Late Season Opportunities for Elk

Elk hunting is most often discussed around the rut and for good reason. Rutting bulls are vocal and vulnerable. But the rut is far from the only opportunity to hunt a great bull or cow for that matter. Late season elk hunts are available in several states. And while they might come with potentially cold weather and snow, they also draw elk out of mountain habit and into winter range.

Cow Tags and Depredation Hunts

Later seasons are a great opportunity to put healthy meat in the freezer. Elk will filter from the high country and when over objective, the state may issue tags to reach management objectives. In some cases, permission to hunt private property is necessary but a rancher protecting hard earned bales of hay may willingly grant permission to hunt.

Here in Colorado, depredation tags are issued by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to help protect these agricultural lands and disperse elk back into wild country. Our late season hunts at Timber to Table Guide Service take advantage of this private land access for cow elk hunts. You can contact us to learn more about these late season opportunities when the herds are funneled into winter range.

Working Migratory Patterns

Elk herds in many areas stick to steep slopes and remote basins through much of the hunting season but snow and weather will eventually lead to migrations. A few bulls may hold tight up high but a large majority of the elk will seek lower elevations for better feed. This mass movement makes them more visible and opens opportunities for hunters willing to brave the snow and cold.

Unlike early season when elk disappear into timber just after first light, you have the luxury of locating them on sunny, south-facing slopes throughout the day. Although most of the bulls and cows are migrating, they are not necessarily moving in a big group. Some nice bulls will mix in with cows but many of the bulls break off into separate bachelor groups.

Bachelor Groups

Late season hunts mean the rut is long gone and most bulls are not mixing with cows. Some of the really big guys will break off from all other elk and return to a solitary lifestyle where they are less visible and difficult to locate. However, they will still bask in the sunshine on cold days. So bundle up and prepare to glass when the weather turns cold.

Look to find these solitary bulls on steep, south-facing slopes where grass is still accessible, and where there’s cover nearby. Late season bulls may be alone, but it’s also common to see them in bachelor groups of three or four. The bachelor groups are more visible and offer excellent opportunities for hunters looking to score later in the year.

Dress for Success

Late season elk hunts require a few extra layers. Long days spent glassing slopes while exposed to the wind and cold is not all bad when you’re wearing insulated boots with gaiters and a full set of layers. Stay dry and bring along a thermos of hot soup and some handwarmers to make the day pleasant.

In some areas, you can glass from the road before planning a hike but getting away from roads can make a big difference. Regardless, the late season comes with more visible elk moving across the landscape. This also means they utilize more private lands so prepare to intercept them on public or gain access to private.

Late Season Hunts with Timber to Table Guide Service

To learn more about our guided, late season hunting opportunities, please visit We offer both late seaon meat hunts and trophy hunts for elk and mule deer. On our meat hunts, we will show you how to break down your animal, identify cuts and package your meat. This is a great opportunity to experience a guided elk hunt and put some excellent wild meat on the table!

For details and specific availability, please contact us or call Adam directly at 208-691-3014.

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