Everything You Should Know About Guided Elk Hunts
There’s no way around it, to a lot of us elk hunting is just exhilarating and it’s something we wait all year for. The hint of chill in the air, the high-altitude, and the sight of that majestic creature on the land above you, just serves to get the blood boiling for any avid elk hunter. Of course, there are two ways to hunt elk. You can try to do it yourself and face that majestic elk down in the wild all alone, or with friends of course, or you can go on a guided elk hunt, which is actually recommended, especially if you are new to the hunt. The biggest thing to remember is that elk hunting isn’t at all like hunting a deer in the rest of the United States.
There are also quite a few things that you need to do to prepare for an elk hunt, whether you decide to go with a guided hunt or not. Remember, if you have driven across the lower 48 for this hunt, that the climate is going to be rougher, the altitude higher, and the elk something you have probably never even seen before. Many, many hunters dream of bagging a huge bull that leads the herds, but that doesn’t mean that you can rush out there and just do it.
In this blog, we will discuss everything you should know about guided elk hunts, how to find a guide, the things you need to do to prepare and the mistakes you need to avoid and many, many other things. So, if you have considered heading up to the mountains to try and bag an elk for your next vacation, grab your gear and follow us into this blog about everything you need to know about guided elk hunts.
How to Plan Your Guided Elk Hunt
Start Searching for a Guide
The first thing you want to do, of course, after planning your trip, is to find the most reputable and well-respected guide you can to take you on your hunt. Below, we will go into some tips to help you find the best guide for you. Always, remember, that hunting elk, just like with any other hunting trip can be dangerous and can turn deadly if you don’t know what you’re doing or you’re not with someone who does, so having a guide that is well prepared, knows the lay of the land, and can get you and your party through the hunt safely is extremely important.
Do Your Research
Just like with everything else in the world, no two elk hunting guides are created equal. You need to do your research long before you decide to head upcountry for your hunt. This means doing online research, book research, and even talking to your friends, family, and hunting buddies to see who they used if they have ever been on a guided elk hunt in the area where you are headed. If no one knows, then go on Facebook and look up some of the groups that are dedicated to elk hunting and ask them for recommendations, you can pretty much be sure that some of them will know the very best in the area you are headed too. Get the names of quite a few guides, before you make a final decision as well.
Once you have the names of a couple of reputable guides, search up their websites and check out the reviews that have been posted for each. However, don’t just make a decision based on those reviews, instead, head over to a few of the more popular social media sites and check out the reviews there as well.
Ask for References
Once you have narrowed your choices down to at least three guides, ask for at least three to four references of past clients. Call those references to see if they were happy with the hunt, not if they bagged a big elk, and would use that guide again.
Once you find out the experience of the guide, their success rate, and whether their clients were happy with the way they handled the hunt, then it’s time to compare the rates among the three. If they are basically the same, then choose at will, but, of course, most of us or on a budget and need to hire the guide that gives the best prices, and there is nothing wrong with that!
Remember, Paying Doesn’t Guarantee Success
One of the most important things to remember when hiring a guide to take you on an elk hunt is that paying for a guide doesn’t guarantee that you are going to bag an elk. You are paying the guide to get you through the hunt and to give you tips on how to shoot your first elk, but there are no guarantees that you will meet with success, just as there are no guarantees in life.
Then, Why Hire a Guide?
There are quite a few reasons that hunters hire a guide for an elk hunt. A few of those reasons are listed below.
- If you are a beginner to elk hunting, you want a guide so that you can get the feel of the hunt
- If you are going to hunt in an area that you know nothing at all about
- If you don’t have time to scout the region you’re going to be hunting in before the hunt
- To help you carry your elk, trophy, and camping gear when it’s time to leave the hunt
- To have someone that has done all of the scouting for you, so that you can just go in and enjoy the hunt
The choice of whether to hire a guide for your elk hunt is completely up to you and your experience level. However, there are also tips that can help you prepare for that elk hunting season that opens up in the fall of the year so that you have the best chance of bagging your first elk on that guided elk hunt. We will go into those tips below.
