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CO elk - Which week should I bow hunt?

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Unread 02-21-2012, 10:32 AM
Field Editor
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 691
Re: CO elk - Which week should I bow hunt?

Thanks curtis.

My main problem right now is that I can never get to bed before midnight because I'm up reading and researching and getting all pumped up!
Andy Backus
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Unread 02-21-2012, 04:05 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 2,612
Re: CO elk - Which week should I bow hunt?

Two schools of thought with top elk hunters who are very succesful that I communicate with. They involve completely different tactics. I have taken exceptional bulls both ways.

First is when the season first opens and you get first chance at unpressured bulls that have been taking it easy all summer. They are not as wary and the giant bulls are easier to kill. The drawback is they are harder to find and not as exciting as the prime rut. The tactics are to get high, walk and glass. Find the one you want which may well be in a bull group early before they split up. Slip in downwind and finess the bull over with cow talk. He may or may not bugle and may come in quietly just to investigate. If you do not have him in sight during the stalk this can test anyones nerves not knowing if he is close and any move can blow him out, or he could be going the other way. When do I move closer, when do I call, is he near enough to see me, I don't know, You get the picture. NW Colorado I have hunted since 1969 and most of it where the elk summer is open country with excellent glassing to find a good bull. So this tactic can work well. The huge bulls are not in the middle of a bunch of eyes and noses (cows) and there are no satelite bulls to come blowing in fast when you cow call and blow the herd out.

Second is late during the rut when the elk are herded up and the bulls are very easy to find bugling there heads off. Satelite bulls are typically very easy to kill as they come flying in to steal a cow at the edge of the herd when you cow talk. The huge bulls are harder to get because it is very difficult to get through the satelite bulls and then through all the cows. It is extremely exciting with bugling all around you and the best time to get a bull but not necessarily the biggest bull. I usually watch to see when is best to make my move and catch the herd bull on my side of the cows and then try to call him with cow talk or make him think a satelite bull has stolen a cow combining bugling and cow talk. Many different calling techniques depending on the personality of the bull but that is a different article entirely. If there are satelite bulls, and in Colorado there are plenty of elk, then you must work into the best position and make it happen fast with the herd bull before being detected or having to move out because of the threat of blowing the herd out. I have made many moves on a big herd bull before finally getting it right. Move in, back off several times before it all went right. Tough judgement many times whether to risk blowing them out or if you feel you will get him before they get you.

I gambled one time on a 416 6x6 and won getting an arrow into him before a 380-390 satelite bull at 10 steps blew my cover. It could have easily gone either way and I doubt I would have found the big one again in that country where they are known to run for many miles when disturbed. So it was a big decision and gutwrenching continuing to call the big one with one circling me at 10-15 steps. In the high country of NW Colorado they are unlikely to go far if you bust them and the population is so dense there is a good chance others will just take there place in a day or two.

So do you want your best chance at an elk or the best chance at the biggest bull in the woods. A very exciting hunt with a lot of bugling just happy to arrow a bull or a very stressfull hunt trying to get the monster early season. The most fun hunt is the rut. With hunting pressure what it is now many top trophy hunters prefer the first week to try and get a monster before they are pressured but it typically takes a lot more elk expertise to do that kind of hunt.
Predictions are difficult, especially when they involve the future
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Unread 02-21-2012, 05:00 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 72
Re: CO elk - Which week should I bow hunt?

Assuming it is not a big hiking area year round, I'd go early. The elk will not be spooked by the barrage of hunters. And the weather should be warmer. Before you go-GET IN SHAPE. Make those thighs BURN-they are going to anyway, either before or while you are there. So do your suffering before you get there.
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Unread 02-22-2012, 12:13 AM
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Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 7
Re: CO elk - Which week should I bow hunt?

I'd advise you to not come to Colorado, just hunt around where you live. That goes for everyone. Leave the elk here for just me! HA!
Seriously. Everyone has posted some pertinent facts The sum of which leave you with what we go through every year trying to figure out our draw applications. Imagine combining all that with the choices for deer added in.
Early or late rut? Early snow or maybe not much winter at all?
If you are after a big bull and are willing to get high, early is the best because there has been no pressure. Early does mean getting high though, that's one certainty.
Good luck and have a safe hunt.
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Unread 02-28-2012, 01:01 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: oregon
Posts: 993
Re: CO elk - Which week should I bow hunt?

great place to hunt elk.. last year I hunted diy in a couple units out of vail... I hunted the same time as the muzzleloaders... wasnt not bad at all.. but I went the 9th through the 17th of september.. and I was a little early where I was hunting.. they bugled.. but not much rutting when I was their.. first of october laster year was crazy awesome for the rifle hunters.. all about weather.. and hunting pressure like all elk hunting.. I hunt in oregon where I live and sometimes you get bulls to come the first week.. first day even.. havnt been educated or pressured.. so its up to you.. I myself will be going from the 16th through the end of the season in colorado this year.. they will be vocal... and rutting... but most bios I talked to last year said usually 2 or 3 week of season is when it gets hot.. if you want to talk more.. om me..

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Unread 03-11-2012, 04:09 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: washington state
Posts: 125
Re: CO elk - Which week should I bow hunt?

I have been told by several guides, and hunters in numerous states that they start around the 17 of Sept. that seems to be the magic date in most areas. Just my .02
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Unread 03-12-2012, 10:36 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 72
Re: CO elk - Which week should I bow hunt?

Originally Posted by sp6x6 View Post
This relates to MT area. I have arrowed 3 before the 16th, and 12 after the 16th. I STUCK 3 on 21 st,my lucky day. I like early because less pressure, big bulls usually arent cowed up and easier to get on. But it is less rut activity and I have not had the success.Harder to find a hot bull early.

Archery really necessitates bugling to have a reasonable chance so that points you to the early rut. So take the knowledgeable estimates of when that is most likely to be. If you're a climber, you can use the extra pressure by getting up to the high passes-exit routes before the hordes start stirring and hope they will drive something up to you.
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