Yeti

Guided Hunt vs. DIY

sep0667

Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
26
Location
Iowa
I really want to go on a couple elk hunts in my life. It would be a dream hunt for me. I'm from the Midwest. So I'm not sure public diy would be the way to go for me being I don't have much time to be able to scout etc. I think it would be much more rewarding diy though. But, to have the best odds I'm thinking guided is the way to go. I started to build points in WY and MT. By doing guided I could likely greatly increase my odds of harvesting a bull and also learn the ropes a little bit perhaps then transition to diy further down the road. What are your guys thoughts on this? Just from reading forums like this, facebook pages etc it just does not seem that as a non-resident (not even from the west) and having little time to hunt I'd be searching for a needle in a haystack in terms of getting a harvest. Going at it solo seems daunting. I've been out west on a succesful public diy pronghorn hunt and elk shed hunting trip and backpacked/hiked in Colorado a few times.

Other thing is I can't find anyone who would want to go with me. Sure, several friends like the idea of it or think it would be cool, but when it comes down to actually being serious about it they all have an excuse or reason why they can't commit to it. Even the guided hunt they wont commit once they hear the price. I know its expensive, but really its not hard to save a few thousand dollars or even make enough doing some side hustles to pay for a hunt. Other fear is a few of the guys that seem a little interested I know are not in the shape needed to hike the mountains nor do they have any interest in working out or getting in shape. Just a bunch of excuses.

I've decided I only live once and this is something I want to do and I am going to go even if it is just me. This is a dream to me and important. I do feel a little sheepish about booking a hunt with an outfitter and it just being me and not having a buddy or hunting partner. Surely I would not be the only person to ever book a hunt solo with an outfitter, but just looking for some reassurance.
 

stealthy_bowman

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Joined
Aug 21, 2016
Messages
507
Location
NJ
If it’s the odds of harvesting that you are most interested in then go with a guide. If it’s a deeply rewarding adventure that you seek, that might even give you a small chance at an elk, then go diy. Me, I’d go for the latter every time.
 

MP48094

New member
Joined
Mar 30, 2018
Messages
16
Go for it on your own you only live once. I hunt alone and with others, i enjoy going alone. Build points in Wyoming, do your research, spend some money and go.
 

Bob-WY

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 24, 2020
Messages
550
I've been on 3 guided elk hunts and enjoyed them all. I also live here now and DIY for elk now.

Both have great memories, just different.

Guided can be anything you want, I learned to call, asked questions and learned. Explain to the outfitter what you want and based on my experience you can get what you want.

Guides saves you scouting, equipment t to get remote and possibly access to more and less pressured elk with a guide who can help
 
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SFC B

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 2, 2013
Messages
3,942
Location
Colorado Springs
When I talk to folks from back home (Midwest) about this question MY first question is "Is this something that you want to do once or twice and harvest and animal or is it that you want to CHASE elk where they live and experience the wild there?" and to go along with that is how you would be spending the cash.......one or two hunts or the equipment to do many? It is a cost/benefit analysis and I don't judge either way :)
 

dgc1963

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 17, 2019
Messages
838
I live in pa and started my western hunting buy using a guide and dont regret it at all went on several hunts with the same guides and had some great trips. Then have done diy hunts .I think I beat the learning curve a bit by using a guide
And due to tag caps being a NR will prob use a guide to get back to a unit that has trophy potential next yr, guides get tag allocations in some states I enjoy both diy and guided
I dont try to get friends to go on my trips did it once and it didnt work out to well, I was successful but know one else trained for the trip and they all had problems but I just did my thing and hunted
 

tillicant

Active member
Joined
Jan 26, 2021
Messages
141
Location
SE WI
Have done diy & also trespass fee. Don't really consider that guided, never had a person with me besides my wife. Mainly do the trespass fee to get away from crowds. The outfitter gives us some info but usually still take a time and mistakes to get us pointed in the right direction. Going public this year, 71, 3rd. First year in 50 that I will miss the Wisconsin opener.
 
Joined
May 23, 2021
Messages
42
Location
Lake Charles, Louisiana
I’m doing my first DIY elk hunt this year. Never been on a guided hunt before. I would love to, but I can’t afford one for a while. If you want your friends to commit, do DIY.

I have a friend coming with me who has never been hunting at all before. But it’s costing him no money, so he’s interested.
 

ElkFever2

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 4, 2019
Messages
3,856
Location
Iowa
You live in IA as do I. $300 gets you a cow elk tag in WY, and a 12 hr shot across NE gets you to the unit where you can hunt. A moderate amount of internet research can narrow down not only which unit to apply for but where to look for and find elk in that unit. I’ll be posting on my hunt journal how my elk hunt goes with the parameters above.

When I first wanted to hunt elk my knowledge of opportunities was small. I was thinking I’d save for years and go guided, maybe. Once I increased my knowledge I realized the barriers to harvest were FAR smaller than I thought they were.

