Re: tactics for finding elk during colorado's 1st rifle season
I've mulled over this topic a bit and have a few more things to add... If you find 'fresh' sign, study it, what direction the elk were traveling, were they feeding or just moving through. Where are they bedding, where are they feeding, where can you get a shot at them without spooking them out of there before you get to see them all. When you DO find the elk, hold back a bit and study the area some. If you go stalking through dark timber hoping to shoot that bull in his bed, while you certainly can do that, you're only going to get one chance at it. Bust a herd of elk or just a few singles out of their area and they are not going to be there for the rest of your season. One year I did spot two bedded bulls on a distant slope and did sneak up to them and kill one. It wasn't in his bed but I did see him stand up from it when the wind swirled at 60 yards and thankfully they didn't know where the scent came from. Ended up trotting past me at 35 yards. I've tracked them in dark timber only to jump them and see just a patch of ass hair after a 2 mile track, and lucked into them anther time while still-hunting the upper edge of a steep drainage that had a ton of sign. Nowdays I much prefer to find them and set up on them from a respectable distance where if I don't get a shot one day, I'll get another chance the next. I shot one bull at 600 yards one evening across a narrow drainage that was a short 30 minute hike from a very popular trailhead. There was ONE good spot on that trail to view the other side and having bowhunted that area before I knew there were almost always animals on that steep scrub oak infested rocky hell-hole. Had a herd of 30 feed into view an hour before dark and when a legal bull finally showed himself I dropped him. Within 5 minutes, EVERY elk in that herd was feeding like nothing had even happened. The next morning on our pack in to pack him out, that herd was still within 500 yards of the spot including a huge 6X6...my father-n-law elected not to shoot him as we already had one elk to pack out with just the two of us and most likely we would have lost the meat to one of the bulls. That prior evening we had a half dozen other hunters hike right on by us wondering what in the hell we were doing looking at that distant slope. Killed a bull the next year from that same spot the first morning we sat there and I have no doubt I could kill an elk there every year. Getting there is easy, packing them out is a good half day of bitter hell (but worth every moment).
Many ways to do it, but number one is find the elk then go from there. Don't waste time hunting empty timber hoping for that lucky rabbit's foot.