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In-depth look at some of the top OTC elk hunts in the West

Over the counter elk hunting options

Jump to: Arizona Colorado Idaho Oregon Utah

As mid summer approaches and the application deadlines are over, the minds of most hunters will often drift off to thoughts of the upcoming fall and the hunt their coveted tag will allow.

But what happens when things don’t go as planned and your name isn’t pulled out of the hat by the time all the tags have been distributed? While it’s true that some of the largest bulls in any given state will be found in draw units it is also true that some tremendous bulls get taken in general units every year. Currently five western states offer over-the-counter (OTC) hunting opportunities that allow hunters the ability to chase elk every year with the potential of killing the bull of a lifetime. Whether you're looking to simply experience the thrill of the rut every season or looking to hone your elk strategy before you pull a coveted tag, consider the following states for your adventures this fall: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Utah. Another great resource to check out is an article I wrote a few months ago on the populations of elk and statistics on a state-by-state basis

Getting started

As you begin to plan your OTC hunt, it’s important to consider several factors pertaining to what exactly you’d like to get out of your hunt. Some may include:

  • Trophy size
  • Elk density
  • Hunter numbers
  • Success rates
  • Terrain features
  • Public land access
  • Bull:cow ratios

Another big factor that many hunters may take into account is the number of bulls from a given unit that may have been entered into the Boone and Crockett (B&C) record books in recent years. While B&C’s records isn’t an absolute representation of the entire counties potential, it can certainly elude to the presence of great genetics in an immediate area.

Top B&C producing states since 2010*

State Typical entries Nontypical entries Total
Utah 46 9 55
Colorado 37 9 46
Arizona 26 14 40
Oregon
(Roosevelt elk)
29 NA 29
Idaho 12 3 15
Oregon
(Rocky Mtn elk)
2 3 5

* Keep in mind that the majority of these B&C entries are from draw units.

When evaluating prospective states, it will be extremely beneficial to use our Filtering 2.0 software to narrow down units and find the hunt that fits your expectations. Within Filtering 2.0, users will be able to set desired attributes within a given unit focused on success rates and trophy potentials to ensure that your unit choice can provide the desired experience. Once your list has been whittled down to a few prospective units be sure to check into our in-depth unit profiles that will provide the latest information for the immediate area and unlock the tools for success.

As always, there are plenty of different determining factors in finding that perfect OTC hunt. That's the beauty of what Filtering 2.0 can do for you in narrowing down the perfect unit that fits your style of hunting. There are endless ways to manipulated the filters and data to find those "hidden gem" opportunities.

To get started with Filtering 2.0

goHUNT INSIDER OTC elk hunt filtering

  • Select state.
  • Select species.
  • Here I like to jump down to the Season selection to select only the OTC units.
  • Next adjust the Trophy Slider to your desired size (e.g. 300”+).
  • Select the percentage of Public Land you'd like to see in the unit. This can be very good for weeding out districts with tons of private land that you will have a difficult time in hunting.
  • Choose what harvest percentages you would like to see.
  • Lastly, click on any of the remaining units to read in depth profiles containing valuable information.

For instance, let’s say you're looking for an OTC archery hunt in Idaho, want to hunt bulls with the trophy potential of 300”+, want an area with at least 60% public land and have a harvest success rate of 25% or higher. Sounds like a pipe dream, right? Most people would also agree, until they watch Filtering 2.0 go to work. Using those parameters, you will be able to narrow the search down to six results. Getting familiar with this software will allow hunters to see the whole picture all at once and reduce the risk of researching an area totally blind.



Arizona

It’s not very often that a conversation of gigantic bulls goes without Arizona being brought up. Well known for its incredible genetics, sound management, and enormous bulls, the Grand Canyon will often find itself on the bucket list of any elk hunter. OTC tags (General nonpermit tag) can also be purchased here with the season lasting year-round though conditions for these hunts are generally far from the norm. The majority of the OTC tags are either sex, but area are bull elk only. According to Arizona Fish and Game (AZFG), elk numbers in these hunt areas are very low and elk may not be present year round; therefore, hunt success is expected to be very low. These hunts do not affect your bonus points but do count towards your one elk per calendar year limit. If you're seriously considering these OTC Arizona tags, we highly suggest you read this information handout from AZFG here.

