Contributors to this thread:
Rank your 2017 Elk Hunt
With the 2017 elk seasons about over, how would you rank your overall hunt(s) on a scale of 1 - 10? [10 being best]
I spent 21 days hunting elk this year. Some days were solo, some were with new friends and some with old friends.
There were definitely ups & downs but my 2017 rank would be an 7.5
5 for me
Very hot and windy...had a tough time finding elk that were rutting hard. Oh and I didn't get to hunt as many days as I wanted:)
It's always enjoyable for me. This year was particularly tough with a lot of things going on outside of hunting with my work and moving which took away from some of the enjoyment going into it. I would rank my personal season a 5 and it's solely due to the aforementioned distractions which limited my time in the woods but I still had a hell of a time during a week of hunting with good buddies. Great memories for sure and hopefully do it again soon.
Mine was a 10. Even though I came home empty handed. It was a amazing experience
I've been an archery elk guide for two years now and it means I hunt for myself during the first week of season. This year it was very hot and dry but we found plenty of elk and even had two different six point bulls within forty yards . Only had a cow tag in my pocket! Rated my season at a six. My guiding time was a solid eight with two out of three hunters getting nice bulls both about 300"! Fred
I was successful on my first elk, called it in, had my son right by my side. All in all it was like a dream come true.
I deducted 2 points due to the fact I was only in the woods for a few hours. I wish I could have been out there longer.
Interesting question. I’ll give it an 8. A couple things could have made it a 10 but it was still a fantastic year.
Many highs and lows. Misjudgment on my part caused most of the lows. I tried a new approach by taking an atv as well as my horse and pack mule and hunted from base camp. Thinking that the atv would be quicker and simpler than saddling a horse each morning. Problem was it took me almost 2 hours each morning to hike to where the elk were from atv trail. The dead fall has become a problem and will be even worse in the future. I ended up coming home early after hiking 60+ miles and climbing over 30k feet in 12 days. I did see a three shooter bulls, a bunch of mulies, and seven bears. Missed my mark by a few inches on day ten and stuck a 5x5 in the shoulder blade. Trailed him 3/4 mile before losing him in the dead fall. Overall still rate it a 9....any time in the elk woods is good.
A solid 3.
I didn't get to go this year but my hunting partner and I have already started working on plans for '18. Since I didn't go, this season was initially a 0. However, reading the accounts of everyone's hunts and seeing a lot of pictures helped a great deal; so 3 pts for being able to cyber-share in your hunts.
It's been a slower year here in Montana. But we have had lots of opportunities and made good one a few. Still 2 weeks left and heading out now. I will give it a 8.3 Hunt
10 shot my first bull on my first elk hunt Idaho!
I'd have to give it an 8, I lacked shot opportunity on elk due to my ill preparedness but got real close and had a great time in the mountains.
I swear my whole elk/mule deer season went something like "if I'd have only had an arrow in the string!" ...it's tough to have one on the string in steep terrain though
I would give mine an 8 even though I killed a really nice bull. Two points deducted for the terrain, lots of dead falls and it was too hot!
10. I hunted 30 minutes and was done on the first day. Home that afternoon, processed the following Saturday, had baby girl on the 14th! Fantastic season
Mine was a solid 9. Learned some country in a new unit I really like. Spent time with my favorite cousin doing what we both really love. Made new friends. Shot and easily recovered a decent bull, one that is rather unique. Saved a week of vacation time from my job. Returned home safely. Hard to find anything to complain about really.
Can't remember one I wouldn't rate a 10. Elk hunting makes my soul sing!
4. Tried a new unit in MT....317. Awful. I understood why there isn't anything online anywhere about the elk hunting in that unit. If you didn't have horses you were SOL. The first time we got into elk we were 6 miles in just to start hunting. And forget about getting off a trail to hunt there once you got into elky areas....not conducive to walking in that mess. Ran into a few goat hunters, that questioned our sanity looking for elk. Lol. After three days we decided to cut our losses and head home. Working on next year for a DIY in CO. Hoping to find a unit there where we can get into huntable terrain from camp.
