Now that your daughters found out you are on this site the danger is even greater with your post mate...I see extortion / blackmail / bribing heading your way:think:
A elk hunt in most western US states on public land is still affordable..you might just not get anything over 280 inches every time out there....and you just may get a cow elk.
Or, like me on several elk hunts, you could wind up with NOTHING. I went on three elk hunts, two while living in Colorado and another time traveling back there and going with a friend who still lives there. In all three cases, I never once saw an elk. There was NOTHING out there. We got stung every time. Each time we went in the third (late) season, to get the best chance of snow on the ground, which is necessary to drive them down out of the mountain peak areas, which are almost inaccessible to most of us. We got stung each time in 1986, 1987, and again in 1997. Cold as hell, but no snow, and NO ELK! In fact, many guides got stung in 1997 in the area we were in which was supposedly full of elk. It was a bad year for hunters.
My buddy had told me not to bother spending money on a Mule Deer tag in 1997, because the area we were going to was "above the timber line" and there wouldn't be any deer. He was wrong on both counts. There was plenty of timber -- we could see the timber line, but it was too far to get to -- and at one point I had a HUGE mule deer run right past me on the other side of a hedgerow.
I was walking along when I suddenly heard a woosh woosh woosh, like a trotting animal off to my left and coming towards me. I stopped, popped the scope covers, switched off the safety and waited, not moving a muscle. Then I saw it. Off to my left, trotting along in exactly the opposite direction as I was going was a large animal. I got excited hoping to finally get an elk! However, I couldn't see the head or the legs. There was this strange hedgerow of bushes with overhead growth which only allowed me to see a swath between about four to five feet off the ground. What I saw was the back on a large animal as it trotted by. Couldn't tell if it was male or female, but it was most certainly a mule deer. It was grey in color, and not brown like elk, and I saw no mane, like you see on elk. It was most likely a HUGE, and I mean a HUGE mulely buck, but I had no tag, and couldn't have shot at it anyway unless I had bought both a buck AND doe tag. Mule doe tags are my lottery drawing only, and that would have almost certainly not happened.
Anyway, you can still hunt elk, but the tags are outrageously expensive now, especially in Colorado, thanks to the Wildlife Department trying to rape hunters. The out-of-state tags went from $150 for an elk to $750 in a decade. Mule tags are now an outrageous $500 a shot! There's no way I'm risking a hunt without a guide with those prices! I had enough experience to know you have to really go up after them, and to do that you need to know the land, which most people don't. So many of us need a guide.