Breakdown of Arizona's OTC seasons by unit

Winslow-Holbrook Verde Valley Alamo
Lake
Gila River
Corridor
Rincon
Basin
A7 Ranch
Jan. 1 to March 31
(Any elk)
Jan. 1 to March 31
(Any elk)
Jan. 1 to March 31
(Any elk)
-- Jan. 1 to March 31
(Any elk/archery only)
--
April 1 to July 31
(Bull elk only)
April 1 to July 31
(Bull elk only)
-- -- April 1 to July 31
(Bull elk only/archery only)
--
-- Aug. 1 to Sept. 14
(Any elk)
-- -- -- --
Aug. 1 to Dec. 31
(Any elk)
-- Aug. 1 to Dec. 31
(Any elk)
-- Aug. 1 to Dec. 31
(Any elk//archery only)
--
-- -- -- Aug. 24 to Dec. 31
(Any elk)
-- Aug. 24 to Dec. 31
(Any elk)
-- Dec. 1 to 31
(Any elk)
-- -- -- --


Most hunts are organized to eliminate or otherwise deter elk from inhabiting areas of private land. This will generally lead to incredibly steep odds of success, little to no opportunities on larger bulls, and extremely difficult access. Yet, there are always exceptions to the rules and some great bulls do occasionally get taken. As seen in the graph above, hunts are available around the state year-round, which will ultimately leave some hunts falling during the time frame after bulls have shed their antlers but before they have experienced any regrowth. Obviously, if trophy potential is your main consideration, then this is a time you’ll want to avoid. Hunters are also cautioned to avoid late season hunts as many of the bigger bulls in Arizona will enter this time period with broken racks.

Arizona's top OTC units by trophy potential

Unit Trophy
potential
Seasons
available
Bull:cow
ratio
2A
(Winslow-Holbrook)
330"+ Any
weapon
33:100
3A
(Winslow-Holbrook)
360"+ Any
weapon
25:100
4A
(Winslow-Holbrook,
Rincon Basin)
320"+ Any weapon,
archery only
24:100
4B
(Winslow-Holbrook,
Rincon Basin)
320"+ Any weapon,
archery only
39:100
16A
(Alamo Lake)
300"+ Any weapon 33:100
44A
(Alamo Lake)
NA Any weapon NA
6A
(Verde Valley)
330"+ Any weapon 25:100
19A
(Verde Valley)
310"+ Any weapon 10:100
21
(Verde Valley)
340"+ Any weapon NA
28
(Excluding Gila
River Corridor)
300"+ Any weapon NA
31
(A7 Ranch)
300"+ Any weapon NA
32
(A7 Ranch)
300"+ Any weapon NA

** These units experience very little if any chance at bulls with any trophy potential.

After looking at the above graph it can be easy to mistake trophy potentials with OTC opportunities but any prospective hunters must remember that the OTC hunts are primarily used as population control hunts and only produce trophy quality bulls on very rare occurrences. For the most part, hunters looking for OTC hunts are encouraged to build points for Arizona and look into other states for yearly elk opportunities.

Winslow-Holbrook/Rincon

This area is found in west central Arizona along the southern border of the Navajo Indian Reservation. The terrain is primarily desert with the exception of some agricultural areas found around Winslow in the Rincon sub-unit. Hunters here will need to rely heavily on optics to locate and eventually move on elk. Most elk will be found on private land here and careful consideration will need to be practiced when hunting in areas with nearby residences.

Alamo Lake

Elk densities in this area are very low and most hunters will experience a lot of difficulty in even locating herds, most of which reside on private lands. Elk are most commonly located in the river bottoms of the Big Sandy and Santa Maria rivers though navigation can be difficult in these areas due to thick vegetation. Much of this hunting area is designated wilderness meaning horse or foot travel only, which makes access difficult in places.

Verde Valley

Of all of the OTC units found in Arizona, those found in the Verde Valley will give hunters the best chance at success. Large amounts of terrain variances will give elk a more protected environment and allow hunters better advantages when it comes to stalking. Sticking to places with water can be great during periods of extreme temperatures.

Gila River Corridor

Found near the southeast corner of the state, the Gila River Corridor will provide hunters with an exceptionally difficult hunt. Very rough terrain will be found here with little to no road access. As with most of the units, population densities are incredibly low and, as a direct result, so are success rates.

Cost of OTC tags in Arizona as a nonresident

Type of license Cost
Combo hunt & fish license $160
Elk license $650
Total $810

 



Colorado

For the most part, Colorado is the state when it comes to a western elk adventure. The highest population of elk in the country is found in the Centennial State and it just so happens that an incredible amount of OTC opportunities are present as well. Hunters will be greeted with massive amounts of public land, incredible scenery, and some of the best opportunities at a great bull. With Colorado’s reputation for elk, it’s no surprise that legions of hunters flock to the aspen-covered slopes yearly in search of their trophy of a lifetime. To deal with the massive amounts of hunters Colorado has adopted a “choose your weapon” system structure forcing hunters to first choose what type of weapon they would like to hunt with (archery, muzzleloader, rifle) as well as which season they would like to hunt. Most seasons generally only last five to nine days with the exception of archery, which will severely limit opportunity and force a large emphasis of your research on season selection.

