Editor’s Note: Parrey Cremeans is the far-West big-game Pro Staff manager for Mossy Oak. He also guides for elk, mule deer, blacktail deer and other species in California, Mexico and other areas with Just For Hunting, a full-service outfitter (visit www.justforhunting.com or call 650-888-0808). If you plan to hunt in the far West, make your reservations now. If you can’t get in for this year’s hunting season, go ahead, and book for next year.
Most people don’t think of California as a hunting destination or a Mecca for elk. But out here we have Tule elk to the south, Roosevelt elk to the south and Rocky Mountain elk in Redding, California, where we’re based. One of the problems of hunting elk in California is that you can’t buy tags over the counter. You have to put-in for a tag and be drawn for any of the three species of elk. There also are landowner tags available for all three species, but those tags are expensive. The easiest tag to get probably is for Roosevelt elk, since it has the most hunter tags available. The most-difficult species is the Tule elk, because California is the only state where you can harvest them. More and more people are putting in for those tags. In California, you only can choose one elk, not only one species but one particular unit in an elk species’ range.
Tule elk are somewhat smaller than Roosevelt or Rocky Mountain elk, and their antler development is slightly different. These elk have crowning on the top of their antlers and shorter tines. The state record only is about 353 to 355. We take Rocky Mountain elk that score 400 inches here in California. Last year, a bowhunter took the world-record Roosevelt elk, and it measured 406. We’re about 90- to 95-percent successful for elk, depending on the size you want to take. With our private-land elk tags, we require our hunters to refrain from shooting elk less than 350 inches, but we only get one tag per year for a private-land hunt. For Rocky Mountain elk on public lands, you should have a good chance of taking a bull scoring 280 to 350. If you really want to work hard and spend the time, you may be able to take an elk bigger than 350. If you lack taking one of the three species of elk, you may have a chance to take that particular elk in California. We guide for all three species, but I suggest you plan to put-in for the drawing early. Too, remember you only can put-in for one type of elk and one unit each year.