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Cowboy Heaven Consulting, LLC
6116 Walker Road
Bozeman, MT 59715
406-587-9563
1-877-613-0404
info@cowboyhvn.com

Elk Hunts

Don't forget!!
Your non-resident license application needs to be in by March 15
Application forms are available from the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks website.

The times, they are a'changing, you know, and that is true for elk hunting also.   Elk distribution patterns are changing, not to mention weather, land ownership patterns, and a host of other factors.  Elk populations are at record highs in Montana, but if you're in the wrong area you're going to find them scarce indeed.   That may be about the only thing about the situation that hasn't changed! 

Nearly every outfitter in western Montana offers elk hunts.  Many of them only rarely have clients get genuine trophy bulls, though.  Their brochureMontana bull elk 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. 394 1/8 B & C Montana bull elk 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 record of 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 outfitter is GDElk5.jpg (28614 bytes) 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 onGardiner bull elk 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.  TheDryCreek2000.jpg (40709 bytes) 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 hunterMadisonBull.jpg (19437 bytes) 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 details.

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.



 

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