2015 CO Drop Camp Planning Suggestions

JT78

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Feb 24, 2015
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Gentlemen, I’m new to the forum and Elk hunting in general, but wanted to pick your brains in preparation for my 2015 2nd Season Elk Drop Camp in GMU 24. I’m the hunt coordinator/planner for my group and we will actually be hunting the same Outfitter and Camp as Bigeasygator did last year. I have already talked to him on the phone and he is a great guy with lots of very useful information but it never hurts to get multiple perspectives and opinions.

I’ll give you a quick run down of what I have in mind so far. Right now I have six guys who will definitely be going with the possibility of two additional guys jumping on for a total of (8) in the same camp. I have already been told multiple times that such a large party could potentially make camp life and the hunting a little more difficult which is understandable. Admittedly, this hunt is more about reviving our family hunt camp tradition and spending quality time, however everyone in my party are experienced whitetail hunters who would love the opportunity to see and hopefully kill some elk.

Logistically I feel like I have some pretty solid ideas for a feed plan for such a large party but would appreciate any suggestions. From the reading I have done so far it looks like the best/tastiest way to feed your camp is dry goods and coffee for breakfast (instant oatmeal, muffins and etc.), pack sandwiches/snacks for lunch, and pre made and frozen at home venison stew, chili, spaghetti and etc. for dinner. I’m an active duty Marine and am all too familiar with the MRE/Freeze dried/Mountain House type meals and want to avoid this option all together. Along the same lines, I’m aiming to sustain the highest quality of life possible given the packing weight limits (200lbs per person) and the fact that we want a wilderness hunt. From my experience, the better you eat and sleep the harder you are able to hunt. In regards to this area, the plan is very basic, the Wall tents come with wood stoves and we are going to bring cots, sleeping pads, camp chairs, gas lanterns, and kitchen items.

Hunting wise, my group is pretty much split down the middle with fit guys in there mid 20’s and guys that are not so fit in the mid 50’s. I moved to the Eastern Sierras last summer for work and spent my first season ever hunting Mule Deer out here and have a STRONG appreciation for 8000Ft+ altitudes. Great experience and I was lucky enough to stumble onto a beautiful 5x5, but it definitely is not Whitetail hunting in New England or South Texas where my group and I are from. Right now, I’m thinking of doing a map study and giving the older guys the “easier” area where the inclines are a little more gradual and the younger guys will hunt the larger/steeper more difficult to get to areas. Additionally, I’m planning on two man “hunt teams” for safety, ease of field dressing/hauling game and social aspects mentioned above.

With all of that said, I would appreciate any constructive feedback or critiques on my plan and specifically:

-Cow/Mule Deer Tags, both are draw only, from my research it looks like Cow tags are fairly easy to draw and the Cow’s are fairly common in GMU 24, Mule deer not so much in both areas. No one in my party has any CO preference points. Ideally we would like to shoot a couple Bulls but it would also be nice to shoot a buck should see one or a Cow if we are striking out on Bulls. Any suggestions/feedback?

- Folding/collapsible camp table, done a little research on this as well and want to avoid the $100+ made in China piece of crap that will break in two days anyway. Main purpose of the table will be to prepare meals and play cards around and have a couple beers at night. Looking to be able to seat around 6 guys, be packable and somewhat light weight. I have a couple ideas myself but feel like I’m probably over thinking it, any DIY feedback would be awesome

-Quality of life or “field craft” ideas, looking for any lightweight relatively easy “hacks” that might make our hunt a little more easy and enjoyable.

-Leopold VX3 3.5 x 10 or Vortex HC 2.5-10x44 BDC? I shoot a Weatherby 7mm Mag that currently has a 20+ year old 3x9 Leopold on it and am using this hunt as an excuse to upgrade. Leaning towards the Vortex because of the price point but have loyalty to Leopold and do not want to exceed $500. Any suggestions?

-$200 or less Range Finder, want something durable and accurate that could be used anywhere from Bow hunting , the range to Elk hunting. Any suggestions?

-Any additional input on Elk hunting strategy, tag draw, GMU 24 or whatever is applicable.

