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The Rocky Mountain Elk Guide
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Guided Hunt/Choosing An Outfitter
Self Guided Hunt
Physical Training and Conditioning
Packing Your Gear
First Aid Kit
Knives And Sharpeners
Navigation Skills And Tools
Scopes And Binoculars
Archery/ Black Powder
Rifles Scopes And Ammunition
Saddle And Tack
Do's And Don'ts
Knots And Lashing
Food And Beverage
Hunting Camp Meals
Recipes For The Camp
Kitchen Set Up
Kitchen Clean Up (And Bears)
Caring For Your Elk After Harvest
What To Expect
A childhood dream of elk hunting in the Rocky Mountains finally
became a reality in the fall of 1994. As a young hunter growing up in
southern Alabama, I read every article and magazine that I could get
my hands on about elk hunting in the Rocky Mountains.
I lived out those experiences page by page, gaining valuable
knowledge from those fortunate enough to be able to hunt these
My family and I moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado in the
winter of 1993 and as soon as I could take the hunter safety course
and wait out the required one year of residency, I hit the woods. I
soon became friends with a local outfitter and learned everything I
could about the mountains and elk hunting.
Patsy Wilhelm of Sunset Ranch Outfitters took me under her wing
and taught me more about horses, mules, packing and the mountains
than I could have ever imagined.
Her knowledge of the outfitting business was passed down to her by
her father and husband. I am forever grateful for her patience,
training and especially her friendship.
I hunted elk with bow and arrow, muzzle loader and rifle learning
all I could during all of the different seasons. Elk hunting strategies
have to change during these different seasons because of weather
and changes in hormones, especially during the rut.
I hunted elk in the Steamboat Springs, Colorado area for six years
and then nine years in the mountains around Durango, Colorado. In
Durango, I worked for a professional outfitter and continued my
education in this wonderful sport.
At times I had to pinch myself; I was able to live out my childhood
dreams and even get paid for doing it.
It is because of my love for this sport, and my enjoyment of seeing
the look on a hunters face as he or she experiences the joy and
excitement of the hunt, that I write this guide.
With that in mind, I will share information with you about how to
choose a reputable outfitter/ guide, how to plan a self guided hunt,
proper training and physical conditioning, equipment suggestions,
horsemanship and expectations to make your hunt a success.
After fifteen years of guiding, outfitting and packing hunters into the
Rocky Mountains of Colorado, I felt that it was time to make
available information that would prepare first time elk hunters to that
My hope is that this guide will be helpful in preparing those for the
hunt and keeping alive the dream for many who want to experience a
Rocky Mountain Elk Hunt.
This guide will apply to all seasons including archery, black powder,
Guided Hunt/ Choosing An Outfitter
Preparation for your hunting trip should begin well in advance.
Choosing an outfitter or planning a self guided hunting trip will take
time and research and should start at least a year in advance. I have
friends that book their hunts several years ahead of time.
Most outfitters begin booking their trips as soon as December or
January for the next season. With an outfitter, you need to decide if
you want a full service guided hunt or what the industry calls a “drop
With a full service guided hunt, you supply your hunting gear,
clothing and personal items and everything else is furnished by the
outfitter. For a drop camp, you supply food, drinks, sleeping bag,
hunting gear, clothing and personal items.
What an outfitter furnishes varies so you need to make sure you get
an equipment list from him or her as to what is included. Some
companies furnish cots, sleeping bags, pots and pans, cookware,
stoves, and lanterns including fuel.
Most states require a hunter’s safety card to purchase a license and
also because out of state licenses are usually limited. It is best to do
this as early as possible.
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