Elk hunt

Discussion in 'How To Hunt Big Game' started by ANG0918, Jan 2, 2017.

  1. ANG0918

    ANG0918 New Member

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    A buddy and I are going on a Elk hunt next year. We live in Louisiana and we're thinking Colorado. Any advice on there or somewhere else. Any info on a rifle or round size. Any information would be great thanks.
     
  2. Dosh

    Dosh Well-Known Member

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    918, Colorado has some of the easiest access to elk hunting for out of staters I've found. Check the regs there. I know there are landowner tags and guided hunts in several states, but they don't come cheap. Arizona is the worst, tough odds draw, no landowner tags and the only direct purchase tag is the Governors tag which you need to bid on $$$$$$$$ and the reservation tags that start at $25k.
     
  3. ANG0918

    ANG0918 New Member

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    Do you know of any places?
     
  4. Rick Richard

    Rick Richard Well-Known Member

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    Lots of people go on their first elk hunt to Colorado because you can purchase tags in some areas over the counter. They also attempt a 'do it yourself' hunt hunting in areas they have never been in and can't understand why they come home empty handed.

    My suggestion is to research and find a quality outfitter that will make your dream hunt come true and successful. Sure, it may cost you more up front, but in the end you will be saving time and money. How do I know this? Been there and done that. No more for me.

    Just my opinion. Enjoy your hunt however you approach it.
    RR

    ps. originally from Louisiana also
     
  5. wyowinchester

    wyowinchester Well-Known Member

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    Colo. Would be a good state with he over he counter tags. If your coming out for the hunt, the DIY is a great time and a learning experience. If your coming out to shoot an elk, think about an outfitter. Land, knowledge,... Home work.
     
  6. Dosh

    Dosh Well-Known Member

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    "What"?
     
  7. spdcrazy

    spdcrazy Well-Known Member

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    Thinking this was a sarcastic comment "two hundred and twenty three" rounds (downrange) would do?

    you never asked about caliber, but obviously there is widely accepted ranges.

    Colorado is an awesome place to hunt. this year I did a 4th season rifle hunt, but the weather was hot and it made for a tough hunt. I saw them, even had my crosshairs on a few, but never had a clear shot.

    no matter what, the woods are always better than the daily grind
     
  8. ATH

    ATH Well-Known Member

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    I would worry about how to find the elk a lot more than what rifle to use. That answer is pretty straightforward. Lots of elk killing calibers.

    If you are intent on DIY yourself, do your research. Easy draw units are tough, but elk can be taken. I've researched the OTC units in CO, but to date, I'm building points to do a guided hunt in a good unit when my son is old enough to enjoy the experience with me. I'm sure one could take an elk in an area like the Flat Tops, but I like to think the first year you hunt somewhere you are basically paying to get experience with the area. You might get lucky, but you area really building experience for the next year.

    The first time I hunted elk was an easy draw unit in MT. I had a local guy helping me and that made the difference. Frankly I got lucky, just missed on getting a shot at a bull the first day at 90 yards or less and the next day I took the same bull around 700 yards. Then the wolves moved in, the next year we saw few elk and the third year none.

    Next year we drew Missouri Breaks MT bow tags, self-guided on public land. High hunter pressure but we learned quickly. 3 guys with tags, I was the only one to get an elk. We made a good call on how to score an elk leveraging the pressure of other hunters. If I hunted the area again I'd do it totally differently, drawing on our experiences.

    Moral of the story, pick an area you believe in and go the first year expecting to do it for the experience rather than the kill. Learn, go back again, and use your experience to increase your odds. It makes little sense to build points in an area you are not familiar with and blow them on a DIY hunt. Either pay for a good hunt others can help you with, or go where you can easily draw year after year and leverage the experience.

    I've been on four elk hunts, scored two bulls, all in areas with single digit success rates for non-residents. You can be successful if you really dedicate the effort and get away from other hunters.
     
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  9. Catahoula

    Catahoula Well-Known Member

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    Idaho has some OTC tags & some are decent hunts. My daughter lives in MT & her husband does well on elk there. He killed one this year with a 480 Ruger.
    Anyway, good luck on your venture!!!
    Thanks, Kirk
     
  10. roscott

    roscott New Member

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    ANGO918,

    I actually joined just to answer your question.

    My dad and I went to Colorado last year to hunt elk for the first time. We had a great (and successful) trip, but I posted questions similar to yours in other online forums and didn't get much help. I will try my best to fill you in from a beginner's perspective.

    We had never been elk hunting before, and selected Colorado for several reasons. Guaranteed draw in certain areas, over the counter tags in certain areas, high population of elk, and (relatively) high success rates.

    We did an almost DIY hunt. We contacted an outfitter, and arranged for a drop camp hunt, meaning that they packed us up the mountain on horseback, provided a wall-tent, and packed our meat back down after we harvested. All of the scouting, hunting, and butchering was done on our own.

    Colorado has very high elk populations, and high success rates. Keep in mind however, that a high success rate for elk hunting was 20%, meaning that 4 out of 5 guys will walk away empty handed. Two things can tip the odds in your favor: physical fitness and hunting experience. We were up every day before dawn and only returned to camp after dark each night. We covered MILES of ground, and were willing to push hard to make it happen. The outfitter we used to pack in told us that if we hunted every minute of daylight, were willing to put in lots of miles, and were patient hunters, we should have AN OPPORTUNITY to shoot AN ELK. We ended up having a few opportunities, but he wasn't far off the mark. He admitted when he came to pick up the meat that he was surprised we had harvested.

    Additionally, we harvested a cow elk. They are more plentiful, and often dumber than mature bulls. I highly recommend a cow tag (or either sex tag) for your first time.

