Travel Advice - Elk Hunting Guides in Wyoming?
by ConnorMacManus (2019-02-12 09:35:22)
Edited on 2019-02-12 09:43:36

I know there are a few hunters in the backroom, so I was hoping to tap into the collective wisdom for an elk hunt I'd like to plan with my father later this year.

My father will be turning 70 this year, and as a gift I'd like to accompany him on a dream hunt for Elk in Wyoming. He's an avid outdoorsman and lifelong bowhunter for white tailed deer in New England. Ever since a father son road trip out west when I was in middle school, he's been fascinated by elk hunting in Wyoming, and I'd like to finally make that dream a reality.

I was wondering if any folks in the backroom had some recommendations for guides/outfitters in Wyoming that run elk hunts? Ideally, they would have knowledge or expertise in Archery hunts specifically, as this can be a bit different in practice than rifle. I'd also be willing to shell out a bit more for an upscale experience (good food, better lodging, dramatic scenery, etc) - but successful hunting is still the primary driver.

I know elk hunts (bowhunting especially) can be a bit strenuous - but my father is in decent shape for 70, and he's still active in the woods every day. But pragmatically speaking, a 5 mile hike at elevation is probably not feasible.

If anyone in the backroom has experience or recommendations to share on guided elk hunts, I'd be appreciative of any wisdom you care to share. Thanks!


Just go to your local petting zoo with a shot gun
by Frank Drebin  (2019-02-12 17:49:59)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

That is how Dick Cheney and his friends go hunting


Head to Estes Park
by SECTION 12  (2019-02-12 16:42:16)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

the mo Fo's are so tame you can walk out of your hotel in the morning and bag one in two minutes


I've never hunted Wy but have...
by IdahoLeahy  (2019-02-12 15:46:54)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

....extensively hunted elk and deer in Idaho, both rifle and archery. I've had easy hunts and hard hunts in both seasons. Oftentimes archery is a little less strenuous because you're moving slower and because the archery season is during the rut and you can bring the elk to you instead of you going to them. So your dads fitness at elevation may not be as big of an issue. You might look at a guide that uses horses to limit the amount that you're hiking.

It also looks like you have to use a guide in Wyoming if you're hunting in a federal designated wilderness.

Also, archery harvests are usually pretty low, so hopefully when you say that "successful hunting is still the primary driver" you don't necessarily mean harvesting. I've had great hunts where I didn't get my elk....though it's always better when you do. I just don't make harvesting my primary goal. From the harvest reports for 2015-2017 it looks like harvest rates for archers was 12.5-13.3%. The days to harvest was 11-12 days.

I'd practice slightly longer bow shots for hunting in the mountains out west. I haven't hunted deer in New England but I'm assuming it's tree stands or still hunting and that the shots are short.

You could also look at improving your stamina/strength (even at 70) for hunting out west. I'm sure there are programs online to guide you in this. Hiking up a mountain to get a shot can be exhausting. The less tired you are, the easier the shot.

Excellent binoculars are a must.

Best of luck for a great hunt.


I’m considering a DIY OTC elk hunt in Colorado this year.
by Rudy36  (2019-02-13 21:49:00)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

I’m an avid Whitetail, Turkey, Duck, and Goose Hunter in Indiana and Kentucky.

Probably rifle for my first to improve my odds even though I prefer archery for deer and turkey.

Have you ever done an OTC in Colorado?

Anyone else on the board?


I've never hunted Co
by IdahoLeahy  (2019-02-14 16:01:46)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

but rifle hunting definitely has a higher harvest rate than archery. You also have more opportunities to put on stalks when rifle hunting because if you spot elk far in the distance you can work into shooting positions quicker with a rifle than a bow. Even when feeding, elk can cover some distance, so by the time you get within 50 yards of where you spotted them they might be long gone.

Rifles matter too. My buddy shoots a 270, I shoot a 300 win mag. His 270 bullet leaves an entry hole only about 2/3rds the circumference of my 300.

And read up on tracking blood trails. An elk can travel a long way even when hit hard. I once double lunged an elk and broke it's left front shoulder with a shotguns slug and that elk still went 500 yds. Took us all day to find her.

Idaho has whitetail and muleys. Most of our whitetail are in the middle of the state but they've migrated down towards Boise now. Not sure if Colorado has whitetails. You might see if Colorado has concurrent deer seasons with elk seasons. Back in the 90's when archery hunting in Idaho I could pretty much shoot anything I saw (bull, cow, buck, doe) but now it's pick your weapon and season. I suspect Colorado is too.


Excellent suggestions and insight.
by ConnorMacManus  (2019-02-12 18:33:39)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Thank you for the thorough post. I hadn't considered that archery might actually be a bit less strenuous, but that's good to know.

Since we don't know the country or the game, we'll certainly be going with a guide. And I have no delusions about success rates. My father is a lifelong bowhunter, so he is quite familiar with failure. If there's such a thing as a "pure hunter" that understands this, and is motivated more by the hunt than the actual kill, then he is it.