With Colorado forcing hunters to choose what weapon and season they would like to hunt it’s going to become very important to do some extensive research into your prospective unit. For instance, If you’re considering a plains unit that doesn’t experience large populations of resident elk until snow pushes them out of the high country, it probably wouldn’t be the best idea to hunt the archery season. Conversely, a unit consisting of massive amounts of high country may not be the best bet for a late season rifle hunt in the case of years with heavy snow fall. For 2017, the archery season will run Aug. 26 through Sept. 24, the second rifle season will run Oct. 21 to 29, and the third rifle season will run Nov. 4 to 12.

Jumping to Filtering 2.0 search options in Colorado

Colorado's top OTC units by trophy potential

Unit Trophy
potential
Seasons
available
Bull:cow
ratio
# of hunters
(2015)
(2016)
Elk taken
(2015)
(2016)
Success %
(2015)
(2016)
591 330"+ Archery
2nd Rifle
3rd Rifle
24:100 295
324
50
40
17%
12%
83 330"+ Archery
2nd Rifle
3rd Rifle
28:100 1,363
1,560
384
385
28%
25%
511 320"+ Archery
2nd Rifle
3rd Rifle
24:100 2,151
2,155
200
139
9%
6%
3 320"+ Archery
2nd Rifle
3rd Rifle
18:100 3,532
3,615
1,113
778
32%
22%
30 320"+ Archery
2nd Rifle
3rd Rifle
20:100 879
1,023
130
113
15%
11%
60 320"+ Archery 30:100 378
386
86
90
23%
23%
62 320"+ Archery
2nd Rifle
3rd Rifle
19:100 5,410
5,272
914
876
17%
17%
140 320"+ Archery
2nd Rifle
3rd Rifle
28:100 433
350
119
80
27%
23%
31 310"+ Archery
2nd Rifle
3rd Rifle
20:100 1,609
1,694
398
402
25%
24%
35 310"+ Archery
2nd Rifle
3rd Rifle
38:100 1,512
1,403
265
167
18%
12%
36 310"+ Archery
2nd Rifle
3rd Rifle
38:100 1,959
1,790
288
181
12%
10%
 

591

This unique unit is found just south of Colorado Springs and entirely on the Fort Carson Military Reservation. Hunters interested in hunting this area must acquire passes, register firearms if hunting the rifle season, and attend orientation classes before the hunt begins. This unit features a healthy population of resident elk and some great opportunities can be found here. Hunters will generally encounter large patches of pinyon, juniper, and ponderosa when hunting the mountainous areas where large expanses of natural grasses and sage will be found in the lowest elevations. Hunters should keep in mind that this hunting area is subject to immediate closures at any time due to national security issues.

511

This unit is found in central Colorado just outside of the town of Colorado Springs. Some great elk hunting can be found here though competition is generally tough throughout the season. This area is primarily comprised of pinyon, juniper, and ponderosa though some aspen can be found at higher elevations. As with most elk hunts in the West with high levels of hunters, escaping the crowds and pushing into roadless areas can increase your odds of success greatly.

3

This unit lies in north central Colorado along the Wyoming border and adjacent to the sought after Unit 2. With its reciprocity to a premium unit, this area will see large amounts of hunters, particularly during the second and third rifle season. Some great archery hunting opportunities can be found though hunters will still need to escape the crowds. As with most of the lower elevation areas on either side of the Rockies expect to encounter large expanses of juniper and pinyon.

30

Located in west central Colorado and on the Utah border Unit 30 provides a healthy mixture of high country timbered ridges and low lying pinyon expanses. During the archery season, bulls will be easier to locate; however, as the rifle seasons start, look for most of the elk to retreat into areas of very thick vegetation, making glassing and still hunting very difficult.

60

This small unit is found in the west central portion of the state along the Utah border. Of all of the units on our list this is the only one that only offers OTC tag for archery and draw tags for rifle hunting. This area generally holds a lower population of residents with the exception of periods when elk migrating from Utah move through the area. Elk in this unit will typically be found in some of the roughest country that can be accessed, which will keep a large portion of prospective hunters out.

62

Found in the west central portion of the state and along the divide of the Uncompahgre National Forest Unit 62 provides some excellent opportunity for hunters of any background. During the early seasons, look for elk to be in mid to high elevations and likely pushed back into deep canyons to avoid pressure. As the season progresses look for snow to push elk out of the high country and into the lower elevation areas. Focusing on areas a mile or more from roads can greatly reduce competition.

140

Found along the New Mexico border in the south central region of the state this unit offers some great trophy potential though most animals will be found on private ranches. Hunters can still be found on public lands though hunters will generally experience higher success rates in other units. During the early season look for the larger population concentrations to be found in the higher elevations while the later season will find the elk buried deep into the brushy draws in the lower elevations. Because of the amount of private lands in this unit, hunting pressure will be high in public areas and some physical effort will be required to find unpressured elk.

