How to Plan DIY Elk Hunt – Tips for a Successful DIY Elk Hunt

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Elks is the toughest one to hunt when compared to the other big game animals. You will be shocked to know that the success rate of elk hunting is only approx. 10% for all hunters combined. What’s more awful is it’s not uncommon to go empty-handed in a row even for the experienced hunters out there.

If you have been into big games hunting for a while, then probably you are thinking about preparing yourself for the next season’s elk hunting. Well, prepare yourself for bull elk hunting is not like anything other. You need to be aware of a variety of things. To be more specific, you will require a precise plan to increase the chance of success.

So, how to plan a DIY elk hunt? Below, we will provide you an in-depth guide on how to set up your elk hunting plan. Keep going through the entire article to be more knowledgeable and fool-proof while preparing the hunting plan.

Define Your Hunting Style

Well, the first you need to do is to prefer your hunting style. Here are the popular styles for hunting elk:

Still Hunting

When it comes to elk hunting, still hunting is the most effective way to hunt. The procedure consists of sneaking into the habitat of the animals and take them down before they detect you. It’s an ancient method of hunting that requires both time and proper skills. You will require the search for the animals by looking for fresh sign of matings,droppings, and other things.

You must be highly cautious of the surroundings and move slowly to obtain every possible detail. Besides, you will also need to be aware of the wind direction. You mustn’t walk in the same direction as the wind as your smell can make the hunt aware.

Stand Hunting

The next style is stand hunting which consists of waiting stationary in a specific location and wait for the hunt. Hunter requires waiting on tree stands, ground blinds, or tripod stands for the prey. When it comes to standing hunting, the key to success is choosing the right location where the chances of finding the prey are high.

You will need to select the right procedure based on your preference, physical fitness, and available gears.

Mental and Physical Preparation

As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, elk hunting can be pretty tough. Especially, if you are a flatlander, the elk country can be very unforgiving with the dry air and high elevation. It doesn’t matter which types of hunting style you prefer; you will still require acquiring the rugged terrains and you must prepare yourself for that before hunting.

So how to prepare yourself? The sole answer is “training”. Begin with hiking a few miles preferably 7 to 10 miles on the first day and keep doing it regularly. It would be better if you can pick a rough terrain for it. Begin the practice without any gears and then gradually move to weights.  Mental preparation consists of making your mind ready for the challenges while being aware of the success ratio.

Budget for DIY Elk Hunt

There are plenty of places to spend your money when it comes to elk hunting. That begins with the cost of transportation to gathering the tags, gears, food cost, accommodation cost, etc. You will be lucky if you live near the elk hunting zones like Colorado as it will significantly reduce the cost of travel. Make sure to find out the approximate budget you will require for the entire hunting sessions.  

There are several ways to reduce the budget during elk hunting. As an example, instead of paying for accommodation, you can go camping or backpacking. Following this way, you can cut the budget by sharing the hunting trip with the other hunting partner, compromising with foods, and drinks.

Where to Hunt

When it comes to elk hunting, Colorado Public Land OTC is the best pick for you. Here over the counter tags are pretty accessible for the elks when compared to the other areas. It may increase the hunting pressure but that shouldn’t be an issue for the serious and experienced one. Apart from Colorado, you have Oregon Public Land OTC and Idaho Public Land OTC.

Where to hunt in the selected area? Begin with identifying the OTC units and know about them to pick the right one. Afterward, you should look at the previous year’s statistics to narrow down the list of potential units based on the success ratio. You can also look into the specialized maps to determine the concentration and reproduction area of the hunt.

When to Hunt

Well, that depends mostly on your personal preference. If you are want to still hunt, you will need to begin after the third week of September. If you are into stand hunting or something related to it, you better begin from late august. While planning the hunting time, make sure to consider the hunting pressure. If you are easygoing with the pressure, you can hunt at any time of the rifle season.

Be aware that the hunting season for muzzleloading and archery begin in the middle of September. That means there will less hunting pressure but you will need to compete with the muzzleloaders. So, considering everything, prepare your schedule.

Essential Gears

As you have been already are into hunting, you should have a number of gears. Here is everything you will require.


The hunting boots are the first thing you need to consider to go through the rough unknown terrains. The boot must be capable of offering you adequate protection and comfort while wearing for a long duration. They also need to be equally fit for your feet. If you want the best pair, be prepared to spend up to $400 on the boots. You should find a standard pair at around $200.


It is no wonder that you will require bringing a large number of gears as a DIY elk hunter. So, it is crucial to select the right backpack that can accommodate all your gears and pounds of meats on the way back home. Make sure to pick the durable one with a strong frame that can carry the weight with confidence.


Due to the weather condition of the elk hunting areas, you will require the right clothes. If you are going to Colorado, then you will need to be hot temperature throughout the day and a chilly temperature in the morning and evening. It would be better if your dress consists of full-sleeved camouflaged shirts and a light vest for the dawn and dusk.

Other Gears

We are not going to give overviews on the hunting gears as you should already have them ready. Make sure to recheck the gears before you start the journey. If anything requires fixing, don’t be late to do it. For the bowhunting, take enough of the right variation of the arrows.  Check all the moving points of the bow. A rangefinder may assist you to detect the targets easily.

If you are going to hunt with a rifle, make sure to use the correct combination of the rifle and the ammo. The scope with the magnification range is another essential for rifle elk hunting. You will also require elk calls and elk decoy to lure the target during standing hunting.

Also, make sure to pack the supplies like knives and dry ice for butchering and preserving the meat.  You can pack the additional gears like a GPS, specialized google earth map app, binocular, spotting scope, etc. as required. You may also consider adding a first aid box in case of emergencies.


DIY elk hunting is something serious and you must require a no-nonsense game plan for this. We hope the above discussions will help you prepare it accurately for successful hunts. Training and mental preparation are more important than anything else for elk hunting. With the utmost preparation, we hope that you will be able to nail the hunting season.

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