BLC3128, If you are willing to go out and set up a basecamp to hunt, then to me you sound like an able bodied type of person. I would not even consider hiring a guide. Scouting and finding them ahead of time is half the fun. Even if you didn't want to camp, there are places to stay nearby and you can even look on VRBO to find camps for rent. You could be lots more comfortable than just camping out in January and still not have a whole lot of money tied up in it. There is quite a bit of public land in the northern part of zone 11. They will be there.
I would look at those past harvest maps, but not totally put my entire faith in them. All of the harvests on them will be from the earlier regular seasons of the past. Where the elk will be in January will depend on how heavy the mast crop was during the coming fall and where the best grass and other crops will have been in the areas food plots. For my book, I would find the best grazing available, and you will find the elk in that late season.
If you have the ability to do some scouting and the ability to get the elk out of the field, I would definitely go DIY. With the cow that I got, I had three guys help me get it from the field, but I have always felt that just my buddy and I could have done it. If you drop your elk anywhere near to a forestry road and have a larger, magnum sized, game cart, then you will be able to get a cow from the field to your truck. If you're not able bodied or don't have the time to go and scout, then hire a guide. If you want the satisfaction of going it alone and succeeding, then go DIY. Don't be afraid of "what if I don't get one and waste my elk tag?" If you do your homework and hunt the whole season, it will happen.
If you have any questions at all on how I pursued my DIY cow, feel free to PM me. Heck, if we had a day where we could meet, I'd be glad to go with you for a look around on a scouting trip. Either way, I wish you the best of luck on your hunt.
Last edited by kudu58; 08-19-2019 at 06:25 PM.