Planning My First Elk Hunt

Luckyrxc

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May 13, 2017
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33
The cooler suggestions are good. Basic, large coolers are good. You can duct tape around the lid if they don’t have gaskets. I freeze cases of water from Home Depot for $2.50 per case. You can drink them as they melt too. I like frozen bottles because they are very dry and keep the meat off the bottom and out of the blood and water. You can buy and add extra ice on the way home. I have one fancy expensive cooler and it is great for those trips when there is no ice available for a week in the summer, but otherwise not worth the expense.
I bought a 5CU deep freezer from Home Depot for $125.00. I put it in the back of my truck and fill it and another 110 qt cooler with frozen bottles before I leave town. I carry one or two additional 80 quart coolers because I have them but can likely do without them. We run the freezer occasionally with a generator but it will hold ice just fine without the generator.
Cheap freezer for the price of a cooler and you have a deep freeze when you return home.
I think I would look for good hunting that keeps your drive the shortest especially if driving solo. It will reduce fatigue and give you a couple extra days of hunting.
Have fun!
 
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Drenalin

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Wyoming is a draw state, very unlikely but still possible to draw with zero or even one point. I'd still apply but have a otc backup plan if you want to go next year.

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One of my questions about the point system in Wyoming is if I can buy a preference point this year (still have a few days to do it), then buy another when I apply for my hunt next year. Failing that, I'm not at all opposed to going in for a leftover tag even if it's a cow tag. If that doesn't work, I believe some of the tags go to OTC, but may be in difficult access areas. I can't sit here and pretend I'm even remotely clear on what unit I should apply in or what my draw odds are with 1-2 preference points. I've got a lot of research and scheming to do on that end. Assuming I can't get drawn or I do get drawn in an area I have no access, I'll default back to and OTC state.
 
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Drenalin

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Tennessee
If you are planning to truck camp with the option of spiking out, my advice is to not get too fancy and over complicate your amount of daily camp chores. Keep it simple. For every comfort and amenity you add on, you’ll pay for it with time dedicated to logistics. You want to hunt supported by sufficient food and sleep, but you don’t want to be dealing with endless chores, tinkering, setups and breakdowns so skip all the fancy luxury aspects and stay focused on hunting. Everything; every single detail becomes a pain in the ass to deal with and the more you tack on, the more pain in the asses you will have to deal with on a daily basis. *It’s not a camping trip.* The camping aspect exclusively serves the function of effective hunting. It’s easy to cross the amenity line where that relationship gets out of balance. Take what you need to take to sleep well and perform well, but your choices on what to bring should be matters of liberation not excess.
Great post! My intent is to bring a tent, good pad, and warm bag. I don't plan on being in camp during daylight. As far as food, the only cooking I'll be doing is boiling water for a freeze dried meal, and most of my meals may be of the sandwich or no-cook variety. I assume I'll be exhausted at the end of every day and won't have the energy or desire to do any actual cooking. I just need efficient calories. I don't plan on bringing many amenities.
 
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Drenalin

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Nov 15, 2018
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Tennessee
Are you saying I should spike camp it? Sounds like I would be in a similar situation as you if I'm striking out from a truck camp every morning. I'm open to it, just clarifying.
What you are thinking and what he is saying are two different things. I did my first archery elk hunt this year in Colorado and we camped by the truck and hiked in to our spot but when it went dry from pressure we were more moble than packing in and setting a spike camp where you are limited in how far you can travel. In a truck you cn quickly drive 5 miles down the road and hit a different drainage.
I had bivvy hunting in my head when I asked that question. Thanks for the clarification!
 
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Drenalin

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Tennessee
How old are you and do you have any physical limitations?

I am 53 and did my first elk hunt this September in NW Colorado with elevations from 7500-10,000 feet. I live a block to the water on the NJ Shore so you can't get much lower elevation than I live.
In 2010 I had a Widow Maker Heart attack at the age of 43. Seven months after winning the Pan Ams for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I have had surgery on my right knee 3 times from college football. I also had a construction accident after Hurricane Sandy where I fell through the steps between my first and second floors of my home due to rusted nails from the flooding we experienced. In the fall I herniated 3 discs in my neck and 3 in the lumbar region. I was in PT for 7 months and had an epidural and could barely walk around the block for a year.

I worked out doing a combination of yoga, body weight exercises heavy on planks to work the core and a kettle bell lifting program and rucked 2-3 days a week before work 2-4 miles with a 40 pound pack. It worked out well for me!

I also wore a Fitbit and watched my heart rate. I had it peak as high as 196 beats per minute on the elk hunt which is crazy high. When I got it over 180 I would rest and drink water for 10-15 minutes to get the heart rate below 140. I could go all day as long I keep the heart rate below 180 which is still much higher than what would be for most people my age.

