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First time elk hunter
I’m looking at trying to piece a first time elk hunt together. I’m hoping someone could help point me in the right direction. I’m looking at Montana, Wyoming, or UTAH. Colorado has crossed my mind but I’m hoping to stay in one of the first 3 states. What I’m looking for is some direction as far as applying for a tag. I live in eastern SD. I’d like to hunt elk within 10 hrs of home. I’m looking for a unit/state that would let me get an elk tag the first or second year or applying or even OTC tag. Size of animal doesn’t matter right now. Just looking at gaining some knowledge of hunting elk. Would there be someone that would like to list units that are easy to draw that hold a decent chance of harvesting an elk. I’d appreciate it thanks.
WY is a great option. You could buy a point this year and have a good shot at drawing a general tag in the special draw next year. You could also get an elk/deer combo tag in MT next year and likely hunt a general unit in MT. CO is full of OTC choices. If you don't care if you shoot a cow or a bull a lot of really good options open up in WY. My suggestion is to buy a point in WY this year and try to draw the general tag there next year in the special draw. Once you accomplish that then find a general unit you want to hunt and go get your elk. Sounds easy right? :-)
FYI....odds of getting a general tag in WY in the special draw with one point were 17.5% this year so it will likely take two points. Damn point creep.
I think you're looking at MT or WY as UT doesn't have much you can draw without points assuming you want the chance at a bull. WY is your best bet unless you have solid intel on MT. It'll take you at least a couple points to draw a WY general tag so start by buying a point this summer. You pick a general area and I am glad to comment via pm. Typing at the same time as Brotsky :)
Go to Amazon and buy "Public Land Elk Hunting" by Matthew Dworak. It's a great place to start.
MT you could get a tag leftover or in the draw in your timeframe. CO has OTC tags and tags that you can draw with 0 to 1 points. You say you want to stay within 10 hrs of home, but will hunt Utah and don't want to hunt CO...I'm sorta scratching my head on that one. Utah has OTC cow/spike tags, but the bull tags are tough to draw. WY is a great place to hunt elk, but the application period is in January and you'll have to get lucky to hunt elk your first year there. Idaho has OTC tags as well.
The draws have all come and gone so you'd need to get a leftover or OTC tag at this point. I'm not sure if MT still has some leftovers, but that's probably your best bet in your travel restrictions if you're not willing to hunt CO.
I've been looking into an area in Montana and I'm very surprised of what I've heard about it. I see an elk trip to Montana in my near future. Utah is a tough draw unless you hunt the otc units. The number of hunters have gone up considerably the last few years. Lots of cow hunts in Utah if you can get into the draw in time, later in the season.
Keep in mind, both WY and MT offer points for sale starting in July, so it is not too late to get the ball rolling yet this year. Utah general elk tag could be tough, especially for a beginner, but a spike or cow tag in a LE entry unit would be fun. As mentioned, Colorado is closer to you than either Utah or Montana...and Colorado currently offers OTC archery elk tags for many units.
Great advice above. Another option in the mean time would be to apply for a Wyoming leftover cow tag for this fall. Buy the archery permit and go hunt. You'll be hunting the same herds, you just can kill a bull. Great practice.
Speaking as resident of Utah, I currently have 13 bonus points trying to draw bull tag. If you wanted to hunt cow, calf, or spike, you can buy OTC. Tons of fun, but no trophy to mount on the wall. There are also any bull units that are OTC, lots of private land for southern end of state in those units.
In that past when I didn't have a bull tag they were normally pretty much everywhere I went that year.
Don`t rule out Idaho to get a hunt under your belt while you wait for the points to accumulate.
Logistics wise you need to be putting in for Montana, Wyoming and your fall back should be Colorado otc. All the hunting you’ll ever want in those 3 states, and you’ll be able to hunt elk guaranteed every year
Thank you for all the replies right now my goal this year is to buy a preference point for a Wyoming then I will possibly be heading to Utah to hunt with a buddy that’s why I would like to go to Utah first over Colorado. then next year I should be able to hit up Wyoming to hunt l.
Utah is great place to go experience scenery and see/watch elk. They also have great archery spike/cow opportunities, just don't plan on having a chance to hunt a limited-entry bull tag for many years.
Referencing the above post- which is why you should be getting points in Montana too. The one variable that your able to control in wy and montana is the number of hunters in a unit even if you only hunt a 1 or 2 point unit. In otc, u could have the place to yourself one year and be overrun the next. After a trip chasing elk- u won’t want to be in country without a bull tag in your pocket