Yeti

Guided Hunt vs. DIY

2rocky

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 23, 2010
Messages
3,552
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.
No Judgement for a guy from out of state doing a guided hunt for elk. Seriously. If you decide you want to make it an annual thing and hunt a couple states a year then maybe it would behoove you to develop a DIY mindset, but go have your dream hunt. My first bull was A DIY archery bull on public land but it was with friends who had hunted that unit for years.

If i came to the midwest to hunt whitetails, I'd book with an outfitter. I'm not going to hang cameras all summer and setup 12 different stands for various wind conditions and food plots and oak acorn ripening. Just the same way you aren't gonna buy a wall tent and get a pack string and spend 6 weeks in the unit.
 
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ol_spark

Active member
Joined
Feb 3, 2011
Messages
320
Location
NW Pa
A guided hunt may give an excellent experience but does not guarantee killing the trophy you seek. I’ve been on two guided hunts in the New Mexico and both were a joke as far as I was concerned. I’ve already had all the experience I needed and decided that I wanted a trophy. Wrong outfitter? Maybe. Worst drought in decades? Maybe. I’ve had better experiences and success by doing it myself and I’m further East than you. I’ve eaten a lot of tags, so to speak, and some were my choice to do so. For me it wasn’t all about the kill until I desired the trophy and then I felt shorted. You‘ve been given some very good advice by others here but I just needed to say when elk hunting a guide isn’t guaranteed kill. Be able to live with that for 7K plus.
 

2rocky

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 23, 2010
Messages
3,552
A guided hunt may give an excellent experience but does not guarantee killing the trophy you seek. I’ve been on two guided hunts in the New Mexico and both were a joke as far as I was concerned. I’ve already had all the experience I needed and decided that I wanted a trophy. Wrong outfitter? Maybe. Worst drought in decades? Maybe. I’ve had better experiences and success by doing it myself and I’m further East than you. I’ve eaten a lot of tags, so to speak, and some were my choice to do so. For me it wasn’t all about the kill until I desired the trophy and then I felt shorted. You‘ve been given some very good advice by others here but I just needed to say when elk hunting a guide isn’t guaranteed kill. Be able to live with that for 7K plus.
For perspective, a Guided summer pack trip is $300-$500 per person per day, and there is a lot less labor than on an elk hunt. But good point on being willing to come home empty handed. A local acquaintance burned 6 points in Wyoming on a mule deer hunt, never fired a shot and said it was the best hunt he had been on in his life. That is the attitude to have.
 

BrentD

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Joined
Feb 3, 2018
Messages
4,349
Location
In the middle
I hale from Iowa too (Story County), and I'd rather have a 5x5 bull done all by myself than a 7x7 with a guide. And thus, I have a 5x5 and not a 7x7. But that's a call that only you can make.

Whereabouts in Iowa are you?
 

bradr

Active member
Joined
Nov 3, 2018
Messages
80
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.
Maybe go on a guided cow hunt to start with. They are fairly reasonable. That's what I'm doing this year. My son and I archery hunted last season but he is unable to go along this year so I opted for the guided hunt. I've found them for around $1500-1800 plus lic/tag.
 

Pahoundsman

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 3, 2020
Messages
373
Location
Central Pa
My first elk hunt was guided 25 years ago, I shot a bull and a beautiful 6x7 muley buck.I’ve gone DIY ever since. I enjoyed every minute I have ever spent in the mountains. It’s all in what you want. Good luck!
 

JimQ

Active member
Joined
Aug 17, 2021
Messages
54
Location
Montana
If you decide to DIY in the Montana area let me know and I will help all I can on areas and scouting for you. I'm from Missouri so gotta look out for midwest folks.
 

sep0667

Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
26
Location
Iowa
I hale from Iowa too (Story County), and I'd rather have a 5x5 bull done all by myself than a 7x7 with a guide. And thus, I have a 5x5 and not a 7x7. But that's a call that only you can make.

