Once again, thanks for the varying perspectives and suggestions, its exactly what I was looking for. To circle back on a couple questions and comments:
-As far as horses go and my experiences with them, a rodeo in the back country is exactly what I don't want... If I pursue Utah, I got a arrangement worked out with the wrangler to help with the pack in & pack out to alleviate some of the stress. We would be keeping 2-3 horses in Camp. Still a lot of work, but manageable.
-I have looked heavily into Idaho and Colorado and have not ruled these states out, but... haven't really found a "foothold" in either one to start building off. Last season, I had the fortune (or spent...) of being packed in 7 plus miles in the back country and saw 14 elk over seven days, finally killing a Cow on the last night with a 2nd Season OTC Tag. My friend, was not so fortunate. He is also in his late 20's, in great shape and highly motivated, yet with a LE 1st Season CO Rifle Hunt he couldn't out-hike the roadside crowds and did not see a single Elk the two days he scouted and the 5 he hunted.... I know individual experiences, weather and everything else varies, and that being in the back country away from OTC hunting pressure does not guarantee getting into Elk... but the majority of evidence suggests it increases your chances.... With that said, I'm definitely open to any suggestions such as units or season's in Colorado or Idaho that anyone is willing to offer up.
-I like the Spike/Cow Hunt idea and will pitch it to my group to see if its something we would be collectively interested in. Along the same lines, has anyone had any success with the Elk Control Permits in the South Slope Units? From some initial research it looks like a great way to increase the flexibility of the hunt so we could take a Bull or Cow.
-Finally, CPAjeff and some of the others nailed it for me... Last year I went on what I thought would be the hunt of a lifetime and got exactly that. Now I'm hooked.... I have one more season before I get orders back to the East Coast and the logistics, work and family commitments of planning and executing something like this will be unrealistic so I want to take advantage while I got the shot... I'm in no way, shape or form "above" truck camping or setting up by a road as it offers mobility and you can bring a lot more creature comforts, I just don't want to do it with 500 other people.
Keep it coming and thanks again!!