South Dakota is generally good for hunting any kind of wildlife and is the 10th-best state in the US for hunting elk in particular. The best place to start hunting elk would be Rapid City, where elk are available all year long.
Elk in New Mexico are sparsely populated, which can make hunting them quite a challenge. The population of elk in New Mexico numbers in the tens of thousands and includes some of the biggest bulls in the country. The bulls grow big in New Mexico because of the mild weather and adequate forage all year long.
Utah has some of the biggest bull elk in the country. Utah is second only to Montana in terms of the size of its bull elk and is also in the top three when considering typical and atypical bulls. The draws are managed by using 50% of available tags from a large pool of applicants with bonus points, and the rest of the pool is drawn from the remaining 50% of the applicants. While this means that there is a degree of luck involved, hunters are able to swing it in their favor and make the most of it when selected.
With a herd of over sixty-eight thousand elk, Utah is one of the best states to hunt elk in the country. It is also one of the two states, the other being Arizona, that has a lot of elk on public land. Elk hunters have said that these two states have the best public hunting grounds in the country. Trophy elk hunting is often practiced in Utah. Hunting elk has never been an easy task because of the rough terrain that elk tend to favor, such as the Unita mountains located in Ashley national forest in Utah.
Possibly the most popular destination in the country for elk hunting, Arizona is also the most southern US state in which elk hunting is a possibility. It is said that the biggest bull elk on the planet are found in Arizona. However, obtaining a hunting license in Arizona can be difficult due to the lottery system in place that requires hunters to wait longer to acquire a license. Motor vehicles are also not allowed on hunts in Arizona. The Coconino National Forest has the best herds.
In addition to having a county actually named Elk County, Pennsylvania is considered the best elk-hunting state east of Mississippi. The elk are located deep in the Allegheny Mountains, where large herds are normally seen walking around. Hunting in Pennsylvania is highly regulated, with a system in place that only gives a few licenses to people who want to go hunting. Therefore, it is advisable that hunters plan their trips early.
Any list that has anything to do with wilderness and the outdoors cannot exclude Montana. It has been considered the number one hunting place for large bull elk since 2010, and it is still considered the top spot for elk hunting—although tags are getting much harder to attain. Hunting trips to Montana are much more expensive for non-residents, as the tags can be more expensive and an out-of-state license can cost an extra $1000.
While these extra costs may deter some hunters, many others feel the trip is well worth the expense. Montana hunters have access to millions of acres of public land, and decent scouting can lead to a successful hunt. The archery season alone reports between 20-40% success for a single hunting trip. The season includes six weeks of archery, five weeks of rifling, and another nine days to conclude the season with a muzzleloader. Montana has the longest elk hunting season of any state, on top of the cow-only shoot that occurs only in the month of February.
With very rough terrain, hunting elk in Montana can be very demanding. Montana has millions of hectares of land with an elk population in the hundreds of thousands, making it one of the states with great hunting opportunities. More than seventy percent of the elk in Montana are located in the southwest part of the state, in and around the Gallatin National Forest. Other places to hunt include Yellowstone National Park and Lee Metcalf Wilderness. The state of Montana has also introduced a program called the block management program, which gives access to some private hunting grounds. Montana is also home to other wildlife such as grizzly bears, which can endanger the lives of hunters. Bear protection is advised.
Oregon is famously known for Roosevelt Elk. It is one of only a few states which have hundreds of thousands of elk. Most of the top Boone and Crocket bulls are hunted on a daily basis in Oregon forests. Most hunters go to the Siuslaw national forest, which is accessible to the public, to hunt the Roosevelt elk. However, it is very expensive for non-residents. Furthermore, the best units are sold quickly.
Wyoming’s elk are found mostly in the Rocky Mountains, though some traverse the lower mountain ranges and plains. Hunting in Wyoming is very adventurous. The landscape in Wyoming is similar to that of Colorado, with large amounts of hunting grounds. Most people prefer to use vehicles as they hunt on the plains. The best places to hunt elk in Wyoming are Cody and Saratoga. The scenery in Cody is very beautiful with good weather for hunting. In Saratoga, the North Platte River runs through the town, with elk roaming on the outskirts of the town. During the winter season, most hunters depend on the snow to drive the elk down from the mountains to lower ground.
The elk population in Idaho is estimated to be more than one hundred thousand. The elk live in massive forests, which can make the hunting experience both challenging and exciting. Idaho's elk population has been dropping in the past few years because of competition and/or predation from the state's growing wolf population. The elk appear in abundance near a small town called Salmon, which is located along the Salmon River. This area is also home to other wildlife such as mountain lions, bears, and trout fish. Caution should be taken while hunting.
Colorado is regarded as the best place to hunt elk in the U.S. Colorado is usually the number one choice for the Mid-September to October hunt. Colorado also has the largest elk population in the U.S. with the biggest elk migrations taking place there. There are estimated to be over 250,000 elk in the state's boundaries, making it the largest number in the United States.
Access to public land is not quite as great as in Montana, but there are still vast hunting grounds of millions of acres that are open for anyone to hunt—more than enough to ensure a higher rate of success. Tags are easier to procure, as there are over-the-counter tags for both cows and bulls and ample tags available for the rifle season. Residents and non-residents alike travel in droves to the Centennial state in order to take advantage of the opportunity to hunt the plentiful herds.