Where do you even start???

Discussion in 'Big Game Hunting' started by Scott/IL, Dec 10, 2013.

  1. Scott/IL

    Scott/IL Die Hard Bowhunter

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    I know the complete answer to this question is too complex to simply just reply to this and for me to expect to have it all solved, but if I can get a little insight and maybe a step in the right direction, I'll take it from there.

    I'm trying to organize an elk hunt for this September in Colorado. We tried this before, and it ended up falling through when it came time to really dive into the planning. I have sent out a few feelers to a couple buddies, without much response other than excuses of they think it's too much $$$. One though is playing ball right now as long as his finances are in order (just had a baby), so we are at least on the track towards it.

    I have went through the Elk University on the CPW website. All that made me want to do is go elk hunting tomorrow! Not including gear and food, I figured with tag and gas combined it's going to run us roughly $800-$900 to pull this off.

    First off, before planning any further, I want to just settle on a GMU. Again, this isn't a decision that can simply just be made. I have never set foot in Colorado (or any mountain setting for that matter), so right now everything is just nothing but unit numbers to me. From our research in previous years, we were settled on unit 62 out of Montrose, or one of the units in the northwest around Meeker. After digging in deeper these past few days I have heard nothing but stories of high hunting pressure in these areas. As I went down the list of GMU's I would change my mind on them for various reasons (topography, access, populations, etc.). A wilderness hunt sounds like an awesome time, while also getting away from the crowd and hopefully on unpressured herds, but being a newbie to the mountains, I'm not sure if we would be up to the task our first time out.

    With that being said, here is what we are wanting/expecting. If this is completely off base, feel free to correct me lol.
    -First, just a chance at a legal elk. Cow, raghorn bull, I don't care. I'm not expecting a 300" bull my first time out on a DIY public land hunt, but I would like to hunt in an area that does hold P&Y caliber bulls.
    -We want to drive up the mountain and set up a base camp by the truck. Being as we aren't familiar with the area, and wouldn't have time to run out and scout. We want to keep it as simple as possible while still being able to have a fun hunt. Not afraid to hike in each day.
    -I understand it's public land, in a heavily hunted state, but I'd prefer not to be bumping into more hunters each day than elk.
    -What I want out of the unit is something that has limited road access, but still allows the use of vehicles/ATV's to travel trails that are there

    I may of just described a unit that does not exist, but I feel once I can get a GMU pinned down, the rest of the trip could fall in place. Currently units 44 and 45 are at the top of the list....for now lol.

    Also any advice on trying to change some minds of my hunting partners would be welcomed. They all seem willing to go, but are concerned with just coming home empty handed and not wanting to drop $600 on a tag that has about a 10% success rate.
     
  2. CoveyMaster

    CoveyMaster Grizzled Veteran

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    I wish I could help but I've never been either. I've always wanted to do this though and I hope it turns out well for you. I'll be keeping up with this thread with interrest.

    Is it possible to pick out several options so if you get there and one doesn't work out or has an appearent problem...you can move elsewhere?
     
  3. Jofes

    Jofes Weekend Warrior

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    Im in college right now and this is one of my dreams that just isnt feasable right now. good luck to you but I have an idea that may help. Wyoming OTC tags. from what i understand the website wont tell you much about them but you can get them. I believe they ARE limited so you would be buying a tag online in august but it would just bring more exitment! also they boast somewhere around a 44% succes rate, dont know if that true. I think that in 2012 the total number of hunters divided by public land = 160 miles of public land per hunter, which means its way less crowded than CO. my buddy lives there so I think in a year or two we will be planning a trip.
     
  4. Scott/IL

    Scott/IL Die Hard Bowhunter

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    I did look a few minutes on the Wyoming site last night. Just glancing over stuff, but didn't see a whole lot of info. May need to dig deeper into it.
     
