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