If you want to go guided, then go for it. Just know the DIY route is very, very achievable too.
 

popeyoung12

New member
Joined
Jul 31, 2021
Messages
23
If serious about playing the western points systems, subscribe to Gohunt. wealth of knowledge. Best states to draw? 1) Idaho and New mexico beacuase theu dont have a point system. 2) Az. 50% of the nr tags are now random. I drew with 3 points this year, bow elk, leave in 2 days. buddy drew a great unit last year with 7 points, drew it again this year with 0 points. 3) Nv. We all live in so. cal. so i am 475 miles from Flagstaff. I still booked a guide, they do all the prep work, scouting, and most importantly, pack meat out.
 

CRMarks

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2017
Messages
48
Location
Arizona
I know exactly what you mean the situation you're facing. As the first in my family to hunt and not having any friends who hunt, I was left trying to figure out how to really get out there and give it a shot without it becoming the most expensive boondoggle in my life. I totally agree with @Bob-WY that starting with a guide and explaining that you are looking to learn is a great way to start. It ensures that you're in an area likely to have a chance at an elk without you having to do all of the difficult e-scouting on your own, allows you to give it a shot without investing in all of the necessary gear, and as he pointed out an opportunity to learn by asking questions and observing the whats/wheres/whys/hows of everything the guide staff does.

I did this with pheasant hunting (obviously not elk) b/c I didn't live in an area with pheasant and didn't have a bird dog. So I went with a guide several times who had access to fields and had both flushing and pointing dogs. I explained to him at the beginning of our first hunt that I was looking to learn and we ended up talking about the finer points and details back at the lodge each day. I learned so much that I was able to confidently learn how to learn about different target species, which I think it the most valuable lesson. I now have my own bird dog and was able to pick which hunting type would suit me best and the breed. We just finished our first DIY hunt for grouse. Now that I live in AZ, I plan to do the exact same thing with elk and deer.

It is definitely a daunting task putting all of this information together to have a fun and meaningful activity on your own, especially without the benefit of generations of knowledge and support past down like so many of our fellow community members here, but using a guide is a great way to start in my opinion. Send me a PM if you'd like to talk more specifically. Good luck!
 

Clam

Active member
Joined
May 29, 2019
Messages
181
Location
W. WA.
With your circumstances, I’d go guided. Put $ aside, be physically prepared and learn everything you can. Guides can have horses, remote camps, and due to their experience, greatly increase your chances of harvesting an animal. Guided trips still take effort and teamwork to get the most out of them.
 

SCliving Outdoors

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Joined
Feb 9, 2018
Messages
420
Location
South Carolina
It all depends what your long term goals are. If you only want to hunt elk a couple times in your life guided is the way to go. I'd look in NM, WY or Idaho would be my suggestion. There is nothing wrong with going on a guided hunt. Everyone's situation is different. A good guided hunt is enjoyable.

If you want to hunt out west every year (or every other year) buy the gear and start hunting DIY. You said you went on a pronghorn hunt and shed hunt successfully. If a DIY elk is the ultimate goal and you're real concerned about being successful start by e-scouting then do a deer hunt, bear hunt, grouse hunt, or shed hunt (or something) in the area you want to elk hunt. Or just pick an area you can elk hunt every year and hunt hard. You'll learn the area and have some fun. Make note of everything you learn and see, including where you see/or don't see elk depending on the time of year.

Solo hunting isn't for everyone, but if you are confident in your abilities and gear (buy an inReach) don't let friends hold you back. I hunt all over the country from the east coast every year. I enjoy hunting with the right friends and solo. If a friend I trust wants to come with me they are welcome to come. If no one wants to go or they back out on me it in no way effects my DIY hunting. There is something special about killing a great animal with friends. There is something equally special about taking a great animal 100% solo.

I firmly believe that 90% of the animals are killed by 10% of the hunters. Put in the time before the hunt and during the hunt. Out work the other guys on the mountain and you'll be successful more times then not.
 

CJnGA

Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
Messages
63
Reading your story makes me even more grateful that my dad and uncle have both latched onto going out west with me. I honestly don't know who I would ask to go with me if they didn't want to go. If I were solo, I would likely still do DIY just because that's the personality I am - buy all the shtuff and figure it out myself (I guess that's called hard-headed in some circles). This will be our third hunt out west: first year was WY Pronghorn - we had 4 tags and filled two; last year was WY Muley - had two tags, filled one; this year we have two MT General Combo - hoping to fill at least one of our 4 possibilities. We are living proof that "even a blind squirrel finds a nut eventually". All of our trips are DIY starting from zero - literally woke up one day and said "I want to go hunt out west" and started researching via YT videos, GoHunt info, OnX Maps, WFD/DNR websites, and forums like this. As others have said - if you're going to harvest an animal, you'll have better luck with a guide. If you're going for the experience, there's a lot to be said for learning it on-the-fly. It's not for everyone and it does have a steeper learning curve than with a guide, but it's all a great experience no matter how you do it.
 

Gila

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 8, 2019
Messages
488
Location
New Mexico
You would have a blast on an outfitted hunt here in New Mexico. You need boots on the ground scouting to be successful at DIY elk hunting and spend more than a few days looking for elk before the season. Time away you don’t have, I take it. The weather in October down here is usually quite pleasant. The elk hunting in the Gila, Sacramento Mountains, and up around Chama is phenomenal! You can put in the draw for an Outfitter tag (10% of the tags for an area) on public land or hunt private land with an outfitter. You should be able to get a good hunt for about 7-12K or more if you have the means, I believe.