Thanks, Jon
 

deer_shooter

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Jul 20, 2009
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Southwest Pa.
Semper Fi brother!

I have hunted 24 twice, unsuccessful on both occasions. The first trip was with 2 other guys about 12 years ago. We came in out of Glenwood, up Coffee Pot road and set up camp a mile or two south of Deep Lake. We ended up getting snowed off three days into the season. I did see elk but never got off a shot. One guy got a small mulie. I mostly hunted the timber along Deep Creek. Very steep and thick.
In the easier terrain and closer to the roads, the orange army was out in full force.
I went to 24 again in 2011 this time I went solo and used Marvine Campground as basecamp and went in from there. Weather was very warm for most of the week and I ended up seeing 2 cows and some mule deer does.

That said, it sounds like you have a lot figured out and being able to talk to someone who has been there recently is an added bonus.
For a table, I have one of those heavy white plastic folders from Sams club and its held up well. They have a round one that may work for you and they're about $60.
You probably have it covered but a GPS would be a good idea, ideally each team would have one, compass' and topos maps too.
Cots are great but with 8 guys, I might opt for just a good pad. 8 cots adds up to a lot of weight but it may not be a good trade off for sleep quality.
Sounds like you have the meals figured out. Anything you can make ahead of time and either freeze or can is the ticket. (8 guys in a tent would cause me to remove chili from the menu. :hump:)

For your scope dilemma, there are a lot of Vortex fans here. I am a die hard Leupold fan so my vote goes for the VX3. If cost is a concern, the VX2 is a great scope. Hard to go wrong with either.

Range finder is a little tougher, I used Bushnell for years and never had a problem. I bought a Leica a couple years ago and it is fantastic. Pricey but I am very satisfied with it.
 

JT78

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Feb 24, 2015
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6
John,

I really appreciate the feedback. You bring up a great point with the snow, from what I have read in 2nd season it could range from 60 degrees and sunny to a dump of 2ft of snow. Hoping for something in between for tracking but don’t get shut down entirely. From your post it looks like you guys might have experienced the worst of it? I have a couple pairs of snow shoes kicking around that I'm going to bring, anything you wish you had with you?

I bought a good GPS last season that I'm comfortable with and am recommending the other guys do the same. Definitely planning on tracking down and hopefully laminating some Topo maps. I'm lucky enough to have a Cabelas/Sportysman Warehouse/Scheels with in about an hour drive from my house so I will be able to get hands on some scopes this weekend.

If you think of anything else over the next couple of months keep it coming! I'm a rookie that is eager to learn.

-PABearHunter, appreciate it.

Have a great weekend gents,

S/F, Jon
 

JohnCushman

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South East Colorado
Welcome aboard!! Take a look at Predator Optics in your scope search. Often times Pat can do better than advertised prices if you message him. Great customer service and super fast shipping!
 

ccc23454

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Sep 22, 2010
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Wyoming
welcome to the board cant't help with the area but sounds like you put a great amount of effort into plan and that is usually rewarded! as far as scope go to cameralandNY.com buy the 2.5-10HS and vortex Ranger as demos and be done with it, order you a set of talley 30mm lightweights to mount it on, you will not regret it! good luck
 

Hummer

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Oct 19, 2005
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319
Location
Western Colorado
Sounds like you have a good plan. Be prepared for variable weather but don't pack in too much stuff. Snowshoes will likely be an unnecessary burden in second season and they don't go through the timber very well. Spotting scopes will be of limited value there, too heavy and too much to carry.

Try to pick up both cow and bull tags to increase your chances of taking home the meat. Your outfitter will put you into good elk country, the rest is up to you. Don't laze around in camp, don't go back for lunch; spend your time in the field and hunt from dark to dark. Make every day count. Remember, the hunter success there is about 23%. The 77% probably didn't spend enough time hunting.

To minimize cooking and cleanup time my wife prepared delicious hearty soups and stews, vacuum packed and froze them in daily serving sizes. I simply heated them in a pan on the stove for great meals. For lunches we prepare ham & swiss sandwiches ahead and freeze them. Real ham lasts longer than other sandwich fixings. The sandwiches stay fresh and frozen until the day of use. Avoid cooking bacon and other odorous fried foods in camp. Instead, cook them ahead and take them frozen.

