I need advice on my elk hunting

Discussion in 'Elk Hunting' started by porkchop401, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. porkchop401

    porkchop401 Well-Known Member

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    Fellas , I will be heading to the the same area to hunt near Ridgeway CO. next year as I did this past year to hunt 2nd rifle. Imagine hunting national forrest that you travel 7 miles through a ranch on a public road( dirt) to reach NF (9K feet) and then the forrest is only a mile or two thick before meeting the rock/ timber line at about 11,000 below 13k peaks . For the most part the public property is covered with dark timber with a very little scrub next to the private ranch.

    The ranch seems to have no shortage of elk on it and the public land hunters seem to guard the fence waiting for a elk to step across by chance or to travel up in to the dark timber for the day . After studying maps it seems there are some meadowds near the rockline .

    Now I have no desire to sit in the dark timber where visability is around the 50yd mark. I am guessing what I would like to know is weather elk will be way up next to the rocks at the 11k mark . Generaly there has been a few light snows that melt and frost every morning and I question whether there is any apprciable food for them. The best I can tell there is little or no hunting preasure up there (maybe because there is nothing up there) .

    Being from Louisiana I only get time to scout a day or two before I try to hunt while up there.
    Thanks pc401
     
  2. aspenbugle

    aspenbugle Well-Known Member

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    Hey Pork Chop,

    I guess the short answer is yes, they MAY be up there, but no way of saying they WILL be up there. I've definitely seen elk at 11,000ft and higher, even in NOV in CO. It mostly depends on the weather and, of course, the area (hunting pressure, food, water, etc.). So yes, it is certainly possible for them to be up that high, especially if there isn't 2 ft of snow.

    Overall, dark timber and only a mile or two across usually means no elk, or not for long if any significant hunting pressure - that isn't much to hide in for an elk, and as you know, even though they like to hide in the dark timber sometimes, they still want food an water nearby when possble. It sounds like you may have found that nearby food.

    Without knowing more and actually having hunted it, my advice would be to give it a try, but have that as just one of at least 3-4 options (hopefully with those being spread out, especially with some elevation variation). Give it a try for a morning or a full day - watch the meadows then walk the woods some during the day and look for sign. Better yet, pray for some light snow and look for tracks. You will be able to tell pretty quick whether the area holds elk - if not, you've wasted a half-day and you head to plan B.

    To be honest, that's what a lot of elk hunting is; you often spend 2-3 days (or more) just trying to figure out where they are. They are somewhat nomadic. They may be in there thick one year, and you won't see a track the next. That is why it is good to have some different plans, and like I said, the weather really changes things sometimes. It will force them into areas they aren't normally at, or push them out of places they tend to stay. I guess that's why they call it hunting and not shooting.

    Bottom line, your location and scenario sound like it's worth investigating, but you won't know until season - just have a plan B, C, D and keep going until you can at least tell you are seeing some sign. Scouting is nice, but to be honest, just because they are somewhere in August doesn't imply you will find them there in OCT or NOV - so even scouting has a "shelf life".

    Good luck...
     

  3. porkchop401

    porkchop401 Well-Known Member

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    I see your point ,I. have been thinking about your post a few days now and I came up with this idea. I arrive on about a tuesday before season rest a day and scout the area i hinted this past season for a day . Get in the truck and travel to other areas in the gmu and spend a day scouting . Hopefully I can find elk before season starts and allow time to spike camp in if necesary. This past year was my 3rd elk hunt though i see elk I have yet to close the deal. I appreciate your input , especialy fron a Colorado resident.
     
  4. cohunter14

    cohunter14 Well-Known Member

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    The other suggestion I would have is to try to hunt the 1st season before they get pressured onto the private land. Scouting a few days before the season can sometimes work and other times it can work against you. If the elk hear or see a person in the woods, they will disappear from an area. If I were traveling from outside of Colorado like you and only had so many days to be hunting, I would rather spend more of that time in the woods WITH a gun then without.
     
