Also don't forget that Colorado requires license purchasers to have taken some sort of hunter education class endorsed at the state level. For bowhunting the I.B.E.P. (International Bowhunter Education Program) is a very informative class that takes about 8 hours to complete, and is accepted in Colorado. Be sure to take your class several months in advance to allow for processing time and issuance of a number which is required to purchase the license. Colorado is a great place for elk. Be prepared for the shot at all times as I have come in close quarters with elk many times without any notice.
Thanks a ton grit, and supermag. I'll check out these books. I just love learning as much as I can about hunting. You can never learn enough.
I was looking at some GMU's tell me what you think about them as far as terrain, elk numbers, hunter numbers etc...
Just started looking so stop me if I picked a real bad one.
Oh yeah do you have any suggestions on rifle hunting areas with good elk hunting?
Sorry I keep coming up with more questions.
We haven't decided weather to fly or drive. We are coming from MI. I am leaning towards flying but don't know what the cost is and how much of a hassle it is to get meat and antlers back?
How do you start a hunt. I would think that I would get the Horses delivered to where we parked (are there pull offs on the side of the roads or do we just find a clearing and drive right to it and camp there) Pack them up and head out,(how many trips does it usually take to get camp setup and how do you deal with food for the horses, or do they not eat that much. (I'm envisioning taking bail and bails of hay to our camp.) We might have 3 or 4 guys. Ok back on track. get camp set up, eat then do some ground covering to see if we can find some bulls for tomorrows hunt, mark the spot and get after them if they are close enough or head back and relax and plan for the mourning hunt. Get up early to make it to our spots before light. Wait and listen. Glass Glass Glass. Spot, stalk, shoot go home,...ha ha yeah right if it was that easy I wouldn't want any part in it. Well enough story time. Does that sound good soo far. Fill my holes if it doesn't sound right.
Thanks again guys I'm getting more and more excited. and I still have a year and a half to go.
Unfortunately I only have experience with one unit, and a relatively small part of it at that. I believe the unit is 14. We archery and rifle hunt the same area. My partner and I wanted a high altitude wilderness area with available tags. This is how we chose our area.
I can't imagine how you could fly all your gear. My partner and I completely fill the bed of a pick up.
Camping: Once we decide a general area to hunt, we buy some maps and fire up google earth. Between these two resources we refine our hunting area. We hunt a wilderness area. The area has several access points (trailheads). There is actually a trailhead right off a paved road. This is a high use area, and one we avoid.
The trailhead we use requires a couple hours of travel on fairly rough dirt roads. A few miles from the trailhead we have to park the horse trailer because the road gets too rough. We unload the horses. We have a rope strung across the back of the truck and all four horses get tied to this rope. Do not do this with green horses!! We then drive the remaining couple miles to the trailhead. The trailhead is in the bottom of a canyon with a creek in it. There are several places to camp ranging from right at the trailhead to a mile from it. There are also places to camp all along the roads in.
You need grass and water for the horses, as well as trees to tie highlines to. Highlines are ropes stretched between trees. You string the ropes high (hence the name) then attach each horses lead rope to a high line. This allows the horse to feed. You can also picket horses using pins or dead logs to tie to. We prefer highlines.
We usually get to the trailhead in the aftenoon. The stock gets watered and picketed first. We then set up a quick camp and hunt the evening. In the morning we take the tent down and pack up the horses. When we first started packing this took a few hours. We can now pack the horses in about an hour and a half. The point is, start early. We'll then ride in to camp. This takes 6-8 hours.
Next, unload the stock, tie them where they can graze and cool off. After an hour or so water them then feed them each a couple quarts of grain. You also want to bring a small salt block.
Set up camp and cut firewood. Then, hunt the evening hunt. After this we'll come back to camp for supper. Frequently we scout at night. We'll ride to a ridge above a canyon we want to hunt and toss out a bugle. This is a magic time, and a very productive way to scout. Once you've found some elk you break out the topos and figure out which way they'll be headed in the morning. Look for a saddle onto a north facing slope. Figure out how you can get on 'em without the morning downdraft giving you away.
