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.
Ingredients1 tablespoon unsalted butter ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil Four 4-ounce elk tenderloin medallions, about ¾- to 1-inch thick Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 1 small shallot, minced 1 garlic clove, minced 6 ounces baby portobello or button mushrooms, thinly sliced ¼- cup bourbon 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard ¼- cup heavy cream ¼- cup beef stock 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 1 green onion, diced 1 teaspoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley Hot sauce, to taste
DirectionsIn a large cast-iron skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil. Season the elk with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until lightly browned on the bottom, about one minute. Turn the medallions and cook for one minute longer, then transfer the steaks to a warm plate and tent them with foil. Add the shallot and garlic to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about four minutes. Remove from the heat, add the bourbon and carefully ignite the pan with a long match. The initial flames can reach one to two feet above the pan, so make certain there is nothing flammable nearby. Once the flames die down, add the mustard and cream to the pan and stir the mixture over moderate heat for one minute. Whisk in the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, scallions and parsley, then season with salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. Return the elk and any juices from the plate back to the pan, spooning the sauce over the medallions and simmering until the meat is heated through. To serve, plate the elk medallions, then spoon over the sauce. A side salad and potato make this a classic steakhouse presentation.
Cooling your meat down, both internally and externally, is the key to the finest-tasting wild game possible.By Bob Robb Growing up in coastal southern California, our deer season in the massive “A” zone opened the second weekend in August and lasted six weeks. Where I hunted for years, the daytime temperatures routinely soared into the triple digits, with nights never cooling below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. I learned early on that cleaning and cooling the meat in hot weather is the most important thing a sportsman can do to ensure the most flavorful steaks and burgers possible. [caption id="attachment_3615" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Meat care in the field is all about the tastiest meat there is in the freezer.[/caption] Hot weather intensifies the need for rapid and meticulous field care. There is a direct correlation between the quality and flavor of wild meat and the way it is cared for in the field. The key is to make life harder for bacteria by creating a cool, high-acid environment to slow their growth, limiting their food sources by bleaching out blood, making a protective glaze coating, and controlling flies.