Nearly every outfitter in western Montana offers elk hunts. Many
of them only rarely have clients get genuine trophy bulls, though. Their brochure
might show a nice 6-point, but the vast bulk of their take are younger bulls; raghorns and
5-points. Often, for about the same money, you can go with a top outfitter who
operates in an area where mature bulls represent a much higher percentage of the
population. The choice is a no-brainer, but unless you are familiar with the age
structure of a particular herd, as well as migration patterns and the host of other things
that have to fall together to offer you a chance at a wall-hanger, the odds are stacked
against you from the start. Even if you have identified a good area, it can be very
difficult to determine who are the best outfitters in the area. Of course, their
promotional materials make all of them sound wonderful, and it can be hard to get an
accurate picture even by calling references. This is where Cowboy Heaven Consulting
can make a world of difference for you. We live here, have our own pack stock and
personally hunt the same areas as the outfitters recommended below, and have a lifetime of
contacts that allow us to get to the truth of the matter. Of the total number of
outfitters in Montana, there is a very small percentage that we are willing to send
clients to. We realize that many of you have saved up for a long time for a Montana
elk hunt, and we have no interest in seeing your hard earned dollars go toward a
substandard hunt. All of the hunts listed below not only take place in prime areas,
but are hosted by outfitters who will put forth a maximum effort toward your success, and
do everything possible to make sure you have an enjoyable experience in the process.
Remember, though, these are all fair chase hunts. You are purchasing the
opportunity to hunt elk in wild country. You are not purchasing an elk. With
that said, your odds of coming home with big antlers from one of these hunts are amongst
the best you'll find.
E-mail or call 1-877-613-0404
for more information on any of these hunts. These are certainly not the only elk
hunts we offer; our specialty is finding a hunt to meet your requirements, so let us know
what you're looking for and we'll apply our expertise.
These are truly world-class elk hunts, comparable
with the best in states like New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.
Although expensive, they're priced less than comparable
operations in the aforementioned states, and best, require
no special permits beyond the normal non-resident elk license
(and are a bargain compared to comparable landowner or Indian
Reservation licenses in the Southwest). They do book
up rapidly, and usually require two years to secure a booking,
but after that returning hunters are offered preference
for subsequent hunts.
These are free-ranging elk, but the immense size and location
of the ranches offer a unique opportunity to manage for
trophy quality. Carefully regulated harvests of both
cows and bulls since 1981 has resulted in an outstanding
bull-cow ratio of 1:1.8 (2000 data). Also for 2000,
the average B & C score was 344 2/8, with many
in the 350-360 range, plus a 380 5/8, a 386, a 394 1/8 (see
adjacent picture), and a tremendous 397 (taken by a bowhunter).
Accomodations, food, and guides are all top-of-the-line.
There is potential for a 350+ class bull with any of the
outfitters listed subsequently, but luck becomes less of
a factor on these hunts.
- In operation since 1981, this outfitter has a long track
outstanding success. Archery elk hunts take place on over
40,000 acres of top-notch private land (plus another couple
thousand of State land) in the Big Snowy Mountains of central
Montana, and offer superb trophy potential. Their rifle hunts
are remote, pack-in camps in the southern Madison Range, and
boast some of the highest elk concentrations anywhere. 6-day
elk/deer archery combo hunts go for $2750. Their rifle hunts
are 8-day, with a full six of hunting, plus a day on either
end packing in and out, for $4000.
- These hunts take place in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness area
of the Madison
Range, and on private land. Lodging is at a private
ranch with foot and horseback hunting departing from there.
They also have a backcountry camp, which can be utilized as
needed. Success rates are very good, ranging from 50% to as
high as 80%, with a substantial percentage of bulls taken
in the 280 to 320 B & C point range. A seven day
hunt, with five days of hunting, costs $3600 for 2 X 1, and
$4500 for 1 X 1.
- This 23,000 acre ranch also lies smack dab in one the most
heavily-used elk migration corridors you'll find. The
permitted on the adjoining National Forest, which for a multitude
of reasons is a veritable elk factory, and so you have an
immense amount of superb habitat available to hunt.
