My favorite is still archery. I still have yet to kill an elk with my bow, but I learn more and get closer to it every year. I didn't do much gun hunting growing up and have only hunted with a rifle since moving to Colorado, so it's still new to me. I do enjoy muzzleloader hunting as well.
I have only hunted with a rifle my whole life, so its my favorite by default (I come from a non-hunting family so i haven't had the chance for any exposure to different hunting styles). But I cannot wait to be able to buy myself a bow and hunt elk in mid September. But for Mule deer, i will always prefer the rifle .
To be honest, I primarily use the archery season as my warm-up session for rifle season. I hunt in areas where I don't have to make the decision between one or the other. I get to re-know the area, the games habits, what survived the winter. If I can get one with a bow it's just icing on the cake, but my heart is in the rifle season and that is were I have had my greatest success.
I always thought it was good and bad that you could hunt elk with a rifle during the rut. It seemed like a good opportunity for hunters but WAY too easy and I always wondered how it could be sustained.
I used to think about the possible reasons Idaho could afford to do this and came up with this: Idaho has large wilderness areas where ATVs and whatnot are prohibited. The wilderness areas are "round" and not linear, thus not allowing easy ingress from "either side" like you find in long, linear wilderness areas. These areas also serve as nurseries for outside the area, kind of like hunting around Rocky Mountain National Park, etc. The north country has lots of trees and under-story akin to whitetail country, which is harder to hunt. Idaho has (had?) a lower human population. The land is broken, tough country and rivers don't head straight out of the state but, rather, curl around allot and take their time in leaving. While the state is low elevation, it has large elevation changes and steep, grassy slopes.
Maybe I'm wrong. Thoughts?
I like the antler confirmation of CO, WY and MT bulls more, though. They seem wider, more sweeping and with greater changes in direction where beams and points change direction or curve.