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7 Awesome Destinations for Autumn Elk Hunting

Some of the best places to land yourself a trophy. 

By Trent Jonas

7 Awesome Destinations for Autumn Elk Hunting

One of bowhunting’s biggest draws is the challenge of taking down big game with nothing but an arrow. And when it comes to North American game, a bull elk, which can weigh up to 900 pounds, is one of the biggest there is. Over the centuries, the U.S. elk population has been depleted, and the elk range has shrunk considerably. This means that, with a few notable exceptions like Pennsylvania, your best bet for getting a tag and taking down a trophy lies in the western states. So, pack your bow and head for one of these seven awesome destinations for autumn elk hunting.

Southwestern Montana

With an estimated herd of more than 160,000, there are plenty of elk to go around in Montana. The bulk of the herd can be found in the southwestern part of the state, in and around the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Even more important than the size of the herd is the number of trophy bulls it contains, and Montana will not disappoint. The largest bull ever taken by a bowhunter, and the current Pope and Young typical world record, was harvested in Montana during the 2016 archery season. Elk hunters tend to enjoy good success rates in the state, but you can improve your chances of success by heading out with an experienced bowhunting outfitter, like Sage Peak Hunting, whose guides know where to find the elk and how to put you on them.

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East-Central Oregon

Oregon is another state whose elk herd numbers in the tens of thousands—and hunters regularly harvest Boone-and-Crockett bulls from the state’s herd. The combination of a large population and plenty of trophies makes east-central Oregon another place worth the trip for archery hunters. In Oregon, going with a guide not only increases your odds for getting an elk but just as importantly, can ensure that you get a tag. Blackhawk Outfitters, in fact, guarantees a limited number of tags for their clients.

Northwestern Colorado

With a population of almost 300,000, Colorado is home to the country’s largest elk herd. Plentiful elk makes for plentiful tags, which makes Colorado one of the most hospitable states for nonresident elk hunters. At the same time, if you have a limited window in which to hunt and you’re not intimately familiar with the Colorado’s terrain and the movements of its elk herds, it would be well worth your while to go out with an archery hunting outfitter like Colorado Outfitters.

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Northwestern Wyoming

As with Montana, huge numbers of elk can be found in and around the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in northwestern Wyoming. In fact, Jackson, Wyoming is home to the National Elk Refuge, which protects critical habitat for the nationally-significant Jackson Elk Herd. As you may imagine, with so much excellent elk habitat in the area, northwestern Wyoming is an excellent place for a bowhunter to track down a trophy. Head into the 2.4-million acre Shoshone National Forest with Elk Fork Outfitters to ensure that you head home with an elk.

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Central Idaho

If you like a little rugged adventure with your elk hunting, head to central Idaho, the forested, mountainous backcountry of which is home to a good chunk of the state’s 100,000-plus elk population. Deadwood Outfitters takes pride in offering just this type of backcountry hunting adventure in the 217,000-acre Sawtooth Wilderness.

Northern Utah

Utah has produced some of the biggest elk hunting trophies in the country, including the current Boone and Crockett world record for non-typical American elk, which was taken on Monroe Mountain in 2009. Some of the state’s best elk hunting is available on its many public lands. A guide like Flying J Outfitters, who specializes in hunting the Ashley National Forest, can help get you to the right spot.

Northern Arizona

Renowned for its big trophy bulls—some say the biggest in the United States—Arizona is another awesome destination for elk hunters. The downside: It can be difficult to get an elk tag in the state and expensive if you’re a nonresident hunter. If you do score a tag, however, you want to make sure that it doesn’t go to waste. Head out with Arizona Elk Outfitters to ensure that your long-awaited tag gets attached to a trophy.

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Due to the escalation of the coronavirus outbreak, local destinations for outdoor recreation may be closed. Please visit official websites for more information.

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