The next morning you'll be skinnin' elk or talkin' about a better way to do it in the afternoon. We typically head out very early, and stay out late, so midday is often spent napping in the pine needles, or glassing areas you've identified on your maps. Elk are a bit like fish in a stream. Once you learn to identify the pockets that hold them you can hunt much more effectively. The great part about Colorado is there are a lot of elk. When they're fired up you can call in several bulls at each stand.
We typically call 'em in. However, it's hard to call the bigger herd bulls in. We've had good luck getting ahead of them when they're headed to bed in the morning. If you don't push 'em too hard you can hunt them again the next morning. Each elk and set up play differently. You have to adjust to thier moods, the terrain and the WIND. You will typically make several set ups and even call in several bulls before things come together.
Archery hunting is tough. You have to get an animal to come into pet-me range and present you with a shot. The wind has to be in your favor, you have to have the opportunity to draw. The elk has to give you a good shot angle, and you have to get it done when it counts. The great part is, even the failed stands are heart pounding excitement. They'll come in close enough to smell. Their bugles are so loud you can feal 'em in your guts.
There's a thread in the archery section called only post by good grouper. I told one of my elk hunting stores there. Give it a read.
We use the Cabelas Bighorn. We use this tent because it is lightweight, compared to a canvas tent (61lbs with poles), and will fit nicely into a panier. A panier is a big bag that hangs from each side of your pack saddle. The Bighorn will comfortably sleep three with cots and a stove. Cabelas makes a bigger model. I believe it's the Alaknak, if the Bighorn isn't big enough. Occasionally we don't have room for the big tent or don't want to set it up. Then we use our backpacking tents and gear.
We use a wood stove for heat. I don't remember the model, but it also came from Cabelas. The stove we use collapses to about the size of a cookie sheet. It requires an inch or so of dirt in the bottom after you set it up. This is a great stove. We tried another with a sliding bottom tray for cleaning out the ash. But, it burned way too hot. We were always too hot, and waking up every hour to stoke the stove again. If you're interested I'll look up the model.
We use Roll A Cots. These roll into a smallish tube shape for packing onto your horse. Cots are the only way to go. You get your gear all under your bed, have a place to sit, and get up into the warmer air.
We only bring a bag of grain, to supplement the graze when they're working hard, and a block of salt. One year we got snowed out. We had to come down and set up a camp and hunt low. We bought hay then. Too much snow. If you buy hay or pellets you have to buy certified weed free feed. We prefer to choose camping spots that have enough grass and water. Grain realy helps a horse keep going when you're using them hard. Grain is a "hot feed". It's like a sugar high for kids. Or speed. I like oats because they don't seem to have as bad an effect. Horses will shed weight at an amazing rate if they're being used hard and not getting enough feed.
I'm not sure what I'm going to decide but since we have never been out there I was thinking either find a good outfitter that does drop camps and has horses, or my dad was thinking of taking his popup trailer, but the bad thing about a trailer (correct me if I'm wrong) is we have to find a flat spot that is easy to get to with the truck but we wont be able to get that far away from other hunters because I have a feeling the farther you get down the trails the worse the trails get. I really want to try to talk them into getting a tent like the one you were talking about and setting camp up way back away from others. Since we are beginners do you think we would be getting in over our heads. I really don't want to do a drop camp just because I'm a do it yourselfer but I plan to come out every 3-5 years, the rest of my buddies on the otherhand, this will be probablly be their first and last time out. They don't have the desire for out west like I do. I guess I need to do some serious talking with them first.
One more question I should have asked first. Do you think we should come out and do a rifle hunt first before we go for a bow hunt? My biggest concern with a rifle hunt is the weather. I would want the first season if any to try and miss the bad weather. I also thought that the rut is starting to wind down that time of year.