatch lives there. That's my western dream hunt. Good luck!
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Old June 28, 2021, 09:02 AM   #6
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I used to live in Rifle/Parachute area west of Glenwood Springs. Took a road trip a few years ago to show my wife where the project was and driving up a canyon road towards the project, deer were popping out all over the place. Western Slope is good for deer. Delta/Montrose and up by Meeker were good for elk - at least back then
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Old June 28, 2021, 09:25 AM   #7
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Colorado is still decent, getting drawn for Elk is easier than Deer. I have not looked at the out-of-state requirements for Ranching for Wildlife, but that is the best chance to fill the tags you get. If you are after bulls on a DIY hunt, you really need some fishing trips to scout the areas and learn them. Few folks luck into a bull on their first time in an area. Elk tend to run cycles in terms of several days instead of daily like Deer and Pronghorn. When they get bumped by the Archery folks starting Sept 1, then ML and 3 or 4 rifle seasons, it is an ever changing thing.

The migration routes have changed and less migration in the last 5 years or so. We also have wolves, and more coming. While "Keep Colorado Wild" initiative from the Governors office has some good aspects, overall, I am skeptical as to where CO hunting will be in the next 5 to 10 years. Having filled 37 Elk tags as well as a lot of Deer and Pronghorn tags, I doubt that that kind of success will be possible in 10 years.
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Old June 28, 2021, 10:49 AM   #8
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I live Co and ranching for Wildlife elk is for resident only.

2nd/3rd rifle elk season offers OTC bull elk tag and most tags are for min 4pt on bull elk. We do have some units that are no antler pt restrictions other than antlers must be 5" long. I think it less than 30 game units.

First rifle and fourth rifle elk are 5 days long and unit I hunt you can draw either sex elk or cow tag 1st or fourth. Some unit you can draw bull tag or cow.

You want to hunt with your buddies you might want to consider if you put in for draw tags.
https://cpw.state.co.us/thingstodo/P...oup-Hunts.aspx

Archery is from Sept 2-30 and ML is during archery same with first rifle bear tag. I drew first rifle bear during archery this year.

Outside fully guide hunt a drop camp might work even if you don't hunt Co.
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Old June 28, 2021, 11:29 AM   #9
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Thanks Old Roper, I was not sure.
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Old June 29, 2021, 01:02 AM   #10
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I would still go to Montana.
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Old June 29, 2021, 01:14 PM   #11
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Don't stop with CO & WY, apply in as many states as you can afford to. My buddy killed huge elk in NV, another budy who has passed to early killed really nice bulls in AZ, CO, and WY. I only really apply in CO as that's where I live, but I have my daughter in draws in WY and CO.

The problem with draw states is point creep, and that's where your points never catch up what's required to draw certain units. This is another reason I say apply in as many states as you can afford to. Watch for leftover and second chance draws as well. If you draw a premium tag consider hiring a guide service.

Good Luck!
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Old June 29, 2021, 02:15 PM   #12
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Easiest to draw and best chance of success will be Eastern WY. But you need to do your research and find a place to hunt first. Most of it will be private land with trespass fees, but the tags are pretty much guaranteed, because of low application numbers.

The "good" units in Utah have notoriously high requirements for bonus points - often 12-15+ years before you even have a chance. The deer units that are easy to draw do have *some* good deer, but the odds of figuring out the unit's patterns and knowing where to look are highly unlikely for a first-timer - and not worth an expensive cross-country hunt without plenty of scouting first, in my opinion.

It is fairly easy to draw a decent unit in Idaho, but public land is not as accessible and much of it is wilderness (no roads, no vehicles - not even bicycles or horses allowed in some areas). What is readily accessible is typically dry, rolling scrub, or very steep terrain that is hit very hard by residents and nonresidents alike. Success rates are not good, especially after the first 2 days of the season.

CO seems to be the go-to for nonresident elk. But I have never hunted there.

MT hunting is supposed to be decent. But they jacked their prices up about 10 years ago, in an effort to try to make nonresidents subsidize the entire wildlife budget in the state. They will not get my money, and I don't recommend the state to anyone else - even though they eased back on tag prices a bit when nonres application numbers plummeted.

