Time to start planning for next year, advice

tom338

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May 7, 2015
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317
Just got back from a guided 6 day hunt in Idaho. Wow beautiful scenic country. Did see some elk but hunting partner and I came home to tag soup. Outfitter was not good. Hardly said more than 10 words to us. His head guide only said hi when we came into camp. There were 3 other guys in camp, one doing a 1x1 hunt the others like us a 2x1 hunt. The 3 other guys were done on day 2. 1 kill and the other 2 guys hit elk but no recovery. Camp rules if you cripple and don't recover you are done. Our guide busted his [email protected]# for six days for us. Gave my buddy a opportunity that almost worked on a real nice 350+ bull. The owner and other guide did not help our guide at all. They also would not let him take us into the spots they typically hunt. We learned that the 3 other guys in camp were long time (5 year) return customers, they were also the reference given to us. Would never go back there, feel bad for the way our guide was treated. Question: I would like to hunt in Montana next year. How can I go about finding a reputable guide?? Can someone recommend one?? Price range would have to be around the 36-3900 range. Or if someone could help me with a general area and DIY I would be interested. Question #2: is it typical for a outfitter to not help his guides?? I am 58 and don't have much time to waste anymore. Only my 4th elk hunt. I did find out I could handle some VERY steep rough country, sure glad I walked hills at home this summer!!
 

tom338

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May 7, 2015
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Oh ya, have done lots of research on different units in Montana, always walk away more confused than before or frustrated. One place says good, the next not so good. Do not care to do a pack in trip. Guided or camp by the truck and either drive to a spot or walk from camp is what I am looking for. Hope everyone else has a better experience than I did and be safe. Heard a hunter in Idaho fell, broke his leg and it took him 4 days to get out. He was alone.
 

Eyeguy

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Aug 1, 2014
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Lincoln
Do not care to do a pack in trip. Guided or camp by the truck and either drive to a spot or walk from camp is what I am looking for.

Sorry you didn't have a great hunt in Idaho. This whole thing sounds weird to me. Almost as if they brought this guide in last minute to handle you and your partner. What did most prices look like for guided hunts? 3500 range seems a little low to me for a top-notch guided trip? You may be better off biding your time and saving money for 2-3 years? Personally I would stick to DIY. You said your fitness level surprised you and you were able to be in really good shape. So whats stopping you? Train a little harder this year and get your partner to do the same. Pack in for a couple of days and kill a bull. :) This would save you some huge money for the next year or two and then you would be able to afford the guided trip of a lifetime. Hope it all works out for you. The reason I highlighted the quote from your post is that this is what 95% of other elk hunters want.... an easy path to success. If you are willing to put in just a little bit of work I'm sure you will have success. Keep in mind...if you hunt a drive-to area you will have easy access....so will every other hunter in the unit. So you are going to have to work harder to get to and find the elk (how does wind-blown deadfall sound?) You will have to walk farther...and climb higher in most cases. On our hunt this year we backpacked in 4 miles. To be honest....it was not a bad hike at all.....almost easy. But we put a ton of distance between us and the access road and man did we see elk. Weigh all options and do what is best for you. Best of luck to you, it will work out in the end.
 
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Gunner46

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Dec 6, 2003
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Yeah, being a 'more experienced hunter' has some disadvantages, as I well know. Me? I'm trying to take it more in stride as a gift of allowing myself a less stressful time of life and afield. I've hunted hard/long/ brutal and came up eating too many tags; waited 5 min. on a stand and then started dragging home the winter's harvest.

I'm headed for a hunt I've waited for too many years for. Know what? I'm going to just take it at my own pace, stop and breath fresh air, see something I've not seen before, whatever that may be.......

If I fill my tags, it won't be the 1st time.

If I don't, it won't be the 1st time either.

I hunt on my own nowadays and it's a more personal, self fulfilling time afield. Tag filled, or not, i did it, and that is enough to fulfill my hunt.
 

deer_shooter

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Jul 20, 2009
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Personally, I'd assess your gear, figure out what you need to add or upgrade to do it youself and use the 3500 for that. All the information you need can be found here and on the state fish and game sites.
 

tom338

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May 7, 2015
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This was our guides 5th season with this outfitter, and his last. He is moving on. Very nice guy and tough as nails. 36-3900 is what I'd like to spend on just the outfitter--tags not included. I live in the midwest so don't have the ability to scout on the ground like one should. Yes, I could spike in, might not be a elk within 10 miles of me though, at least thats what I saw in Idaho. I may have a lead on a partner so that would help as the guy I went with is done. Not packing in alone.
 

Eyeguy

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Aug 1, 2014
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Lincoln
^^^ thats the spirit Tom! With all do respect....you may look at partnering with a 30-40 something to help with the work. I helped my partner to get his first elk in 10+ years...he is over 60. It will probably be my last hunt with him but I know that he is happy he got one....and he couldn't have done it without me carrying the load. My new partner will be like me....lean and mean and ready to put in the work and the miles. But he showed me the area (or at least the public ground) and I took the map and ran with it. Talked him into packing into a secluded little corner...and there were the elk! I wouldnt have found this area to explore without him showing me the general area and he wouldnt have got his bull without me packing him in. It was a good partnership and we are both happy. I am looking forward to 20-30 years of hunting this area now and he will always have the story of the big 6 point he arrowed on a DIY, public land back pack hunt! He hunted this area for 7 years without shooting a bull...every year the same places....same tactics. I pushed him out of his comfort zone. I guess I am trying to do the same with you! Good luck!

and as for scouting.....I found this spot on google earth.... 800 miles away. :) You don't have to get boots on the ground to scout an area. Look for roads and where the hunters will hunt the "easy" terrain. Where will they push the elk to? Now where can you camp close by (but not TOO close)...what area has trees for shelter and a stream for water? Camp there! :)
 
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tom338

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May 7, 2015
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317
Thanks all for words of encouragement. Even though I am older, I can still pull my weight, just takes a little longer to pull it. It seems so hard to pick a spot. Just driving home you get to drive through elk country and I always think to myself, any elk there, yet its so huge how to find them. May just do a rifle hunt next year to put boots on the ground and look for a couple areas. Still fun to be in the mountains, gotta love the view.
 

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