Turnkey cost poll for successful DIY elk hunters - All about the Benjamin's?

Joined
Nov 13, 2022
Messages
48
Location
Northern NM
Meant for hunter's that have shot 3 or more elk over the last 5 years. Please specify typical cost of LO or NR tags if that applies.

Looking at your all-in costs for the following. Bring forward costs for goods you purchased in prior years as if everything needed for your typical hunt was purchased today. ARE YOU IN FOR LESS THAN $5K, $5-10K, $10-15K, $15-25K OR OVER $25K?

Please specify rifle or archery. No judgements regarding what you spend as that's a matter of personal preference and need, I'm just wondering where successful hunters are really at in terms of all-in costs.

Tag
Weapon (with accessories)
Optics (with accessories)
Hunt-specific clothing
Camp gear (packs, tents, bags, stoves, etc)
Post-kill equipment and processing (knifes, bags, butcher)
Items you consider as must-have misc (OnX, sxs, whatever)

The intention of this post is to provide a realistic cost estimate for western elk-hunt wannabes like me starting from scratch. From the hundred's of posts I've read on this forum regarding optics and boots it seems like no-one that actually kills an elk comes in under $5K. Is that true?
 

One-shot

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Dec 4, 2018
Messages
162
Location
Spring Creek, Nevada
Not all equipment was purchased for first few years’ hunts, but accumulated as budget allowed. Initially hunted pretty bare bones. All costs and materials are for both of us. Used mostly same gear with exception of my rifles for deer and Pronghorn too, but will only count elk here.

From 2009 - Present: All in costs hovering around $7000 - $8000, but this was over a 14 year period.

Weapons and optics:: $3300 (spouse shoots with hand-me-down 30-06 Remington 700). I sprung for 2 7mm Rem Mags - initially a slightly used Ruger 1, then 2 years ago a Kimber Mountain Ascent with Zeiss scope (SWEET!).
Russian Bear Tent (highly recommend) with wood stove: $3000
Packs and clothing: $1500ish.
OnX for last 5 years: $150.
Grinder: $220.

Public land hunters. Success rate for both of us and given we’re in NV can only be drawn for bull every 7 years and cows average every 3-4 years. Spouse has beat the odds on cow draws though.
10 cow elk; average meat yield per cow 169lbs x 10 - 1,690 lbs (x easily $12/lbs = $20, 280 worth of lean, healthy meat)
2 bulls; average meat yield per bull 218lbs x 2 = 560lbs (x as above, $6,720 worth of awesome meat!)

So… $27,000 worth of meat (or more if you consider quality) over 14 year period, less aprox $7-8,000 costs = $19,000 worth of meat. I’d say it pencils out especially when considering physical demands on body for good health and strength, beautiful scenery, fun camping… all in all a great activity.

Note: We do not use pack animals, game processors, or any hired help whatsoever.
 

SDHNTR

WKR
Joined
Aug 30, 2012
Messages
6,650
Ridiculous. My brother always counts pennies like this on hunting trips and then if/when things go south, his enjoyment is directly (although inversely) related to how much he spent and he turns into a whiner. It drives me nuts, and imo, just sets one up for disappointment.

It’s never gonna pencil man. Just go if you can afford it! Once spent, forget about the money and enjoy what the hunt brings you. This is stupid, imo. You are trying to link an animal and an experience to dollar signs. That can’t be done equitably, due to the intangible value far exceeding the actual money spent.
 
OP
WoodnotRust
Joined
Nov 13, 2022
Messages
48
Location
Northern NM
The intention of this post is to provide a realistic cost estimate for western elk-hunt wannabes like me starting from scratch.
Honestly, you missed the point which is simply a matter of planning for those of us (like me) that wan't to get a realistic idea from experienced, successful hunters (like yourself) of what's going to cost us. It's also another way (besides the 100's of posts dedicated to individual topics) of looking at what others think are indispensable. I probably won't hunt with a Russian Bear tent, but I did look them up and they are really neat (for example).