Tips for Preparing for an Elk Hunt in the Fall
Elk hunting isn’t a hunt where you can just head out into the wilderness unprepared. Actually, you need to start preparing for elk season in the fall in the offseason, instead. Below, we will go into some tips to help you prepare before you head out on that elk hunt with your guide.
Apply for Your Permits Early
Whether you have a guide to do it for you or you’re doing it on your own, it’s important to apply for your permits early, if you want to get a prime elk hunt. You need to know that the best elk hunts are drawn by a lottery every year. If you want to have a chance of drawing one of the prime hunts, then you need to apply early, and though those tags are hard to get more and more every year, it’s worth a shot, because you just never know what could happen, now do you?
Scout from Your House
Yes, you can still scout your area from your house, even if you live thousands of miles away from your hunt. Download Google earth and scout your area. There are four things to remember about elk and what they need. Those things are cover, security, water, and food. If you find those four things, then you will find elk for sure. Know that your guide will be doing this as well, but it never hurts to be prepared yourself. It’s also important to remember, that if wolves are present, elks will act erratically, so watch for this, as a pack of wolves is not something you want to run into on your hunt.
Get in Shape
Hunting elk is not like walking into the woods behind your house, climbing into a blind, and waiting on the deer to come by. Elk hunting is physical and you need to be in the shape of your life to accomplish it. The elk you are going to be hunting, live in steep, rough, tough terrain in areas where oxygen is scarce. It doesn’t matter if you’re young, old, in great shape or not, it’s going to be hard on you if you aren’t in good shape. Below you can find some tips on how to get in shape before the hunt begins.
– Start Getting Into Shape 10 Weeks Ahead
It’s not going to do you any good to start getting into shape a week before you’re scheduled to go on your guided elk hunt. You should start getting into good shape at least 10 weeks prior to the hunt, sooner if at all possible. The brutal truth, that many hunters don’t realize, is that if you don’t live in high altitudes, it’s almost impossible to get your lungs ready for the difference in the air at those altitudes. What you can do is get in good cardiovascular shape, however.
– Work on Strengthening Your Legs
Start by working on strengthening your legs as much as possible. Remember, your legs are going to be your horse on those steep climbs in this tough terrain. With everything you are going to be carrying and the high altitude, your legs will need to be way, way stronger than they need to be in normal conditions. Try doing walking lunges and walking every day to help strengthen them to the point they need to be strengthened.
– Walk in Your Pack and Boots
Making sure to take long walks in your pack and boots is also extremely important. Why? Because one you need to get used to the weight of your pack and two you need to break in your boots. A good rule of thumb is to take two pairs of boots with you and walk at least 45 minute fast walks around your neighborhood, in your boots with your pack on every day for 30 days before the hunt. You will regret it if you skip this step so it’s a good idea to listen.
Going to be Riding Horses?
If your guide is going to be getting you to those prime elk hunting spots on horses, it makes your hunt a whole new ballgame. Read on below for a few tips to get you through.
– Practice Riding, if Possible
If at all possible, try to find a friend or a riding ranch with horses, so that you can ride every day before the hunt begins. Riding a horse when you’re not used to it, can end with you not being able to walk the next day, because of soreness in your inner thighs, which means that you will have to skip the hunt that you prepared so hard to go on.
– Stay Away from Cotton
When cotton gets wet, it will chafe you badly, which is really bad if you are on a horse and walking as well. Whether it’s rain or sweat, you want to avoid putting any cotton clothing in your hunting gear, no matter what type of hunt you’re going on.
– Start Really Hydrating the Week Before
Eating more protein and drinking more water, at least a week out, is a great way to hydrate for your hunt. You can easily get dehydrated when in the high altitude that you will be hunting in. Getting hydrated and staying that way throughout the hunt is one way to ensure a good time is had by all.
- Mossberg: Realistic Ways to Prepare for Elk Hunting
- Outdoor Life: 11 Ways to Start Preparing for Your Fall Elk Hunt in the Off Season
- Mossy Oak: How to Choose the Best Elk Guide