2014 Elk Hunt
We tried drawing with and outfitter also but came up empty. We found a few "cheap" landowner tags and headed out. The unit we hunted averages 18-26% success rates on "any elk" so our results are certainly not the norm but we've been doing DIY archery hunts all over the west every year since '98. We've learned a lot over those years and it's made our hunts a lot more enjoyable!
next year we have enough points in Wyoming (5-7pts) and I will burn my 11 pts in Colorado the year after that. If you really want to have good hunts start playing the point game now and look for states like NM, MT, ID, and Wyoming to have great hunts while building points in UT, AZ, AND NV. They take a long time 12-15 years to draw good archery tags but if you start now you'll be amazed when you look up and have 5-11 points in every state for all kinds of fun hunts. The best part is it's not really that expensive considering most of the tag fee's are sent back to you. I apply for something like 48-50 tags/points every year and I think I get all but $1000 back when it's all said and done. Not exactly cheap but considering what the next decade is going to look like for me and my brothers (elk, mule deer, antelope, and sheep hunts) it's well worth the financial sacrifice to us!
My first 9 elk huts were OTC colorado archery hunts and one rifle hunt. You couldn't pay me to go back to those units. Too many hunters, steep terrain, low elk numbers and poor quality. The units we hunt now, have low tag numbers/low hunting pressure, good elk numbers, quality bulls (obviously), and moderate terrain at worst. It takes a little research online, magazines, and talking to biologists to put it all together but you'll significantly increase your odds of bagging a good bull and increase your enjoyement when your there if you put the time and effort into your research before picking your destination!!
Any help or suggestions would be great.