Tule elk hunting puts you on the trail of one of the rarest trophies in America. Once thought to have gone extinct, this remarkable subspecies has made a gradual comeback in its homeland of California. Both resident and nonresident hunters can now purchase one of a small handful of tags available each year. This is a must-have trophy if you are to accomplish the North American 29.
The tule (pronounced “too-lee”) elk also goes by the names “dwarf” or “valley” elk. SCI considers it the smallest elk subspecies in America. Most males weigh around 550 pounds, compared to the 700+ of subspecies like Roosevelt elk.
Compared to another elk, the tule has a very light coloration, with a light-tan body that often looks almost white.
Bulls carry a pair of proud, sharply tined antlers. They can develop a palmate aspect when they get especially large. SCI awards a bronze medal for antlers measuring 245” and gold for those over 284 1/8”.
As is the sad story with many great American big game animals, tule elk roamed the countryside in innumerable herds until unregulated hunting nearly wiped them out. Thankfully, rancher Henry Miller discovered one of the last breeding pairs and established a sanctuary for them.
In 1988, more than a century after Henry Miller saved the subspecies from extinction, the population had grown robust enough to support limited local hunting. Now, non-residents can once again hunt this extraordinary elk. We have generations of conservationists and ethical hunters to thank for this one-of-a-kind opportunity.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON A TULE ELK HUNTING TRIP
You can only find this subspecies in California. It dwells mainly in marshes, open plains, and rolling, oak-forested hills. Most hunters steer clear of the wetlands in favor of dryer ground.
Our tule elk hunting outfitters boast 100% opportunity rates and success rates of about 90%. They conduct all of their hunts on exclusive, privately owned land.
Although you will probably spend your tule elk hunt spotting and stalking, you don’t need to worry too much about physical conditioning. The outfitter will bring you close to your hunting spot using Jeeps or ATVs. You rarely need to do more than a light hike across forgiving terrain.
Despite the openness of much of the hunting country, the guides can get most of their hunters within 100 yards of the target. Occasionally, though, an opportunity on a trophy bull might present itself at up to 250 yards. You’ll have the best chances of success if you feel comfortable shooting at this range.
Your favorite deer rifle will serve you well here. As long as you go no smaller than a .270, you should be fine.
TULE ELK HUNTING OUTFITTERS:
~ The tule elk hunting season generally begins on August 1 and ends on the last day of October
~ Hunts last up to five days
~ 1×1 guide to hunter ratio
~ Certain hunting areas will require you to use lead-free ammunition
~ Combination hunt possibilities include aoudad, wild pig, and California coastal deer
TULE ELK HUNT ACCOMMODATIONS
You will go truly off the grid in this outfitter’s two-story cabin. It currently has no electricity whatsoever, though they may eventually add solar power. Don’t worry, though—the facilities include toilets.
Inside, high-end rustic accommodations will greet you. You couldn’t ask for a better place to get away from modern civilization while still feeling civilized.
HOW MUCH DOES A TULE ELK HUNT COST?
Due to the demand, the frequent variations in the availability of tags, and the cost of acquiring a landowner voucher to get a guaranteed tag, the average Tule elk hunt costs at least $22,000 to $25,000 or more. Budget accordingly when planning one of these hunts.
In order to book a hunt, an initial deposit of $11,000 is required. You’ll receive an invoice for the remaining amount due once the final cost of the hunt has been determined. This remainder will be due at least 120 days before your hunt is scheduled to begin.
Because of the highly limited number of tags, you may need to book your trip one or even two years in advance.
$22,000 to $25,000 depending on the availability of Landowner tags.
Meals and accommodations during your hunt
Transportation in the field
Field dressing of your trophy
Landowner Elk tag
Transportation between the hunting area and the San Jose or Sacramento airport (available for an extra fee).
California hunting license.
Toiletries and sleeping bag (make sure you bring your own).
Tule elk hunting tags are some of the most limited in the world. Book your hunt today, before the next season sells out!
The Tule Elk is one of the required trophy species of North America 29 and Super Slam of North American Big Game®.