Great suggestions about practicing at longer ranges and bringing binoculars. Most of his harvests here in the northeast have been under 10yard shots. So we'll need to practice up on longer ranges for sure.

Really appreciate the insight. Thank you.


at a distance of ten yards
by IdahoLeahy  (2019-02-14 15:45:22)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

you can just about jab the arrow in.

At 10 yards you're probably not using a range finder unless you pre-site distances from your stand. I don't use it that often for archery because I got petty good at estimating distances shooting bare bow, but I definitely use it for rifle. Though it still comes in handy for archery (it can tell you if that archery shot is 50 yds or 60 yds). I presume the guide will feed you distance information (unless it's a guide hunt where they just drop you off in the morning and pick you up in the evening).

Something else that might be handy for your dad if you have to do a lot of hiking is trekking poles. I do some ultra racing and trekking poles are a tremendous aid going both uphill and downhill. On the uphill they help power you up, on the downhill they save your knees. They also help with balance on uneven and rocky terrain. I'm not sure how he'd holster his bow while using the poles but it's something to ponder.


My friend and his father used and excellent outfitter
by Rudy36  (2019-02-13 21:51:24)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

however they went to Idaho from NW Indiana. If you are not dead set on Wyoming let me know and I’ll get the information for you.

Edit: Broadmouth Canyon Ranch - they offer both 10,000 acres of high fence and 50,000 acres of private free-range (80% success rate)


Interesting stats on the archery success rates.
by ndalum1  (2019-02-12 17:21:21)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

I've looked for those in the past and haven't been able to find them. Where are those posted?


for Wy I found them here (link)
by IdahoLeahy  (2019-02-14 17:16:58)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


Give Brooks Lake Lodge a call
by crazychester  (2019-02-12 13:27:24)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

They are east of the Tetons as you leave the valley towards Dubois. I've never hunted up there but have done some pack and fishing trips and they do a great job. Again, I'm not sure of seasons, restrictions, and licensing but I am certain they'd gi9ve you a wealth of knowledge.


Thank you!
by connormacmanus  (2019-02-12 15:30:11)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Looks like they have some offers on their website so I'll give them a buzz.


Not travel-related but advice just the same.
by BeijingIrish  (2019-02-12 13:11:47)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Have you ever killed an elk? Or any large animal? If you are a normal person, there is a psychological dimension to hunting for large animals. Be ready so you are not surprised.

I grew up in the Rocky Mountain West, and I was an avid hunter in my youth. Then, I went to Vietnam. I did not pick up a gun again for 40 years until I began to hunt birds again. A few years ago, a lifelong friend asked me to join him on an elk hunt in the San Luis Valley. I won't go into detail, but I just could not pull the trigger. I just didn't see the point. Even the thought of a nice backstrap of elk roasting in the oven didn't do it for me.

My father was never a keen outdoorsman, and I could not share my enthusiasm for hunting with him. I think this is an important element for you, and I fully appreciate your desire to have a special father-son experience.

If you have hunted extensively, all this might be gratuitous. Have fun. The scenery alone will be worth it.


You raise a handful of interesting questions...
by ConnorMacManus  (2019-02-12 19:08:12)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

And I certainly don't read your reply as gratuitous at all. The short, direct answer is no - I have not killed anything the size of an elk. And if we're being honest, while I'd like to think I have the fortitude to pull the trigger, I suppose I won't know until the moment of truth.

I've shot plenty of birds and small animals, been around plenty of farm animals during slaughter, but always had shitty luck deer hunting (I just sat in the treestand freezing my ass off, and never had a deer come closer than 40 yards - too far for a clean bow kill). I went bear hunting when I was 13, but missed him - almost certainly due to nerves (as would any normal 13 year old I suppose).

But your point stands - there is a psychological element to large game that simply doesn't exist with smaller prey. Even my father, with probably over 40 deer taken in his lifetime, would tell you his heart still races every time. That's why he goes...

Despite growing up hunting with my father, in my adult life I've had little opportunity to go hunting at all, even less so with my father. My career has taken me all over the USA, and abroad (France) for the last four years, as you've heard before. As such, hunting has taken a back seat for the better part of two decades.

Having moved back stateside only two months ago, this was one of the first things I wanted to plan with my father. It's certainly one of his dreams, not just the hunt itself - but to do it and share it with me. I certainly want to do it with him, because the window of time where he will still be capable of it, it is closing quickly.

So even if I hike around the Bighorns for a week and never come within sight of an elk, it would still be time well spent with my father. But a tenderloin roasting over a campfire would probably make it better...

Museums and great halls all over Europe are filled with paintings and stories of hunting. Hell, the caves are too for that matter. Hunting as a rite of passage has existed for millenia. There's something elemental about it - inside all of us.

I'm hoping to share just a slice of that with the old man while he's still around...


I struggle with this.
by R2D2isAMeanDrunk  (2019-02-12 16:15:13)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

My father is an avid hunter and still wants to shoot stuff as he gets older. Many animals I don't mind - deer, birds, other things that are plentiful to the point they can be a nuisance.

