Trying to pick out the best do-it-yourself Western hunts is like trying to name the 10 prettiest girls on a college campus – there is a considerable amount of personal taste involved. But I gave it my best shot. All of these hunts can be done without an outfitter and at relatively low cost. Most are public-land adventures, but some will require some door-knocking and possibly access fees. Like any successful DIY project, these hunts will require research and plenty of legwork. Here they are, in no particular order.
The elk population in Colorado is the highest in the nation, boasting numbers near 280,000. That’s a lot of elk. Tags are readily available for many archery, rifle, and muzzleloader hunts, and spread over several units and season dates. Truly big bulls are uncommon, but you should see elk, and with luck take a nice bull. The further you get from roads and ATV trails the better the hunting is. There are good public areas to hunt elk all across the state and plenty of over-the-counter tags, so do your research, buy your tag, and shoulder your backpack. Adventure lies just around the bend in that high-country trail.