8. Didn't fill my tag and was one of the worst years as far as encounters and opportunities but it was the 25th season in a row hunting with my dad. Can't beat that
10 for sure. Rut hunt in the Gila. 25-30 bulls screaming daily. Walked in on a fight. Two 300" plus bulls going at it. Blood on both. Followed them as they fought for at least 5 minutes. Three more mature bulls came to the fight. My guide thought I was crazy for not shooting one as we were less than 20 yards at times. I wanted to shoot one called in and did just that the same afternoon. First time in the Gila and I've never seen so many big bulls in bow range. Timing was perfect! Probably never draw Gila tag again in my lifetime but I'm sure going to be trying.
I would give it a 10....got to spend time hunting with my brother and we had a absolute blast !!
Pretty sure cnelk sacrificed a lot of his own elk hunting time to make sure some new friends and old had a "10" season. He was certainly successful in that regard as far as this new friend is concerned. He and Native Okie are a couple of the most selfless guys you could ever hope to share an elk camp with.
I was only able to hunt part of the season in a low point draw unit and had an incredible time. Almost closed the deal 15 minutes into the season on a great bull but had a cow almost step on me and blow it up. Found an absolute monster the following week but could never get within 150 yds due to fickle winds and exposure above tree line. No tag punched but saw bulls every day and didn't see a single hunter in 8 days afield. 10 out of 10
I managed to find a needle in a very large haystack this year and put a huge amount of effort into capitalizing on that opportunity. I was extremely blessed to have been able to make it all come together.
I'm going to put some objective reasoning behind my ranking for my Unit 2, Colorado hunt this last year. Anyone who has waited over 20 years for a tag like this probably should have an understanding of what they are actually getting into for this kind of hunt. My criteria below are based on many years of hunting elk in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming as a reference:
Numbers of elk - 2 There are not very many elk in this unit. If you are expecting to see a lot of elk, you will be very disappointed. There are tons of horses in a large portion of the unit that are seriously impacting the habitat - eating and drinking the elk, deer, and antelope out of those areas. It would seriously improve that whole corner of the state for native wildlife to just open season on them - 24/7/365 No Bag Limit.
Hunter crowding - 10 I experienced no crowding issues on this hunt. I did see a few hunters here and there, but there is plenty of country to move to an area where there is literally nobody. It does get crowded on Douglas Mountain but that is only a very small percentage of the unit. I mostly hunted in the big empty country and would go for days without seeing another vehicle. That was very refreshing for a Colorado hunt.
Access - 8 Access across most of the unit is very good with a lot of BLM to wander around on. Interestingly (at least to me) was that most of the hunters and camps that I saw were basing out around the areas with the worst access - a lot of private land to work in and around. Weird. The other access issue is that the National Monument lands are all off limits for hunting. Why? I can not understand that at all. The NM lands are mostly road-less and there is literally no one doing anything out in that country. Guess it can kind of work as an elk refuge, but there are so few tags in that country that it really would not matter if the NM areas were opened up for hunting. Federal Land Mismanagement at it's finest right there boys.
Rut activity - 3 I was actually pretty surprised at the lack of rut activity. The elk really did not get fired up at all until the last week (at least from what I observed) and it was not a "balls out rut fest" anywhere. Sure, there were some bulls bugling some of the time, but saw very few cows and most of the bulls talking were younger age class and just wandering around. Never had bulls bugling after about 8 in the morning or before about 6 in the evening - pretty tough to get in and follow a bull in the morning after they moved into cover! The bulls were pretty receptive to a little calling, though.
Trophy Quality - 6 I did not see many really big bulls. I saw one big 5x6 that was very impressive - probably a 360+ kind of bull and another 350+ 6x6, but not much else that was really interesting except the bull that I shot. Possibly paying for private land access or being guided by someone who really knows that country would help in that regard, but it really does not hold a candle to many other elk hunts I have been on in other states like Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah as far as seeing any numbers of truly big bulls say 350+. Going into this hunt and talking to a lot of guys about their experiences, you can reasonably expect to get a shot in two weeks at a 330"+ bull - if you are persistent, patient, have a lot of elk experience, and put a lot of time in scouting you can up that mark to around 350"-360". A quick review of P&Y and B&C indicates that this area does not produce many really big bulls and then, not very often. There ain't no 400" bulls behind every tree!!