Whereabouts in Iowa are you?
Just south of dsm
 

John Galt

Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2021
Messages
23
Location
Wyoming
I talked to a buddy that went on a guided rifle hunt years ago and he said it was mixed for him. The guides took him directly to where the elk were and he shot one. He loved the fact that he shot one, but he also missed the "hunting" aspect of it. He said he was with a few guys and it was like being at some sort of convention. Where one person shot one and then they rushed everyone to the next spot so the others could get one, and then it was over. They were trying to get as many people through as they could.

Stealthy_bowman put it best. Whats more important. The hunt or the kill?

Me, I despise the majority of outfitters/guides. They are detrimental to the sport in my opinion. Back in Kansas, the county I came from is roughly 70% owned by people who continue to buy up land and use it strictly for this purpose. Causing all kinds of issues, not just hunting. Since living in Wyoming, I am witnessing guides/outfitters setting up man camps for the whole season, and using public land as their own. I have talked to several people who are coming up here from Colorado to hunt mostly because of this issue. One person told me outfitters have such a blatant disregard for others that they are actually building structures on public land for their own hunting business.
 

OntarioHunter

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Joined
Sep 11, 2020
Messages
3,538
I talked to a buddy that went on a guided rifle hunt years ago and he said it was mixed for him. The guides took him directly to where the elk were and he shot one. He loved the fact that he shot one, but he also missed the "hunting" aspect of it. He said he was with a few guys and it was like being at some sort of convention. Where one person shot one and then they rushed everyone to the next spot so the others could get one, and then it was over. They were trying to get as many people through as they could.

Stealthy_bowman put it best. Whats more important. The hunt or the kill?

Me, I despise the majority of outfitters/guides. They are detrimental to the sport in my opinion. Back in Kansas, the county I came from is roughly 70% owned by people who continue to buy up land and use it strictly for this purpose. Causing all kinds of issues, not just hunting. Since living in Wyoming, I am witnessing guides/outfitters setting up man camps for the whole season, and using public land as their own. I have talked to several people who are coming up here from Colorado to hunt mostly because of this issue. One person told me outfitters have such a blatant disregard for others that they are actually building structures on public land for their own hunting business.
Here I look at guides and outfitters as a necessary evil ... necessary for keeping a lot of folks who don't know what they're doing out of my hair. Truth is the DIY crowd is the worst offenders for that. Outfitters better run a tight ship or they lose their license. They clean everything up when they're done. It's the local slobs who build their visquene haciendas on public land and leave the mess behind that I want to shoot (metaphorically).
 
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John Galt

Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2021
Messages
23
Location
Wyoming
Here I look at guides and outfitters as a necessary evil ... necessary for keeping a lot of folks who don't know what they're doing out of my hair. Truth is the DIY crowd is the worst offenders for that. Outfitters better run a tight ship or they lose their license. They clean everything up when they're done. It's the local slobs who build their visquene haciendas on public land and leave the mess behind that I want shoot (metaphorically).
I can agree with you. I am just going off what I have personally seen and experienced. The only time I would use an outfitter is if I am out of country or grizzly country. Specifically for safety reasons only. Outside of that. Dont want anything to do with them. .
 

Bob-WY

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 24, 2020
Messages
550
I have never been on a guided rifle hunt, but have been on 3 guided bow hunts, two of them with my wife, so 5 total hunts I guess. We hunted 2x1 with a guide and had a blast. This was northern Idaho and we had 1 bull killed and one hit/lost. Had several other interactions with calling in bulls, but shots didn't materialize (including me being a bonehead and second guessing the guide, had I done what he said, would have been a 10 yard shot as a bull herded his cows over a ridge.)

Each trip someone in camp (6-8 hunters) had bulls killed. Plus a bear.

If you are looking to "try" elk hunting I'd go guided. If it becomes once every few years, go guided. If from that you want to take the DIY route and all that entails, both extra work, but for many extra satisfaction, then by all means do that!

Don't shy away from a guide, just choose wisely! Most are good, some are scams, but what you really want is one that matches your style. Ask lots of questions!
 

bmontang

Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2017
Messages
61
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.

