DIY Colorado Elk Hunt How To So you say you want to do it yourself elk hunt in Colorado but have no clue on where to start? I have done a number of do it yourself hunts in Colorado with above average success and have killed many bulls in Colorado. I will go through some of the steps I do when looking for a new area to hunt, remind you that I have lived in and visited Colorado often. I’ll try to lay out what needs to be done like I was never there. Finding an area to hunt is probably going to be the toughest decision without ever stepping foot in the state. There is a ton of data available on-line to help narrow down your search and I’ll try to include everything I can think of to help in the decision process. I would have 2-3 areas picked out that I would consider hunting if there’s no elk or something else happens it’s good to have a backup. How I would go about finding those areas is by using Google it is your best friend right now, Colorado has a plethora of information for the novice to expert elk hunter Start here: http://www.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=0aca89770b2446578c26eba9e4b1a4a1 The elk population map per management area is one of the best tools out there to start your search. Obviously the higher the population the better your chances are, since they have the management areas in the map it makes it easy to cross reference the GMU to see if there is any restrictions on tags for the area. Then here: http://databasin.org/datasets/d20d677ff15440c2b02033fa3355517b The elk migration map in conjunction with the population map helps you decide on where to hunt in each season. The earlier in the year you want to hunt from where they start their migration and work towards where they migrate to. Usually elk will winter in a lower area filled with grasses and other vegetation. Use Google earth along with the migration map and you can usually figure out their travel pattern. After this exhaustive internet search you have it narrowed down to 2 or 3 spots but you don’t know how you want to access it. Again you have to let your fingers do the work and start searching local hiking and 4X4 forums for way to access the area you would like to hunt. Find an area that has access either by trail head or 4x4 road to the hunting area, remember packing out an elk is a major chore and the farther you hike in the further you have to pack it out. In most areas there is a horse ranch that will either pack out your elk for you or rent you horses by the day. After you find the areas you would like to hunt do your secondary search for horse rentals, camping sites and hotels. Most state and federal land you can camp in along the access roads but look more into it once you have your spots picked out. Get yourself a BLM map, this map will show all the public and private land in the areas you choose to hunt. If there are any questions or concerns you have before you enter an area the BLM office is very helpful just give them a call and have the area numbers handy which are printed on the map and they will walk you through any questions. Well worth the money. http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Resources/public_room/map_info.html So you have found your spot and a backup spot now what? Get on Google Earth and start taking virtual tours of the area, other than large tracks of timber I’m looking for meadows, water, and easy travel routes for me and the elk. If you see a meadow surrounded by pine trees that would be a good place to start your search when you finally arrive. Water is going to be the other key ingredient for success, I look for areas the water is going to make shallow pools for wallows. Google earth in conjunction with topo maps can tell you almost everything you need to know about the terrain. Without ever being in Colorado the use of maps is essential for laying the ground work once you have it all mapped out when you get there your scouting duties will be that much easier. You have your spot and you are trying to decide on when to go, Colorado’s season structure is pretty much the same every year and most of the tags are over the counter but check the Game Management Unit number to see if there is any special restrictions. Archery season typically runs from the last week in August to the last week in September. I like to go the last week of the season, you have the best chance of the rut being on and the elk bugling. If you want to up your odds and go with the gun the first rifle season is usually a draw which you have to apply for by early April. The rest of the seasons have been over the counter where available. Check the http://cpw.state.co.us/thingstodo/Pages/BigGameDatesandFees.aspx You have made the drive and got your license, checked into your hotel or set up a camp somewhere and you are ready to hunt. Grab your gear and start your trek up the mountain, this is where all the map work comes into play. A gps with a mapping feature is a great tool for this kind of hunting, you can have all the points and even your route mapped and ready to go. I suggest you go out the first time when it is daylight hiking in unfamiliar territory in the dark is not recommended. You find the meadow that you scouted on google earth, don’t walk out into the meadow skirt around it looking for elk droppings, rubs, beds, something that says the elk are using this area. This is scouting but you’re also hunting, you have to find the elk to kill them, they are a herd animal not like whitetails. What I have learned over many years of hunting it’s frustrating trying to find 1 or 2 elk in 10,000 acres. Find the herd it may take lots of hiking and sore feet but when you find them you’ll know. There are many ways to hunt elk and by no means am I an expert so this is where the tutorial ends, I wish you all the best of luck and happy hunting.