New to the forum. Interested in hunting mule deer and elk.
Hi to all. I am new to the forum. This seems to be the best forum for the western states. I live in Georgia and have been hunting for about 20 years now. I have hunted Kansas, Arkansas, and Louisiana mostly for waterfowl. All DIY on public land. So, I am fairly familiar with crowds and how to hunt around them. Now I am wanting to hunt mule deer and elk DIY on public land. I have no experience in hunting these animals. Only deer, hogs, and turkey here in GA but I feel that I am a good hunter/outdoorsman. I have limited on turkeys for 11 years in a row, which seems to be challenging in these swamps haha. So with that being said what states should I look into for elk and mule deer on the same hunt. I have looked into all of the draw and unit situations for several states. Its all a little over whelming. Idaho seems to have the most OTC tags with the least amount of hunters. That could just be my perception. I am not looking to kill record animals, just respectable public land animals. My main focus seems to be on Idaho, but any and all advice will be appreciated. PMs are preffered
Get a subscription to either EBJ or EHJ if you don't already have one. Your situation is exactly why the MRS section is helpful. There are good areas in Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, etc.
I'd also encourage you to look beyond just the harvest odds, number of hunters, etc. Think of the kinds of terrain you want to experience, the other types of wildlife you would enjoy seeing, nearby points of interest that you would enjoy, climate based on early or late hunts, season length, on and on and on. A hunting partner would also be an important factor. Whether you plan on bringing someone or finding an in state partner, I think you are more apt to find success and have a more memorable experience with a good partner. A bad partner can have the exact opposite effect.
And welcome, by the way!
I was in your shoes a few years ago. Always hunted whitetail, hogs, turkeys and waterfowl on public land here in the south. I done what DryFlyGuy suggested you do, subscribed to EHJ and EBJ. The MRS sections usually starting with the December issue and go through June I think. It is overwhelming at first but pick a state and learn everything about it and its draw system. Then pick another state and do then same. Once you can look at a few states and understand what is going on, pick one or two that you would want to hunt every year or every other year. Then start researching units that fit your needs as a hunter. Public land%, harvest%, pressure, access, terrain, trophy potential, etc. Remember easier to draw units will probably require more work due to less public land, more hunters, easy terrain etc. Then you could build points in another state for a trophy unit 10 or 12 years down then road. This is how I got started about 3 years ago and I am leaving tomorrow for my first hunt. One of my biggest concerns about hunting out west was the gear I would need since its so different from the south. The guys here on the forum are a huge help! They make these hunts every year and know what you will need. Welcome!
Well if you want to see Nice bucks apply for Nevada Area 13. Very nice bucks come out of there each year
Ditto the advice on the MRS sections and the other considerations Dry mentioned.
You should also get Mike Eastman's book on mule deer and his new brand book on elk that should be out any day. They just sent it to the printer a couple weeks ago so it would be out in time for Christmas. Those books both have great information on how to choose where to hunt out West, especially the new elk book. What he has to say there also applies to other species than elk.