Depending on where you live, elk hunting could be a once in a lifetime opportunity, or something that you do every winter. Where I live, I have the opportunity to elk hunt every fall and winter and I take full advantage of it. However, some people in the southern US don’t get that opportunity, and they have to travel to hunt elk. Traveling for hunting is tricky business as you’ve got to bring all your gear on the plane and make sure that you have everything. Obviously, this can be a huge hassle, so there are outfitters. But the question is, should you use one?
Benefits of Hiring an Outfitter
Peace of Mind. There is nothing worse than arriving at your destination for a big trip and realizing that you forgot something crucial. Think about landing in Colorado and getting out to your elk camp in the middle of nowhere and realizing that you don’t have matches for the fire or a pot to cook dinner in which you could have bought at the shop if you were paying attention. What are you going to do? You’re out in the middle of nowhere, and it’s probably late at night.
If you hire an outfitter, they will take care of all of the stuff like this for you, so you don’t need to worry about what you forgot in terms of gear. You’ll need to remember your camo and firearm or bow of course, but you can leave the food and other camp supplies to the outfitter. Just bring your gear and they will take care of the food, dishes and camping gear that you’ll need on your hunt.
They know where the elk are. Many outfitters that I’ve met have been working their land for generations, and know exactly where the elk stay on their property. They know the best places to hike to see them, where they usually bed down during the day and routes they take from their beds to food in the afternoon. A good outfitter will have you go out there and look where they typically find the elk, which will greatly increase your chance of success.
Everyone is well aware that even though elk hunting is tons of fun whenever you do it, a successful elk hunt is one of the most fun things there is. Even though you’re exhausted from pulling elk parts back to camp, it’s a good tired. I always enjoy my huts more when I’m successful.
Outfitters are just there to guide you out to the elk (though they do that) they are there to entertain you as well, and lots of them have some great stories to tell around the fire at night. A lot of them know some musical instrument or something like that, and I’ve always had a lot of fun after a day of hunting with the outfitter. There is always something interesting going on.
Cons of Hiring an Outfitter
These guys are typically expensive! I have seen prices well over 5,000 for a 5 day hunt, and that doesn’t even include getting up to their ranch. In addition to all those fees, you’re also not guaranteed to come home with an elk if you go with an outfitter. You have to rely on luck and skill just like every other hunter. Last season, I went out hunting on weekends for about 15 total days in a season. A comparable time with an outfitter would almost be cost prohibitive!
Processing. Some outfitters will ship your meat off to a processor, where it may or may not be mixed with meat from someone else’s animal. You have no idea how they took care of that in the field. You could end up with meat of a lower quality than if you had it processed yourself or if you did the processing yourself entirely.
That wilderness feeling isn’t there. You know the feeling when you’re out on your own in the wilderness and everything around you feels great and is calming? Well if you’re with an outfitter, you’ve got someone with you at all times, and you can’t stop, look and listen and really take in all of your surroundings.
So, there are some good and bad things about outfitters. What is your preference?