$750 Elk Hunt Wonders: A Budget-Friendly Safari Awaits You

Pursuing elk represents the ultimate Western big game adventure. But limited vacation time and financial barriers seem to rule out achieving the dream for many hunters. Surprisingly, realistic DIY elk hunts fit within a $750 budget covering tags, gas, lodging and license fees. With strategic planning, an affordable opportunity exists to fill the freezer with lean protein.

Itemizing Necessary Expenses for a $750 Elk Hunt

Creating a plan balancing costs and likely outcomes begins with aligning reasonable expectations to available states and seasons. Typical expenses tallying around $750 Elk Hunt include:

  • License and tag fees – $150
  • Gas, airfare and rental car – $250
  • Food and lodging – $200
  • Equipment rentals – $75
  • Processing and shipping meat – $75

With astute shopping and cost saving measures, hunters access public lands elk hunting staying under budget. Any harvest exceeding goals or trophy sized bulls provide welcome bonus payoffs offsetting extra expenses.

Researching States Offering Cheapest Non-Resident Elk Tags

For non-resident hunters without access to premium limited draw units, these Western states offer over-the-counter bull elk tags to the public:

StateTag FeesCompetition Level
New Mexico$552Low

New Mexico presents the best option blending cheaper over-the-counter tags on public lands holding good numbers of elk at just over $550 after fees. States like Arizona and Colorado hold impressive elk but intense hunter interest hikes access costs.

Focus additional savings securing cheaper gas, rental cars, motel rooms and food driving down expenses. WARNING: Poaching or wasting meat leads to steep fines and license revocation. Hunt ethically and legally at all times.

Locating Suitable Public Lands for Affordable Elk Hunting

Pursuing elk comes down to locating sufficient numbers on accessible public hunting areas. While extra scouting improves odds, road-accessible units in the following National Forests provide starting points:

StateNational ForestUnit Notes
IdahoNez Perce–Clearwater NFMontana border, low elk density
MontanaHelena-Lewis and Clark NFScattered herds, limited access
New MexicoSanta Fe NFDecent elk population, competition
Utah-WyAshley NFSpotty elk numbers, hard hunting

Additional options include Bureau of Land Management territories and State Trust Lands. Again, thorough pre-season scouting identifies locations holding the most elk while avoiding pressure funnels other hunters prioritize.

Best Months for Public Land DIY Elk Hunting

Prime timing proving essential, the early general rifle seasons spanning September offer affordable over-the-counter elk tags out West before pressure peaks:

StateSeason RangeNotes
ColoradoSept 1 – 14Archery potential before rifle seasons
UtahMid-Sept – OctBowhunt earlier opening better areas
New MexicoEarly/mid SeptShorter seasons, water activity
ArizonaMid Sept – OctWarm conditions continue into Fall

Regardless of state, hunt as early as possible in September before other hunters push mature bulls to retreat deeper into remote terrain.

Recommended Equipment List for Affordable $750 Elk Hunts

Hunting elk on a budget limits expensive optics and ultra-premium gear options. Still durable equipment borrowed or bought used top the lists to engage animals up to and over 600 pounds on formidable terrain. Consider:


  • Bolt action rifles: .308, .30-06, .300 Win Mag
  • Scopes: 3-9x40mm or 2-7x fixed power is sufficient
  • Ammo: Target heart/lung vitals keeping shots 200 yards and in
  • Bipod supports stabilizing shots

Field Gear

  • Backpacks: Frame packs hauling meat externally
  • Knives and game shears: Replace if damaged
  • Coolers and freezer bags: Essential for transport
  • Headlamps allowing predawn starts and late returns
  • Water filtration/purification: Bacteria prevention

Avoid dangerous or unethical shots risks beyond skill levels. Passing on marginal opportunities until presenting better kill scenarios helps fill tags ethically.