Some people are planners and some aren't. Calling people's way of looking at things "stupid" doesn't really help, imho. If you don't want to contribute then don't, but if you want to troll some more then have after it.
 

SDHNTR

WKR
Joined
Aug 30, 2012
Messages
6,650
I guess I did miss your point. And I’m still not sure I get it. Why are you over complicating things? Why account for cost of things like rifles and optics and tents and other non consumables, which don’t factor into the true cost of a hunt.

A hunt costs you the price of the tag and gas to get there. Gear is a separate expense. By your calculations, if you have to buy new crap for each hunt, of course it’s gonna cost more than $5k for each hunt. If you want it bad enough, you’ll figure out a way to go, and can do it in the cheap. No one “needs” Sitka gear and custom rifles to get it done.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Nov 7, 2012
Messages
7,683
Location
S. UTAH
This is going to leave you with numbers all over the place and then how do you decide who to listen to. Wouldnt it be much more accurate for an individual to add up the stuff they need if they want to know how much it will cost?
 

BarCO

Lil-Rokslider
Classified Approved
Joined
Jan 6, 2023
Messages
299
If you own a gun or bow, you are pretty much set outside of travel and tag. Plenty of successful elk hunters wear jeans and sling the elk quarter over their shoulder. I hunt with them and they laugh at my newer gear. Can’t put a price tag on experience and that is most important.
 
Joined
Nov 7, 2012
Messages
7,683
Location
S. UTAH
Not all equipment was purchased for first few years’ hunts, but accumulated as budget allowed. Initially hunted pretty bare bones. All costs and materials are for both of us. Used mostly same gear with exception of my rifles for deer and Pronghorn too, but will only count elk here.

From 2009 - Present: All in costs hovering around $7000 - $8000, but this was over a 14 year period.

Weapons and optics:: $3300 (spouse shoots with hand-me-down 30-06 Remington 700). I sprung for 2 7mm Rem Mags - initially a slightly used Ruger 1, then 2 years ago a Kimber Mountain Ascent with Zeiss scope (SWEET!).
Russian Bear Tent (highly recommend) with wood stove: $3000
Packs and clothing: $1500ish.
OnX for last 5 years: $150.
Grinder: $220.

Public land hunters. Success rate for both of us and given we’re in NV can only be drawn for bull every 7 years and cows average every 3-4 years. Spouse has beat the odds on cow draws though.
10 cow elk; average meat yield per cow 169lbs x 10 - 1,690 lbs (x easily $12/lbs = $20, 280 worth of lean, healthy meat)
2 bulls; average meat yield per bull 218lbs x 2 = 560lbs (x as above, $6,720 worth of awesome meat!)

So… $27,000 worth of meat (or more if you consider quality) over 14 year period, less aprox $7-8,000 costs = $19,000 worth of meat. I’d say it pencils out especially when considering physical demands on body for good health and strength, beautiful scenery, fun camping… all in all a great activity.

Note: We do not use pack animals, game processors, or any hired help whatsoever.
Your $12/lb is way high. Ground is under $5 and that will be a large amount of meat after processing. Top sirloin steak is under $10/lb. Prices will vary by area I guess but $12 average is too high.
 
OP
WoodnotRust
Joined
Nov 13, 2022
Messages
48
Location
Northern NM
I guess I did miss your point. And I’m still not sure I get it. Why are you over complicating things? Why account for cost of things like rifles and optics and tents and other non consumables, which don’t factor into the true cost of a hunt.

A hunt costs you the price of the tag and gas to get there. Gear is a separate expense. By your calculations, if you have to buy new crap for each hunt, of course it’s gonna cost more than $5k for each hunt. If you want it bad enough, you’ll figure out a way to go, and can do it in the cheap. No one “needs” Sitka fear and custom rifles to get it done.
Thanks for meeting me 1/2 way. Fair questions and I understand your point.

I'm in a weird place because of my own circumstances which leave me with not much gear at all. My job had me overseas for years and slowly all the hunt gear I had from my 20's and 30's drifted away or isn't worth diddly. I'm back in the USA now starting over. So, I'm kinda stuck buying all new (or used where possible) for my first hunt.

