Considered one of the most majestic animals on the continent, the Rocky Mountain elk is emblematic of western hunting. From the bugling of herd bull monarchs keeping their harems of cows in line to the breathtaking vistas and, oh!, those towering tiers of antlers, this is a prized experience for anyone with the patience to hike the miles and put in the hours behind a binocular to plan a stalk. Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah are always top destinations, but reintroduced populations in states like Kansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and even Arkansas, with others in the planning, are offering fresh opportunities.
Elk tags are most often acquired through lottery tag draws, but there are states that offer over-the-counter tags, even for non-residents. You can hunt them DIY on public land if you like to camp and are map-savvy. If you’d prefer a helping hand, there are dozens of reputable hunting guides who can get you where you’re going via horseback or llama and tent camp if you like roughing it, or with a wake-up call in a five-star lodge, whichever you prefer.
For more information, see our friends at Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
There is a lot involved in getting ready for a successful elk hunt. In this video, NSSF’s Chris Dolnack shares what he learned from industry experts on a recent western elk hunt.