New Elk hunter in Colorado

Discussion in 'West' started by smchop, Oct 30, 2011.

  1. smchop

    smchop Active Member

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    So I went on my second hunt, 2nd Rifle Elk, and got my ass kicked. Looking to talk to Elk hunters (I'm in Colorado) but all Elk hunters input is welcome. I'm not looking for a GPS coordinate to your honey hole, just technique, advise and some general BSing about hunting Elk. I'll tell you a little about my last trip. I'm a public land hunter with a general understanding of the work involved in elk hunting. That said, most I have been able to do is read about hunting elk, couple of the guys I go with are seasoned hunters but seems no one has a "plan", maybe thats my fault, as it seems I prefer to have a plan. Headed out to GMU 15 from Oct. 21-26, got some snow on the 25th about 8". Lots of track some new, most old, but they are there I know that. I picked a couple places I wanted to still hunt, and a couple places I wanted to walk through. I had my pick of deer and had a tag but did not want fire and scare away what I was really there for, elk. So it seems to me a bad idea to combination hunt when your there for one purpose only? But looking for ideas and technique for next year. Good news is, never got discouraged. I think it is a hard hunt and am ok with coming out empty as long as a good time is had. At the same time I want to increase my chances so with that let the conversation begin! Thanks.

    Edit to add, I know the search function is my friend and could find plenty of info, I am looking for interaction on this, not just reading. So please don't rip me because I didn't just search and read. Thanks.
     
  2. WyoElk2Hunt

    WyoElk2Hunt Well-Known Member

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    I assume you are hunting in Colorado. Scouting is the best way to learn an area. I used a guide when I first got started in elk hunting 30 plus years ago. Used them twice and learned everything I could from them. Both guided hunts were around Craig, Colorado. Hunting during the rut is easier for most than a late season hunt, because they will give their location away a lot of times. Hopes this helps you a little and maybe more tips will come in.
     

  3. smchop

    smchop Active Member

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    Thats actually an idea I had not considered, thanks for that. Instead of spending a bunch of money on gear, a guided trip might make for better money spent on a little education. I do however seem to be confused on when the rut truly is? Seems who you ask will give you a different answer, maybe dependent on location? Also it seems everyone tells me hunt high (elevation) unless weather conflicts and then low, but all elk I saw pulled out of the unit I was in seemed to be low along treeline of open space even before the snow moved in. Did see a lot of tracks up high but seemed to be more of just travel through. Thanks for that tip, I might consider that next time and use a guide. Keep it coming, Thanks.

    Sorry, forgot to add, yes I am hunting in Colorado.
     
  4. WyoElk2Hunt

    WyoElk2Hunt Well-Known Member

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    From my experience the rut usually starts in September and goes to the middle of October. depends on moon phase and cooler weather from what i have observed.
    In Wyoming the archery elk season starts September 1 for most of the state and gun season runs from September 10 to January 1 depending on what part of the state you are hunting.
     
  5. TLCallsen

    TLCallsen New Member

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    I've tried hunting elk up here in British Columbia and I've learned that it is a great challenge. If you don't have a 4 wheeler then you'd better be prepared to walk until you have blisters and you keep walking until you can't walk anymore. Calling the bull elk during the rut is essential for success. If you call well then they come running. If you don't call well then they know who you are. Using a cow call is fun with different settings. I tried lost cow in heat but I was too early and the rut was not on. Elk are smart and they can see you faster than you see them.

    This year my husband I checked out where record book elk were taken: Jaffray, Inveremere, Cranbrook and Golden. We stayed 2-3 days in each place. When we were scouting we saw that in order to get to these beauties it's a long ways up the mountain. 5000 meters to be exact. We weren't able to make it because our camper stays on the truck. When we were in Golden, there were elk tracks all over the road. Yes an old logging road. But we were too early and none of the elk were rutting.

    In conclusion elk hunting isn't easy, it can take years of trying before one is successful. My husband has a backroad map book for the areas we went. He google mapped the areas, read articles about these areas and next year I know where I want to go where I might be lucky enough to see a cow elk or even a 3 pointer. I say a cow or a 3 pointer (Canadian scoring) because those big beauties are elusive and are alive for a reason; intelligence on survival.

    Wishing you the best of luck scouting and while you're doing that, come across your trophy.
     
  6. smchop

    smchop Active Member

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    How many of you hunt 1st rifle season then, it would be closer to the end of the rut, and muzzleloader would be during. I was deer hunting during muzzleloader this year and heard no bugling which concerned me about my tag in the same gmu for elk during second rifle. The hikes are long and I know that is going to be part of a successful hunt, which I am ok with to an extent. I would hate to only have the opportunity for elk in dark timber so far in that I would have trouble getting the meat out (primary goal for me is MEAT!) Has anyone had a successful still hunt, or has most of you only succeeded during a stalk and hike idea? I'll look into Colorado DOW and look at the numbers for each season and maybe get some info from that also.
     
  7. dodgefreak8

    dodgefreak8 Well-Known Member

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    I'm a fellow Colorado elk hunter and I can share what I have learned. First of all the type of hunting route I choose has a lot to do with the area I am hunting. The 2 units I hunt are 42 and 22. They are very similar to each other as in it's not huge mountains with dark timber and aspens. That being said I spend A LOT of time glassing and I cover a lot of ground doing so. I am leaving in a few days for third rifle season which is what I have hunted the last few years. If you are hunting Large timber areas then I try and find an open area and still hunt by waiting for them to emerge and glass. Now in unit 22 I hunt muzzle loader season and that is a different ball game. Since this season is usually in the rut I spend a lot of time listening and glassing. In my 10 years elk hunting I have learned that you can't chase elk. I have better luck trying to anticipate their movement rather than hiking through the trees. That being said I know people that make that tactic work for them.
     
