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College student attempting first hunt ever in colorado needs your advice

RMNP

New member
Joined
Mar 20, 2016
Messages
5
ey guys,

I'm a 22 year old that lives outside of Boulder, CO going hunting in the fall for the first time ever.

I'm hoping to get a tag in unit 29 or 38.
Right now the only piece of hunting gear I own is a compound bow.
I'm hoping to get advice on how to scout the areas I'll be hunting, i.e. how to find where elk will be during the season, what elevations to look at, etc.
I was also hoping for advice on the absolute minimum amount of gear I need to acquire.

Thanks,
Clueless in Colorado
 

elkduds

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Jan 22, 2016
Messages
3,003
Location
CO Springs.
Couple arrows, some guys take a knife.

In the unit you draw, spend as much of the summer as you can @ timberline, glassing early/late (add binocs to the list), and hiking the country looking for sign. Scouting access will greatly improve your odds of success, as will shooting as often as possible, daily is not too much.
 

Watt21

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Joined
Aug 6, 2014
Messages
501
Location
I'll Never Leave Montana Brother
Off the top of my head here are the bare essentials I would say you absolutely need:

1. Good Mountain boots (They don't have to be crazy expensive but you get what you pay for)
2. Merino socks (You can find these on sale)
3. Some decent pants (You can spend a bunch on all clothing items but really all you need are something durable with a camo pattern).
4. Merino Base layer top (these cost a little more but are absolutely worth it because they wick sweat and do not smell. Can wear 1 shirt for many days)
5. Ball cap to cut down glare
6. Binoculars (Huge variance in price and quality but you need to at least spend a couple hundred to get something worthwhile)
7. Rangefinder (Since you are hunting with a bow you don't need a crazy expensive one)
8. A Hunting pack that can carry meat (elk have a lot of meat and you need gear appropriate to the task)
9. Game bags
10. A sharp knife
11. 2 different cow calls and knowledge how to use well
12. Map of the area

That'd be my bare minimum.
Couple other things that can help a lot but not absolutely necessary:
1. GPS with landowner chip (onxmaps or similar)
2. Decoy (Heads up are small and portable)
3. A Bugle (I rarely use but sometimes helpful)
4. Merino Underwear (same reasons as for the merino top)
 

jrabq

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Joined
Jul 4, 2014
Messages
729
Location
NM
First time hunting, ....ever, and you're bowhunting elk. No offense, but I would really try to find some hunting buddies.

If that is not in the cards, read as many books and watch as many videos as you can, including one on gutless method of field dressing in case you get lucky. And practice a lot out to 40 yards, but hope to get within 30.

Welcome, and good luck!
 

HighDesertSage

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Apr 6, 2013
Messages
3,535
Location
Sage Brush to Corn Fields
I would knock a few down with your rifle first before attempting elk with a bow. The learning curve is a bit steeper with archery tackle. My advice, late season elk is your friend. CO's draw is still open. Put in for a late season or 4th rifle cow tag. Elk will be lower so you won't need to do a backcountry hunt.
 

Camdu7

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Sep 29, 2015
Messages
199
Location
Duluth, MN
Hit up the outdoor rec center at your college. For sure you can rent high end camping gear and maybe optics for super cheap. Then head up camping and hiking. Spend as much time a possible watching the animals.
 

JohnCushman

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Joined
Nov 27, 2009
Messages
12,754
Location
South East Colorado
Elknut's playbook is also a good resource for elk hunting and describes what to do and how to call in all different situations. Look him up on youtube as well for some awesome elk calling tutorials.
 