I am addicted now and looking forward to next year and plan on being in better shape which should make the experience even more fun! Good luck with your upcoming hunt!
I'm 37. I've had a couple of shoulder surgeries on my right side (I'm right handed). Also have an impingement in my right shoulder and I get some numb fingers every now and then. I have some minor tearing and stretching in my ACLs, which mostly means I have to be careful on slick surfaces, rocks, and deadfalls. These are things I've been dealing with since before I got out of the Marines 13+ years ago. I'm in pain a good bit, but nothing earth shattering. Still do all the things I want to do including drawing a bow and hiking back home. I may have a low back issue, but for now it only leads to soreness and stiffness. Shedding weight will help with that. I could end up being totally wrong, but I feel pretty good about being able to put my head down and push through so these things don't limit me too much.

My biggest limitation right now is that I need to get back in shape. I'm very aware that I probably couldn't head out right now and pull this off. The physical part is my top priority.
 
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Drenalin

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Nov 15, 2018
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Location
Tennessee
I bought a 5CU deep freezer from Home Depot for $125.00. I put it in the back of my truck and fill it and another 110 qt cooler with frozen bottles before I leave town. I carry one or two additional 80 quart coolers because I have them but can likely do without them. We run the freezer occasionally with a generator but it will hold ice just fine without the generator.
Cheap freezer for the price of a cooler and you have a deep freeze when you return home.
I think I would look for good hunting that keeps your drive the shortest especially if driving solo. It will reduce fatigue and give you a couple extra days of hunting.
Have fun!
I doubt I'll go the generator route, but that's a really slick idea on using the freezer as a cooler.
 

eltaco

Senior Member
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May 18, 2013
Messages
251
Welcome to the club and IMO the best internet forum with passionate people who will help you to prepare the way for your first elk hunt. Lots of experience here and some good insight. I especially appreciate your first post that clearly demonstrates you've put some time and thought into this.

I've been hunting elk for 12yrs now, all but one of those have been with a bow. Since you're on the fence, I'll put in my plug that elk with a bow is unlike any other bow hunting experience I've ever been on. It's everything you want the whitetail rut to be, but FAR more vocal. Hunting the elk rut opens a lot of country for me, as I can hunt dense timber and call elk from large distances. Without elk talking, hunting dense timber is like finding a needle in a haystack. Next, and maybe more important to me... I can walk past other hunters at 100yds and not even know it. Hearing rifles going off on every mountain severely takes away from my enjoyment of the Western hunting experience.

The stats will definitely tell you to go out there with a rifle, but I contend the experience had during the elk rut is what you're really after. You get one bull to come in with his eyes rolled back screaming challenge bugles at you, and that encounter will stay with you for a lifetime.

Elk101 will be a good expense to take on if you're going during the elk rut. You'll learn as much as you want to learn from those guys and feel more confident going in. Confidence is everything. You need to spend every minute of your week long hunt believing there's an opportunity ready to unfold. Be mentally prepared to make good on it. Complacency will absolutely cost you golden opportunities, and confidence to deal with those situations aggressively will come from research going into your first hunt.

As for gear, what you're reading here is pretty spot on. I can send you a gear list if you're interested. You'll want to modify to your liking, but the point is to not go out there forgetting anything that could be important to you. Weather changes at 10k' are real. I've been hunting 70deg days that transitioned to 70mph blizzards. You don't need $10k in gear, but make sure you have what you need to survive if it gets out of hand, too.
 

justin84

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Joined
Apr 12, 2019
Messages
62
Location
Wisconsin
One of my questions about the point system in Wyoming is if I can buy a preference point this year (still have a few days to do it), then buy another when I apply for my hunt next year. Failing that, I'm not at all opposed to going in for a leftover tag even if it's a cow tag. If that doesn't work, I believe some of the tags go to OTC, but may be in difficult access areas. I can't sit here and pretend I'm even remotely clear on what unit I should apply in or what my draw odds are with 1-2 preference points. I've got a lot of research and scheming to do on that end. Assuming I can't get drawn or I do get drawn in an area I have no access, I'll default back to and OTC state.
If you look through the draw results from this year you'll have a pretty good idea which areas you could have a shot with no points. That's my plan for 2020. Like below you can see that a special general tag in the random draw is about a 25% chance, so with zero points you'd have a 1 in 4 chance on a general tag.

Capture.JPG
 

AaronMColeman

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Joined
Nov 20, 2018
Messages
167
Location
Wyoming
The stats will definitely tell you to go out there with a rifle, but I contend the experience had during the elk rut is what you're really after. You get one bull to come in with his eyes rolled back screaming challenge bugles at you, and that encounter will stay with you for a lifetime.
I would second what your saying (or third because I already gave my plug earlier for archery). I shot my elk this year with a rifle, but the experience of taking the elk was not nearly as amazing as the experiences I had during the rut. And the weather was wonderful...these late snowy hunts do not have me excited about the cow tag next month!