If the harvest is the most important thing then a guide makes total sense. If you want the full experience then DIY is the best way to go. Me and some friends have been DIY for several years (this year is at risk due to funds for me) and have not regretted a minute. We are 0 for on filling a tag but have had great experiences.

My buddy and I talked about it when we were in college in the early 90s and just finally pulled the trigger 4 years ago. He made it the first year, missed the last two and ended up passing away in a work accident earlier this year. The memories of the hunt we were on are the best memories I have of him. Sure we hunted and fished a ton when we were in college (go Cyclones by they way) and after, but none of it lives up to being out west on a DIY elk hunt.

Now it is his little brother, my sons, and his son carrying on the tradition. My simple advice is to pull the trigger sooner rather than later and do what it takes to make it happen. Next season is not promised to anyone. This year has taught me that above all else. He and I should be enjoying our first grandbabies together and instead it is just me.
 

OntarioHunter

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 11, 2020
Messages
3,538
If the harvest is the most important thing then a guide makes total sense. If you want the full experience then DIY is the best way to go. Me and some friends have been DIY for several years (this year is at risk due to funds for me) and have not regretted a minute. We are 0 for on filling a tag but have had great experiences.

My buddy and I talked about it when we were in college in the early 90s and just finally pulled the trigger 4 years ago. He made it the first year, missed the last two and ended up passing away in a work accident earlier this year. The memories of the hunt we were on are the best memories I have of him. Sure we hunted and fished a ton when we were in college (go Cyclones by they way) and after, but none of it lives up to being out west on a DIY elk hunt.

Now it is his little brother, my sons, and his son carrying on the tradition. My simple advice is to pull the trigger sooner rather than later and do what it takes to make it happen. Next season is not promised to anyone. This year has taught me that above all else. He and I should be enjoying our first grandbabies together and instead it is just me.
That's tough! Hang in there. This will be a tough hunting season for you for sure but I hope you make it for his sake. That's what he would want.
 

crock239

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 18, 2012
Messages
508
Location
Iowa
My first western hunt was a guided elk trip in CO, kind of a budget deal I think we only spent $1500 or $2500 but this was 2008. I hunted OTC archery tag while 3 others in our group had drawn 1-2pt muzzleloader tags...we only hunted on public ground.

I learned a ton from that trip about hunting elk, calling elk, navigating treacherous mountain roads, and got hooked on elk hunting and hunting the west in general.

The hunting on our guided hunt wasn't great every day, but the guides knew the area, the general movements of elk and hunters, showed us how to break down an elk and cape a skull, etc. I Never heard a bugle on that trip.

We located a young but good 5x5 w some cows in a park, and I participated in calling in and arrowing that bull. Some of the most exciting few minutes of hunting I've ever had.

2 days later I helped our guide call in a bull for my brother.

I've since done several DIY trips for elk and deer with mixed harvest success but each trip is a great memory whether harvesting an animal or not. I prefer DIY now and enjoy the scouting and prep etc.

Nothing wrong with either approach. If you're only going to do it once or twice, look for an outfitter or guide and find one that will listen to you on how you want to hunt. Guide definitely does not always mean harvest success. Don't spend so much on a guide that you'll feel pressure or bitter if the hunting sucks due to weather, unexpected hunting pressure etc....as long as the guide is trying hard that's all you can expect.
 

Dsoetaert

New member
Joined
Sep 17, 2021
Messages
2
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.
Many tags I diy Alaska moose, antelope,whitetail, muley, black bear, elk in grizzly country and elk on private property guides are nice. Able to keep up and call from behind 30 yards. Solo in elk camp you’d never be around your partner anyway leave on horse 430 am return 8pm beat it’s hard hunting. If nothing else the guide keeps you going
 

CJnGA

Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2021
Messages
63
If the harvest is the most important thing then a guide makes total sense. If you want the full experience then DIY is the best way to go. Me and some friends have been DIY for several years (this year is at risk due to funds for me) and have not regretted a minute. We are 0 for on filling a tag but have had great experiences.