31

This unit found in the western half of the state holds some great bulls on private lands with some nice bulls being taken every year on public lands. Most of the public lands will be found in fairly rough terrain, pushing most of the hunters out and into surrounding units. For hunters willing to put in the effort this can prove to be an excellent unit to look into. Heavy vegetation cover is found here, which can be great for archery hunters, but rifle hunting can be tricky. Glassing opportunities do exist in higher elevations though once you drop into canyons most of the hunting will be done in very close quarters.

35

Found in the central portion of the state, this unit can provide some great opportunities for hunters. Many bulls will be found in private tracts though a few great bulls are taken off public land every year. During the archery season, hunters can expect to find most elk in some of the highest elevations near the central portion of the unit. As with most other areas, once early snow storms move into the area look for elk to begin dropping in elevation and move closer to private lands.

36

This unit, found in the central portion of the state, features some enormous country with great opportunities for bulls. Large tracts of private lands can cause some access issues into public lands though with a little research, hunters will be able to escape the crowds and work into largely unpressured animals. Elk will be found spread throughout the unit during archery season with mid to high elevation profiles producing the highest concentrations. As the season progresses, look for elk to migrate into lower elevations and become more concentrated.

Archery OTC opportunities in Colorado

For all those archery addicts out there... it's not too late to plan a hunt to fill your calendar. The following table is based on a Filtering 2.0 search using 300"+ bulls, on OTC archery hunts and 65% or better public land. Then all of that is sorted by harvest success.

A Look At Colorado's top Archery OTC Units

Unit Trophy
potential
Bull:cow
ratio
Harvest
Success
Public
Land %
21 300"+ 20:100 16% 87.6%
70 300"+ 23:100 15% 69.7%
22 300"+ 20:100 13% 73.4%
62 320"+ 19:100 13% 69.5%
47 300"+ 29:100 13% 91.4%
11 300"+ 25:100 13% 67.2%
53 300"+ 31:100 13% 77.4%
43 300"+ 28:100 11% 73%
81 300"+ 18:100 10% 70.3%
25 300"+ 25:100 9% 83.1%

 

Cost of OTC tags in Colorado as a nonresident

Type of license Cost
Habitat stamp $10
Elk license $629
Total $639


Keep in mind that are a plethora of options when it comes to Colorado OTC elk hunts. To see all of the OTC options and to start your research in Colorado, click here


Outfitted, drop camp and trespass OTC hunt options in Colorado

Colorado Unit 24 2nd Rifle OTC Elk Hunt (Drop Camp)

Season: 2nd Rifle
Price: $2,500
Season dates: Oct. 12 - Oct. 29, 2017

  • View the hunt listing here.

Phone: (970) 363-4846
Outfitter information: High Timber Outfitters


Colorado Unit 211 3rd Rifle OTC Elk Hunt (Trespass Hunt)

Season: 3rd Rifle
Price: $2,500
Season dates: Nov. 4 - Nov. 12, 2017

  • View the hunt listing here.

Phone: (970) 363-4846
Outfitter information: High Timber Outfitters


Colorado Unit 43 2nd Rifle OTC Elk Hunt (Fully Outfitted)

Season: 2nd Rifle
Price: $4,000
Season dates: Oct. 21 - Oct. 29, 2017

  • View the hunt listing here.

Contact: John Howe
Phone: (970) 928-0723
Outfitter information: Capitol Peak Outfitters


Colorado Unit 43 3rd Rifle OTC Elk Hunt (Fully Outfitted)

Season: 3rd Rifle
Price: $4,000
Season dates: Nov. 4 - Nov. 10, 2017

  • View the hunt listing here.

Contact: John Howe
Phone: (970) 928-0723
Outfitter information: Capitol Peak Outfitters


Colorado Unit 12 Rifle OTC Elk HUNT (Trespass Hunt)

Season: 2nd Rifle or 3rd Rifle
Price: $2,300
Season dates: Oct. 21 - Oct. 29, 2017 or Nov. 4 - Nov. 12, 2017

  • View the hunt listing here.

Contact: Lisa Bennett
Phone: (970) 926-0216

Continued below.