I think the numbers are extremely skewed because there are far more rifle hunters, and private land owner kills during rifle. The guys I know who consistently get elk every year, usually do it with a bow. And usually do it in the first few days of the season. In Wyoming, 10% of the bulls are taken with archery (compare that to 4% of deer and like 3% of antelope). So, archery is not as hard as it seems, in fact, I think it's easier than rifle.

This was my first year bow hunting, first year shooting a bow, and I put an arrow in a shoulder of a big bull on a DIY, public land, general Wyoming tag. Arrow went in 4" and came out...but the point is, a first time hack like me came within a few inches of taking a really nice archery bull. I just blew what was for me a fairly tough shot with minimal experience and less than optimal calling skills :)
 
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Drenalin

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Nov 15, 2018
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Tennessee
I started down the same road as you Jan 19. I devoured every podcast I could find and still think UEH was the best $$ spent. I will more than likely keep it another year and go through it again.
Yeah, for what it costs, I'm pretty sure I'm going to get it. Anything to shorten the learning curve.
 
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Drenalin

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Nov 15, 2018
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Tennessee
I've spoken to Wyoming Game & Fish - extremely helpful gentleman answered the phone - and think I have a rough plan for my application. If it sounds like I'm screwing this up, somebody call me out before I get too far down this road.

Since I'll only have one preference point in 2020 - I'll buy one this week - I've got pretty low odds of getting drawn. But, I can go ahead and pick an area and apply in 2020 for an antlered/any elk tag as my first choice. Assuming I don't get drawn in that 25% random pool, I won't burn my preference point, but will pick up one I can use in 2021. Over time, I could build up enough points for a bomber hunt.

In the meantime, I still want to hunt elk. So I would apply for an anterless tag in that same unit as my second choice. Then if I get drawn, I can hunt cows and learn the area so I'm better prepared for that bomber hunt x-years down the road.

So, would it make more sense for my third choice to be a reduced price cow/calf tag in that same unit, or to go ahead and apply for an any elk tag in a different unit with higher draw odds? I could maybe still hunt the unit in my first and second choices by picking up a tag in the leftover draw, likely an anterless or cow/calf tag. What would you do in my position?

P.S. Realistically, what's the difference between an anterless tag and a cow/calf tag?
 

AaronMColeman

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Nov 20, 2018
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167
Location
Wyoming
It's 100% preference. But it depends on what you want. If you want to hunt cows post-rut, that sort of scouting is nice, but won't translate 100% to rut bulls (i.e. different movement, locations, and cycle of life). If it were me, I'd probably find a unit that could be hunted with 1 point + an application. But, your plan would be a blast too and you can save up points for the best hunts in the state. Different strategies, but I don't think you'll be disappointed whatever you do. I'm a huge fan of rut bull hunting, but, again, any way you go would be fun. I'd ask myself: would I rather save up for one amazing hunt, or get a few really good ones in every year.
 

SteveCNJ

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Joined
Jul 1, 2017
Messages
263
I'm 63 and have been whitetail hunting in NJ since my teens. My first elk hunt was in NW Colorado 2 years ago. Came close to getting a shot, long story. Did a guided hunt this year (Oct 4-10)with a buddy and his son outside of Wilson, Wyoming. I drove, they flew. The weather got cold and snowy. Covered a lot of miles on horseback and hiking everyday and never saw an elk. There were cow moose all over the place. My buddy and his son both tagged out opening morning. I brought all their gear and meat back. It was butchered and frozed. I have an RTIC 65 and an old Coleman 125. Filled both and a good portion of styrofoam in a box. With some ice and dry ice it was all still frozed 37 hours later when I got home. Looking for my next elk rifle hunt. Moving to SC next June. Western hunting will be no closer.

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Indian Summer

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Feb 17, 2013
Messages
97
Tomorrow is the last day to buy a Wyoming point. Even if you don’t try to apply next year I bet you’ll want to in the future. Send me a PM and I’ll reply with some very good information for you.
 

Sccritterkiller

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2019
Messages
131
Just completed my first elk hunt and I was able to harvest a cow...my advice.

Get In total shape
Good boots
Get in total shape
Good Binos
Get in total shape
Practice shooting a lot at distance
Get in total shape

I logged little over about 125 miles with 30-65# pound pack training before my trip. I was fine hiking and looking for elk and packing it out once it was on my shoulders.

I was totally unprepared for the upper body and cardio needed to field butcher and elk at 8500'.
I joined a gym the day after I got back. When I go back next year I may very well get my a$$ handed to me again but it wont be because I wasnt in shape.
 
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Drenalin

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Nov 15, 2018
Messages
58
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Tennessee
Tomorrow is the last day to buy a Wyoming point. Even if you don’t try to apply next year I bet you’ll want to in the future. Send me a PM and I’ll reply with some very good information for you.
Thanks for the reminder...I purchased it this morning.
 
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