  5. Jacob1

    Jacob1 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    I'm originally from wyoming and I would recommend going there. There isn't near the amount of pressure that the area you mentioned in Colorado. Check around the Laramie area in the snowy range. If you get there early for bow season the pressure is low compared to rifle season. Also with the wolves being released in the northern part of th state and the wildfires up there the elk population in the southeastern part of the state has improved drastically. Also don't be afraid to get out of the mountains and onto some praire. There are getting to be lots of elk just north of cheyenne around the wheatland area. I will be going to Wyoming next year on another elk hunt next year. I will be on a private owned 80,000 acre ranch that my friend runs. With no hunting pressure at all. The key to hunting the elk on the praire is timing. Most of the elk come through and only stay 2 or 3 weeks and move on.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2013
  6. Jacob1

    Jacob1 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    Also the wyoming game and fish are very helpfull! If you call them they will be more than happy to point you in the right direction. They will even give you the areas to look at with the highest number of elk.
     
  7. Oldcarp

    Oldcarp Die Hard Bowhunter

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    I second what Jacob1 said. Wyoming fish and game are really helpful.
     
  8. Bronson

    Bronson Weekend Warrior

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    Maybe a bunch of guys on here could get together and go on an elk hunt. I'd be interested if anyone wants to.
     
  9. Jacob1

    Jacob1 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    They really are.. I've had friends that have not filled there tag late in the season and talk to them and they would tell them where to go! They want you to fill your tags.
     
  10. Scott/IL

    Scott/IL Die Hard Bowhunter

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    My boss has a friend that goes west every year with another hunting buddy. Just so happens next year they are doing a wilderness hunt on horses. They were going to talk it over and see if they wanted to extend their camp out, but it would be an awesome learning experience if I am able to tag along.

    However, not sure what the extended price would be for renting horses....that could be a potential problem if it runs the price up too much.
     
  11. johnwb82

    johnwb82 Weekend Warrior

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    Ive never hunted in Colorado but from my experience skiing there what ever amount of hiking you think you can do in a day cut it in half unless you train extremely hard for the trip. If you hunt prairie land it wont be as bad but in the mountains it kills us midwesterners.
     
  12. Jacob1

    Jacob1 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    I've done the pack in on horses up around Yellowstone several times. With the wolf problem up there now the elk hunting isn't what it once wAs. Also grizzlys are a big problem when you get one. We have seen them off in the distance waiting on you to finish quartering it up so they can come in and clean up whats left. Once you see that a time or two it's pretty hard to sleep at night. lol
    Ill also second the above post about hikeing in the mountains while hunting. It's nothing to walk 12 miles a day and that's not easy walking. It's up and down all while stepping over downed trees and other debris. It will defiantly test how good or bad of shape your in. With that said Elk hunting is my favorite hunting by far. No matter how I go about it.
     
  13. Scott/IL

    Scott/IL Die Hard Bowhunter

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    The horse back hunt would be in the Gunnison area. I highly doubt I can swing the extra cash to go with them, despite the learning experience it would provide. Not to mention that most GMU's in that region are draw units (not sure which one they are heading into).

    As far as getting in shape, I've already started thinking about that if this comes together. Once spring rolls around I generally try to run 2-4 miles every few nights anyways. A few tweaks to this and my diet leading up to it would still be needed.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2013
  14. Jofes

    Jofes Weekend Warrior

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    How hard is it to draw cow tags? from what I understand a cow tag in wyoming is easy to come by if your willing to go that rought. I think that what my first season will be.
     
  15. Scott/IL

    Scott/IL Die Hard Bowhunter

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    I believe the cow tags are easier to obtain.

    I have a bucket list of P&Y animals I want to harvest. So I want the either sex tag wherever/whenever I go......however first legal elk I could get a chance at (if lucky enough to even get that close!) would get an arrow lol.
     