Jon Boy

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Joined
Nov 15, 2011
Messages
403
Location
Clyde Park, MT
I was once a backpacking college elk hunter. Killed my first three elk with a bow, I don't think its any harder/easier than rifle. Just different is all and way less people. And nicer weather. Make sure your watch several youtube videos on how to quarter an elk, not extremely technical but they are very big animals and you need to know how so your not over whelmed.
Gear list on a budget:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAxKDziXulM

Id change some things like the clothing, I'd just go with hiking clothes in earthy colors, camo isnt needed. Eddie Bauer guide pants and Kuhls come to mind.
And I'd just step right up to a havalon and never look back, not a huge investment and they are so nice to have.Good game bags are a must. Vortex diamondbacks will get you through for optics until you can afford something nice.
PM me if you need some more down to earth info. I was a broke as hell college student once and made a lot of things work that people said wouldn't work, and killed a lot of shit in the process.
 

RMNP

New member
Joined
Mar 20, 2016
Messages
5
Thanks everyone for all the advice. I appreciate how fast everyone responded and how welcoming everyone is.
I look forward to keeping everyone updated on my season.
 

quarterhorse

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Joined
Nov 3, 2011
Messages
130
Your weapon of choice, knife, and a pack and you are in action. People hunted for years without all the gear that is available today and were very successful. Keep it simple until you determine if you like hunting and what your preferred style is. That will then guide your gear choices.

In the short term think about the weather conditions you expect to experience and prepare for that. You don't need hunting specific stuff. You need to stay comfortable. Don't worry about colors, worry about performance.

Try and team up with an experienced partner to help with the learning curve. Just be warned good hunting partners can be hard to find.

Spend time prior to season learning the area you plan to hunt. Think about food, water, shelter, and rutting needs during the time you plan to hunt. Look for places that meet those needs while scouting.

Keep it simple. Don't over think it. Have fun. Learn along the way like we all do. It's a journey not a destination.
 

quarterhorse

Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2011
Messages
130
Forgot to add. Ignore the majority of what you see on the outdoor channels. It is entertainment and marketing.

This site is the best source of the information you are looking for as is thier TV shows.

Good luck in your journey.
 

PubLandAdvo

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Joined
Mar 17, 2016
Messages
9
Try to find a mentor if possible. You will learn SO much faster if you have someone teaching you the basics.

I know its been said here before but be prepared to take care of the elk if you get lucky. Killing an elk in the backcountry (especially if you are alone) is no joke. Many people don't realize the amount of effort it takes to pack one out.
 

el unit

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Nov 27, 2014
Messages
1,750
Location
Smelter City, MT
Scout anytime you can during the summer months. Look for antler rubs on trees, watering/wallow holes in August, fresh and old droppings, etc. Explore heavily used game trails and paths. At different elevations too. During archery season, I've found elk on public lands at surprisingly low elevations in CO, WY, and MT. My archery elk have all come from less than 7500' on USFS lands. Finding roadless areas/access is key.
Practice with your bow as much as you can- different angles, distances, kneeling, etc. A fantastic FREE outdoor bow range is located on Prospect Rd along I-25 in Ft Collins. It covers all angles, distances, scenarios, etc.
Get some hunting gear basics- pack, boots, clothing, survival/1st aid kit, knife, binos, map, But don't go overboard until you determine if bowhunting is for you. Thankfully, September usually lets you get by with less clothing/gear than October or November.
Be mentally prepared for the kill and physically prepared for what happens after that. Getting an elk outta the woods is not easy. Especially if you're alone.
Read/research as much about elk and elk hunting as you can.
Have fun, be safe, good luck!
 

Magnum Sherpa

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Oct 8, 2015
Messages
352
Location
Missoula, MT
Unit 29 is limited draw for archery. Not sure if you qualify as a resident or not, but according to the Insider draw odds, even residents have a 0% chance of drawing Unit 29 for archery with 0 preference points. Unit 38 is over the counter for archery, so you will obviously be able to get a tag there if you don't draw 29.
Both units have a ton of private property interspersed with public, so a GPS with a land ownership map is essential in my opinion. Both to keep you out of trouble with trespassing and to get you into pockets of public land that might normally be overlooked.
 
Yeti

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