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DIY Backpack Elk hunt in CO

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Unread 01-06-2012, 07:37 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: OK
Posts: 2,132
Re: DIY Backpack Elk hunt in CO

I've DIY for 13 seasons, some things to consider.(preface generally most seasons go fair to well, BUT)

For a first timer, it may be easier to start with a muzzle loader hunt, rut is starting and the weather is a bit warmer with-out serious snowfall potential that early.
That will give you a chance to learn the country, and learn what to expect. Forgetting an essential item may not be as big a mistake on a hunt like that then if you get 2 feet of snow and 30 mph winds. ( I archery hunted and ML hunted my first 4-5 years.)

I packed in during 1st rifle about 1.2 miles, tarp over a nylon tent, lows in the single digits and snowed a foot. Not what I expected when I packed in on Friday with highs around 55 degrees and bare ground. That was my first rifle hunt, and today I would call that mild weather after another 7 seasons under my belt.

Have something to start a fire at a moments notice under the most miserable conditions. I have been in a 40 degree rain that turned to freezing rain and 35mph winds, turning to 12 inches of snow, at camp. If I was 1000 feet higher and 3-4 miles out I might still be there.

Weather changes in very short order, don't be caught with your pants down. Read the weather conditions and be your own meteorologist, if something looks like it is brewing stay close to camp.

Experience will tell you if something really nasty is brewing. If that's the case and you can't get out before it hits, then;
reinforce your shelter to prevent collapse,
bring all the essentials in the tent.
Put on your warmest clothing.
Have at least 3 days food and water.
You might have to sit in your tent for 2-3 days and wait it out, Don't leave camp until the weather completely brakes and you have clear sky. Walking out in a blinding storm with no shelter in precipitation, will kill you faster than waiting in the tent.
After the storm access the situation and walk out if you have a bad feeling. If the snow didn't pile up too bad and your supplies hold up, you are poised to kill an elk in the next 24 hours.

I am not in the shape I was 10-15 years ago so most times for 2nd season we camp at the truck, wall tents, wood stoves cots and pads. The advantage to this is you are fresh and lively every day and capable of sustained walks. Spike camps this time of year can be miserable, and energy draining.

As far as packing out elk, 2guys can do a cow elk BONED OUT, if they are strong and fit. Between Matt and I we weight 400lbs. we have done it a few times, I would think twice about this if over 1.5 miles. I did it once at 2.5 miles with elevation to climb and I don't want to do it again, ever.

On a bull with packing out the head, 3 guys on a small bull /raghorn is doable.
A very large bull at least 4 guys for one trip of boned out meat/horns.

Now the very best pack I ever had (with-out horses) was when I took my brother out, we boned out a rag horn and a cow, processed the meat into gallon zip locks and filled 4 chest coolers that we brought out to the kill sight on a home-made game cart and a sled. We hauled it in one trip back to the truck, we killed them at 8:00am on Sunday, and were loaded in the truck on Monday morning at 10;30 and on the road. we covered a little over 2 miles in about 6 hours, over relatively mild terrain. (At the half way point we hit camp and slept the night.)

Now we really try to hunt smarter, at least some times. This past year Mike brought horses so that freed us up to venture far and wide. and I only had to carry elk quarters about 50 feet one at a time.

Good Luck get prepared, use your head and you will be fine
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Unread 01-07-2012, 10:11 AM
Gold Member
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Sagauache County, Co...3170 sq miles, not a single stop light!
Posts: 699
Re: DIY Backpack Elk hunt in CO

elk are not the behemoths a lot of guys think they are. the average bull elk in Co is gonna be a 3-4 yr old bull that wont top the scales @ 500lbs on the hoof.thats about 350 gutted. take out the bones and you have a good solid 150-200 lbs of boned out meat. two guys in good shape can pack most any elk off the mtn in one trip, 2 trips if he is a monster. the only thing you need a saw for is cutting out the skull plate. My advice is to go for it, but be prepared. You have to shoot elk where you find them. AJ
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Unread 01-07-2012, 02:01 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Pocatello Idaho
Posts: 557
Re: DIY Backpack Elk hunt in CO

True true, but most of the guys that have never even seen an elk are use to dragging a whitetail out of the woods and having it home by supper, so when I was saying that elk are big, I was meaning that they are way bigger than a whitetail most guys are use to shooting and dragging out of the woods whole, and aiming my point that there big towards the guys that arent in any area that they can go out and shoot one every year like most of us. Just givin them the heads up on the task they have before them after the trigger drops is all, I've shot lots and lots of bull elk, so i know how big they are on the hoof and on my back, and i have yet to have an easy one. Just giving these guys that want to do a DIY a heads up and to be ready is all
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Unread 01-07-2012, 02:41 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: OK
Posts: 2,132
Re: DIY Backpack Elk hunt in CO

I had the drive to at one time pack way in to hunt, i have found that if you find a good area it is not always neccesary. Most elk we killed were with-in 2 miles of a 2 track that allowed vehicle traffic. I once climbed up a mountain in the dark to see what was on the other side. When daylight struck there were 20 elk feeding with-in 500 yards of camp and I was a good mile and a half away.

Last year I met a real nice fellow the day before season, we shared stories and experiences about the hunt area. Well to make a long story short i took a lead he gave me and he took a lead I gave him and on day 2 he killed a 6x6 bull 200 yards from the 2 track where I had killed a bull the previous year. Me, I went on a serious hike that produced animals but none were taken. I always try to meet the guys in my hunt area, and get to know them, it is the fast track to learn the area and you make new friends and have reunions every year.
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Unread 01-08-2012, 01:56 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: washington state
Posts: 125
Re: DIY Backpack Elk hunt in CO

My first rule is shoot them first then worry about getting them out. Last falls elk was in 1.5 miles and 900 ft up. GPS miles, I figure three trips per animal. If they are much father you can pack them in stages or if snow, drag parts of them while you carry others. I have found that it usually takes me a lot longer to kill one than pack them out. I really don't consider packing the out a big deal, because the pressure is off, I usually have plenty of time and don't get in a hurry. The longest one in recent years was 4 miles into a wilderness area and 1800 feet up. I brought him out in stages and it took 4 "whole" days
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