With so many hunters together you may have to work extra hard to keep a quiet camp but it will pay off by not spooking animals that might come close. A noisy camp will force you to hike farther to find animals. You're paying good money to get away from the noisy ATV crowd. Human voices can be just as damaging to the hunt.

One mistake I see many white-tail hunters make in elk country is that they fail to follow up on tracks. Don't be afraid to get onto fresh tracks. They can lead to elk waiting for you.

Make sure you have plenty of potable water and a steripen for sanitizing any water you need to collect. Also, make sure you have and use good 10x42 binoculars, IMO an essential hunting tool. Consider buying these, excellent, bright binoculars at a great price. [/shameless promotion]

Finally, get yourself and the others in good physical condition beginning now. You'll be glad you did.

Btw, I've hunted that area for the past 29 years and took my 26th and 27th elk there last fall. ;)

Good luck!
 

mixedbag

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Nov 22, 2009
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All I'm wondering is how they are going to strap your card table onto a horse,lol.You may want to leave that off your list and see if the outfitter has one out there for you already.Hunt hard!!!Not many elk come into camp to say hello so you need to be out away from camp hunting dark to dark and pack your lunch with you.Hardest part of rifle elk is finding the elk.They aren't spread out like whitetails;your either on them or your not.Definitely follow any tracks you find to their source..That worked excellent for me on my hunts.I also noticed on cold days that the elk and deer seemed to come out and enjoy the warm sun in back out of the way meadows at midday.Don't think like a whitetail hunter hunting first and last light only!!
 

JT78

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Feb 24, 2015
Messages
6
I appreciate the additional advice. I took a look at both of the suggested websites, both had great prices but between the price on camaralandNY.com for a demo paired with the Vortex warranty and reviews, it pretty much seals the deal!

Going to completely switch gears on you guys and am looking for a sanity check/second opinion on how the Colorado point system works. Based off the same hunt described above, I have (6) guys hunting CO 2nd Season Elk in GMU 24, no one has any preference points. 2nd Season rifle is OTC so we are good there and my main question in on Cows, EF02502R.

-My first assumption is that Hunt Codes do not change from year to year? I pulled codes from 2015 Brochure and plugged them into 2014 Elk Hunt Recap/Summary break downs on CPW website.

- As I read it based off 2014, and bear with me here, there are (200) total tags issued for this hunt, (88) Non-res applied and (38) successfully drew, of the (38) Non residents who drew (29) had One PP and (1) had Three PP. Based off my understanding, if I’m correct on how I interpreted the charts, out of the (58) non res who did not have any PP only (8) drew. With these odds if the demand for the hunt remains generally the same for 2015 and my group applied individually we are roughly looking at a 1 in 7.25 chance of drawing?

The only reason went into so much painful detail is that I have been told otherwise, but if I’m correct in how I read the tables the math would say otherwise. I tried to attach the tables for you two take a look at. Clarification would be great!

In the event we don't draw we get refunded the cost of the tag minus the fee to retain a point?

And is that point could for any Elk hunt in the next 10 years or is it strictly a "Cow Point"?

Thanks again and am really enjoying the great info.

-Jon
 

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JLS

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http://www.mountaingear.com/webstor...00&id=585114&gclid=CKj8vuHog8QCFcdgfgodBKAA5Q

These tables are money. Get two for your whole crew. They are super easy to pack, I use mine all the time.

Yes, prepare your meals ahead of time and pack them in Ziplock freezer bags, then freeze them. They'll keep a week easy.

You can take sandwich stuff for lunches, or just do jerky, trail mix, apples, etc.

What is a new Leupold going to get you that your old one doesn't? Are you wanting a different reticle for longer range shooting? If not, save the five bills and put it towards something else.

Leave the snowshoes at home.

