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Colorado elk hunt, non resident, public ground.

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Unread 04-03-2011, 08:48 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 805
Re: Colorado elk hunt, non resident, public ground.

I did my first horseback elk hunt 2 years ago. Although not as experienced as some around here, being new let me see what you are facing.

Find out about the horses & how the horses are trained. Some quarter horses are calm animals that neck-rein & seem to make riding effortless. Other horses, especially the "half-lings" (horse/pony cross) are round pigs that break into a trot every time they think they can get away with it and shake you to death riding them is MUCH harder on the rider. I would NOT want a "jumpy" horse under me on some of the mountain trails I've ridden over.

Most mountain horseback hunting is really commuting to the hunting area on horseback each morning, tying up, & hunting on foot all day.

Most elk shots in the mountains are inside 100 yards, but 800-1,000 yard shots may present themselves. Unless you have time to do quite a bit of practice shooting at altitude, use a ballistic program to see how your load will hit & have that data taped to your stock or inside your scope cap.

Although a .257 will take an elk given a decent broadside opportunity, a hot .30 or .338 with a controlled-expansion bullet will take elk from almost any angle. I would cary a .375 H&H before I carried a .257 on an elk hunt as these are magnificent animals that should never escape with a bullet in them that will cause a slow death & wasted animal. Use a bullet designed for penetration. (I saw a "premium" bullet fail on a near point-blank shoulder shot.) I think the .340 Weatherby may be the best all-round elk round because of it's reasonable recoil, velocity, and energy delivered to the vitals. Of your rifles, the 30-378 would definitely be my choice if that's not too heavy for you to haul up & down mountains all day. Since you already have a .30-378, you don't NEED to buy a .338, but if you want to ... who am I to say no?

Scope choice is more of an issue than rifle for many hunters and the one many seem to get wrong. If you are going to be hunting timber, you want a low power of no more than 3.5 or 4x, and preferably less. A lighted reticle will make your shots faster when an elk appears in the shadows. A 6.5-20 is nice to practice with & for strictly open-country hunting, but it's too much magnification if you end up hunting in timber. A 2-12x50 is probably the best all-round elk scope available. If using rented tack, be sure the scope you choose will fit the scabbard being supplied. Several people I hunted with had issues with scope size or target style turrets not fitting their scabbards. Most scabbards will not hold rifle & bipod.

A GREAT day pack really makes a lot of difference! Look for one that carries the weight on your hips & you will be thankful!! If you get an orange vest-pack you don't need a separate orange vest. (Of all the daypacks I tried, the Browning vest-pack was by far the best.)

Take a pair of trail "sneakers" along. If (when) the weather permits, these will be much easier on your legs than heavy hunting boots!

Get heavy CANVAS game bags, not the cheesecloth bags sold in the East!

Find out what size saddle-bags come with the rented horses. You need saddle bags that are big enough to hold game-bags, extra water, and extra clothing in case the weather changes during the day, and you need to be able to keep this stuff dry until you need it.

Hopefully everything will work out for you as well as it did for me. I've got a Beautiful 6x6 bull elk mounted in our dining room.
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Unread 04-03-2011, 09:16 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Fairfax County, Va
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Re: Colorado elk hunt, non resident, public ground.

Another thought came to mind after reading this in the above post
"Most mountain horseback hunting is really commuting to the hunting area on horseback each morning, tying up, & hunting on foot all day."
Unless you know the area REALLY well, the second thing you do, after you get your weapon off the horse, WITH OUT FAIL is to mark the location of your horses in your GPS, so later when the Elk disappear you can find those horses and don't have walk back to camp in the dark, that is if you put camp in your GPS.
Most of my Elk hunting on horses has been Bowhunting in wilderness areas where we rode until we herd bugling then we baled off tied the horses and took off on foot. Then when the Elk vanished, you check you GPS and your 4 miles from the horses an 8 miles from camp.

But NEVER be without a map and compass and the ability to use them.

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Unread 04-04-2011, 09:36 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 130
Re: Colorado elk hunt, non resident, public ground.

Thank you. i appreciate all the advice

From what i know of the horses, they are just run of the mill horses. whatever they bring us is what my cousin has said. the only thing i know is they tell the stable that we have no horse experience and they have gotten pretty good horses in the past. no specific breed. we'll use the horses to ride into an area, and hunt on foot from there.

We will be using rented tack, but need to bring our own gun scabbards. at this point one of us may need to buy one. we have been warned that if we have big target knobs they will be hard to get in and out of the scabbards. we currently don't have target knobs on our scopes but i have thought about getting some put on my scope(needed anyway). if i do, i will buy a new scabbard of my own. my cousin has enough panniers (sp) for us to use for hauling meat back. we will stop at cabelas and buy enough meat bags on the way out there.

I am still undecided which gun i will take. leaning towards the 30-378, just because that's why i said i bought it, to use it if i ever go out west. meanwhile it's awesome on Pa. deer. i may switch up scopes and use my VX-III BC 4.5 x 14 on it. we won't be able to shoot any at elevation, other then at game. i always have used drop charts, so i'll definitely have one, and be reading up on elevation differences. (side story- i have a brand new burris 4x16 on my 30-378 now. warranty replaced the first 4x16 and i still don't trust the burris to go out there.)

Accubonds will be the bullet of my choice for either rifle, and shooting for the vitals.
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Unread 04-04-2011, 11:54 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2009
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Re: Colorado elk hunt, non resident, public ground.

I think the Leupold will serve you well. If you add just the Leupold CDS elevation turret it is less likely to be an issue in & out of the scabbard than if you add both windage & elevation turrets.

The premium bullet I saw fail on an elk was a 160 grain Accubond.

Hopefully someone in your party is taking an extra rifle in case one fails. A horse going down with a rifle in a scabbard can cause scope "issues".

Looks like you will be well prepared.

You must have some large fields to hunt in PA to get to use the .30-378. I would hate to shoot a small deer at close range with such a rifle for fear of blowing the far side of the deer off.
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Unread 04-04-2011, 12:21 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 130
Re: Colorado elk hunt, non resident, public ground.

there will be 1 spare rifle taken for the group. it will be one of mine more then likely. either the 257 or 30-378 with a leupold.

i haven't used the 30-378 in a couple years but is has taken deer as close as 30 to 315 yards with ballistic tips. haven't shot anything with the accubonds yet. we practice long range, but never just hunt at long range. always tagging out in the woods or using different calibers.

we have some nice fields to hunt, but also have a couple of nice power line right of ways that offer a good long view.

the leupold i was going to put on the 30-378 has the boone and crocket reticle, and we would confirm the hash marks over the summer. the burris i used to have on there had the ballistic plex and worked very well after shooting and confirming.
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Unread 04-06-2011, 02:06 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Redlands CA
Posts: 376
Re: Colorado elk hunt, non resident, public ground.

I hope you have a great hunt, I have hunted Meeker a few times. I liked the earlier poster's 6 minute hill link. It is critical in enjoying the hunt to be in shape. I mean you will enjoy it more if you aren't gasping. Since it is a three mile walk in and if you don't want to deal with the horses, use them for packing and just walk in. 3 miles is a good warm up. Then you have the horses to pack it out.
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Unread 04-06-2011, 06:05 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 20
Re: Colorado elk hunt, non resident, public ground.

I hunted real close to there last year in Meeker. Will take some time getting used to being up so high. We camped around7,000 ft. Any gun will work as long as you know your range. Me i would take the 300 because i think size does matter. They do go down hard. Hope you have a great trip planning is half the fun.
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