Finding an Elk Hunt Outfitter

Elk in trees

Reputable Outfitters Offer Quality Hunts

You have been planning that dream hunt to the Colorado Rockies for what seems like forever and want to make the most of it . . . or you have hunted before in Colorado and liked the services and experiences provided by going with an outfitter. Either way, you have made your decision for this season; you’re going on a “Colorado Outfitter Guided Elk Hunt”.

Selecting a reputable outfitter offering quality hunts seems to be like looking for a needle in a haystack. How do you find that reputable/quality outfitter?

It seems that outfitters are everywhere, advertising in the back of hunting magazines, or at sportsman’s expositions or other sport shows where there are aisles of Colorado outfitters looking for your business. Or you read a featured article in a magazine about a Colorado outfitter or about a professional hunting consultant willing to connect you to an outfitter. Maybe you watched a television program highlighting a Colorado guide service. With more than eight hundred registered outfitters to choose from, the question is where do you begin?

To find that reputable/quality outfitter you must be like a private detective—ask a lot of questions. But before you get wrapped up in finding an outfitter and the excitement of planning your hunt, you must begin at the beginning! In order to select an outfitter that will best suit your needs, take into consideration your desired outcomes for the hunt.

Questions to ask yourself should include:

How much can I reasonably spend on a hunt? Determining how much to spend on a hunt can be hard to estimate. As in most other situations, you usually “get what you pay for”. The cost of the outfitted hunt alone should not be the only gauge to measure the value or appeal of your elk hunt. If your attitude is that you are out to get the “best deal” and cost is the overriding concern, then quality can take a backseat. The saying, “If it looks too good to be true then it probably is” can apply to an outfitted elk hunt, so beware. But, with that said, you should not necessarily book a hunt with the most expensive outfitter out there either. There are great deals available but finding them takes time, effort, and a lot of legwork.

What type of elk hunting adventure peaks my interest; what am I looking for? Do you want a wilderness elk hunting experience; do you want the experience of riding and hunting from horseback; do you want tent camping, to stay in a lodge or cabin or at a motel; do you want a drop camp; do you want the experience of hunting with your hunting buddy(s) or maybe hunting with strangers; do you want to hunt for that trophy bull elk or will any elk be like a trophy for you? The questions go on depending on what your expectations are.

Now, let’s find some candidates for your outfitter selection—then you’ll have more questions to consider!

Important note: Outfitters must be registered, bonded, and insured in Colorado. So, one of the first things you need to do is to make sure that the outfitter you have in mind is licensed in Colorado. Outfitters are regulated by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), Office of Outfitter Registration, 1560 Broadway, Suite 1340, Denver, Colorado 80202, 303/894-7778.

The easiest way to see if a person or company is a licensed outfitter is to go to the DORA Website. Navigate to the automated license verification system by clicking on “Search the Automated Licensure Information System Online (ALISON)” link near the bottom of the page. Select whether you are going to search by an individual’s name or a company name. (A tip— if you are searching by the individuals name it is best to select “Outfitters” in the “Licensing Board” box drop-down list since DORA licenses many other professions; if searching by company name leave this at “Search All Boards”. There seems to be a glitch in ALISON—if you search by company name under “Outfitters” it will come back with “no record found”, but will show the record if all boards are searched.) Now, click on “Go To The Search Form”.

The fastest way to search is if you have an outfitter’s license number. Make sure that this outfitter license number comes back to the outfitter you are looking at. (There have been instances where an unscrupulous person will use the license number of a licensed outfitter.) If you don’t have the license number, just search by the individual’s name or company name.

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