  8. alby

    alby New Member

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    smchop: Welcome to the fun an challenges of hunting Elk in Colorado. There is alot of good info in these posts.

    After taking a look at your post I did some quick research at the CDOW site on GMU 15 because its a unit I have never hunt in. The Upper Yampa is what they call that area. By looking at 2010 numbers ide say you got a tough area to hunt. Some of the lower success rates, and a decent amount of hunters competing in the area. Also I have this nice little tool that shows private and public lands in GMU units and you got a nice piece of Nation Forest to hunt on but I imagine most people are right there and on alot of the main roads. Mostly High country 8 to 10000ft is gonna put you in the dark timber for alot of your hunting. You have probably learning all this kind of info so Ill throw out a couple tips.

    I agree with WyoElk2Hunt in scouting is one of the best ways to be successfull. If you can get back down into that area 3rd season do it. You dont have to do a ton of walking, just get around the mountain and look for tracks and travel patterns. Best scouting will be through out the first two seasons up to your season. But even then they can still move on ya. 1st season is always the most popular hunting season for rifle. Its the end of rut and much easier to get the position of the animals and catch them off guard. I was lucky enough this second season to still have alot of bugling around me and that sure is fun!

    Major weather changes are your friend, they will get the animals moving. By the looks of the terrain there, most people wont want to get out and walk. So use the terrain to your advantage. And most likely you will shoot it in a canyon so be prepaired to quarter it and pack it out.

    As far as having a plan goes, its good to have a general idea of what you want to accomplish in a certain day. That doesnt mean you wont catch a fresh set of tracks and wind up doing something different. But in general have an idea of what canyon, you want to hunt, or ridge you wanna scout out. Or flat you want to watch at first light.

    I could go on for days, but ill cut it off there. Good luck and good shooting!
     
  9. smchop

    smchop Active Member

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    That was a problem I had this go around was the dark timber and shooting lanes through the aspens. I only saw one bull, but couldn't get on it though. I had one chance and the only shot I had was at his ass or his nose! Had I gotten a shot I would have had no choice but to quarter and pack. I really like the idea of a still hunt, not because I am afraid to put in the work, man I hiked my ass off this go around. So glassing an area I get, maybe I am hunting the wrong area for the hunting I want to do. Seems no matter on the map I picked it was all about finding a shooting lane even if I came across elk. It seemed the weather this year was ok, but warm in the afternoons. The snow didnt seem to help except for deer. It seems everything was bedded down. So if I were to scout a new unit would you look for higher clearings or lower clearing? Not saying I may not be able to find that where I am at, but havent ran across it yet. the meadows we were in seemed to have little traffic.
     
  10. alby

    alby New Member

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    Dark timber can be part of the game up at that elevation. This year my brother out his bull at 9500 elevation, in a canyon in the aspens and dark timber. It can be fun and frustrating. I did a little more research and it seems like the Sarvis Wilderness areas around Green Creek and Silver Creek are decent spots. Good areas for where the start moving with all the hunt pressure.

    Also looking at that terrain seems to be some decent parks you could still hunt if you know how the animals move and feed. In my experience the only way your going to catch an elk in a park is early at just shooting light, and almost at dark.

    Ide say get a high vantage point. Somewhere you can see a good distance. That area has several creeks and streams so think about where they would water. Years like this where it gets warm they will bed down durring the day.

    Luckily your willing to hike so you can get into those places with less traffic and get to where you can see to spot them.

    Found some pictures you might want to take a look at. Kinda show some terrain that might be worth getting to know.

    Red Dirt Road from I-40 near Rabbit Ears Pass, Colorado
     
  11. smchop

    smchop Active Member

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    Alby that is some beautiful area, and more what I had in mind on my hunt. Even the high ground I covered was covered in timber and could only pick spots where I thought I would have a reasonable shooting lane. Which leads to the other posts about glassing, I guess glassing is it and I did not do enough of it. I'd love to go out 3rd and just get some time in tracking but I put off my knee surgery so I could still go second and now monday I go under the knife, all the better for next season! DodgeFreak8 I agree, glassing and stalking what I know is there is more what I had in mind, I've seen them run and I'm not that fast if I walk up and suprise one! I'm not opposed to changing areas, as I said I am new to this and would like to look into areas that would be more my style or idea of a hunt, but no I'm not oppossed to putting in the work or walk to get there. On the other hand I have no preference points to get in anywhere yet either so I have to work with what I have. Great info guys, thanks to all that have posted and helped me so far, right now I'm a sponge and just want to take in all that I can to increase my chances of success or at least have the most enjoyable time I can.
     
  12. IdahoCTD

    IdahoCTD Well-Known Member

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    It doesn't hurt to call the local biologists and game wardens. Anything you can learn about the area and elk habits there will help you. Elk are quite habitual animals but hunting pressure changes those habits. Pressure usually drives them into the timber and they are most likely feeding in the aspen's rather then the open due to hunting pressure.
     
  13. smchop

    smchop Active Member

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    I plan on doing that in the off season. I didn't want to be "that guy" that calls last minute and just seems like I want to know where to go to find elk during hunting season. Hopefully make some contact during the spring and summer season and make a little more contact than just a pre hunt phone call.