Elk Hunting in Wyoming: Everything You Need to Know

By Charles •  Updated: 04/20/22 •  16 min read

If you’re looking for an exciting hunting adventure, elk hunting in Wyoming is a great option. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about elk hunting in the state, from what’s required to go on a hunt to the different types of hunts available. We’ll also take a look at the pros and cons of guided elk hunts versus doing it yourself, as well as some tips on how to prepare for an elk hunt in Wyoming. So whether you’re a first-time hunter or an experienced outdoorsman, read on for all the information you need to plan your next elk hunting trip in Wyoming!

Table of Contents

Why Go Elk Hunting In Wyoming?

The first step in planning your elk hunting trip is deciding where to go, and Wyoming is a great option for a number of reasons. First of all, the state is home to a large population of elk, which means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to bag a big one. Additionally, Wyoming offers a variety of different landscapes to hunt in, from the rugged mountains to the open plains. And finally, the state has a long hunting season, running from September all the way through February, depending on the type of hunt. This means you can choose a hunt and date that works best for you.

The Different Types Of Elk Hunts Available

Once you’ve decided to go elk hunting in Wyoming, the next step is to choose the type of hunt that’s right for you. There are four main types of elk hunts available in the state:

Archery Hunts: these hunts take place during the early season, typically from September 1st through September 31st. To participate, you must have a valid Wyoming Archery Stamp. Archery elk hunts in Wyoming can be done with traditional archery tackle, modern compound bows, or crossbows.

Muzzleloader Hunts: While Wyoming does not have a specific “muzzleloader only” season, there are some units that have license types where muzzleloader are allowed but rifles are not. In addition, you can use muzzleloaders during any of the firearm seasons.

Limited Quota Rifle Hunts: these hunts take place during in one of the limited quota hunt units. In order to participate, you must have a limited quota elk license. Limited quota rifle elk hunting in Wyoming Can take place anywhere from late September through November or sometimes January depending on the unit.

elik hunting wyoming, elk hunts, guided elk hunts
Kissmykumbaya, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
elik hunting wyoming, elk hunts, guided elk hunts
Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Full Price Antlerless Elk Hunts: these hunts take place during the full price antlerless elk season which is typically in Late November or December. In order to participate, you must have a valid Wyoming full price antlerless elk tag.

Reduced Price Antlerless Elk Hunts: these hunts take place during the reduced price antlerless elk season which is typically in Late November or December. In order to participate, you must have a valid Wyoming reduced price antlerless elk tag.

If you would like more information on the different types of Wyoming elk tags available or how to draw a tag, check out my articles – “How To Apply for a Wyoming Elk Tag – 4 Important Terms You Need to Know” or “Hunt Elk In Wyoming – How To Draw A Tag“.

Do-It-Yourself Elk Hunts Vs. Guided Elk Hunts

elik hunting wyoming, elk hunts, guided elk hunts
National Park and Preserve, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to elk hunting, there are two main types of hunts that people typically go on: do-it-yourself (DIY) elk hunts and guided elk hunts. Both have their own set of pros and cons that you should take into consideration before deciding which type of hunt is right for you.

Guided Elk Hunts

Guided elk hunts are, as the name suggests, hunts that are led by an experienced outfitters and guides. Guides typically have a good amount of knowledge about the area you’ll be hunting in and can help you find elk easier than doing it yourself. The outfitters usually have a network of guides that they can call upon for help if needed.

One of the biggest benefits of going on a guided elk hunt is that it takes a lot of the guesswork out of planning a successful hunt. If you’re new to elk hunting or unfamiliar with the area you’ll be hunting in, having a guide can make a big difference. Guides can also provide helpful tips and techniques that you may not be aware of.

Another benefit of guided elk hunts is that they typically include food and lodging. This can be a big help, especially if you’re hunting in a remote area. Many times, getting your gear to your hunting spot can be overwhelming. However, when you go on a guided elk hunt, the outfitters will typically handle all of the logistics for you.

The main downside of going on a guided elk hunt is that they can be quite expensive. The cost of a guided hunt will usually depend on the length of the hunt and the number of people in your group. Additionally, most outfitters require a deposit upfront, which can make it difficult to budget for a guided hunt.

