Many folks believe that elk hunting is the toughest of all hunts in North America, when considering the more common species. To be sure, mountain goat and sheep hunting can be grueling, but elk, in my opinion, get the gold medal for being most challenging, day in and day out.
These animals are typically denizens of mountain country. It may take some doing to get to where they live. Access is a often a major issue. And if you score, you're faced with a very large animal that must be field dressed and transported out of the woods. No easy chore there.
The toughest way to hunt them is to do it on your own, with no assistance from others. Or, you can hire an outfitter who will take you to where elk live, provide sleeping accommodations, feed you, guide you, and get your elk out of the mountains. But that might not be easy.
Take, for example, the image here. An outfitter and his guides are taking two clients on a late season elk hunt. I filmed them riding by my house a few days ago, where the snow is 12 inches deep in my yard. They'll ride high into the mountains, at least 8 miles away, where the elevation is 3,000 feet higher, the snow much deeper, and the temperature much colder. They'll sleep in tents warmed by wood stoves, and wallow around in deep snow as they hunt. They're likely to see or hear wolves, and grizzlies will be all around them, though the cold weather will likely keep the bears in their dens.
This, to me, is the ultimate elk hunt. I can't count the number of times I've done this, with or without an outfitter. There are many rewards. Not only the prospect of getting a nice bull, but the remote adventure that may test your patience and endurance. For sure, many memories, never to be forgotten.