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Idaho

If the gem state is not on your radar for possible OTC elk hunts then it should be! If not for the sheer number of units available to hunt then at least for the fact that hunters will have multiple choices for season structures on the same tag that can either allow archery hunting the rut or potentially rifle hunting the late rut. Idaho is a “choose your zone” when it comes to elk, which means that hunters must designate the zone they will be hunting. Each zone is made up of several units that can then be hunted with your tag. Most units will offer the hunter a choice of either an A or B tag. Generally speaking, the A tag will allow hunters to hunt the last three weeks of September with archery equipment and the last week of October with rifle while the B tag will restrict archery hunters to the first week of archery season but allow them access to the rifle season, which runs Oct. 10 to 24. Each zone will hold specific restrictions and exclusions to these rules, though, and it is important to research these prior to the hunt.

Jumping to Filtering 2.0 search options in Idaho

Idaho's top OTC units by trophy potential

Unit Trophy
potential
Seasons
available
Bull:cow
ratio
# of hunters
(2015)
(2016)
Elk taken
(2015)
(2016)
Success %
(2015)
(2016)
30 330"+ Archery
only
26:100 402
183
126
46
31%
25%
30A 330"+ Archery
only
26:100 392
256
90
51
23%
20%
55 330"+ Archery
only
NA 131
117
17
21
13%
18%
66 330"+ Archery
Late rifle
26:100 2,274
2,304
556
416
24%
18.1%
67 330"+ Archery
Late rifle
42:100 795
703
109
117
14%
16.6%
31 320"+ Archery
only
40:100 560
528
120
97
21%
18%
56 320"+ Archery
only
NA 375
194
71
27
19%
14%
69 320"+ Archery
Late rifle
26:100 2,105
2,408
330
412`
16%
17.1%
70 320"+ Archery
only
NA 216
**
24
**
11%
**
36A 310"+ Archery
only
37:100 615
397
165
82
27%
20%

** No data reported.

It will be very important for hunters to decide exactly what type of hunting experience they are after and with which type of weapon before deciding on a unit. This will be a primary concern due to the fact that while there may be an archery and rifle season in a given unit they may not both be huntable with the same tag (A or B) in the same year. As a workaround to this, if any leftover tags are available they can be purchased allowing a hunter to potentially take two elk in the same unit.

30

This unit found in the east central portion of the state along the Montana border is an area managed for trophy rifle hunts. Because of this, archery hunters enjoying OTC hunts during September can encounter some tremendous bulls. Steep and timbered terrain in this country keep all but the serious hunters at bay and can give some very unique opportunities to those who are willing to put in the effort.

30A

This unit is found just to the south of Unit 30 and features a lot of the same great hunting opportunities. Archery tags are the only OTC options; all of the the rifle tags are permits, which will allow for a greater number of mature bulls. The terrain in this area, while still steep, will open up a bit as the dense vegetation gives way to more open sagebrush-dominated slopes, providing excellent feed for bulls throughout the year. Calling or spot and stalk techniques will work very well here.

55

This unit is found in the south central portion of the state and lies on the Utah border. Smaller population densities of elk will be found here, but, because rifle tags are part of the controlled draw, many of the unit’s bulls have the opportunity to grow to an older age. Hunters will find primarily open terrain here with patches of dense timber. Spot and stalk methods will generally be the best option unless elk are encountered in areas of heavy vegetation. Glassing will play a dominate role in success in this unit and good optics should be taken into consideration.

66

Found in southeast Idaho, this unit provides opportunity for many hunters but really caters to hunters interested in backcountry style hunting. For the most part, this country can be described as big! Huge timbered ridges rise off of the valley floors and can climb for thousands of feet. Somewhat broken terrain can provide good glassing opportunities early in the morning and late in the evenings. Calling or spot and stalk methods can both be very productive during archery season. Once the late rifle season hits look for many of the mature bulls to be pushed back into deep canyons away from pressure. Deep snow can push the bulls into lower country, but they will still tend to keep to areas of dense cover.

67

Just north of Unit 66, this unit features much of same rugged country, offering great opportunities for huge bulls and seclusion from other hunters. Focusing on areas away from roads will yield the best opportunities for finding mature bulls. Expect steep climbs, difficult terrain, and lots of calories to be burned. Areas will offer good glassing opportunities as well as dense cover for calling and stalking. During the late rifle season focus efforts in dense valley bottoms and on top of windswept ridges were feed is available. Bulls will move very little this time of the year but can be difficult to locate. Dedicated glassing during the first few moments of daylight and at last light can be best.

31

This area is found in the east central portion of the state and lies on the Oregon border. This unit is managed for trophy potential, which can give OTC archery hunters some incredible opportunities. The overall terrain of the unit is fairly open with the exception of a large island of timbered slopes found in the center of the unit. Calling techniques can work excellent in the timbered areas, but spot and stalk or ambush practices will need to be employed when elk are encountered on the fringes of these areas.

