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I did a 1:1 elk hunt with Stockton Outfitters "week 3" 09/23/2021 - 09/29/2021. Stockton's hunts consist of 5 full day hunts in addition to partial day hunts on your arrival day and departure day to equal your 7 days. This was my third elk hunt overall, but first with a guide. I was completely satisfied with camp. With a 1:1 hunt, you'll have your own tent with a cot and propane heater. The tent provides more than enough room. Bring a good sleeping pad and bags. The food is absolutely amazing. Kole is a trained chef. All dinners are restaurant quality, plus you get a hot breakfast and a sandwich prepared for your lunch. Now on to the hunt....
Upon arrival and check-in, Mark and the guides were very optimistic as they stated that they had seen a lot of elk and had good responses to calls. The other two hunters in camp were professional and ethical. Couldn't have asked for better camp mates. Pairing of hunters/guides seemed to be based on age, which initially seemed ok and I did like my guide overall; however, I felt like I was the most "aggressive" hunter in camp and should have been paired with a more aggressive guide. By "aggressive", I mean wanting to leave camp well before daylight, cover miles upon miles per day, and return after dark. My guide and I were almost always the last out of camp in the morning and first back in at night. You can expect to walk 5 to about 12 miles per day. The elevation is typically around 6,800-7,500 ft. and the terrain is very manageable overall. I'm not in outstanding physical shape and rarely felt "challenged". Although some climbs will make you stop to catch your breath.
I realized quickly that although Stockton advertises hundreds of acres of accessible land covering three hunting units, you really only hunt a few square miles and mostly everyone rotates around the same general areas (there was a fire that occupied some of Marks permitted area, but after experiencing their style and hunting area, I really doubt the main fire impacted the overall plan). I really felt by week 3, the elk had wised up to the activity and went silent and/or vacated the area completely. Mark and his hunter seemed to be in the elk several days at the beginning of the week, while the other hunter and I weren't seeing much action. I did have one good and intense encounter on evening of the second full day. I expected encounters like this a few times during the week, but it never materialized.
Mark continually states (during research interviews and booking) that they can control everything except the animals, which is obviously true; however, I felt much more effort could've been put in to put all of us on more animals (scouting and/or moving to completely different areas of their permitted areas, etc.). After much prodding and a small issue in camp (for which my guide noticed immediately and apologized profusely for 30 minutes, and Mark apologized immediately the next morning) my guide did take me to another area for which we had to drive to for the last couple of days/evenings. Although we "left camp", I believe we were just over a mile (as the crow flies) from camp. The way I look at it, I'm paying the guide for knowledge and scouting. As I stated in my review questionnaire, I'd give knowledge of the area an "A" grade, but scouting/effort to get on animals, I'd be in the "C-D" range. The "C" is because we finally left camp and tried another area, otherwise it'd be a "D" or worse. I suggested having a spike camp set up in other areas that were previously scouted and had good chances of encountering animals. Obviously, this set-up wouldn't be for everyone as your sleeping and food accommodations would change, or you'd have to leave much earlier and return later, either option I'd be open to. I would book with Stockton again as long as some items/requests were addressed.
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