Do-It-Yourself Elk Hunts

If you’re looking for a more traditional elk hunting experience or you’re simply on a tight budget, a do-it-yourself (DIY) elk hunt may be a better option for you. As the name suggests, DIY elk hunts are ones that you plan and execute on your own without the help of a guide or outfitter.

One of the biggest benefits of going on a DIY elk hunt is that it’s typically much cheaper than going on a guided hunt. You won’t have to pay for things like someone cooking your food, lodging, or the guide, which can save you a lot of money. In addition, you can always rent llamas to help you get into the backcountry and get your elk out.

Another benefit of DIY elk hunts is that they give you a sense of ownership and pride that comes with planning and executing a successful hunt. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of setting up camp, bagging an elk, and then breaking down camp knowing that you did it all yourself.

Of course, the biggest downside of going on a DIY elk hunt is that it requires a lot more planning and preparation than a guided hunt. If you’re new to elk hunting or unfamiliar with the area you’ll be hunting in, it can be easy to make mistakes that could jeopardize your entire hunt.

Additionally, if you’re not used to spending extended periods of time in the wilderness, going on a DIY elk hunt can be quite challenging. Not only do you have to worry about things like finding food and water, but you also have to be mindful of potential dangers like wildlife and the weather.

So, which type of elk hunt is right for you? Ultimately, the decision comes down to your personal preferences and budget. If you’re looking for a traditional hunting experience and you’re willing to put in the extra work, a DIY elk hunt may be the way to go. However, if you’re looking for a hassle-free hunt with minimal planning, a guided elk hunt may be a better option.

Now that you know how to prepare for an elk hunt, it’s time to start planning your hunt. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some of the most popular places to hunt elk in Wyoming:

  • The Red Desert
  • Medicine Bow National Forest
  • Bridger-Teton National Forest
  • Shoshone National Forest

When it comes to elk hunting, Wyoming is truly a paradise. With its vast expanses of public land and plentiful elk population, the state offers hunters endless opportunities to bag a trophy elk.

elik hunting wyoming, elk hunts, guided elk hunts
Ron Nichols, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Preparing For An Elk Hunt In Wyoming

elik hunting wyoming, elk hunts, guided elk hunts
Smart Glen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

No matter which type of elk hunt you decide to go on, there are certain things you need to do to prepare for your hunt.

Get A Tag

The first step is to apply for a Wyoming elk hunting tag. You can do this online at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department website.

If you’re going on a guided hunt, the outfitters will typically take care of most of the planning for you. However, it’s still a good idea to do your own research to make sure you know what to expect.

Plan Your Elk Hunt

Once you have your tag, you need to start planning your hunt. If you’re going on a DIY hunt, this means finding a place to stay, figuring out what gear you need, and making sure you have all the necessary permits.

Physical Preparation

Since elk hunting usually involves hiking long distances in rugged terrain, it’s important to make sure you’re in good physical shape before your hunt. You don’t need to be an elite athlete, but you should at least be able to hike for several miles without getting too winded.

Mental Preparation

In addition to being physically prepared for your elk hunt, it’s also important to be mentally prepared. Hunting can be stressful, and if you’re not mentally prepared for it, you may find yourself getting frustrated or even giving up.

One of the best ways to mentally prepare for your elk hunt is to visualize yourself successful. This means picturing yourself waking up early, hiking into the backcountry, finding an elk, and then bagging it.

You should also try to mentally prepare for the challenges you may face on your hunt. This includes things like being cold, being tired, or not seeing any elk. By mentally preparing for these challenges, you’ll be better equipped to handle them if they do arise.

Elk Hunting Gear

There is a lot of gear that you need for elk hunting, but the exact gear you need will depend on the type of hunt you’re going on.

If you’re going on a DIY hunt, you’ll need to bring all the necessary camping gear with you. This includes things like a tent, sleeping bag, stove, and food. You’ll also need to bring all the necessary hunting gear, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.

elik hunting wyoming, elk hunts, guided elk hunts
USFWS, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re going on a guided hunt, the outfitters will typically provide most of the necessary gear. However, you’ll still need to bring some personal items with you, such as clothes, toiletries, and a hunting license.

Hunting Gear

General Camping Gear

Elk Hunting Tips And Tactics

Now that we’ve gone over the essential gear you need for elk hunting, let’s discuss some tips and tactics that will help you be successful on your hunt.

