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CO elk locations 1st rifle vs 3rd rifle

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Old 10-08-2012, 03:49 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Longmont, CO
Posts: 63
CO elk locations 1st rifle vs 3rd rifle

Hey all,
I am in my second year hunting elk. My daughter and I had them located last year in 3rd rifle season. We just couldn't get bulls in our scopes, only cows/calves, and we had a herd of about 40 stroll through our crosshairs at 50 yds for an eternity which in actuality was only about 5 minutes. When they all had passed, we realized our ungloved fingers were in imminent danger of frostbite, and we were just about hypothermic! We were hopelessly hooked on elk hunting after that experience. The elk were moving between timber into the meadows to feed late in the afternoon, and the bulls were hanging in the timber until after dark. We just about froze, and decided to go back to same unit except in 1st rifle season this year. Weather is supposed to be very mild next weekend. Based on their location during third rifle when it was bitter cold, where should we look for them in 1st rifle season? The area we were in had dark timber, aspen groves, meadows, and streams. The elevation was about 8800' in a large moraine, with a 9700' mountain nearby. The mountain is timbered. This year, we have either sex tags, so we shouldn't have the problem of only seeing cows with bull tags in our pockets, or vice versa. The image is of the area we plan on hunting, and is about two square miles. The area we were concentrating on is the upper left, and the highest elevation is the lower right. Any advice is appreciated! I would really love to help my daughter get her first elk. If you recognize the area, please do not publicly identify it... I am happily married to a wonderful man who does not care for big game hunting, and am doing this with my 16 yr old daughter on our own. Thanks, fellas.
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Old 10-08-2012, 06:11 AM
Gold Member
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: GSP, SC, USA
Posts: 623
Re: CO elk locations 1st rifle vs 3rd rifle

This will be my 19th year to my little CO Mountain range (8K' to 11K') and what I have learned is that they normally don't change their pattern between 1st and 3rd rifle unless one of 3 things got to be more than they can take.
1. To many people.
2. To much snow.
3. To little food left.

4th would have been sex but most of that went over the hill by Oct 10th.

So, if one of the 3 did not cause them to be there in 3rd last year they should be right there smacking their lips on the grass.

Glad to see you and the daughter are doing well. We need more MOMS like you. I'll be heading out for 2nd this year.
Good luck hope this helps.
Son, The first shot is the important one - the others just make him run faster! Grandpa 1949
NRA Life Member 1970
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Old 10-08-2012, 07:54 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Longmont, CO
Posts: 63
Re: CO elk locations 1st rifle vs 3rd rifle

Thanks. Between my daughter and I, we have three lopes on our belts, numerous squirrels, rabbits, doves, quails, couple whitetails, but are now working on the big ol elk - the challenge of my life. Gotta hurry up and notch that one. Just guided my husband to his first ever big game kill, an antelope on Sept 25! He said the experience was pretty fun and that he might do it again....if I do all the cutting up, he will do the carrying! Sounds like I have reason to be optimistic after 32 years of marriage that I may have a convert!!!
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Old 10-08-2012, 08:19 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: OK
Posts: 2,145
Re: CO elk locations 1st rifle vs 3rd rifle

If it is warm with no snow when you go look for them up high, bedding on the shadded heavy timbered slopes. They will be most active in early morning late evening, but I have always had better luck in the mornings. This somtimes requires long walks in the dark to get in position. If the area you hunt has had livestock grazing in the summer months you could be in for a tough haul, I'm sure they left little grass in this dry year for the elk. Key in on the best looking feed areas and cool bedding areas. (and low hunting pressure)

I have my best luck when the storms roll in during the season, every year that has happened our group has done better than 75% success. When we have had a full week of mild to warm weather and no good storms we are usually at 25% or less. When the storms come we do alot less searching as this usually tends to move them around and get them feeding longer during the day.
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Old 10-08-2012, 08:37 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Pagosa Srpings,CO
Posts: 22
Re: CO elk locations 1st rifle vs 3rd rifle

Glad to hear you are taking your daughter hunting, I'm hunting with mine this weekend as well. By the third season most mature bulls have left the cows, and gone back to being bachelors. The rut was a little late this year, at least in SW CO, so chances of finding mature bulls still with cows is pretty good. The moon phase is also in our favor this season. Scan meadow edges against timber at first light, and at last light. You might coax bulls back into the open at these times with soft cow calls (hoochie mama) long enough to make a shot. If there is hunting pressure from other hunters in your area, use it to your advantage as well as being mindfull of the wind. Just a few suggestions hope they help. Good luck to both of you.

Aim small Hit small
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Old 10-08-2012, 10:03 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Longmont, CO
Posts: 63
Re: CO elk locations 1st rifle vs 3rd rifle

Thanks, I have a hoochie mamma cow call. Last year we only had one other guy looking around in the area we were hunting, so hopefully, it will be the same this year. So hoping my daughter bags one - doesn't matter if its a cow or bull! She would love to put a set of antlers on the wall, but filling the freezer is more important. Have either sex tags, and this is the last year she can convert her youth license to a cow tag for a late hunt. I also purchased a leftover cow tag for the same area, so if we strike out this weekend, we have another chance. I am so excited! Gotta get the propane tanks refilled, and do a little camper and car maintenance and will be ready to go. Been on the road several times up to Wy for antelope, and so looking forward to scoring an elk this year. I am feeling like this will be the year, and it doesn't matter who gets one. Would prefer my daughter gets one over me, but that is because I am a mom. Appreciate all the advice.
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Old 10-09-2012, 06:56 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 49
Re: CO elk locations 1st rifle vs 3rd rifle

Like several have said ,get in early & watch the edges of the meadows. CONGRATS to You for getting your Daughter out & GOOD LUCK to Y'all this season!!!
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