An archery elk hunt is one of North America’s greatest adventures.
Camping in majestic mountains clad in aspen-golden splendor, a majestic quarry that bulges and bellows, breaks branches with giant antlers, yet can sneak toward seductive cow calls in total silence. The Cowboy State is blessed with diverse big game species, abundant public land, and easy access if you draw a license.
Full Season License-
A Wyoming elk tag is good for the entire season. If you don’t get your game in the archery season, your license is good for the rifle, muzzleloading, and other special seasons. Residents will often pass a 5-point bull in bow season since they may see a bigger bull with a rifle. This helps reduce pressure during archery season when crossbows are legal.
Many Federal and State lands are crisscrossed with roads to reduce fire danger. They are marked with names and numbers and show up on maps and cell phone mapping apps. This makes access to remote areas remarkably easy and I once killed a bull elk while hunting out of a Dodge Charger driven six miles into the mountains.
Hunt Up, Pack Down
An elk will generate at least 250 pounds of boned-out meat and you must think about getting your venison back to camp in your hunting plan. I try to camp low and hunt up the mountain so that the packing job will be downhill. Make sure you have meat bags and a sturdy pack to make this celebratory task manageable… and hunting buddies greatly lessen the load.
Speed Goat Season
Pronghorn antelope rut at the same time as elk so combining a hunt for them will double the enjoyment of your adventure. Actually, beginning with an antelope hunt will help you focus your shooting and stalking skills and work as a perfect warm-up to the mountains. Antelope tags are much easier to draw but pronghorn are rarely found in elk habitats.
Wyoming holds excellent populations of mule deer that frequent elk habitats. Since the pandemic, the number of preference points needed to hunt elk and mule deer has increased due to higher demand. Be sure to apply for a mule deer preference point as you build your elk application. To get that coveted Wyoming elk tag, you must plan ahead.
Many Eastern hunters may think hunting elk hunting requires horses, remote packs, and an outfitter. Those are great but not necessary if you can access local or experienced hunters who can give you tips about hunting areas. Our group uses camping trailers or we sleep in our SUVs and get into the heart of elk country each day.
An elk bugling near your tent is something you will never forget. Bagging a bull with a crossbow is no easy task, but there is no more satisfying “work” on the planet. If you have a rifle tag in another state, check to see if a crossbow is legal to use in that season. Wyoming closes its license sales early in February, so plan ahead, do your homework, and make that crossbow hunt-of-a-lifetime come true.
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