The first step is to do your homework and research the area you’re going to be hunting. This includes things like studying maps, talking to local hunters, and scouting the area before your hunt.

Scouting For Elk

Scouting is an important part of any elk hunt, but it’s especially important if you’re going on a DIY hunt. This is because you need to find a place to set up camp and look for signs of elk in the area. 

One of the best ways to scout for elk is to use a topographic map or Google Earth. This will help you identify potential camping spots, water sources, and areas where elk are likely to be. 

If you have the time, you should also try to get to your hunt area and do some boot on the ground scouting.

In addition to scouting the area yourself, you can also talk to local hunters and outfitters. They may have valuable information that can help you plan your hunt. 

Hunting Tips

When you’re actually on your hunt, be sure to stay calm and be patient. Elk are notoriously skittish animals, and they will spook easily if they see or especially if they smell you. The most important tip I can give you is pay attention to the wind. Elk have a very keen sense of smell, and they will wind you if the wind is blowing in their direction.

I have written in-depth articles on “How to find elk in the early season” and “How to find elk during the rut“. I hope to have my article on “How to find elk post rut” and “How to find elk during late season” soon.

Final Thoughts

Elk hunting in Wyoming is a great way to experience the beauty of the state and hopefully fill your freezer with some delicious meat. Just be sure to do your homework, come prepared, and be patient.

No matter which type of hunt you choose, Wyoming is an excellent place to go elk hunting. With its vast expanses of wilderness and large population of elk, Wyoming is a haven for hunters from all over the world. So, whether you’re planning a DIY hunt or a guided hunt, be sure to do your research and have a good time.

I hope this article has helped you learn everything you need to know about elk hunting in Wyoming.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Frequently Asked Questions

How expensive is an elk hunt?

The cost of an elk hunt will vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of hunt, the outfitter you use, and the length of the hunt. Generally speaking, a DIY elk hunt will be cheaper than a guided hunt.

What is the best time of year to go elk hunting?

The best time to go elk hunting depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to see the most elk, then you should hunt during the late fall migration. However, if you’re looking for trophy bulls, then you should hunt during the rut.

Where is the cheapest place to hunt elk?

There is no definitive answer to this question as the cost of elk hunting will vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of hunt, the outfitter you use, and the length of the hunt. However, DIY elk hunts are generally cheaper than guided hunts.

What state has the best elk hunting?

This is a matter of opinion, but many hunters believe that Wyoming has some of the best elk hunting in the country.

How much does a Wyoming elk hunt cost?

The cost of a Wyoming elk hunt will vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of hunt, the outfitter you use, and the length of the hunt. Generally speaking, a DIY elk hunt will be cheaper than a guided hunt.

Can you buy elk tags over the counter in Wyoming?

Resident can buy General over-the-counter elk tags while non-residents must apply for a limited number of tags through the draw system.

Is Wyoming good for elk hunting?

Wyoming is considered by many to be one of the best states for elk hunting. With its large population of elk and vast expanses of wilderness, Wyoming offers hunters a unique and challenging hunting experience.

Can you hunt elk with a bow?

Yes, you can hunt elk with a bow. However, it is important to note that hunting elk with a bow is much more difficult than hunting elk with a rifle.

How much do guided elk hunts cost?

The cost of a guided elk hunt will vary depending on a number of factors, including the outfitter you use, the length of the hunt, and the type of hunt. Generally speaking, guided hunts are more expensive than DIY hunts.

Is a guided elk hunt worth it?

This is a matter of opinion. Some hunters believe that guided hunts are worth the extra cost, while others believe that they are not.

What is the best outfitter for elk hunting?

The best outfitters for elk

will vary depending on your budget, the type of hunt you’re looking for, and the amount of time you have to hunt.

Featured Photo Larry Lamsa, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Charles

Charles is a man who loves the outdoors. He moved to Wyoming specifically to spend more time in the mountains and wilderness. A hunter and fisherman, Charles knows how to enjoy nature and all that it has to offer. He is an outdoorsman through and through, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Charles is the President of Absaroka Enterprises, an company focuse on outdoor entertainment and endeavours. He's also an Editor for Alpha and Omega Outdoors, an online hunting, fishing, camping, trapping, and all around outdoors blog.

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