56

Found in the southeastern corner of the state, this unit features a lower population density of elk but a large density of mature bulls. Many of the elk will be taken on private agricultural lands found on the western side of the unit though there are some great opportunities to be had in the central portion of the district where heavily timbered ridges rise off the valley floors. When hunting the high country areas glassing can be an excellent tactic in locating herds of elk before trying some spot and stalk methods. In some of the thicker areas calling can also be very effective.

69

This is an extremely large unit found just south of the town of Idaho Falls that features both an archery and late season OTC opportunity. This unit will see some pressure with its close proximity to a bigger city though it does have enough difficult terrain that willing hunters can escape the crowds. During archery season, spot and stalk methods can prove very effective in this area as the terrain is mostly open though calling will work under the right conditions. During the late season, look for bulls to be spending their time well away from roads and near areas of dense cover with available feed. Glassing can be extremely effective in locating elk during peak activity times.

70

This unit is found on the south side of the town of Pocatello and features some great trophy potential though elk densities are lower than surrounding units.  Determined hunters who distance themselves from the roads can still find excellent hunting opportunities with very little competition. Glass feeding areas in close proximity to bedding areas at dawn and dusk can be the best bet in locating a target bull. Calling and stalking can also both be effective.

36A

Home to some of the highest peaks in Idaho, this unit features stunning landscapes with some incredible hunting opportunities. Elk will be found throughout this district from low lying agricultural lands to jagged and craggy peaks. Hunters willing to put in some effort will have no problem escaping the crowds and potentially bumping into the bull of a lifetime. Spending the morning hours glassing for feeding bulls or bugling for rutted up herd bulls can be extremely effective. The wide array of terrain features will cater to virtually any hunter of any background and many techniques for closing the distance will be effective.

Archery OTC opportunities in Idaho

The following table is based on a Filtering 2.0 search using 300"+ bulls, on OTC archery hunts and 65% or better public land. Then all of that is sorted by harvest success.

A Look At Idaho's Top Early Archery OTC Units

Unit Trophy
potential
Bull:cow
ratio
Harvest
Success
Public
Land %
Bulls
6pt %
10 310"+ 44:100 33% 99.7% 26%
33 300"+ 14:100 32% 93.4% 27%
36 300"+ 14:100 32% 96.3% 42%
9 310"+ NA 27% 87.9% 44%
15 300"+ 20:100 26% 92.9% 26%
30 330"+ 26:100 25% 79.6% 34%
21 300"+ 11:100 23% 99.1% 17%
12 310"+ 44:100 22% 94.5% 22%
36B 310"+ 11:100 22% 93.1% 25%
29 310"+ 37:100 22% 80.4% 53%

 

Cost of OTC tags in Idaho as a nonresident

Type of license Cost
Hunting license $154.75
Elk license $416.75
Archery permit
(if archery hunting)
$20
Total $591.50


To see all of the OTC options and to start your research in Idaho, click here



Oregon

Perhaps the most unnoticed state on our list is Oregon. Here, hunters are given an opportunity to chase Rocky Mountain elk on the eastern side of the state or Roosevelt elk in the thick jungles of the coastal range on the west coast. While the state doesn’t have quite the density of mature bulls as what is found in other states it does have plentiful OTC opportunities and cheaper tag costs than some. Hunters looking to hunt the Roosevelt subspecies found on the west coast will need to look into land access permits to hunt private timber company lands that cover a large percentage of the area.

Rocky mountain elk

Jumping to Filtering 2.0 search options in Oregon

Oregon's top OTC units by trophy potential (Rocky Mountain elk)

Unit Trophy
potential
Seasons
available
Bull:cow
ratio
# of hunters
(2016)
Elk taken
(2016)
Success %
(2016)
59 330"+ Archery 10:100 872 309 35%
46 320"+ Archery 24:100 2,556 510 20%
48 320"+ Archery
Rifle
11:100 5,622 1,113 20%
60 320"+ Archery 17:100 969 215 22%
61 310"+ Archery
Rifle
7:100 1,862 465 25%


59

Found in the northeast corner of the state on the Idaho border, this unit features some unrelenting country and some of the best scenery the state has to offer. The terrain is incredibly steep throughout the unit and more notably along the famous Snake River. During the archery OTC season, elk will be found evenly distributed throughout the unit’s higher elevations with most of the mature bulls seeking seclusion far away from roads and other hunters. With the open nature of this area, look for glassing to be a major part of your hunting technique with spot and stalk methods to close in for a shot. Calling can work in some areas, but hunters must ensure ground cover is thick enough for this to work effectively.

46

This unit, found in the east central portion of the state, provides some great opportunities for anyone. Large tracts of public land with healthy mixes of timber and open meadows can be found here along with roadless areas for hunters looking to escape the crowds. During the archery season look for most of the elk to be found in the mid to high elevation areas with the exception of herds found in agricultural areas down in the valley floors. Calling can be very effective during this time along with spot and stalk opportunities.

