2015 Colorado OTC

Pig_Pen

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May 25, 2011
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6
Hello fellow Hunt Talkers,
My name is Dave and I am headed to Colorado this year on my first rifle DIY elk hunt. I have been working my rear end off for two years to get my legs and lungs ready to handle this trip. I have just about everything I need to make the trip with the intention of going in and setting up a spike camp and Moving around until I find them. I have two major areas that I have been staring at maps for over a year and I have a good idea of where I will be going (few tips from family/friends).

I do have a few pending questions however that I am having a difficult time finding a straight answer for. One of the areas is up in the flat tops area. As I understand it, there are a lot of outfitters in the area. Since they have to register to outfit in the area are there maps available with their outfit camp locations? Last thing I want to do is find that golden place on the maps and get there to find out that i am smack dab in the middle of their area with wall tents on every point.

The second area I'm looking has a bit of checkerboard to it, public vs. private. One of my plans for this area is to try and find some travel areas where they maybe crossing back and forth and pick one off before getting back to their safety zones on private. With that in mind, what has been your experience with pressure along these borders on both the public and private sides. A lot the public land I hunt here in Illinois is bordered by private land and many of the borders are hunted by the landowners. Making the trek back into there almost unworthy.
Word of mouth makes public land a tough deal here, if one guy takes a big buck and word gets out I can plan on being over run within a week. After seeing Randy's show in the gunnison area I have been really intrigued to try this area myself.

I am planning on two days of scouting/packing in before season and staying there til a tag is filled or I run out of time. How is the pressure in these otc areas during the week? Does it taper off and then ramp back up late week?

Thanks in advance for any insight
 

Muley_Stalker

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Dec 22, 2013
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1,307
Location
Colorado
I've never heard of a map for outfitters camps, but I don't normally hunt OTC units unless i'm forced into it.

As for the unit with a lot of private land? If the land isn't hunted you'll find a lot of elk on private land as soon as they're pressured. Elk are smart, and they figure that out fast. I hunt units with very little private land so the elk don't have that option.

I didn't see Randy's show on the Gunnison area, so i'm not sure where he was. It's a big area. I live right next to it in unit 481. It's a very popular area, and it has a ton of hunters and ATV's. You'll find outfitters is the harder to get to spots. You can still get elk there, but it will take some work.

Which OTC season are you hunting? Bow, or rifle?

Scouting the first couple of days is a good plan. The first weekend will be pretty busy. It will taper off during the week. I'm always amazed at how many hunters give up early.

No matter how you do. Have a good time.
 

Oak

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Dec 23, 2000
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13,564
Location
Colorado
One of the areas is up in the flat tops area. As I understand it, there are a lot of outfitters in the area. Since they have to register to outfit in the area are there maps available with their outfit camp locations? Last thing I want to do is find that golden place on the maps and get there to find out that i am smack dab in the middle of their area with wall tents on every point.

The USFS staff in the Ranger District you are planning to hunt can provide this information. You should probably ask about a specific area, rather than "where are all of the outfitter camps located." Find your Ranger District and contact the staff (likely the Recreation Planner).
http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/whiteriver/about-forest/districts

This page may also help, as it gives the general area of permitted outfitters in 2014 in the lists at the bottom.
http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/whiteriver/passes-permits/event-commercial/?cid=stelprdb5281134
 

mixedbag

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Nov 22, 2009
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2,178
I use to archery hunt unit 55 in the Gunnison area.Near saw one hunter off the trails,and only 2 or 3 on the trail.I camped 2.2 miles from trailhead according to my gps.If you get in a couple miles on trail then jump off trail a mile or so you should be getting lonely all by yourself.I never went in rifle but would expect pretty much the same.Pack in a little more then most normal people would want to carry an elk out on their back and you will be ok.I'll probably take my son for 3rd rifle this year,and theres certain terrain features I'll be looking for this distance from trailhead.
I know where the outfitter camps are in the unit I hunt thru experience.Use those drop camps to your benefit.Most of those guys are afraid to wander more then 1/2 mile from tent;if that.Sounds like your planning well and should do well
 

Pig_Pen

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Joined
May 25, 2011
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6
The USFS staff in the Ranger District you are planning to hunt can provide this information. You should probably ask about a specific area, rather than "where are all of the outfitter camps located." Find your Ranger District and contact the staff (likely the Recreation Planner).
http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/whiteriver/about-forest/districts

This page may also help, as it gives the general area of permitted outfitters in 2014 in the lists at the bottom.
http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/whiteriver/passes-permits/event-commercial/?cid=stelprdb5281134

Oak, I greatly appreciate the links and Intel. I have Friday off so I will sit down with a notepad and start dialing.

Mixed bag, I have spoken to quite few guys about their outfitted hunts and the general consensus agrees with exactly what you mentioned. Most of the guys didn't stray too far from camp because they figured they rode horses in so they were put down in prime real estate, so why venture way off the beaten path.

I have sat down with the maps and highlighted a mile wide buffer around every road as starting point, with a few exceptions where the terrain starts out nasty. I am used to hunting using the pressure of others to my advantage. My Illinois whitetail are never shot over beautiful food plots or somewhere that I can bring the kids out in pajamas to recover it. (as seen on TV) Last years buck was 3/4 of a mile from the truck and I had to bring him out in pieces (gutless method) out of a nasty nightmarish thick hell hole. I carried him out with a grin from ear to ear as I am told every year that there are no deer let alone big deer on this land; 8 years and 20 filled tags in that area prove they are there you just have to work for them.
I will be in the "land down under" for the month of September due to work so I will be coming out for 2nd rifle season as it stands now, but 3rd is still on the table.
Enjoying the hunt is my number one priority.
This is a hunt that my dad and uncle were all supposed to take together but never got the chance due to my time in the military. Enjoying the actual hunt and the places mean the most to me. This trip is all about getting in the same woods and hunting the same areas that my uncle grew up hunting before he passed while I was in somecrapstan.

Thanks again for the tips, I greatly appreciate it and I will put it all in to good use.
 
Last edited:

windymtnman

Active member
Joined
Sep 17, 2014
Messages
395
If you can connect with the right person in the USFS office, they may be able to tell you exactly where an outfitter's camp is, as they have to have a permit to camp in a specific place. I've also walked into USFS offices, and there wasn't anyone there that knew a thing about their own trail networks.
That said, the outfitter's may intentionally camp in an area, and hunt a fair distance away from it. As for outfitted clients not hunting too far from camp, because they rode horses in, that may, or may not be valid. I know outfitters that can create the illusion of being a long way from the roads, when in fact hunters can just pop over a saddle and be in their hunting areas. It just depends.
I've gone on outfitted hunts where there were hunters that didn't stray too far from the cook tent, and then hunters truly trying to get their monies worth, and hunting hard. You can never tell.
 
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