  5. Marble

    Marble Well-Known Member

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    I've had better sucess the last several years with Elk in the timber in CO by creeping through the timber. My last 4 bulls have been a result of me learning the wind pattern and hunting into the wind. If I can't nail down the wind pattern and have a wind direction in my favor I don't even attempt a stalk. I tend to move from tree to tree and use my binos to look through the timber. I stumbled upon this method by pure accident. With binos, you can look well beyond what you immediately see in the timber and see bulls bedded down. The bad part is Elk will spread out and bed down over several hundred yards and when you spot the group, its a crap shoot whether or not you will run into bulls or cows. Then, sometimes you only see one animal and ounce you see an animal you are stuck and can't go further.

    It works for me. My last 4 bulls were shot in their bed and none of them never even knew I was there.
     
  6. porkchop401

    porkchop401 Well-Known Member

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    Well, I ran in to this while hunting this past year , cows and more cows and I could hear bugles further up the mountain but as soon as I jumped a cow the gig was up. I seem have better luck at seeing elk at and past the 1K yard mark. This is why I have begun practicing at longer range shots. this coming year I hope to sit from a vantage point and place a shot on a unsuspecting bull.I am particularly interested in hunting meadows just below the rock / timber line.
    This long range shooting is challenge in it self in reguards to learning the principles and understanding the variables involved , not to mention the acquiring of required equipment to handle such shots.
    A question that i do have is in a given basin if there is food water and no preasure will elk migrate out of the basin at random or do they stay relatively put unless somthing pushes them out. thanks for the insite.
    Also I have considered the first rifle season though the only folks I know like the second season so the first would mean a solo hunt whitch is not out of the question.
     
  7. Marble

    Marble Well-Known Member

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    Well there is nothing for sure when it comes to patterning a herd of elk. I have watched a herd stay in the same drainage for 4 days and use the same.bedding area each night, for years I have seen another herd on private property in the same opening everyday all day and I have seen herds hit an area and move on. Prior to the season I would walk the majority of the outside of the timber to getan idea of where the animals are coming and going.

    And as far as long range goes, my furthest bull eS taken around 650 yards. Pretty far in most circles, but here, not so much. Most of my bulls have been between the 300-500 yard range.

    If you can't et closer than 1000 yards, plan your hunt differently so that wind, ridge tops, mountains and valleys can be used for concealment from noise, wind and sight. Knowing the lay of the land is some hunters biggest weapon.
     
  8. porkchop401

    porkchop401 Well-Known Member

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    Most of the elk i see out at 1k or so can be closed on to at least some degree. My shooting ability has me limited to the 600ish range but Im practicing every other weekend and the big 338rum is on the way where i can start to realy buck the wind.
     
  9. Marble

    Marble Well-Known Member

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    Well that makes more sense. That's what happens to me too. Happened this last year. I was closing the distance and was about 800 yards away when two guys from about 800-1000 yards shot. The thing that pissess me off is there was a cross wind of about 25-30 mph that was gusting. They were shooting across a mountain pass. I imagine the shot was nearly impossible and they were shooting so the herd didn't cross into a different drainage. Anyways, I was successful a few days later. Using the method I described above.


    The bad thing about hunting like I suggested above is exactly what I said. You never know what part of the herd you will run into.
     
  10. Marble

    Marble Well-Known Member

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    Well that makes more sense. That's what happens to me too. Happened this last year. I was closing the distance and was about 800 yards away when two guys from about 800-1000 yards shot. The thing that pissess me off is there was a cross wind of about 25-30 mph that was gusting. They were shooting across a mountain pass. I imagine the shot was nearly impossible and they were shooting so the herd didn't cross into a different drainage. Anyways, I was successful a few days later. Using the method I described above.


    The bad thing about hunting like I suggested above is exactly what I said. You never know what part of the herd you will run into.
     
  11. porkchop401

    porkchop401 Well-Known Member

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    Well I certainly saw more game (elk& deer) while scouting during the first rifle season. Though I am leaning towards the first season as well it is only 5 days long compared to 9 days in the second rifle season, in the past it has taken me at least a couple days to see a shootable elk once season opens . I have yet to be in the right spot on opening day I seem to stumble on them in my mid day travels.
     