Much of what I read comes from a marketing point of view. I think experience from times past allows me to sort most of that out, but there are lots of things in the elk/archery world that are so new to me that I have my doubts sometimes. Getting input from this forum has been really valuable for me since I'm looking at a big up-front cost. It's hard not to buy those NL Pure's tomorrow and I just might do that.

So...I want to know if those hunters that are really successful all have over $10K invested in the stuff that goes into their hunt then I have a realistic expectation of what that's going to cost me and I won't look back. 6 months ago I figured it would cost me $3,500 tops...all in. Now, I'm not sure if that really isn't $13,500.

Looking forward to hearing the range and learning what really counts in the world of gear versus hunting skill/knowledge.
 

realunlucky

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 20, 2013
Messages
12,922
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Eastern Utah
I have everything I could think of to make me successful and get to hunt multiple states and still end up with tag soup.

I think money can buy some comfort in uncomfortable situations but in my opinion won't make the difference between success and tag soup (unless of course your paying an outfitter for less disturbed access to animals)

Sent from my SM-G996U using Tapatalk
 
OP
WoodnotRust
Joined
Nov 13, 2022
Messages
48
Location
Northern NM
The money spent on gear doesn’t equal success. 3 elk in 5 years. Sorry I don’t qualify for your input. Good luck hunting
Maybe I set the bar too high? I've read where 10% tag 90% (on public land) which made me think that's the group whose input would really be the most valuable. But maybe that's just a statistic that isn't real and even the best hunters are only successful less than 3/5 years.

If those success stats are real, then I suppose 90% of the readers won't qualify as such and that's OK.

Hopefully enough 10%'s will respond so I can get perspective. If not I'll just stick to simple direct questions about the benefits of x vs y going forward.
 

feanor

WKR
Joined
Aug 15, 2018
Messages
1,132
Location
Colorado
I think it can depend on your style of hunting too. If you backpack and are trying to lighten your gear and load ( which is going in a 600.00 pack), your costs go up quite a bit.
If you car camp and hunt close to roads, you can do it pretty cheap IF you want to. If you’re patrolling this site, you’re already spending your money on cool gear- you just don’t know it
yet 😁
 

SDHNTR

WKR
Joined
Aug 30, 2012
Messages
6,650
Thanks for meeting me 1/2 way. Fair questions and I understand your point.

I'm in a weird place because of my own circumstances which leave me with not much gear at all. My job had me overseas for years and slowly all the hunt gear I had from my 20's and 30's drifted away or isn't worth diddly. I'm back in the USA now starting over. So, I'm kinda stuck buying all new (or used where possible) for my first hunt.

Much of what I read comes from a marketing point of view. I think experience from times past allows me to sort most of that out, but there are lots of things in the elk/archery world that are so new to me that I have my doubts sometimes. Getting input from this forum has been really valuable for me since I'm looking at a big up-front cost. It's hard not to buy those NL Pure's tomorrow and I just might do that.

So...I want to know if those hunters that are really successful all have over $10K invested in the stuff that goes into their hunt then I have a realistic expectation of what that's going to cost me and I won't look back. 6 months ago I figured it would cost me $3,500 tops...all in. Now, I'm not sure if that really isn't $13,500.

Looking forward to hearing the range and learning what really counts in the world of gear versus hunting skill/knowledge.
A few basics bought out of the classifieds here gets you going. Pass on the NL pures if it means you can’t afford tag applications! Expensive gear doesn’t bring success, opportunity and experience does. So stack your deck with what will provide you with opportunity and experience and little else matters. Sites like this can make one jaded. Get enough shit so you won’t die, acquire a tag, grow some sack and go! That’s what fills tags! Not sitting around a computer counting pennies.

Here’s my advice, buy the bare minimum gear you need. Then channel every other available dollar into tag applications. A $300 set of binocs probably won’t dictate your success over a $3000 pair, but not having a tag definitely will!
 
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