In situations like this you can find elk somewhere
under just about any sort of weather conditions you happen
to wind up with, and no big surprise, but that translates
into consistently high success rates over a long period of
time. Deluxe accomodations, good food, and superb hunting
put this one one the short list. 7 day hunts run $5000
the first week, and $4700 thereafter.
- A premier trophy elk hunt, this operation is comparable
to trophy elk hunts costing up to twice as much. Hunts
take place on 8000 acres of private land immediately north
of Yellowstone Park in the famed Gardiner area, the Elk Capital
of the World, as well as on surrounding Gallatin National Forest land.
The ranch shares eight miles of common boundary with the Park.
Elk hunting in the Gardiner area can be notoriously fickle,
as the elk migration is totally weather dependant and tends
to be a feast or famine situation. This ranch hosts
a considerable herd of resident elk, though, and so hunting
success is much more consistent than the surrounding area.
When the elk are migrating out of the Park, though, you'd
have a hard time finding a higher concentration of big bull
elk anywhere. You stay in a lodge on the ranch, hunting
is by four-wheel-drive and foot, and the guides are among
the best in the business, including a winner of the Montana
Outfitter and Guides Association "Guide of the Year"
award. Hunting the first week of the season costs $4675.
The next two weeks run $4125. The fourth week is $4675,
and the last two weeks cost $5500. Archery hunts are
also available for $3245. Also, if you are so lucky
as to draw one of the highly coveted Gardiner late bull tags,
this outfitter will take you on a four-day hunt for $1100,
which is hands down the cheapest hunt you will ever find with
a chance at a seriously large bull elk nearly a sure thing.
- This outfitter offers several camps, with these two having
outstanding trophy potential. The first takes place
on 25,000 acres of private land in the Horseshoe Hills north
of Belgrade, MT. The
surrounding area is all private land, so public hunting pressure
is non-existent. There is a large herd of resident elk,
and the elk harvest is carefully managed to maximize trophy
potential. All elk taken are 5 X 5 or larger.
Two camps host 2-4 hunters each, in camp trailers. This
is a remote area, with electricity provided by generator.
The camps are generally accessible by vehicle, but hunting
is done primarily by horseback and on foot. Seven day
hunts are $6000 for 2 X 1, and $7300 for 1 X 1. Their
other trophy elk operation is a backcountry tent camp in the
Madison Range. It's on public land, but access is through
private. Public access to this canyon is so rugged as
to be impractical, and hunting pressure in adjacent public
and private lands tends to concentrate elk in this area.
The area is steep and rugged, but for those with desire, drive,
and a good fitness level the chance at a wall-hanger is excellent.
2 X 1 costs $3800, 1 X 1 $5000.
- These private ranch hunts take place on a 16,000 acre ranch
at the base of the Madison Range in prime elk habitat.
Only four hunters per week stay at the deluxe lodge, with
all the comforts of home, and maybe then some, if you don't
have a wife that's a good cook! Hunting is on foot,
horseback, 4-wheeler, or vehicle so nearly all hunter conditions and abilities can be
accomodated. Success rates are outstanding, often running
100%. For 2002 16 of 18 hunters killed elk, and the
two who didn't were bowhunters, and they had opportunities.
You'll notice these kinds of success rates are pretty much
the norm with the outfitters listed above. Don't think
that is a widespread situation. Many outfitters haven't
been doing well at all in recent years, often through no fault
of their own. Still, we think it's an obvious choice,
and these hunts are a bargain at $3950, including five full
days of hunting, plus a day for settling in prior to your
hunt, and departure the morning after. Transportation
to and from the Bozeman airport is also included.
Other elk hunting opportunities, too lengthy to list here, include some
very good archery hunts starting as low as $2250, and drop camps starting at about $1000.
Call 1-877-613-0404 or e-mail us for
We also quite often have cancellation hunts, or other short-notice
opportunities available, sometimes at a remarkable savings. They're hard to predict,
but for an example check out this trophy-class hunt for a
drop camp price.