Not sure a rangefinder is the place to try and save money. You'll get what you pay for.

http://predatoroptics.info/catalog/product.asp?ret_id=1185759&pid=108846
 

Pig_Pen

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May 25, 2011
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I spent 12 years in the Military and close to 4 of those living off mre's/dehydrated meals so I know how you feel on them. I hunt illinois and Missouri public lands with 3 other vets and b-fast is always a hit with zip loc omelettes. Real eggs rarely survive the trip so we have been using the eggs in a carton lately and they work great.

We put all of the extras in quart sized bags and everyone just scoops out what they need. When everyone is done there are no dishes to wash and the only clean up is a pile of bags that can all be stuffed in one another for an easy carry out. Just google "ziplock omelette" and there is a plethora of varieties to satisfy most appetites.
Good luck sounds like great trip. Freinds, family and tags to fill.
 

bkondeff

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Jul 7, 2007
Messages
98
Stew, Chili, Pot/Bacon Soup, Spaghetti, and lot's of hearty bread/rolls goes a long way toward fueling the fire you will need to hunt hard. Leftovers work for lunch, or even breakfast if you get hungry engough, particularly for those 20 something youngsters. We cooked all of ours on top of the woodstove that will likely heat your outfitter tents. Lunch always includes a sandwich, but then Trail Mix, Jerky, Etc. You'll burn a lot of calories, so plan accordingly. For older guys, be sure you have gatorade or similar to help avoid cramping(oh and maye a lot of bannanas). I'm 47 and it get's worse every year when I hunt really hard(8-10mi/day, 1500-2000 vertical feel. I think you have breakfast right already, EXCEPT, bring enough for one quality breakfast(Eggs, Pot, Bac/Saus), as this can be done in the same 1 large pot(recommend Cast Iron) you heat everything else in, and it never fails to be the moral booster.

I'd imagine you need to discuss some limits on weight/size/shape of what to bring with the packer. If limited, there are some great inflatible pads, I recommend Big Agnes Insulated. Many small folding/roll-up type tables made of slatted aluminum that work well. Bring good headlamps. Think about being lightweight when you leave camp, so you can carry enough water and calories, without slowing you down, and capable of bringing meat back if you kill something.

Think through what you should have if you do get a bull down. I use, 2 knives,, 1 small saw, game bags, small tarp, paracord(50'), pen, pack of wipes, and a camera. Elk are work and if you have not yet, look up Gutless Method for breaking them down. If the outfitter will come to kill site great, but you still will have to break it down.

Make sure everyone brings all their necessary med's and bring a good a thorough first aid kit. I also bring enough prescription strength painkillers to get though 1-2 days, or enough time to get to a hospital from backcountry. A seperated shoulder in the field 4 years ago, taught me the benefit of this.

Be sure to bring radio's for your group to communicaate, especially if a bull/cow is down.

Planning is part of the fun. Enjoy and good luck.
 
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JohnCushman

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South East Colorado
I make my dinner food ahead of time and freeze it flat in gallon zip lock freezer bags. This saves cooler space, but also acts as ice in the cooler. Pull whatever you want for dinner out in the morning and by evening its ready to cook. I usually make red chili and stews and spaghetti sauce with meatballs (ok, so my wife makes that..lol cook your pasta and throw it in the sauce when you freeze it). They freeze well. Breakfast is usually oatmeal or trail mix or granola bars with coffee. There is a lot to be said for bacon or sausage and eggs, though. Don't bother with bread. Use tortillas. You can make a couple of roll ups in the morning with lunch meat and cheese or peanutbutter and honey and put them in a ziplock and go on your merry way. Carry a couple of roll ups and some jerkey and trail mix in your pack. Don't be afraid to take a little bit of extra food or snacks. Elk hunting is hard work, especially after you get one and have a late night on the mountain. Make sure you have plenty of water too. I'm sure you already have a camel back issued. Many hunting packs are hydration capable and will hold bigger water bladders. Don't skimp on the amount of water you take out with you. Always take enough food and water for if you have to spend the night on the mountain or if you happen to get lost coming out in the dark. Don't forget a fire starting kit too. An old medicine bottle with cotton balls soaked in vaseline takes up no space and can be a lifesaver.
 
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