Scenery - 2 I rated this one low - mostly because I really like the high country and am not a huge fan of rattlesnake infested, hot, dusty, sage brush and cedar country. There is some pretty scenic country over on the monument lands with some really spectacular canyons and some prettier country up on top of Douglas Mountain, but overall this is some ugly ass dry desert country.
External knowledge base - 4 This one is tough to quantify. Since it takes so long to get a tag and the unit is so huge, it is difficult to get unit-wide information. I talked to over 10 different people that had hunted this unit before with bow and muzzle loader. The majority of the bowhunters had focused on hunting waterholes for the majority of their hunts and also had paid a trespass fee for private land access. Their knowledge of that corner of the unit was very intimate and extremely useful, if you were to pay the trespass fee and just focus on that method of hunting. Only a very few that I could find had much knowledge of unit as a whole and even their most detailed information was focused on that one small corner of the unit. There is a lot of big, empty country that probably has some of the biggest elk living in it that is really hard to get a handle on to be able to hunt with any efficiency.
Length of time to get a tag - 1 For 2017, it was 50/50 at 20 PP's to draw as a resident and 25 PP's to draw as a non-resident. I would rate this a negative number if possible, but gave it a "1" because that is the lowest I could go. Kind of ridiculous to wait that long for a tag, don't you think? Pretty sure 10 or so elk hunts in 1-2 point units over that same time frame would be preferable for good quality elk hunts. Just sayin'.
My objective overall ranking for my 2017 elk hunt in Unit 2: 4.5
We notched our two tags and two bulls in 5 days of hunting
9.9-because no hunt is perfect. I drew my first elk tag since moving down to New Mexico three years ago. I had an absolutely wonderful hunt. My buddy and I killed two nice mature bulls in two days. I actually passed an easy shot at a 5x5 on opening day or we would have had two bulls in one day. I killed a 6 point early on day two. Bulls continued to bugle all day long on September 16. Very little hunting pressure in this unit. After a monster rain and hail storm the night before opening day of the second elk season, the weather was fabulous! We were camping in a Wilderness Area an easy 3.5 mile hike from the trailhead. We had a friend with a couple of horses to help pack the meat and horns down the hill. All in all, a super experience comparable to, if not better than, several of the limited units I've hunted while living in Colorado.
Heck of a bull, Treeline.
I'll give it a 8, only because it was over too soon. AZ tags are hard to get, and the area I was hunting is managed for trophy bulls so I saw no other hunters. Elk were not shy about bugling. The elk I got had to have bugled 50 to 60 times in the time I was chasing him.
I've archery hunted with my Son since he was 12, we've hunted for 27 straight years side by side, everyone are 10+
Rated 3. This was my ninth season bowhunting for elk. Between three of us NO one seen an elk or a mule deer buck. First time being shut out. We had 4 days of rain and 5 days of windy weather. We covered a lot of ground and only seen old sign. Time for a new area. I gave it a 3 only because no one got hurt.
10 Spent 15 days in the Mountians with my son worked a lot so bulls many close calls one miss!! Great Hunt!!
Mine was a 10. Not only did I shoot my first bull. I had a great time with Ike and his dad. I learned a lot on this years hunt. Already looking forward to next year.
10. All three hours of it.
8. Was able to call in 2 bulls for my buddies. 1 killed, 1 missed. I also had 2 opportunities on 5x5's that I passed at 25 yards.
Results I give a 10. The hunting experience/events were more in line with a 3 or a 4. It was a VERY slow year here in MT... JMO
I guess for results, I would also have to give my hunt a 10.
The overall hunt up there ranks quite a bit lower, but about in line with my expectations, with the exception of less rut activity and fewer big bulls seen.
Actually shocked at the number of bowhunters that I have talked to that consider that country to be their dream area for elk.
