I can't help with any state but Oregon. Trophy potential is not good, even the best units in the state are what would be average in other states. Not there aren't big bulls in Oregon, just few and far between. The most desireable "trophy" units are 20+ years away to be guaranteed. Who know what it will be like in 2032? If you just want to hunt elk, that can happen every year, there are OTC options and like said before big bull are killed every year OTC. I wouldn't bank points in Oregon, you have a better chance getting a big bull hunting every year OTC then waitning 20+ years to hunt once.
I agree with Old Hunter. Don't pick CO to chase points, it will take you a long time (15-20+years) for top units. Instead pick a couple states and start building points, burn them every 2-5 years and you will have a quality hunt. First you need to get experience, if you just build points for 10 yrs and think because the unit is good you will hike in and find big elk you could get very disappointed. I would recommend getting the hunting experiences started and you can learn from there. OTC gets you hunting now, and will also put elk hunting the rockies into perspective. You can still buy a point for Wyoming, this is a good state to start accumulating for b/c of the elk and the affordability of not having to put in for a tag.
you still have time to buy a "point only" in WY, $50, do it...
Arizona/Utah, great elk states,
most elk states have at least a few great elk units, building pts in as many states as possible is a good idea.
if you're in ND... MT/WY might be high on my short term list...
NM/ID- no points
get eastmans' or the huntin fool magazine... they'll help you find the best units year after year...
When you start looking at all the posts from the people who hunt the various areas in the west, one thing kinda stuck, for me at least. Yes I am older and cannot wait 20 years building points and yes I do have a little extra $$$ for hunting that is available. If I was 25 or 30 years younger, I would build points and setup a "hunting only" fund. Add to it when you can and leave it alone. When it gets to a point that you can afford a guided hunt where the tag can be included....go for it.
At the range yesterday I was talking to one of our members (our range is private open to members/guests only) who was shooting his m/l getting ready for elk opener same as me. He finally drew his long coveted unit in NW Colorado with 21 pts. He was 75 years old and said he had waited a lifetime for this hunt. This is a good news/bad news situation. Good he got his tag...bad because he will never get to do this again unless he is willing to spend some $$$. I came to that realization a few years ago and while I am building points here in Co & also Wy, I still plan on guided hunts in the future. I am 70 and next year I am planning an elk trip to New Mexico and will go with an outfitter. I'll try drawing a tag, but am prepared to pay what it takes if I don't. I don't see the situation getting any better for you younger guys, probably get worse!
Food for thought...right.
Im with CC on this one. Im 42 and there's no way I will wait 20 years to draw a coveted tag. If I were you and killing a bug bull is your only desire, start looking into a guided hunt. If you want to be an elk hunter start hunting OTC. If you want to play the points game and go DIY, I would look at units that take 5 points or less. More than likely if they take 5 points now, in 5 years the same tag will take 8-10 years to draw. I call it "behind the eight ball", there too much hype on "blue chip" hunts these days IMO
There is one huge advantage to not being a trophy hunter. I'm a meat hunter. I started hunting in the 50's, and have hunted every year, and shot more game than I can remember. I've never paid a dime to anybody for my hunts. I've loved all my hunts, and I wouldn't trade any of them for paid hunts, or hunts that I waited years to do.
That's me though, and I don't expect others to do the same.
Since you're so young, I'd start building points in several states.. In several years, when you can afford the tags, and the time off (school has a bad habit of falling during hunting season), you will have probably upwards of 7-10 points in a bunch of states, and good hunts will be rolling in about every year. I didn't really get bitten by the western bug until about 2 years ago, and have been building points since then, 12 hunts over 4 states, and then also applying in NM.. I look back, and think, if I would have started applying out of college, I'd have 6 points, and would be in the running for a bunch of good tags.. As it stands, I'll be hunting OTC the next few years, until I can start drawing some decent hunts.
I think it's kind of pointless to chase some of the premium units, as you'll likely never catch up to them.. Apply for middle of the road units, hunt hard, and you'll consistantly kill game.
Finally, I think someone said it earlier, but if you don't start buying points now, you'll regret it later.
I don't have any advice for your original question about what unit to hunt but I am 26, just started applying last year and have come to the conclusion that I would like to apply for the long haul on a couple units (Arizona strip mule deer being one of them) and then use 1-5 point type units for most of the other states. The good thing about NM and ID are that there are no bonus points and you have the same odds as everyone else, just depending on how many people apply to that specific unit. OTC tags seem to be a great choice too. I'm about to get married and buy a house so I won't be buying a hunt for a year or two but after that, I will go with an outfitter when I don't draw anything.
I am 31, and after a 15 year period of no western hunting, I am getting back into it. As I mentioned before in other posts on other threads, I grew up in a family that has hunted the West since the 50's. Started going as a kid and into HS.....then sports came, college, wife, kids, a 100% career change which killed my hunting besdies here in Wisconsin........but I am back on track.
I am lucky to have hunted elk twice, shot a cow, and have heard a million stories from my family. While still pretty "green" on elk hunting, I have enough knowledge to tell you that I would not make my first hunt a "trophy" hunt in which your burning tons of points. You need to go elk hunting. Be it cow, bull, or just tagging along. Elk hunting is different than most hunting. Try an OTC in Idaho, Colorado..........Montana is a great choice right now due to their insane tag prices weeding people out. Do your homework. Look online. Buy maps. Call Biologists. Be a Google Earth Fantatic, like me. I wouldnt get so hung up on "trophy" units. Read eastmans, pick a state or 2, accumulate Pts for a trophy unit, and in the mean time do as many elk hunts as you can. I wish I would have been building points all these years. Living in WI makes it tough for me to do some states......CO, WY, MT are easier than Utah or idaho or the SW. I do have 2 PP's for WY, and may try to draw a "less than perfect" area in 2014. This fall its WY mule deer, SD mule deer in 2013, then its elk in 2014. Once the kids gets older, we may try to do 2 trips a year....elk early and deer late.
But if I were you, if you have the funds, try Montana. less hunters than CO. Look at the draw research, find a unit that youll draw 1st year, and there are some due to the high price of tags,......... Call a biologist or 2. And just get out and elk hunt. Maybe you'll find you dont like it. Maybe youll love it. Never know till you try.
Exactly. New guys to elk hunting think that all it takes to get a trophy bull is to hunt the right unit. It takes much more than that. You need to be an elk hunter first.