    DIY hunting is much cheaper than guided hunting, but your odds diminish. You don't have an expert to help you out, and you have to spend time cutting firewood, tending camp, and preparing food. Another aspect to consider is that during rifle season you will be at elevation (we camped at 9,000 ft) as winter sets in. It might be 60 and sunny, or a storm might roll in and dump 10 inches of snow on you. If you do not have experience with winter backpacking, you can quite literally freeze and die up there.

    As for what rifle, there are plenty of suitable options. A reasonably lightweight bolt action is the simplest option. 308, 30-06, 6.5CM, 300 WSSM, 300WM, are all enough gun, depending on how far you want to shoot. We used 30-06, and it performed beautifully. Generally, you need 1500 ft-pounds of energy for elk, so at whatever distance your round drops below that, is a good limit. Additionally, you need to be able to hit an 8 inch target every time no matter what, so that is another limiting factor. Our elk was shot at 200 yards, although we were capable of farther.

    We are headed back out next year, so maybe we'll unwittingly pass by each other out there. This time we are doing a completely DIY hunt, packing everything in and out on our backs. It will definitely be an increased challenge, but I think we are ready for it. Even if we don't harvest an elk, it is the hunt that matters, not the kill. Hopefully all this helps, and best of luck out there!
     
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  11. Havoc

    Havoc Active Member

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    I haven't hunted in Colorado for a long time, about 14 yrs. We seen a lot of Elk in the SW Colorado, tons of cows and a few bulls. I hunted Colorado about 5 times and unfortunately never connected with a bull. Put in for an either sex tag, I had plenty of opportunities to shoot cows. We hunted anywhere from 7500' and 11000' (according to my gps) elevation, if its warm hunt the higher elevations. I may try and go again in 2018.
     
  12. SansSouci

    SansSouci Well-Known Member

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    Hi Ang0918,

    It's late in the game to get an area with a decent chance at killing a bull. Were I you, I'd look in to British Columbia and Alberta. If you're thinking USA, maybe Montana or Idaho.

    If you're drawn into a limited area in CO, you could expect a better than decent chance of killing a good bull. Otherwise, Colorado gets a lot of hunting pressure. However, if you're in a decent area, other hunters can work to your advantage.
     
  13. SansSouci

    SansSouci Well-Known Member

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    roscott has provided excellent info.

    CO does have a lot of elk.

    roscott nailed it with his advice about physical conditioning. Keep in mind that Louisiana physical condition is a whole lot different than 8000' and higher physical condition.

    roscott was right on the money about an outfitter. Bull elk of 750 pounds are very common. I killed one that went better than 900 pounds. He's on my wall. There was no way in heck that even four hunters were going to pack that beast out. My outfitter was worth every nickel and a generous tip.

    roscott was right on the money about rifle cartridges. You don't need a mega magnum to kill an elk if you can place your bullets with very good to superb accuracy. Every year huge bulls die by arrows leaving bows at ~300 FPS. I've used a 7MM Rem Mag on bull elk. But I'm going with a .270 Win from here on out. I don't like to carry heavy anything where air is thin. And both of my .270's will shoot .25" at a hundred.

    A .243 Win in the boiler room is a whole lot better than an '06 in the guts. It's all about what a bullet destroys.

    Spend more on good binos than a scope. You'll use your binos far more often than you'll use your scope.

    A range finder is of use but not necessary. Sometimes I use mine, sometimes I don't. It's a fun distraction during down time. If you know where your rifle shoots at 400 yards, you'll be good.

    Here's some advice that a hunting friend of mine gave me 3 decades ago: it's a lot more wise to shoot at a hundred yards than farther. He used a .300 Wby Mag. He has killed just about everything in North America including griz. He told me that most hunters will figure out how they're going to make long range shots. He figures out how he can close distance. I've killed big game at long distance, but I'd rather kill big game at a hundred yards. With a heart/lung shot, you'll walk up on dead big game every time.

    Carry good shooting sticks.

    Drink a lot of water. Then drink a lot more.

    Bring aspirin.

    Rocky Mountain elk hunting is the hardest hunting I've ever done. But the rewards are worth the effort.
     
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  14. LoneTraveler

    LoneTraveler Well-Known Member

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    Elk hunting is a hard physical endeavor. When you get above about 9000ft altitude its a whole new ball game for us flatlanders. I have hunted Colorado and New Mexico. My philosophy is move but. Stay in shooting shape. I learned hunting by myself at 10,000 feet go about 100 yds. Stop take a few deep breaths go another 100 yds.

    When I hunted with a guide in New Mexico, The first morning he wanted to walk till even he was breathing hard when we stopped. The next morning I told him I was climbing my way, He kept looking back checking on me. I passed him and the other hunters while they huffed and puffed. When I hit the good hunting area we were together. When a Bull came into view at 220 yards. I put a 180 gr. Nosler within 1 inch of my aim point. The Bull 7X7 came home with me.

    If you go with an outfitter using a drop camp hunt, Check close on the camp location. When we was in in Colorado my friends had set up the hunt. A guy dropped out and I took the spot. The camp was in a nice location till opening morning. We nearly needed a stop light in front of our camp. A rancher in the valley below us allowed camping and her rented 16 horses to the hunters. They came up both sides of the canyon and crossed the valley right at our camp.

    If you choose a drop camp for your first hunt and camp is above 9000 ft. Take a pressure cooker big enough to prepare food for all hunters in camp. Water boils at about 185 degrees at 10,000 feet. Hard to even get potatoes cooked. Take a set of sharp kitchen knives too. Better to have sharp knives than to have to use your hunting knife to prepare a meal, when cold and tired.
    Good Luck and have a great hunt.