0, but I didn't go. My "living vicariously hunt" was a solid 9.5, I enjoyed seeing others fill their freezer. Congratulations to all the successful bow hunters!
10 for me. 2 buddies and I went 3 for 3 on a Colorado otc hunt. Not much bulging but called in a lot of bulls. Epic hunt.
Every day elk hunting is a perfect 10 compared to work. OTC Will you are a man after my own heart brother.
I dunno. Over the years Ive had some mighty damn fine elk hunts, but never a ten... some very close to a ten... just like women, they are difficult to get :)
My hunt last year was a solid "5" ... This year, even though I hunted only about half the number of days as 2016, was a "7" ...
There were troubles on our hunt -- but they were all the kind of trouble that one can learn from. And I really think I learned a lot this year.
One thing that was really disappointing for me was the number of unforced errors I made ... lack of preparation (excused, somehow, by being so busy with outside issues) was inexcusable. I was in poor physical condition, poor shooting condition, and my gear was organized inefficiently.
But ... I still have a (rifle) blacktail hunt on Kodiak coming up, and so I have time to redeem those unforced errors.
Make mine a 5. Got to within 40 yds. of a bull, less than 25 yds. of cows on three occasions and had a bull bugling inside 100 yds. only to have the wind change each time before I had a clear shot. We did end up in the tent one night between two bulls, one of which couldn't have been more than 50 yards away.They kept us awake for a couple of hours. We loved it.
Overall my first ever WY hunt was the worst elk hunting in my 43 years of doing this thing. And I hunted hard, in heat, deep cold (teens), snow, rain, mud. Covered a lot of miles, drainages and ridges with boots and glass.
I did bugle a big bull in to 15 yards and couldn't pull off a shot. He ran in mooing like a cow in loose timber and saw something he didn't like when I was drawing after his head stopped behind a tree. I also passed up a dink 100 yards from the truck. Otherwise it was grim.
But I met some great guys along the way, lived in awesome scenery for a month, and learned some things about myself.
So I give it a 7.
It was a total of 5. No better. For way too many reasons to list. But I'll be somewhere else next year, no question.
Treestandwolf, that Estes Park golf course, especially the fifth fairway rough, can sure be hit or miss!
I'll give it a "5". For comparison, all other Elk Bowhunts over the last 25 Years have been "7" or better.
Coldest elk bowhunt of all time. Silent elk, bedded before daylight above the snowline. I learned to "slide" my boot quickly into the snow when following fresh tracks, to cut down noise. Some 10+ mile days in 2 foot drifts, just trying to locate a huntable population of elk (NE Idaho OTC, Public Land).
I managed to walk into 5 different small herds over the last couple days. Closest encounter: 35 yds on a big cow, who stood up after the rest of the herd busted out above her. If I'd had an arrow nocked, she'd have been done.
Stood in the snow for over 8 hours one day, surrounded by elk on all sides, and unable to advance on them. Hoping one would make a mistake, they did not.
Without the snow, I feel my tag would have been filled relatively easily. If I had it to do again in that area (since the elk were silent anyway during the last week)...I'd go the very first week.
On a positive note, my body feels great. Apparently slogging around in the snow for 12 days, gets you in fantastic shape! I still got my Rockies fix as well, which is worth its weight in gold !
Best of Luck, Jeff
jacuomo, that comment alone made it a 6. The alfalfa was pretty.
All depends on one's perspective, but mine was certainly a 9. Killed my first bull - after six years of trying - a beautiful 6x6, on my second day hunting. Only reason it wasn't a 10 - I was done on day 2 with 18 days left to hunt. Had a couple close calls on day 1. Chased them all day long on day 2. Heard well over 200 bugles that day from a dozen or more bulls. Between 9am and 2pm heard at least one bugle every couple minutes or so. Was between four screamers for a period of time. I'd chase one up and then another back down. Went up and down the same mountain four times chasing bulls just screaming their heads off. Was on an adrenaline rush for six or seven straight hours. Always wanted to be in the middle of a frenzy. Check that box. Got very aggressive after 3pm and had a couple of spine tingling close calls. Finally all came together later in the afternoon when I pissed one off in his bed. He came on a string once inside 100 yards and the rest is history. Remarkably all on September 2. Definitely a 9.