My buddy and I talked about it when we were in college in the early 90s and just finally pulled the trigger 4 years ago. He made it the first year, missed the last two and ended up passing away in a work accident earlier this year. The memories of the hunt we were on are the best memories I have of him. Sure we hunted and fished a ton when we were in college (go Cyclones by they way) and after, but none of it lives up to being out west on a DIY elk hunt.

Now it is his little brother, my sons, and his son carrying on the tradition. My simple advice is to pull the trigger sooner rather than later and do what it takes to make it happen. Next season is not promised to anyone. This year has taught me that above all else. He and I should be enjoying our first grandbabies together and instead it is just me.

Sorry to hear about your buddy! I lost a close friend last fall unexpectedly at <40 y/o. He went to bed and never woke up. I'm far from being a touchy/feely guy, but I catch myself wanting to text him something stupid and re-realizing that he's not here anymore and it just kills my whole day. It's always too soon.

I got the bug for western hunting a few years ago. I don't have any hunting buddies around here, so I asked my dad if he wanted to go. It has completely lit (or maybe re-lit) a fire in him so much that now we're bow hunting from saddles for whitetail locally multiple times per week. We've done a couple trips out west so far. When we were thinking about whether we wanted to make the trip again this year his response was "If we're going to do some of these harder hunts we need to do them now. Let's not wait!" He crossed over the 60 y/o threshold a few years ago and is definitely feeling the push to not delay things, so we're going to keep pushing and going until we can't anymore. By then, my two sons will likely be tagging along and can help carry the torch forward.

...Sorry for the soapbox sermon. In closing...... For anyone reading this down the line, don't wait. It doesn't have to be textbook perfect situation - it's the experience that matters. You're going to screw something up no matter how long you wait or prepare. We're never promised tomorrow, so don't put it off. Get off your butt and go do!

Oh yeah, and GO CYCLONES!
 

LuketheDog

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 29, 2015
Messages
3,289
Location
Sedalia, Colorado
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.

Absolutely nothing wrong with a guided hunt, but due diligence on the outfitter is very important. I know nothing about your age, condition, or hunting experience, but I think if you are hesitant to go solo you should hire a guide and leave your friends at home wishing they would've gone. Elk hunting is a mental game too and if you're lonely in camp and doubting your plan after a few days of little or no elk action, it's really hard not to throw in the towel. The outfitter will have the the logistics accounted for and you won't have to worry about guys leaving you hanging on your own, go to camp and make new friends.

The most important part is not to spend years hemming and hawing about where and how to go on an elk hunt, you're not getting any younger...
 

MarvB

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 5, 2001
Messages
6,419
Location
₵tral Oar-e-gun
Absolutely nothing wrong with a guided hunt, but due diligence on the outfitter is very important.

^^^THIS!

I’ve been on a few, mostly won at banquets, and have had both a great time and have walked off (early) due to the outfitters incompetence! One even has his own TV show now and maybe he’s changed his ways but I’d never share a camp with him again.
Either way, just get out there, learn and enjoy!!!
 

Akcabin

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 11, 2021
Messages
311
For me it's the experience. Harvesting game is the icing on the cake. Learning the landscape n how to read it. Researching before hand. Knowing how to get around in the bush n being comfortable in my skills before I go on a hunt like that. I prefer the challenge.
. I have found that we all do things differently. Our ways. I know some guides, there's good n bad. Some folks pay a lot for an experience other than what they dreamed of.
I also do not feel that the government should mandate the use of a guide. I just don't need the government to hold my hand. And a lot of folks who would love to hunt in places like Alaska can't afford to. Guys with years of experience. And then the government spends money on shooters in helicopters to manage game population.
If folks want a guide then hire a guide. I know they are trying as hard as they can. But also have plenty of government to deal with. And they are still people.
Kinda got on a soapbox but I also feel that it is part of the question. Lots more folks would be hunting public lands if they could. But don't have a choice if they can't afford to even think about it.
I've spent 40 years hunting by myself and feel confident in my skills. And could not afford to hunt any public lands that required me to hire a guide who is trying to make a living to. I can't afford the middle man. And then the government makes me to boot.
Most important here is getting out. We all have different expectations n goals.
Also important is take one make one building our bench
 

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