When it comes to Colorado elk hunting, it can be hard to decide whether to opt for a guided or do-it-yourself hunt. Here are a few pros and cons of each to help you decide which option is best for you.

Guided Hunt

The biggest pro of guided hunts is there’s a higher success rate. Public lands face a lot more hunting pressure than private lands. With more hunters using public lands, it can be harder to locate the elk. Especially as public lands have fewer animals available due to being more heavily hunted. Now, we’re not saying you’ll be guaranteed a kill on a guided hunt, but you’ll be getting much better odds.

On guided hunts, you’ll also be getting to hunt alongside a local expert. The success of your hunt depends on how well you know the area. A guide’s job is to know the area and how the elk use it like the back of their hand. This helps eliminate the harsh learning curve you’d have on a DIY hunt. Not to mention if you’re a beginner, you’ll be able to learn and lean on an experienced guide when necessary.

Another plus is that lodging and food are provided. If the outfitter has a lodge (like us at Soap Mesa Outfitters), you’ll spend your evenings in a comfortable space where you can recharge your batteries after a long day in the field. And if you don’t feel like bringing and preparing food? Fully guided hunts will usually provide that for you as well.


There are cons you should consider if you’re thinking about a guided Colorado elk hunt. The big one? The cost. Guided hunts aren’t cheap. They can cost thousands, even tens of thousands depending on the state, location, accommodations, and bull quality. Keep in mind you’ll also have to pay for travel and an elk tag.

Another downside is that not all outfitters offer enjoyable quality hunting experiences. Do your research so that you don’t end up with an outfitter who diminishes your entire elk-hunting experience.

DIY Hunt

If you love freedom, you’ll get that with a DIY hunt. You get the freedom of when and where to hunt. If you’re not liking where you set up, you can switch spots entirely the following day. And if there are any unforeseen life events, you have less invested upfront compared to a guided hunt, and that allows for great flexibility with dates.

If you’re a problem solver who can identify mistakes and avert them in the future, you’ll probably make a great DIY candidate. On a DIY hunt, your success or failure is entirely up to you. You’ll experience a lot more mistakes and growing pain by yourself, but you’ll also grow as a hunter.

When you DIY hunt, you earn every step of your progress. That means the process is a bit longer and potentially more frustrating, but also more rewarding. It’s a different feeling when you take a bull on your own with no help from anyone. It’s a fulfilling experience to put it all together on your own.


The freedom you get with DIY hunts is great, but it’s also not for everyone. If you’re inexperienced or new to navigation in the wilderness, it could not only hinder your success but jeopardize your safety. Some of us are self-reliant, and some depend on others. Being either is okay, but make sure you know which you truly are before trying a DIY hunt.

When you hunt on public land, there’s going to be a lot of hunting pressure. If you hear a bull bugle, don’t assume he’s all yours. The success rates are also pretty slim on these hunts. Of course, your odds increase as you acquire experience and knowledge of the specific unit/zone over the years. But if you’re a newbie, don’t go expecting a kill.

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Let Soap Mesa Outfitters take you on a Colorado elk hunting trip.

Looking for a Guided Hunt?

Choosing between a DIY vs. guided Colorado elk hunting can be a tough call. Hopefully these points we’ve discussed will make your decision a bit easier.

If you’re looking for someone to take you on a guided hunt, we’d love to be your guide. At Soap Mesa Outfitters, we provide the best guided hunts in Western Colorado and we’ll be happy to show you what you’ve been missing.