The hunt camps in the Gila can be rather nice and comfortable. A group of hunters getting together like yourself. Some are wall tents while others are cabins. I have heard that some book hotels but it seems too far away from the action to me. But you have options. Hunting the Gila is an experience like no other. I say make your dream happen now if you can. Things can happen where money might be in short supply or a person’s health is an issue. I say book a hunt and go for it!
 

Rackman77

Member
Joined
May 22, 2021
Messages
32
I really want to go on a couple elk hunts in my life. It would be a dream hunt for me. I'm from the Midwest. So I'm not sure public diy would be the way to go for me being I don't have much time to be able to scout etc. I think it would be much more rewarding diy though. But, to have the best odds I'm thinking guided is the way to go. I started to build points in WY and MT. By doing guided I could likely greatly increase my odds of harvesting a bull and also learn the ropes a little bit perhaps then transition to diy further down the road. What are your guys thoughts on this? Just from reading forums like this, facebook pages etc it just does not seem that as a non-resident (not even from the west) and having little time to hunt I'd be searching for a needle in a haystack in terms of getting a harvest. Going at it solo seems daunting. I've been out west on a succesful public diy pronghorn hunt and elk shed hunting trip and backpacked/hiked in Colorado a few times.

Other thing is I can't find anyone who would want to go with me. Sure, several friends like the idea of it or think it would be cool, but when it comes down to actually being serious about it they all have an excuse or reason why they can't commit to it. Even the guided hunt they wont commit once they hear the price. I know its expensive, but really its not hard to save a few thousand dollars or even make enough doing some side hustles to pay for a hunt. Other fear is a few of the guys that seem a little interested I know are not in the shape needed to hike the mountains nor do they have any interest in working out or getting in shape. Just a bunch of excuses.

I've decided I only live once and this is something I want to do and I am going to go even if it is just me. This is a dream to me and important. I do feel a little sheepish about booking a hunt with an outfitter and it just being me and not having a buddy or hunting partner. Surely I would not be the only person to ever book a hunt solo with an outfitter, but just looking for some reassurance.
I did the DIY Public land option for the past 4 years and put everything I had into it in Colorado. Being from the East I only had one week of scouting usually in early summer, and then a week to ten days of hunting. When I did the math I had spent over 10k in 4 years and literally had nothing to show for it except the time spent in amazing country chasing these amazing animals.

So this year I’m going with a outfitter. I’m sitting at the airport now waiting to board my flight, reminiscing about the previous four attempts at archery elk, hoping for a more fruitful outcome of course. Either way, I agree with you that life is short and it is awesome to live it to the fullest. IMO I’ve never felt more alive than when pushing myself to the limits in the Rocky Mountains playground. As for which is better, I’ll hit you up in a couple weeks and give you my report.
 

SilverDollars

Active member
Joined
Sep 4, 2013
Messages
152
Location
Central Texas
Go with a guide. If you go DIY it will take years to acquire the skills necessary to have the success you desire. From a quality guided hunt you will certainly gain knowledge that you don't have and you will develop and appreciate the guide's talents, knowledge, and abilities. And, if you do your research, the proper guide should certainly raise the expectations of success. Consider a guided hunt to be a set of lessons to begin a quest you may later wish to take with DIY.
 
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OntarioHunter

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 11, 2020
Messages
3,538
I always hunted elk DIY and alone. It took several years to learn the country and how to read elk behavior. I was lucky enough to hit paydirt right off the bat ... and still live to tell about it. Hunting as a novice in unfamiliar country nearly got me killed the week before taking my first bull.

I would suggest going with a guide the first trip to get your feet wet. If that works out as a satisfactory experience, think about DIY for the next trip.
 

OverlordBear

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 6, 2018
Messages
357
Location
Idaho
You would have a blast on an outfitted hunt here in New Mexico. You need boots on the ground scouting to be successful at DIY elk hunting and spend more than a few days looking for elk before the season. Time away you don’t have, I take it. The weather in October down here is usually quite pleasant. The elk hunting in the Gila, Sacramento Mountains, and up around Chama is phenomenal! You can put in the draw for an Outfitter tag (10% of the tags for an area) on public land or hunt private land with an outfitter. You should be able to get a good hunt for about 7-12K or more if you have the means, I believe.

The hunt camps in the Gila can be rather nice and comfortable. A group of hunters getting together like yourself. Some are wall tents while others are cabins. I have heard that some book hotels but it seems too far away from the action to me. But you have options. Hunting the Gila is an experience like no other. I say make your dream happen now if you can. Things can happen where money might be in short supply or a person’s health is an issue. I say book a hunt and go for it!
This is good advice. As DIY elk hunter I have only killed 3 elk (One bull) in 10 years and none with a bow. If you aren’t going to pursue this as your life’s hobby, book a guided hunt and get your bull and move on to other pursuits, you’ll save your self a lot of heartache and obsession. It is too late for me I am hooked on the suffering lol.
 
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