CO Ambush, Congratulations! That sounds like a ton of fun!!!
From our first morning hunt to essentially our last afternoon my buddy and I were into bulls and it was very different than my last elk hunt. Plenty of close calls, bull moose encounters and yet again going to fulll draw only to have the bull not cooperate will be some of the things I take away from this trip. It was nice actually calling and speaking with the elk unlike my first trip out here. All I could ask for in the elk woods is oppurtunity and boy did we have plenty...little bit of luck would have been nice though! Being from PA, OTC, unguided and this being my second elk hunt ever, I would rank this trip a solid 8! (-2 for eating my damn expensive tag sandwich again!) Also got to link up with a fellow bowsiter on the way home after a few years of emails and phonecalls. Was nice to finally meet face to face and share stories!
I'm gonna pin this one at a 2 out of 10. A blizzard dropped 15" on us the first day, and the rest is history. I'm getting tired of bow hiking when not paying for access. I have yet to stumble upon that go-to spot for reliable elk sightings on public ground, even off the beaten path. Beautiful country, lousy elk hunting.
With that said, my rating will probably go up significantly by springtime. It's all a matter of perspective. Too many days in the office leave me longing for lousy hunting trips.
10. I didn't shoot an elk, but accomplished my goal of going out solo on a DIY high country archery hunt. I either saw and/or called to bulls all but one day. Physical and mental fortitude was put to the ultimate test, and every day brought with it a variety of heart pounding situations, which is what I was looking for. Elk meat would've just been icing on the cake...but unfinished business will definitely have me back there.
I'm going to say a 4. I killed a bull on the first day, which was awesome of course, but the rest of the week when my buddy was trying to fill his tag was a wreck. There were a LOT of people in our area. A lot of elk, and we saw elk most days. But a LOT of people. Our area has never been this bad in the past.
We had guys setting up behind us. It was just a mess. This hunt may very well be my last OTC hunt.
CoAmbush had the hunt we all wanted... ;-)
No doubt ELKMAN. I was definitely fortunate this year. I've paid my dues though. Killed a cow year one. Been close many times in other years with no harvest. Hunted 18 days one year and had several really big bulls in bow range and couldn't close the deal. Had one year where I never heard a bugle and only saw one cow - in 10 days. But this was THE year. To put it in perspective, a buddy from Kentucky came out to tag along and call for me for a few days. Said he was hoping to experience a hunt like he sees on TV and DVDs. Right before bed the night I shot the bull he said he'd have to come back out because he still hadn't had a hunt like he's seen on TV. I said, "What are you talking about, that was an incredible hunt." He said, "Yes it was. But, I ain't ever seen anything like that on TV". I laughed myself to sleep. We went in the next morning to finish the job and bulls were bugling all around. We just flat out hit it right.
Every Sept is a 10. Elk hunting can be frustrating, difficult, etc. I live for Sept. Spent many years not filling a tag and those years were all 10s for me too. I just flat out love it. As far as elk activity and being in elk for us this year was probably a 9.
A definite 10 x10!
The evening of opening day was awesome, and it only got better. That evening, I called a herd of a dozen cows and calves into my treestand. At one point, I had a dozen elk within 5yds of my tree, half of those within 3yds. That morning was pretty warm and although I don't sweat much, I did then. When I sat my pack below my tree that evening, I actually worried that my scent might create an issue. Not to worry. Two cows actually sniffed my pack. You'd have thought they were sniffing flowers. Absolutely no reaction! They were within 20yds for at least 20 minutes. I heard some more mews down in the cut, along with splashing in the creek, so I assumed the bull was down there. I hit a whimpy bugle to try and make him come in and at least check me out. No dice. That was o.k. though...I had an ear-to-ear gin on my face the entire time! When I climbed down from my stand, there were two sets of tracks within 18" of my tree! A few evenings later, my treestand produced yet another bull.