I cannot offer any insight for NV, AZ, NM.
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Old June 30, 2021, 08:01 AM   #13
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I may not draw bull elk tag here in Co. I can buy always buy OTC bull tag and still hunt. I haven't missed elk season since moving here 1977. I sure can't say that for buck tag.
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Old June 30, 2021, 08:02 AM   #14
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old roper, today is the last day for the new 2nd draw in CO. Quite a few tags left.
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Old June 30, 2021, 09:20 PM   #15
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MarkCo, This is one of those years that I didn't put in for bull tag. I plan on buying OTC bull tag and I used my pts last year first rifle. I had enough pts to draw first rifle bear and that's during archery and I plan on stay up whole month and do some scouting for elk.
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Old June 30, 2021, 09:33 PM   #16
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Cool.

We have 3 Elk and 2 Deer tags. Zilch on Pronghorn.
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Old June 30, 2021, 11:03 PM   #17
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Good Luck
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Old July 3, 2021, 06:32 AM   #18
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We were looking at the Colorado OTC tags for the 2 of us that want elk.
The mule deer tags are what we are really not sure about. All 3 of us wouldn't mind if we got them.
I had brought up the possability of a cow elk tag with the other person that wants to hunt elk. While a bull would be nice, we are both meat hunters, not trophy hunters. So if we could find someplace to hunt muleys and possibly get a cow tag would be fine by us.

All 3 of us are in the PA elk lottery. 11th or 12th year for me. 3rd year for one and first year for the other.

We are planning our western hunt for next year. I think Wyomings application is in January if i remember right. I'm waiting for us to get tags out west, then be drawn for PA.
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Old July 3, 2021, 07:23 AM   #19
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Normally, I'd not argue with the guys who think pretty much anywhere in Colorado is the top shelf choice; I live here after all. But pick your area. There were 2 very large fires here last year and a whole lot of the country west/north of Rocky Mountain National Park and west of Fort Collins (north end of state) to Cameron pass (the divide) burned clean. The game and the hunters that chased them are going to have to move to somewhere new this coming year.
You might try southern Colorado if you do come here. Just saying.
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Old July 5, 2021, 10:25 PM   #20
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Burns are great places to hunt, new vegetation growth makes it prime areas for game to feed. I wouldn't shy away from a burn area if you can get a tag. I've been hunting a burn area for several years, and it has been very good to my group. Before the burn it was pretty much a sterile forest with very little big game, and those there were just passing through to migrate to food.

Just get an elk tag and go hunting if you're coming to Colorado, and worry about the mule deer later.
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Old July 5, 2021, 10:45 PM   #21
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Or do like I did and screw up on an application. My oldest son drew an Elk Tag in Unit 1. I have hunted 2 and 3, and I did not put myself or my other son in for Unit 1. So something new to try.
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Old July 6, 2021, 01:30 AM   #22
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The fire in unit 18 that extended in Rocky Mountain National Park was one of the 6 game units make up what they call Middle Park. Game unit 28 is south of unit 18 and unit 181 is north west of 18 and unit 27 is west 181. Unit 37/371 are west of unit 28. I think 28 is around 400K acres That first rifle bear tag I got is for all 6 units and it also includes unit 15 which is west of unit 27.

I think residents that hunt those units will still hunt maybe not 18.
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Old July 6, 2021, 04:46 PM   #23
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I usually only do a cow elk hunt for the meat in New Mexico. However, I have seen some nice bulls around the Raton area. Biggest problem, like all the other western states is drawing that coveted tag. About ten years ago, the last time I hunted Arizina I saw one herd bull that if it wouldn't rank high in the books would've come damned close. That's about the only time I regretted having a cow tag. FWIW, it was in AZ area 1 in the White Mountains.
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Old July 30, 2021, 11:29 AM   #24
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FITASC, when uou said "up by Meeker", is that around the "Flat Tops" area? Thanks.
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Old July 31, 2021, 10:09 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rifletom View Post
FITASC, when uou said "up by Meeker", is that around the "Flat Tops" area? Thanks.
Meeker is basically west of the "Flat Tops". Typically, Elk from the Flat Tops go through the area from Rifle, to Meeker to Hamilton when they get pushed off the Flat Tops in the later seasons. With the fires this year, it could be different. The CPW has some maps of tagged Elk that really just moved around the fires and never really got pushed out of their general area.
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