  12. aspenbugle

    aspenbugle Well-Known Member

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    The other good thing about 1st season is it is typically draw only, so there will usually be a LOT fewer hunters in the woods (and as mentioned, they may not be as spooked yet - although archers and muzzleloaders have likely been after them). Yes, it is 5 days, but to be honest, I rarely see guys hunt much beyond 5 days on the 9 day hunts - they have either packed and left or they are sleeping in and spending a lot more time around the trailer. One final upside is that sometimes you still catch them bugling - although since they moved seasons back a week or so, it doesn't happen as much.

    Downside is it can be hot and dry, with elk not moving around as much and less chance of snow.

    As mentioned also - you have to be judicious with your scouting. You don't want to push every patch of timber in the area, looking for sign - you may spook out all the elk in the process. As I mentioned, you can start by watching meadows early looking for animals, but you can also start walking some of the meadows and open hillsides looking for sign later in the morning after the elk have bedded. You'll be able to see fresh sign in the feeding areas if they are around. You can walk the woods just a little bit and try to find some game trails and see how well used they are.

    My experience is that if they have good food and water and aren't disturbed, they will stick around for quite a while. Real bad weather (deep snow) and hunting pressure are the most likely things to move them.

    Marble has obviously had luck in the timber, but it does take a lot of patience and you have to be "in elk" to begin with. If elk aren't on the ridge you are hunting, you'll creep along for hours and never see a thing. I stalked some timber this year (I used to a lot), and all the wind would do is swirl...it would drive you crazy. I jumped a bull at 60 yards, but didn't have a chance for a shot - which is how it often goes. Marble is right, binos are the key and seeing them before they see you - it just helps (me at least) if I know they are nearby. If not, it's hard to creep at a snails pace for hours only to notice there is no fresh sign anywhere. Since I've found a ridge or two they like to feed on, I like my odds better there than stalking the timber - but some obviously can make it a high probability affair. To be honest, my long distance ridge didn't have a lot of elk on it opening day and I'd seen sign that they were in some timber about 1 mile away. I hunted the timber that afternoon just in case I got a shot, but to be honest, I mostly wanted to scare them out of there and hope they relocated to "my" ridge. I can't sware it was the same bull, but the next morning I had a new bull on my ridge and I'm betting it's the one I jumped out of his bed in the timber. He's now in my freezer :)

    I guess one other downside of finding them bedded in the timber is if you spook them and don't shoot one, they are likely gone for good. You've disturbed their "safe place"/bedroom and they will want to relocate. If they get spooked a bit from a meadow or near a road, they may not panic as much and still stay nearby. But, a bull is a bull, no matter how you gettem - and Marble obviously has his method working.
     
  13. Marble

    Marble Well-Known Member

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    Very well said above. A gamble is a good way to describe that method. And, I generally will not ameris into a stand of timber until I know there are animals going through the timber. It's not just guessig a stand and going, I will watch a ridge for days, and now for years, and can pretty much pi.point where a herd is going when I see them enter the timber. Some stands I know are unhuntable, some, I get excited because I k.ow how quiet I can be.

    And if you spook the animals, you might as well stop, eat some food and head back to your horse. You won't sneek up on that herd until the next day at the earliest.

    Know the land, know the feeding areas, know their patterns and sucess is only a few gallons of sweat and a trigger pull away. Then the work begins.....
     
  14. Burke

    Burke New Member

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    Since you have almost private land and the only predators in Colorado would be you the elk have it pretty good. Get yourself a good geological survey map with al the contour lines on it, learn how to read it and find places that have water, meadows and overlooking points with cover for bedding. All three of those in close proximity will attract and hold elk until you push them out. Always approach downwind, work SLOWLY and look as far ahead as you can with good glasses. Find a good vantage point and sit and watch that area. Only real heavy snow will push them low so stay high as long as you can push through the snow. Last thing, once you have elk in your scope keep your eye glued to the scope; things happen too fast in elk hunting for you not to be able to pull the trigger as soon as an opportunity arises. Good luck!