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Elk - Eric & Patty Sheilds
We hunt several large privately owned properties in far West Texas, principally in the Marathon and Sanderson areas. Only 1-3 bulls are taken off each of these places and we normally only host hunts for a total of 8-10 hunters each year. The altitude in much of this country varies from 4500’ – 5500’, so this is not nosebleed country, which makes this hunt a bit more suitable for those hunters who are not capable of trekking the more physically demanding mountain regions in the western states. The topography in this part of Texas is hilly and rocky, but as long as our guides hunt our clients at the client’s pace, we can generally accommodate hunters of most physical abilities. This area of Texas is in the Chihuahuan Desert, thus you will not encounter large timber like you may find in some elk areas. Rather, this arid region is made up of xeric plants that include low-growing shrubs and cacti, which are reflective of this environment.
Wildlife Systems sets up it’s elk hunts as 4 day, 4 night programs, including a half day on the front and back end of the hunts, and 3 full days in the middle. The package includes modest lodging, 1x1 guide, meals, and game care. Often, this hunt is done as a single or twosie type hunt, and in that case, the guide(s) will multi-task as the cook, as well. So, our meals may be on the modest side. Animals that are taken will be skinned, quartered, and caped. We do not ship meat, but we can ship your cape and antlers for a nominal service fee, plus the cost of shipping. Or, you can leave your trophy with us and we’ll arrange for the taxidermy work and the mount will be shipped to you upon completion. We do not ship meat.
This area does not hold high populations of elk like some of the western states. Wildlife Systems’ elk hunters will typically see 5-15 elk per day. One of the strengths of this area for elk is that it is all private land, with very limited pressure, therefor the bulls often have a chance to get plenty of age on them, providing good trophy quality. Our kill rates are generally in the 80% range, with most of the harvested bulls sporting antlers that will normally score 300” – 325”, but we occasionally take bulls that are 350”+. If you want to see large numbers of elk, Texas is not the best option, but if you’d like to have a reasonable opportunity to shoot a quality bull and enjoy a unique hunting experience in a unique region, then this may be a great choice for you.
These hunts generally take place from September 15 – October 15, when the elk are rutting. Should we have cooler temperatures and cloudy days, the bugling activity is often very active at this time. We also occasionally hunt these elk during January, which is cooler weather and the bulls are often in the bachelor groups.
We recommend a minimum of a 180 grain bullet that’s well constructed. Please, no highly expandable bullets such as Nosler Ballistic Tips, Berger bullets, or hollow points. We suggest A-frames, partitions, or bonded bullets that retain most of the bullet mass but will expand sufficiently. We recommend that your gun be sighted in dead-on at 100 yards. Bring a good set of binoculars, a small day pack, and any other regular gear that you would normally bring on this type of hunt.
Resident hunters simply need their regular hunting license; no special permits are required. Non-residents will need a Special 5-day Non-Resident Hunting License which is only $48 and is over the counter, thus requiring no drawing or special lottery. Wildlife Systems can take care of printing the license for our clients, if the client will simply fill out our Hunter Profile and indicate their need for us to take care of their license.
Prices vary between properties, so please inquire on pricing details and option. Availability is extremely limited, so consider booking a year or so in-advance.
Wildlife Systems, which was formed in 1987, offers a limited number of free-range elk hunts in Texas, which is a sleeper destination for these big game animals. This cervid species is generally considered to be a Rocky Mountain states game animal, but the elk populations in Texas have been gradually growing in recent years. Elk were extirpated from Texas during the early 1900s and were re-stocked in the 1960s. Currently, Texas free-ranging elk are considered to be exotics, since they were re-stocked, so there are no closed seasons.