While I'm not "old" by any stretch, I'm not getting any younger either. If I could get 4 years of learning out of the way for under $10k it seems like a no-brainer. I know there's a number of online courses offered for far cheaper, but just like anything else I've found reading how to do something and actually doing the thing is often far different, and what works "theoretically" is often different from real life.
It seems Montana is a go-to due to the outfitter only tags. I don't know what the other states offer as far as that goes so that's why MT is at the top of my list.
I considered a private land style hunt for a short bit, and while the higher harvest odds sure sound nice, it doesn't seem like many things will translate to public land hunting if I want to do DIY later on.
With all this said, do you guys have any suggestions for guides? Areas?I'd like to keep it under $10k. Less is obviously better, with the caveat that I don't want to go so cheap that the quality of the guides suffer. I'd like to come away with the confidence and ability to DIY in the future. Theres no sense in spending $5k on a subpar guide that's not gonna want to leave camp everyday when I can spend a couple more and get someone who's going to be dedicated to filling the tag and answering any questions knowledgeably.
I made a similar post on a few other forums I frequent, but it seems those guys usually do it the DIY way.
That being said, I would think most of what you learn would translate from private to public, at least to what elk tend to do and where they tend to do it. Feed, water, wallows, etc are still going to be in place on both.
I would also consider Alberta. Mikes Outfitting has a pretty solid elk hunt from the previous posts here, and I believe would fit your budget, and am pretty sure is a guaranteed tag.
As far as Montana tags go, the way I understand it, you still have to draw a tag, just from the outfitter only pool, and thats not guaranteed.
It’s getting pretty dang tough to get spots with quality elk outfitters, the best guys will already be booked for 2024 and I bet a bunch of them are booked for 2025 as well at this point, or they will be by the end of season.
Good luck, —Jim
I appreciate the advice given so far, that's just one of my biggest hangups. If I was just looking to fill a tag/check an animal off the bucket list or something like I wouldn't even bother asking - I'd book a private land hunt somewhere and call it good.
I want to come away from this experience a better hunter, so that the following season I could strike out on my own on public land somewhere with some real world experience under my belt. This(hiring an outfitter) definitely wouldn't be something I could afford to do on a regular basis.
Don't get me wrong, I'd love nothing more than to DIY it but after sitting down and figuring up the cost of hunting(out of state tags, fuel and other associated costs with scouting trips and then the hunting trip itself) you're only a couple seasons away from breaking even. I feel like with an outfitter not only would I be coming away with real world experience, I'd also have someone there to answer any questions I have(and trust me there would be a lot) and I might have a decent chance at filling said tag.
Seriously think about Forrestbows. There are guys on here that have multiple returns with him and have nothing but positive reviews. That in itself is worth a couple grand. He’s in CO.