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Frequently Asked Questions

How should I dress?

Hunter orange is not required. Camouflage clothing is great but dressing in natural colors is fine. Wear sturdy boots. Dressing in layers is suggested as the days can start cool and end up with warm afternoons. Be sure to consider bringing rain or snow gear, as the hunts will take place regardless of the weather.

Average temperatures:

MonthAugustSeptemberOctoberNovember
Low47392918
High80736248

What is the elevation?

Hesperus, Colorado (location of the ElkQuest® Preserve) is at 7700 feet

Durango, Colorado has an elevation of 6512 feet

What do I need to bring for a harvest hunt?

  1. Your weapon of choice - you should be very comfortable, knowledgeable, and accurate with your weapon. Because of the abundance of natural cover, most rifle shots are taken under 100 yards. You should be sighted in accordingly.
  2. Ammo - please see suggested calibers and bullets.
  3. Binoculars and camera, sunscreen and Chap Stick.

Shooting sticks, soft drinks, water, and light snacks will be provided for all hunts.

If you wish for your elk to be skinned and quartered or deboned and then taken directly from your hunt to your home, please plan accordingly. Our guides are happy to help if you wish, please be aware that for the vast majority of our hunts the animals are immediately taken to a butcher for processing.

How much meat can I expect from my harvest?

You can expect approximately 28% of the live weight in boneless meat yield. There are many factors that influence the amount of meat that makes it to your freezer.

  1. Shot placement is the most critical. One-shot kills through the rib cage hitting the heart /lung area or a neck shot result in the least amount of meat loss. A shoulder or hind-end shot will result in losing a dramatic amount of meat. Not only will the shot itself damage meat, but the trauma of the bullet will spread leaving the meat in the area inedible.
  2. The size/age of the elk. A larger elk obviously is going to have more meat yield. Some individuals prefer a younger animal as they believe the meat is more tender and better quality; others prefer a more mature animal with the end result of more meat in the freezer.
  3. You may consider adding beef or pork fat to the ground meat or making sausage. This adds more quantity, flavor, and makes it easier to cook as elk is an extremely lean meat.

Cows: Average live weight 300 to 500 pounds = 84-140 pounds of meat yield

Bulls: Average live weight 400 to 900 pounds = 112-252 pounds of meat yield

For more detailed information see "The Elk Carcass" by the University of Wyoming

What do I need to bring for a capture hunt?

Binoculars, camera, and sunscreen are suggested. The darting and related equipment will be provided for you. Shooting sticks, water, and light snacks will be provided for all hunts.

Is there a charge for guests?

There is no additional charge for non-hunting guests. This is a great opportunity to share time and create wonderful memories with friends and family. One or two guests is reasonable for a successful hunt. Keep in mind more people creates more noise and distractions.

What is a reasonable gratuity for my guide?

Gratuity for your guide is greatly appreciated. Tips usually range from 3% to 10% of the hunt value. Things to consider: Did I require extra services or special needs? Were there unforeseen circumstances that my guide had to deal with and did he or she handle it in a professional manner? Did my guide provide exceptional service?

Are these fully guided hunts?

Yes these are fully guided hunts, one of our outstanding guides will be with you at all times. Our guides are extremely knowledgeable elk hunters and proficient at bugling herd bull elk.

Is wearing blaze orange a requirement at ElkQuest? And what should I wear?

You are not required to wear blaze orange while elk hunting at Elkquest because you are hunting a private herd on private property, thus the Colorado State elk hunting regulations do not apply. ElkQuest® guided hunts are conducted so there is only one party hunting at a time and there is no other elk hunting in the immediate area. It is your option to wear orange if you prefer. There is only a slight chance that another hunter who is hunting during the state season would ever be able to have a line of sight to you. We suggest you dress in natural colors and wear sturdy boots or shoes. Dressing in layers is suggested as the days can start cool and progress to warm afternoons. Be sure to consider bringing rain or snow gear, as the hunts will take place regardless of the weather.

How does the ElkQuest® season compare to the Elk hunting season for the state of Colorado?

The ElkQuest® hunting season begins August 15th and runs until the end of November. This gives us the unique opportunity to hunt elk with all methods of take, rifle, archery, crossbow, handgun and muzzleloader during the pre-rut and rut, something state hunters cannot do. The rut hunts are truly awesome: it is elk hunting at its best!

Is the Elk herd at ElkQuest® truly "wild," like those animals found on public lands?

ElkQuest® elk roam freely on the entire 1500 acre preserve. As with all elk, they develop behaviors through experiences. Hunting at ElkQuest® is very different than typical elk hunting in Colorado. We hunt only one party at a time. There are no competing hunting groups to continually "spook" the animals. Kills at ElkQuest are always ethical and humane. Our guides strive to put our hunters in a position to make clean one shot kills with minimum disturbance to the herd. There are no "driven" hunts; no human harassment of the herd. Shots are not taken at watering holes or over food plots. Bugling and spot and stalk is the usual method of hunting. As a result the elk herd at ElkQuest® does behave differently than those that are hunted by the 350,000 general public elk hunters who storm the woods for nearly 6 months out of the year. Your elk hunting experience at ElkQuest® will be totally different. The herd dynamics are the way they should be with majestic bulls of all ages battling for breeding rights. You will have many encounters and opportunities to see lots of elk.

Are we allowed to kill any animal?

All elk hunts are fully guided keeping the management objectives in mind. Older herd bulls that have made their genetic contribution to the herd are available for the premium harvest hunts. We try to harvest these bulls at their prime and do everything we can to prevent these magnificent elk from getting past their peak and subject to winter kill. Our Legacy Hunter gets his first choice of any bull on the preserve, the Platinum hunters get the next choice and so on. The specific elk that are taken during our standard guided hunts are determined again by the management protocol. Each animal is identified by an ear tag allowing the guide to know full genetic details of a particular animal. There are a number of elk in each age category that need to be harvested each year. Your guide will attempt to show you several bulls that are available for you to harvest in the level you desire.

Here at ElkQuest® we want your hunting adventure to be as pleasurable and worry free as possible. On this page you will find some answers to our most asked questions. If we don't address your topic on this page, please contact us directly and we will get you the answers you need.



Suggested calibers and bullets:

Shot placement and bullet performance are the most important factor for clean kills. A 9-year-old girl with her .243 made the best shot/kill one year. She shot through the middle of a cow's heart at 75 yards using a Barnes triple shock bullet.

Bring a gun you are familiar and comfortable with. A .270 is plenty adequate, but if you want to bring your favorite.338 mag do it as long as you can shoot it well. Good bullets are vital. Do not bring lightly constructed bullets that are designed to come apart on impact. Nosler Ballistic tips are worthless on elk. In our experience 23 out of 25 elk shot with Ballistic tips required at least one follow up shot and the meat destruction and blood shot was excessive. We have banned the use of Ballistic tips on our preserve. There are many good premium bullets today. Barnes triple shock is one that we highly recommend, Swift Scirocco, (or A-frame, although a bit excessive unless in a heavy magnum caliber), Hornady's GMX, and their innerlock and innerbond (not v-max, or the SST), the old standby Nosler partition or their newer Accubond, Sierra Gamekings (not Matchking or Blitzking) are all good just to name a few.

Sighting in: Sight in for 100 yards or know how your bullets will hit at close ranges. We have a lot of cover and often call or stalk bulls for short shots.