48

Found in north central Oregon, this unit provides good opportunities for decent trophy quality. Most of the elk will be found in the central portion of the unit within the timbered slopes though snow and other natural elements do force herds into the open prairie areas at times. Archery season will find most of the herds in high elevations where glassing can be very effective in locating elk. Calling can work well, but, as always, must be done with enough cover. During the rifle season look for mature bulls to move into secluded pockets of dense timber to escape the pressure. Movement will be kept to a minimum at this time with most bulls moving in the first and last few minutes of shooting light.

60

Housing the famed Eagle Cap Wilderness, this unit will generally draw a large number of hunters looking for a backcountry type hunt. Smaller densities of elk are found here though the sheer amount of roadless country has allowed more bulls to reach maturity. Bulls will be found in some of the highest elevations distributed throughout the many high country bowls during the archery season. Glassing can be incredibly effective in locating herds in hours of dawn and dusk. Once located, hunters can either spot and stalk bulls or employ calling techniques to pull them into range. Look for more of the hunting pressure to be centered around trails and expect to find horse camps in some of the farthest reaches.

61

Like the adjacent Unit 60, this unit contains some of the Eagle Cap Wilderness as well as a large portion of the Hells Canyon area. Hunters interested in this area should expect a very physical hunt due extreme terrain. Great bulls come out of this unit every year though most hunters will need to work hard to locate and eventually tag a bull. Focus on areas far away from roads and trails to locate bulls through the archery season. Glassing from a high vantage point can save your legs from miles of punishment and keep them fresh for moving in on target animals. Calling can work great in this area but will generally be more effective on the western side of the unit. Later in the year during the rifle season, look for bulls to begin moving into lower elevations and areas with ample amounts of cover for security. Still, hunters will need to distance themselves from roads and other hunters to find the mature bulls.

To see all of the OTC Rocky Mountain elk options and to start your research in Oregon, click here.

Archery OTC opportunities in Oregon for Rocky Mtn. elk

The following table is based on a Filtering 2.0 search using 300"+ bulls, on OTC archery hunts and 65% or better public land. Then all of that is sorted by harvest success.

A Look At Oregon's Top Archery Rocky Mtn. Elk OTC Units

Unit Trophy
potential
Bull:cow
ratio
Harvest
Success
Public
Land %
Bulls
6pt %
60 320"+ 17:100 22% 74% 22%
62 300"+ 12:100 21% 76% 15%
59 330"+ 10:100 20% 94% 28%
61 310"+ 7:100 14% 75% 14%
50 310"+ 6:100 13% 86% 34%
46 320"+ 24:100 11% 67% 21%
72 310"+ 17:100 10% 67% 12%


Roosevelt elk

Jumping to Filtering 2.0 search options in Oregon

Oregon's top OTC units by trophy potential (Roosevelt elk)

Unit Trophy
potential
Seasons
available
Bull:cow
ratio
# of hunters
(2016)
Elk taken
(2016)
Success %
(2016)
10 300"+ Archery 24:100 3,846 996 26%
11 300"+ Archery
Rifle
11:100 2,365 447 19%
16 300"+ Archery
Rifle
17:100 3,398 195 6%
12 290"+ Archery
Rifle
11:100 3,858 430 11%
14 290"+ Archery
Rifle
11:100 5,879 719 12%


10

This unit, which is found in the extreme northwest corner of the state, can produce great opportunities for hunters willing to work for them. As with most of the coastal units the vegetation cover will be very dense and traversing the terrain can be difficult. During the early archery season elk will be spread throughout the unit and calling will be the best technique in locating bulls. Calling can be very effective here due to the dense cover and is generally the preferred tactic for all hunters. Logging roads litter the unit, providing access into the heart of the unit though most of these roads are gated and will require quite a bit of walking or biking.

11

Also found in the northwest corner of the state, this unit can provide some excellent hunting though access can be tough at times. Nearly the entire district is comprised of privately owned lands though access can be granted to large portions by purchasing access permits through private timber companies. Access to these lands will allow the ability to hunt clear cuts of varying ages and densities. Look for elk to be centered around the most recent cuts throughout most of the year. Calling can be very effective in luring in herd bulls and generally provides the best opportunity for archery hunters. During the late rifle season, elk can be incredibly difficult to locate due to the vegetation density. Focus on recent clear cuts and hunt them during the first and last hours of daylight.

16

This extremely large unit is found in west central Oregon and features some of the most rugged country on this side of the state. Here, hunters will experience a great deal of elevation variance, dense cover, and ample amounts of public land. Access can be difficult primarily due to the terrain and vegetation, but hunters can escape the crowds and hunt mostly unpressured animals fairly regularly when getting a few miles off a road. Look for elk to focus in the mid elevation areas of the unit with some mature bulls venturing into the high country before the rut really kicks in. Calling can be very effective in locating animals as well as actually calling bulls into shooting distance. Rifle season can be difficult when it comes to locating bulls. Focusing on clearcuts and natural food sources will be your best bet.

