In Part 1 of "The Right Place," I gave a brief overview of some of the
choices involved in choosing a premier Western state in which to bowhunt
I covered New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, now I'll attempt to cover Idaho,
Wyoming, Montana, and Utah. Since my hunting time in Utah has been very
limited, I can't offer much insight into hunting there. Also, I've not hunted in Oregon or
Washington, so they will be omitted from this discussion, even though
both states have healthy populations of elk -- two species, at that. I'm
certain that good public land hunting opportunity can be had in both
destinations, though you'll have to the research it for yourself.
Bowhunting elk in Utah can be good, and it can be tough. A state with plenty of
habitat and a good number of animals, Utah allots tags to its
"premium" units through a preference/bonus point-based drawing.
Drawing a tag in one of these units is sure to provide you with a quality
public land elk hunting experience -- I've been applying for many years, but
have yet to draw.
On the flip side, Utah also offers unlimited elk bowhunting, which would
best be described as "average." Don't overlook this "spur-of-the-moment"
resource, however, if all applications fail.
It's rough, pristine and overlooked. My experience here has been fairly
limited, though enjoyable. This state has a tremendous amount of good elk
habitat, along with some of the roughest and most remote wilderness country in
the lower 48 -- elk numbers are healthy!
Tags to premium units are allotted through a drawing -- for
sure, there are big bulls on most of these hunts. Outside the drawing tags,
there is a good supply of "regular" tags available on a first-come,
first-served basis. Plenty of good elk hunting can be found on these tags,
along with some big bulls also. Don't overlook this excellent elk hunting
Montana: Big Sky Country
The name says it all -- wide-open spaces, not so many people, plenty of elk and
I've hunted elk here from the plains to the mountaintops. There is plenty of
public land available, with a good age-class of animals.
Tags are allotted through a drawing, with some areas managed for older
bulls. If you obtain an elk tag, you can hunt in most areas of the state during
the bow season -- but get a bow permit first. A very liberal season allows for
bowhunting in all stages of the rut. If you're unsuccessful with archery, you
can pick up a firearm and hunt during the general season. Overall, Montana is
an excellent public land elk state!
Wyoming is my nemesis! For as long as I can remember, I've wondered how this
state could have a law which makes it "unlawful" for a nonresident of
the state of Wyoming to hunt in a designated wilderness area without hiring the
services of an outfitter! That's unbelievable! It's federal land --
public land that you and I own! I CAN hike, camp, fish, etc., alone in "said"
wilderness, but I CAN'T hunt there?
It's amazing to me why WE -- the American people -- allow this to be
enforced against us. In this "law," truly is found the epitome of
crap/abuse. OK, now that I'm off my soapbox, let's get back to Wyoming elk
hunting -- which is good, by the way.
Wyoming assigns its tags through a drawing, with preference points playing a
role in allotment. As in Montana, a Wyoming elk tag allows you to bowhunt (additional
permit), then pick up a firearm later if unsuccessful with a bow. There are big
bulls to be found here, good numbers of animals and excellent habitat. This
state certainly should be a solid contender for your elk hunting attention.
In the next part of this series, we'll take a look at "gearing up"
for your Do-It-Yourself elk hunt.
For a fine selection of Archery gear, click here.
Eddie Claypool provides tips on bowhunting, with an emphasis on whitetails. Over the past 20 years, Eddie has harvested 50-plus Pope & Young animals. Most of these animals were taken on public ground, though some came from private ground that was accessed through hard work & a handshake. He has not been on guided hunts, nor has he hunted on "managed" properties. Elk, Mule Deer, Antelope & Whitetails are his favorite species.