Rifle Elk Hunts
Our main focus at Montana OutWest is our elk hunts. Hunting elk is a dream for many hunters and most of our year is spent focusing on elk.
We break our elk hunts into three different hunts –Our Archery elk hunt, our rifle elk hunt (weeks 1-3), and our migration rifle elk hunt (weeks 4 and 5).
All of our hunts are fully outfitted and include all guiding, meals, lodging, and care of game. Not included are all travel expenses, licenses, processing, and gratuities.
How the hunt is conducted
Our hunts are conducted by driving to an area then hunting from there on foot. Our primary hunting method consists of spot and stalk. As with all western hunts physical preparation will increase your odds of success dramatically. Our first three rifle hunts primarily target various resident elk herds throughout the area. These are herds we have been watching throughout the archery season and have a good handle on their habits.
Our area boasts a high number of large elk herds that we focus on for the first three rifle hunts. as the weeks progress these herds grow in size as new elk move in from surrounding areas.
Making it a combination hunt with deer
Although we sell all of our elk hunts with the intent that the primary hunt is for elk, we also allow our hunters to hunt both elk and either a mule deer (with a proper draw permit) or whitetail as an incidental bonus if opportunity or time permits. As with all combo hunts we suggest you pick one primary species to focus on for the hunt. We have much better success targeting an individual species and taking the second animal as a bonus. However, we have many clients fill both their elk and deer tags in the same trip.
If you would like to hunt mule deer along with elk the quality of the mule deer and success largely depends on which area you draw a mule deer permit in. On our combo hunts we primarily hunt management unit 270 for elk, and Unit 250 or 240 for mule deer. For mule deer, unit 250 is a limited tag unit.
All hunters who book a hunt with Montana OutWest will be applied for mule deer permits in our areas. Unit 250 contains some quality deer with reasonable odds of drawing and great hunter success but the permit is not guaranteed in this area. If hunters are unsuccessful in drawing unit 250 they will be able to hunt mule deer in unit 240. So you will be able to have a mule deer tag even if you do not draw unit 250. The unlimited permit Unit 240 can hold some great bucks but the area is largely road-less, rugged, and heavily timbered. Keep in mind that on all of our combo hunts, hunters may harvest a whitetail instead of a mule deer in any unit we hunt. It is important to think of this hunt as an elk hunt where you may also have the opportunity to take a deer. If you draw a limited mule deer permit your opportunity for success will be greater than if you draw an unlimited permit.
Which week to hunt
Rifle Hunt 1
This hunt starts on opening day –a Saturday and runs through the following Wednesday. This is one of our most popular hunts and can book up as much as two years out. This is the first crack at elk with a rifle for the season. On this hunt we target bulls that we have been watching all year. Every year on average we kill 50% of the bulls taken for the week on the first day. Many years we find the elk may even be bugling the first morning.
Rifle Hunt 2
This hunt is Monday through Friday. We are still targeting resident elk however the amount of hunters on public land is substantially less than the first hunt. This can be a great hunt with less competition. In 2012 and 2013 all of our hunters shot at bulls during the second rifle hunt.
Rifle Hunt 3
This hunt can be great because not only do you have less pressure than week one you still have resident elk and you also start to get the first bulls of the migration. It is also closer to the mule deer rut so hunters looking to combine it with deer have the best chances at harvesting multiple species this week.
As a note year to year we average out about the same success rate on elk across every week of the season. We suggest matching the hunt to your schedule and the type of experience you are looking for.