12

Found on the western coast, this unit will offer hunters good opportunities at pursuing Roosevelts with the possibility of encountering some great bulls. This unit is comprised of large tracts of public land, basically giving hunters free range of the area. Cruising logging roads either on foot or bike can be a great way to cover terrain in search of elk. Calling from these roads into canyons and drainages can be effective in locating elk and the most likely technique. Bulls will be very vocal during the archery season and is something that can be exploited to the hunter’s advantage. During the rifle season, focus efforts on clearcuts during the early morning and late evening hours as the animals feed.

14

Also found along the west coast, this unit has historically produced some of the biggest Roosevelts in the state. Elk will be found distributed throughout the entirety of the unit, but tend to focus around areas of recent logging activity. Utilizing the ever abundant logging roads to move around the area while calling can be effective in locating bulls during archery season. Cruising these same roads during the rifle season can also be effective though elk will remain largely silent at this time and glassing feeding areas will be pivotal to success.

To see all of the OTC Roosevelt elk options and to start your research in Oregon, click here.

Archery OTC opportunities in Oregon for Roosevelt elk

The following table is based on a Filtering 2.0 search using 280"+ bulls, on OTC archery hunts and 50% or better public land. Then all of that is sorted by harvest success.

A Look At Oregon's Top Archery Roosevelt Elk OTC Units

Unit Trophy
potential
Bull:cow
ratio
Harvest
Success
Public
Land %
Bulls
6pt %
12 290"+ 11:100 9% 66% 5%
19 290"+ 32:100 7% 60% 26%
22 280"+ 19:100 7% 76% 18%
21 280"+ 17:100 6% 68% 18%
16 300"+ 17:100 5% 63% 22%
30 280"+ 22:100 4% 58% 14%

 

Cost of OTC tags in Oregon as a nonresident

Type of license Cost
Hunting license $160.50
Elk license $549.00
Total $709.50

 



Utah

When glancing at the top producing B&C states in the country Utah will obviously land at the top of most hunter’s lists. While the limited entry tags can be some of the best hunts around, the OTC hunts leave a lot to be desired and are generally tossed to the side by most hopeful hunters. Very low game densities, high competition, and a dismal trophy quality will leave most hunters heading to surrounding states. Yet, some hunters do get lucky and tag out on elk every year though these are generally comprised of cows and young bulls. You can also use Filtering 2.0 to narrow down all of the OTC elk units in Utah.

Jumping to Filtering 2.0 search options in Utah

Utah's top OTC units by trophy potential

Unit Trophy
potential
Seasons
available
Bull:cow
ratio
Cache, East Rich 300"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
Rifle
13:100
Chalk Creek 300"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
Rifle
28:100
Nine Mile,
Range Creek
300"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
Rifle
50:100
Zion 300"+ Archery
Muzzleloader
Rifle
13:100
North Slope,
Summit/West Daggett
NA** Archery
Muzzleloader
Rifle
8:100
East Canyon NA** Archery
Muzzleloader
Rifle
42:100
Fillmore,
Oak Creek
NA** Archery
Muzzleloader
Rifle
33:100
Morgan-South Rich NA** Archery
Muzzleloader
Rifle
60:100
South Slope,
Bonanza/Vernal/Yellowstone
NA** Archery
Muzzleloader
Rifle
16:100
San Juan,
Montezuma Canyon
NA** Archery
Muzzleloader
Rifle
47:100

** These units experience very little if any chance at bulls with any trophy potential which leads to no publishable harvest data being recorded.

While Utah made our list it is simply based on the fact that OTC tags are available. Hunters looking to hunt elk on OTC opportunities are strongly encouraged to look into surrounding states. Building points in Utah can be a great tactic; however, tags will not be easy to come by and will take 10+ years to draw at this point.

Cost of OTC tags in Utah as a nonresident

Type of license Cost
Hunting license $85.00
Elk license $393.00
Total $411.00

 


Outfitted OTC hunt options in Utah

Utah Beaver Spike Elk Hunt (Fully Outfitted)

Season: Archery, Muzzleloader, Rifle
Price: $2,900
Season dates:
Archery (either sex) Aug. 19 - Sept. 8, 2017
OR
Rifle (spike only) Oct. 7 - Oct. 19, 2017
OR
Muzzleloader (spike only) Nov. 1st - Nov. 9, 2017

  • View the hunt listing here.

Phone: (435) 979-4071
Outfitter information: Gone Hunting Outfitters

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