  16. Oldcarp

    Oldcarp Die Hard Bowhunter

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    Our bow hunt out here is either sex. Most the state is spike/cow. Most our big bull tags our draw only. We do have some any bull units. There is the west Desert but that is a tough hunt for rifle let alone archery. There are not a lot of elk and the hunt is in August and September and because it is still hot they are very nocturnal. It can be done. I had a friend that got a 322 bull 4 years ago. He also hunted for 3 straight weeks before he got it. We do have some any bull units in Northern Utah in the Uinta's. All the real accessible areas get hammered and it is some step rough terrain.

    I bow hunt the spike/cow units and hope do draw a tag ever so often for a big bull. If your interested in hunting here let me know and I can tell what info I have on different areas.
     
  17. Scott/IL

    Scott/IL Die Hard Bowhunter

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    How about gear? What type of weather can we expect in September?

    Right now I hear Danner boots, Badlands packs, and Merino wool base layers.
     
  18. Oldcarp

    Oldcarp Die Hard Bowhunter

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    The weather can vary a lot. This year was one of the wettest I have ever had. Good rain gear is a must. Then again 4 years ago we had snow at elk camp in September. It snowed about an inch or so then melted. Then on the other hand its been in the 80's during the hunt. Elk camp is at 9800 feet and the weather can change in a heart beat. I love doing it and shooting a elk with your bow is something else.
     
  19. bones435

    bones435 Weekend Warrior

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    I'm so down. I've been saving my scrap copper for a year by next season I should have about $1500 worth of metal saved for an elk hunt.
     
  20. JGD

    JGD Die Hard Bowhunter

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    I'm no expert but I grew up hunting elk in Wyoming and apply for a tag every year. In the area I hunt it takes about 6-8 years to draw a tag for non-residents. My buddy lives in Wyoming and as a resident he can actually draw yearly if he is fortunate enough. In the years that none of the non-residents in our small group draw a tag, I go to call for him if he does draw. Fortunately we've only gone one year in the last seven without somebody drawing a tag, and in that case we go to hunt deer. I just enjoy going whether I'm toting a bow or the calls. There are several areas in Wyoming that you can buy cow tags and a lot of it is on private land but they will allow hunting as they want the herd thinned out. Call the game and fish department and they will help you out. Now, a few other things.

    Colorado does have plenty of hunters but they also have the largest elk herd of any state. Do your homework and you can have a great hunt there. I have a friend who goes there every year and loves it. Now is the time to put in your time doing the research. Another thing to consider is making a trip out there to do some hiking and scouting this summer. If you split the gas with your buddies it is an inexpensive trip and worth the time. That brings me to another topic, and that is who you hunt with. Last year Snake_03 busted his backside doing the P90X workout all summer and was really prepared for his very first elk hunt, only to have his buddies wuss out when it started to rain on them. They had hiked in a few miles and were completely unprepared (except for Snake) and they ended up leaving before they really got started. They left Colorado almost as quick as they got there and Snake was really disappointed. If your friends are not totally committed to the trip you should find someone else to hunt with. Another thing, if your friends are not as prepared physically as you are and they don't have quality gear, don't take them. Seriously. They will be much more of a liability than an asset and you'll regret ever going in the first place.

    As far as physical conditioning goes you want to be in the best condition you can be in. You don't have to be Cam Hanes to hunt elk. It just makes it so much easier when you are in good shape. I'm 56 and am in good enough shape to hunt but I'm no fitness nut. In my younger years...never mind. Like everyone my age, the older I get, the better I was. :D Being in good shape will pay off whenever you have to pick up the pace to get ahead of elk or pack elk out. I can't overstate this but you will have a much more enjoyable hunt if you are in good shape.

    Another thing to consider is your skill level as far as shooting. I recommend you be proficient out to 60 yards. Not that you will shoot that far but it is very likely you will have a very makable shot at 50 yards and if you are confident at 60, you won't balk at 50. I also recommend a fixed blade head for elk. Why go to all that trouble only to have a mechanical head ruin your hunt? Don't get me wrong, I like some mechanical heads, I'm just not using them for elk. I hope this gives you a little information that you'll find useful. If you decide that you want a guided hunt, let me know, my son is an outfitter in Wyoming. :)
     

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