Big game, I just can't bring myself to shoot. Life's hard for elk and bears. I derive more satisfaction from conserving truly wild areas and animals than I would from hunting them.


I don't disagree with your sentiments but
by IdahoLeahy  (2019-02-14 18:00:41)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

some elk herds still need to be culled by someone. Re-introducing wolves into Idaho has had an affect on elk populations in some hunt zones but in other zones elk will overrun a ranchers crop. I've seen 100+ elk feeding in a ranchers field in the fall and summer. Then you have to look at winter range. You need enough forage on the winter range to support the herds. There often isn't enough and the elk starve. Most years Idaho has to set up feed stations for elk and deer in the winter.

I'm not sure that an elk has it any tougher than a deer (at least out west). I actually think it's the other way around. Elk can better tolerate the cold and deep snow, and have fewer predators.

But again...I don't disagree with you...in my mind there's no grander animal than a bull elk. I view and photograph elk much more often than I hunt them.

RMEF is a great organization to help support elk and elk habitat.


Yes, there's a balance.
by R2D2isAMeanDrunk  (2019-02-15 11:34:25)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Just like deer can become a pestilence, there's some management required. Many populations like theirs strike me as super volatile, because their predators lose habitat and die out, then the prey populations grow and grow until the next cycle. The cycle is natural, but the variation is what gives me pause. I don't pretend we can fully control nature in that way, but we can certainly influence it by preserving habitats, culling populations, managing disease, etc.


Interesting you mention that life is hard for big game out
by steez_nutz  (2019-02-14 12:43:25)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

west. I saw this pop up in my news feed over the last few days (it's an elk herd being hunted by a pack of wolves in Yellowstone). It doesn't reveal a conclusion, but reveals the struggles of both animals.


How many preference points do you have?
by ndalum1  (2019-02-12 11:38:22)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

I'm a little concerned that you haven't mentioned that.


Zero I suppose.
by ConnorMacManus  (2019-02-12 12:17:01)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Forgive my ignorance, in the northeast we don't have anything like a preference point system - so I wasn't even familiar with that kind of process.

A quick google search reveals I have a little research to do on that side of things, but it looks like I can buy some extra points to increase my odds? I presume the guides/outfitters might have further suggestions on how they typically approach this process? Also, are bowhunters put into the same pool as rifle season? Or are the odds better for bow season?

If you have any other suggestions to share I'd love to hear them. I'll be doing some research on my own now.


It can get complicated, and I'm still getting familiar
by ndalum1  (2019-02-12 14:51:54)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

with the process, myself. I just spoke with my brother, who lives in Wyoming, and it sounds like engaging an outfitter for advice is definitely the right course of action. My brother indicated that by using an outfitter, you can likely access tags that you couldn't as a self-guided hunter. (I wasn't aware of this, as I'll be doing this with a Wyoming resident, rather than an outfitter.)

Even if you decided to approach this without an outfitter, it may be doable depending on your goals; cow/calf tags are easier to get than bull tags, and there are some units with near 100% draw odds w/ 0 preference points...but the success rates are lower. You're on the right track--speak with some outfitters. And let us know how this plays out. This sounds like a great gift for your Dad.


Thank you again - its a confusing process...
by ConnorMacManus  (2019-02-12 18:40:34)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

And the websites don't do much to add clarity to it.

Since I'm planning to go with a guide regardless, I'll reach out to them for suggestions on how best to approach the tag process. Their business depends on it, so I suspect they'll be able to steer me in the right direction.


My cousin guides in northwest Colorado, I could see if he
by Jeash  (2019-02-12 11:33:37)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

has recommendations if you want me to ask.


That would be awesome!
by ConnorMacManus (click here to email the poster)  (2019-02-12 12:09:39)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Email enclosed.

Thank you/your cousin for the help!


Where in WYO are you headed for Elk? *
by BIGSKYND  (2019-02-12 10:20:30)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post


I'm open to suggestions on best places to go/look at
by ConnorMacManus  (2019-02-12 12:07:22)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

I'd have a preference for Wind River/Teton area if possible, as my father and I had previously spent time in that area and he loved it.


By the way I'd check on elk license applications now ...
by BIGSKYND  (2019-02-12 12:42:28)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

IIRC in Wyoming it's the beginning of the year but I could be wrong.


January 31st was the deadline. All WY nonresident tags
by ndchaos  (2019-02-12 17:46:09)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

are by draw. Look at 2020.


Ugh - good to know.
by ConnorMacManus  (2019-02-12 18:36:53)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

I'll look into this to see if there are any special circumstances or ways to get tags through guides. Or just plan for 2020.

I just moved back to the USA about two months ago after nearly 4 years abroad, so this is my first chance to plan this out and I'm trying to pin it down quickly for these exact reasons.


I'll check with a climbing buddy ...
by BIGSKYND  (2019-02-12 12:37:41)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

he bow hunts the suckers in the Snake River Range/Wyoming Range area.


Yellowstone. *
by pasteven  (2019-02-12 11:01:56)     Delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post