Typical DIY Spot and Stalk Elk Hunting Strategies

Pursuing elk on miles of public land is no easy endeavor, but lessons from the old timers stack odds decidedly upward:

  • Begin scouting 2 months prior, locating fresh sign and patterns
  • Identify sanctuaries, food sources and watering holes
  • Setup downwind of meadow corridors at dawn and dusk
  • Still hunt into winds approaching sanctuaries mid-day
  • Bugle aggressively to locate and attract territorial bulls
  • Cow calling entices antlered bulls during rutting peak

Stacking the odds demands dedication investing boot leather scouting early identifying patterns then capitalizing through the season. Hard earned intel makes spending lengthy hours behind optics glass worthwhile.

Field Care Basics for Dressed Elk

Meticulous care processing animals in the field translates to fine eating preparing the harvest to travel back home:

  • Cool meat completely before packing into game bags
  • Dust meat with pepper coating exposed areas
  • Split quarters between multiple hunters’ packs if needed
  • Mark bags detailing types of cuts clearly with tape
  • Arrange ice and dry ice for transportation legs

Processing facilities provide high-level care breaking down meat and packing cured portions returning 95% usable meat properly handled from the field. WARNING: Transport animals legally sealed with tags per local/federal restrictions.


Chasing DIY elk hunts out West on a working man’s budget is achievable when willingness to endure difficulty matches the dream. Forego expensive luxuries but invest in ethical gear granting opportunity. Overall costs meeting realistic expectations budget $750 elk hunt covering fees, transportation, lodging and equipment rentals to harvest an animal of a lifetime. Just be sure to match patience, woodsmanship and shooting capabilities to terrain holding elk available on public access lands.


What additional items should be budgeted for a $750 elk hunt?

Expect ancillary costs of $150 for general hunting/safety gear like packs, spotting scopes, survival items, spare parts/ammo and license lamination. Budget $200 more for field dressing, meat processing and shipping.

How can you reduce costs below $750 on an elk hunt?

Choose cheaper hotels or motel chains, limit restaurant meals cooking bulk staples, and share gas costs riding together. Rent gear as needed only. Fly hunt longer without leaving elk country driving/eating days.

How accessible is DIY elk hunting for novice big game hunters?

Infamous for difficulty, elk huntingWelcomes dedication learning required skills, tactics and physical preparedness over years of attempts. Consider starting with easier hunts working toward elk. Guided hunts teach experts’ tricks faster.

What FITNESS level is recommended for elk hunting public lands?

Above average is baseline to carry gear for miles gaining/losing big elevation inthin oxygen chasing elk bugles over 12 hours daily. Train legs and cardio capacity6+ months preseasonExpect exhaustive,backbreakingchallenges.

Can you realistically haul an entire elk carcass miles back to roads?

Field dressing dropping guts lightens loads. Still packing hundreds of meat laden pounds long distances challenges even strong parties. Bone out all you can handle and return/coordinate pack trains retrieving the rest.

What rifle calibers are best pairing power and affordability for elk?

Capable affordable calibers include the 308 Winchester, 30-06 Springfield and 300 Winchester. premium brands help but most major manufacturers produce excellent quality controlled hunting ammoEthically taking elk.

Is archery hunting elk realistic on public lands matching budgets?

Bow setup costs reduce affordability margins without harvest guarantees given low archery success statistics. Lower competition early bow seasons help pattern elk at distance. But closing distances with consistency relying pure stealth remains extremely difficult.

Can you reliably spot and stalk within range of elk on public lands?

Advanced skills mastering the fickle winds, stealthy movements while interpreting vocalizations allow rare seasons read right approaching several shootable elk. But conditions constantly change day to day rarely cooperating together optimally.

Where are elk populations struggling most curtailing tag opportunities?

Western herds in Arizona, New Mexico and regions of Colorado battle winterkill losses and shrinking habitat losing tags to conservation efforts stabilizing numbers. Hunters fund restorations supporting draw odds improving over time.

What safety precautions are vital when hunting public lands?

File detailed hunt plans with check-in times to contacts. Pack navigational/medical resources notifying others immediately of emergencies. Wear blaze orange visible miles away during firearm seasons with game calls always handy. Carry Bear Spray in thick cover.

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