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Asking Eastmans’ – Q&A with Eastmans’ Hunting Journals

We get a lot of questions from folks about almost everything regarding western big game hunting and we do our best to answer them in a timely manner. That said, we thought it would be fun to explore some of our recent favorites and share them with you, our loyal blog readers. Let us know what you think in the comments; leave us a question or email it to editorial@eastmans.com

Q: Should I hunt DIY or Guided?

A: There’s no doubt that DIY is what most of us would choose, the sense of accomplishment gained from a successful DIY western big game hunt is second to none. However, the reality can be much different. 

Take elk for example… Everyone knows they’re big but until you’ve tipped over a bull miles from your truck the reality of “big” doesn’t carry much weight. The sheer amount of work it takes to break down a mature bull and pack it out can prove too much for folks. This is where having an experienced guide with livestock can prove invaluable. 

Not to mention that an awful lot of non-resident elk tags are getting close to being once-in-a-lifetime(OIL) and stacking the deck in your favor with a guided hunt is a smart choice. This rings especially true if you don’t live in a western state where, as a resident, you may have the opportunity to hunt species like elk virtually every year or if you’re not from a western state, have your life ordered so you hunt out West nearly every fall. 

If you’ve got grit, willingness to learn and some time then DIY is a great choice. If you’re strapped for time, holding an OIL tag or otherwise constrained, going guided is the right call. Ultimately, the choice is yours but be honest with yourself and give us a call if you’re conflicted. We’d love to help with your decision. 

Q: I have XX number of points, should I apply and where? 

A: If we’re talking about Wyoming elk then the question arises… Grizzlies or no grizzlies? That single question narrows the choices in Wyoming by half. 

Not every state has grizzlies though! Correct, but there are outside factors affecting every hunt unit in every state and they need to be considered before applying. Hunting pressure, trophy quality, terrain… these and more all factor into making the right choice and Eastmans’ TagHub houses all the MRS data you need to help make the right decision. 

A more simple answer than “take it all into consideration” would be this… Do you want to hunt as much as possible or hold out for an OIL tag and a chance at a true giant of the species you’re pursuing?

We like to structure our application and hunt plans so that we are in the field hunting every fall! That means we are applying for a mix of easy to draw or buying OTC tags where available, solid limited quota hunts, and building points for OIL hunts. Mike Eastman developed this strategy years ago and while it is tougher to hunt the West each year now than back then, the possibilities are still there. Here’s an example…

  • Hunt OTC tags in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado or Idaho every year or close to it. 
  • Apply/Build points for mid-level limited quota tags: Green Chip Colorado, Idaho, Montana, or Wyoming General/Green Chip hunts – hunt every few years. 
  • Apply/Build points for top tier, Blue Chip hunts in Arizona, Colorado and Utah – hunt once in your life. 

Q: Should I buy an antlerless tag too?

A: The simple answer is YES! We would never take a western big game hunting trip without having ALL the tags available to us in our pockets. This is especially true when you’re hunting Green Chip/OTC units like Colorado 2nd season elk or Wyoming pronghorn. You may not turn up the buck or bull you’re after but having antlerless tags in your pocket virtually ensures you go home with a cooler full of meat. 

Another thought is to hunt your chosen units each year with antlerless tags. This helps you learn the unit for when you do have that coveted buck/bull tag, puts meat in the freezer and gives you an excuse for a vacation to go hunting. 

Q: Is a 6.5 Creedmoor enough gun for elk? 

A: Yes, but… The 6.5 Creedmoor is not a wonder cartridge, It will do the job if you can put the bullet in the right place from the right angle(broadside or slightly quartering away). Choose a well constructed bullet and limit your shots to under 400 yards and you’ll be fine. That said, there are better choices. 

Shoot the biggest rifle you can be accurate with, if that’s a 6.5 Creed know that you’ve got enough gun within limits. 

Well, that’s only a handful of the questions we get each week… What questions do you have? 

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