2022 Colorado elk hunt day by day

QELKhunter

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Joined
Nov 22, 2020
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134
Location
South Central CO
Pre-Hunt scouting:

Welcome fellow hunt talk members! This thread will be my wife and I's elk hunt day by day Recap. It may include semi live recaps depending on the availability of cell service in our area. This year my wife and I were each lucky enough to end up with a cow tag, my wife also has a 1st rifle season bull tag and I may pickup a second or third season bull tag. At a minimum we have 3 elk tags to try and fill this year. We have private land we can access as well as significant public land.

Throughout the summer we placed trail cams across the public lands we hunt as well as the private land we have access too. The two units we can hunt experienced significant rain fall this summer, with afternoon rain showers happening most days from June through mid August. With that we saw significant forage available across all of the two units. We have also seen a significant amount of water sources still supporting wildlife. Generally this time of year most of the watering holes have dried up and restricted the elk to drainages or private property that hold water year round. With all the extra water we have seen a much greater distribution of the elk herds over the landscape.

The rather wet summer has produced some very healthy elk herds and has allowed for, in my opinion, substantial antler growth on mature bulls. One of the things I have noticed though, is that with more range able to sustain elk into the fall, the herds are dispersed into smaller herds than in years past. In past years it was common to see a herd bull pushing 30+ cows in each of the drainages we focus on. This year however, we are seeing bulls with only 10-15 cows or less, but a lot more groups of then. Again I believe this to be due to a larger supporting range than normal for this time of year.

Late August was the last scouting trip we made before the chaos of school and youth events for our kids kicked in. On that trip we saw a bachelor group of about 15 bulls, nothing impressive but the majority of them legal for Colorado point restricted units. We also saw several herds of cows with 20-30 animals. Cow to calf ratio looked to be 5 to 1, not a very impressive calving season. We also pulled SD cards and replaced them with new ones.

After reviewing the cards we noticed that the elk frequenting our locations were significantly less in volume and frequency. In the 75 day stretch we only had maybe 20 days that resulted in an elk on camera. In years past we might have 20 days without an elk on camera. Very strange change indeed!
 
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QELKhunter

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Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
134
Location
South Central CO
Pre-Hunt scouting continued:

Now into September I placed my focus on the private property as I can access it daily if needed. I was hoping to pattern the elk that frequent the private property. In years past it was very easy to do, as this property is the only place I know that holds water year round for the particular elk herd that inhabits this area, and around mid August other water sources have dried up. That is not the case this year. There is standing water ever 500 yards in any direction you go. As a result I have only seen three elk on the property the entire month. With that being said a nice bull did show up on camera September 25th.
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There were no cows captured on my camera, but a bull of his size has to have a herd close by right? I have no clue how to accurately field judge a bull, especially with such a pixelated image, any guess or insight?

He is a shooter bull for sure, assuming he sticks around till October 15th. Our cow tags are valid now and we are on the pursuit of filling a tag now.

More to come shortly.......

In good health QELKhunter
 

QELKhunter

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Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
134
Location
South Central CO
If anyone is interested in reading my antelope write up it can be found here:

 

JAG

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Mar 2, 2020
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271
Location
Alabama
The rather wet summer has produced some very healthy elk herds and has allowed for, in my opinion, substantial antler growth on mature bulls. One of the things I have noticed though, is that with more range able to sustain elk into the fall, the herds are dispersed into smaller herds than in years past. In past years it was common to see a herd bull pushing 30+ cows in each of the drainages we focus on. This year however, we are seeing bulls with only 10-15 cows or less, but a lot more groups of then. Again I believe this to be due to a larger supporting range than normal for this time of year.
Following, great intro - this section especially. Makes a lot of sense how the past years compare with this one having more rain.
 

QELKhunter

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Joined
Nov 22, 2020
Messages
134
Location
South Central CO
Weekend scouting recap:

Saturday and Sunday produced more rain for my region and snow about 9500'. Fall has most definitely set in! Saturday morning we spent the day getting family pictures with the changing leaves as our backdrop, this has become our family tradition. We didn't see much wildlife other than a few snowshoe hares and two young antelope bucks, but our focus was not on locating animals but capturing memories of our growing children. The day was cut short due to the increased rain and wind, the twins were especially done with thus day. So we called it a day and home.

That evening the wife and kids had an early Halloween party to attend leaving me with an open evening. I decided to take advantage of the time and go and check a few spots I thought would hold elk. It didn't take long before I heard my first bugle of the evening. This area was only about a 1/4 mile from the train camera that had captured the bull two week earlier.

I slowly made my way through the willows and open meadows listening and smelling for elk. I had a perfect wind for making a stealthy stalk into the elk herds location. The willows and terrain make this quarter mile hard to cover quickly so it took me close to an hour to weave in and out of the thick vegetation to the open meadow in the center.

In the opening, not but 40 yards, stood two spikes sparing. To their left and right were other young bulls, 5 spikes, a tiny 5x5 a similar sized 6x6 and a completely trashed 7x6+. Beyond the sparing spikes was the bull from my trail camera. He was only about 120 yards off. Dispersed throughout the meadow were 5 cows with 3 calves. Not a single elk knew I was there. I watched them closely for a good 10-15 minutes before I decided to take out the camera and snap a few pictures.
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He's still a younger bull but given the opportunity we will not pass him up. I have had this bull on camera for at least the past 3 years if not more.

I backed out from this location and headed to one more a little closer to home. I was pleasantly surprised to find another herd at this location. The herd was larger but the herd bull was smaller. This group will be the group we make the play on for our cows, and the other for the bull tag.
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We are expecting rain for the next 5+ days so I do not have any intent on making any attempt at filling a tag this week, but maybe this coming weekend.

Till then, stay safe and stay active!

In good spirit QELKhunter.
 
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