Yeti

First time eastern hunt starting to plan for 2016

RubberDucky

New member
Joined
Sep 28, 2015
Messages
7
Location
North Carolina
First off, I’m new to the forum and new to hunting out west. I live in NC and have been hunting all my life. A friend and I decided that we were going to do our first western back packing hunt next year. We have been doing a lot of researching online, in books and articles. We are at the point where we need to decide where and what we will be hunting. Our first choice is elk with mule deer close behind. The goal for our first hunt is to simply harvest a legal animal. Not saying we wouldn’t love a monster bull, but a cow or any legal bull would be perfectly satisfying. We expect to learn a lot the first time and hope to make this an annual trip so the trophy critters can come in later years!

With all that said, what state would you recommend to a first time western DIY hunter, with no preference points, hoping to take home some elk meat? Are there any other sources of information (books, articles, etc..) that you would recommend we look at to help narrow down a location? We want to hunt public land with a rifle and will be all on our own. We are not scared to put in the miles for the hunt but will obviously have limited scouting time since we are on the other end of the country. We know CO has good numbers of elk but with its location we also know there are tons of hunters.

Also, we will be applying to a couple areas with the intent of simply starting to accrue preference points. I know that many of the more desirable areas take years to draw a tag. Thanks for any advice!
 
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Speeddmn

Active member
Joined
Aug 1, 2013
Messages
525
Location
Helena, MT/ Opheim, MT
First of all, welcome to HuntTalk!

As for your questions, basically from my understanding and I am in no way an expert. Montana and Colorado are the only two states that offer a non resident over the counter tag. CO tags are in the 661 range I think and for certain units. Last I looked there are quite a few units in CO that the tag is good for. I can not for the life of me remember if the OTC tag is unit specific. MT tag is around 999 or something and is a Elk/Deer non resident combo. Again it's been so many years since I looked into them that I've probably messed that up so much!

As for states to put in for, for down the road hunts. UT, CO, MT, WY, NM, ID, and AZ would be the big 7. Elk can be found in many states now, but as a non resident to draw these are the ones with the best odds. Randy (Big Fin) has a download Elk e-book how to, that is a pretty good read. If you use the search function at the top you should be able to find a link to it.

Good luck, the interwebs is full of info. I always forget what the state specific websites are so I just google everything! haha.
 

C17loadclear

Active member
Joined
Aug 5, 2014
Messages
240
Location
Sandpoint Idaho
Washington and Oregon also have OTC tags. Something to keep an eye out for when buying your tag/license is some states offer a discount for non resident disabled veterens. I did not know this when I bought my Wa elk tag...It was 500 bucks and could have been 50ish. I think Idaho has the same thing. Good luck!!
 

1_pointer

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 20, 2000
Messages
18,109
Location
Indiana
Utah and Idaho also have OTC elk tags. Idaho does have a quota for NRs, so you may have to buy them early.
 

Festus

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2012
Messages
2,953
Location
Virginia
I'm far from an expert, but my advice is free......

We switch between ID, MT, WY and CO. And that's way, way more than we can keep straight from way over here. Some hunts are draws, but require very few or no points.
You can buy 'points only' in WY (too late this year), and in CO you have to front the tag money to get a point - but get most of it back a couple months later. Might as well buy points the years you are hunting another state. ID doesn't use points. I haven't yet figured out why I buy MT points.

MT is a good bet for a general tag. This will cover an overwhelming amount of public land with several weeks of season to get it done. It does cost a little more. I have seen and been close to 330"+ elk on public land in MT, more than once. (killing them different story). I have been totally alone and crowded off the mountain in MT (all in the same day).
Our experiences with CO was lots of elk and lots of people. Short seasons.
In ID, we were able to get totally away from people by hunting more rugged country. We took our horses for this - another topic all together.
Only hunted WY for deer, so far. Probably burn my elk points there this coming year. Story and pics to come...

Western Hunter magazine is a good resource. Eastman's is a resource (always confirm info). Elk101.com, randynewburg.com, elknut.com, OnXmaps is a must.

Figure on spending countless hours staring at Google Earth and other maps trying to find elky looking spots at least 2 miles from any road/trailhead. Once you have what you think are a few good areas to consider, call local biologists and wardens. They tend to be more helpful if they feel you have done some homework. If they tell you an area is not hunted hard because it's awful rough, then look there.

Prepare to spend any and all spare time working out/hiking/running.
Stop eating everything that tastes good. Start eating nuts, twigs, berries, leaves, grains, fruits, and veggies.
Sell golf clubs, fishing poles, boat, skis, dirtbike, lawnmower, chain saw, weed eater and anything else that takes time away from map reading and hiking and use money for packs, boots, and merino wool clothes.
Inform family there will no longer be 'family vacations'.

Seriously, start accumulating the best equipment you can afford.
Post pictures and stories here.
Good luck!
 
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mgiuliani

Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2014
Messages
32
No expert myself but I have spent 20 years hunting public land in Montana. I've never taken a trophy bull elk but I have been fortunate to tag 8 bulls in 7 different public hunting districts. Montana is a huge state with a long season. We are very fortunate. This Field and Stream article linked below is advice from a long time MT elk hunter and is the best I've ever read, in my humble opinion. The only thing I would add is get your lungs and legs in elk shape - find a hill and start hiking it with weight in a backpack.

http://www.fieldandstream.com/artic...-other-big-game/2012/08/tips-and-tactics-3-ha
 

genesis273

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 30, 2009
Messages
1,611
Location
North Carolina
Welcome from a fellow NC-ian!
Just be warned, the western bug will linger for years. Saying that to say, don't plan on a one year thing. Once you go, you'll go again. Also from a NC standpoint. There is zero comparison between NC deer hunting and elk hunting. Elk is alot more fun...and satisfying!
Good luck and welcome to the site!
 

buckykm1

Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2010
Messages
528
Location
Vicksburg, Michigan
technically, Montana does not have over the counter tags for non-resident hunters. it is a draw, however the last few years they have had left over tags from the draw, that could be bought over the counter.
But that doesn't mean they will next year.

Kevin
 

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