To top it off, the second morning after my son showed up, he killed a 330+ bull. There were 4 different bulls bugling from a LONG way off, so we just kept closing in. Three of the bulls sounded like they were moving out, so we concentrated on the one that stayed low. We got as close as we dared and I had him set up. I told him I would back off 25yds or so and hit a couple soft mews. Once the bull responded, I'd cut him off with a challenge bugle and he would come in looking to kick some butt. That's exactly what happened before he shot him at 16yds.
The look of absolute joy on my son's face as he walked up to his bull is something I wish every dad could experience. That moment was priceless!!!
I'd have to say that this was probably the worst bowhunting season in Montana that I can remember. Very little bugling activity. Weather was too hot, then hot and smokey from all the fires, then it turned cold and rainy/snowy. I really look forward to the month of September and hiking/camping/hunting, and had all four weeks to hunt, so I could go anytime I wanted, and pretty much hunted all month. There were a few days around the second week that were good, but that was about it. I killed a nice bull this year, but I definitely enjoyed a lot of years more, where I never killed a thing.
I'd rate mine a 9. Saw lots of good bulls but the wind was no very friendly. I passed up 5 and came home with tag soup.
I'll say 10 every time I'm elk hunting. Bugling not that great, weather sucked, but I love it all.
Up until Sept 25th I would rate it a 5 but from the 25th on it was a 9. Overall the unit I hunt has dropped considerably for number of elk sightings, bugling and overall quality since 2012. For the first time in 14 years, I am thinking about applying for a new unit. Sometimes a change of scenery is good.
I have already gotten my Wyo RP bow Elk back from my butcher and I have my Az. Bull at my Taxi--and the meat to pick up in the early AM of this Holiday Monday-morning......Soooo I say multiple states harvests are good to go------->
With 1 more elk tag to fill the 3rd week of Dec. in Jackson/Wyo and maybe get a Wolf tag but the Quota may be filled already.....Dang it ~~
Good luck, Robb
As a flatlander from Kansas, just the privilege to chase these magnificent creatures the last few years during September always ranks high in my book. Hunted 7 days DIY in Montana on public ground with a buddy and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Last day.... missed a nice 6x6 at 40 yards! My fault, not his. :-) Overall hunt still ranks as a 10 in my book and Lord willing I'll be back again next year and try to make it a 10+ adventure!!
Mine was definitely a 10. Everyday field was a learning experience and was in trophy quality bulls everyday! Killed my largest bull to date, a wonderful 7x8 scoring just over 373.
Duckhunter, Wow! That's a great bull congrats bud!
BULLELK1, I think you must have taken more elk than god by now! (grin) Keep up the good work!
I finally will have finished my Bull Elk Wall of age class bulls with this Az. bull.
Pix in the spring when I get him back from my taxi and figure out where to put him on The Wall.
Good luck, Robb
Any year elk hunting ranks a 10 in comparison to a year not elk hunting. This was, however, the first time I was not presented a shot opportunity at a target bull (or any bull for that matter). Saw very few elk over two full weeks of hunting. Got close to the only bull I saw that I would have shot....but got busted by one of his cows.
That's the breaks! (pun intended).
Too early to rate. I'm heading back out this weekend. I've been in elk every weekend. Missed a dandy last weekend. Swore I was going to be done for the year I was so disgusted. But.....the fever is setting in. So far a 9. I would say 10 if I had an elk on the ground.
A 9 for me. It would be a 10 but then I wouldn't have anything to look forward to in the future... I hope to share our story here soon. Wyoming, 9 days and 3 out of 4 tags filled. DIY, General tag and one hell of an adventure!
I'd say 9.5 (only because the weather was horrible). Bugling was a 10!!! Intense is the only I could describe it. Got my Dad a shot (clean miss) I passed on mine trying to get him a shot but he will be turning 74 in Jan so not many more years left of chasing bulls up the mtns.
Anytime I can leave West Virginia and go to Colorado and/or Montana to hunt is at least a 10. This year I was successful by killing a 4x4 bull elk.There is no better feeling than going out west elk and deer hunting and not to mention the friends you meet.