Contributors to this thread:
I have an opportunity to do my first elk hunt this fall. I have two options for the hunt: 1. OTC tag for NW Colorado and a DIY hunt (have a free wilderness cabin to base out of) or 2. guided hunt in SW Montana, outfitter has an open week so right now looks like it would only be me for a very very reasonable price.
Which is the better option to 1. see elk and 2. best scenery? Thanks in advance for your opinions.
2. You will likely have many more opportunities with a guided hunt on your first hunt in SW Montana than joining the rest of the crowds in OTC CO. Scenery will be negligible- they will both be gorgeous. It’s the mountains.
Guided in SW Montana would be my choice.
Specifically where in SW Mont., if you are willing to disclose?
DIY all the way. It's more challenging and satisfying than having your hand held on a guided hunt, IMO.
I did a guided, (near Dillon), hunt last September. 3rd elk trip, 1st guided. All were fun, but guided got the deal done, though I was close in the DYI trips. Guided was a great experience. Mountain stalks and calling. Had multiple elk encounters, both sneaking close and calling bulls in. On your own is nice, but as an easterner, there is nothing like having the local knowledge and elk experience on your side.
Either would be very good, I'm sure.
I totally agree with GGs response, but that didn't answer your question at all. The answer to the first part of your question is 2, if you have to ask this question. Likely beautiful scenery in both places.
Thanks for the opinions! Just a little more info, way back in the day I was blessed to hunt souther AZ for a full big game season. I say that to give some perspective to my mental picture of western hunting.
Where in NW CO is the cabin?
Right up the road from Trappers Lake. If that is the option I go with it means lots of raid time each morning to get to an area I can hunt. Or spend the whole time learning the land for next year...
I've hunted both places; near Trappers lake and near Dillon and killed bulls in both places DIY.
Normally I would say DIY because that's how I roll and I've never been on a guided hunt. However, since you said the cost would be very reasonable I would go with the guided hunt in Montana. If you don't have a lot of elk hunting experience your odds of success are probably better and you might not get the opportunity for a cheap guided hunt again. You have the rest of your life to go DIY.
You should have less hunting pressure in Montana but that area of Colorado has slightly better scenery.
Unit 24 has some decent elk hunting, but expect to see a LOT of other hunters. That goes for pretty much all OTC units in Colorado. It is beautiful country, with some great trout fishing in some of the mountain lakes.
I have no experience hunting near Dillon MT, but it's also a very scenic area. Is the guided hunt on private land? If so, that's probably the best choice for seeing elk. Have you asked the outfitter what his bowhunting success rate was last year? Have you talked to any of his previous bowhunting clients?
Any public land near Dillon that holds elk will have pressure. Non res plus Kalispell . Mizzoula and Bozeman hunters.
How much pressure it put on public ground near the border area?
New question: how is SW Colorado for elk? There is an opportunity to go down there in the time frame I’m looking at.
I think you should go on the guided hunt and learn as much as you can and you will be set up nicely for diy in the future.
If you choose MT, just make sure you ask the guide questions about wolves. He may only have access to a couple of spots and if there are wolves, it can be a long hunt and waisted cash - especially for one of your first hunts. Good luck
They say the herds are on the decline in sw Colorado. The San Juan’s, while the hunting pressure is on the rise. A bad combination. The Rio Grande NF is under heavy pressure as well.
If this is your 1st elk hunt I would go guided as long as the guide has been in business for awhile, and I could verify he has a good reputation. You can learn a lot from an experienced guide that can help you on future DIY hunts.
Ftr, I doubt you have a cabin in CO Wilderness. I've hunted both & both are on downhill slides for various reasons. If the MT guy has some private access he could be the hookup.
Go guided learn the ropes then DIY next year and every year after!!!
X2 what Rick said I hunted around that area for several years in the 80s and 90s good luck Lewis
The herds in sw Colorado are suffering greatly. Limited archery hunters was very nice, but with the snows the second and third season, they slaughtered the bulls. It was sad to see do many bulls killed like they were. Then the Indians on the reservations got their chances at them. A semi hit and killed seven elk the other night. Road kill has been hard on the elk this year. Seems the elk numbers just can't catch a break down here.
Montana for sure! Unless, you could get your hands on a unit 12 or 33 tag for CO. If you were staying at a FS cabin near Trappers lake you would spend your trip driving to OTC units. That may not be the best base camp area for OTC units.