Colorado 2nd Season Rifle

jpauli

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Carroll Ia,
Went on my 1st elk hunt 2nd season Rifle, in the White River Nat forest. Camped at 10250 ft. The outfitter suggested to not walk too much hunt the meadow edges, to not scare the elk out of the area. Challenges we seen was that it was a full moon and the elk were nocturnal. Stayed in the timber all day. With fresh snow had fresh tracks every morning. Elk are in the area. Question can you tell a bull from a cow track? Are lone tracks more often bulls?

On about the last day had to change something so headed into the timber, fallen logs, snow and all. Finally found elk 1 mile from camp. Still hunting and moving slowly. Was not successful, though found elk. Does it pay to stay on a track till you get to the elk? The elk seemed to have moved down with the snow and cold to about 9600 feet.

How to hunt elk when nocturnal? How to best hunt elk in the "Dark Timber"? I have many questions as what we could have done different to just have seen more elk. Step one to a kill.

Good experience, "Lesson #1". I will be back. Any info appreciated.
 

RiverRatt

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Dec 21, 2016
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Had similar experience but we hiked everyday looking for elk. With fresh snow we cut fresh tracks and followed then to a herd of cows and several bulls. One shot was taken and should have harvested a bull yet a tree prevented a harvest. With all that said I am interested in the answers you get as this was my first year as well. I think still hunting was the answer but I don't know.
 

Stocker

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Well I’m the last person that should be considered an expert. But in an effort to help I’ll lend you the small amount of knowledge I’ve gained in the school of hard knocks. The tracks 1st. Generally a single, pair, or maybe 3 animals that time of year is bulls. If they are lined out on a mission, you have a better chance of catching up to a unicorn imo. If they are just kind of wandering, you may catch them. This next one was given to me by a good elk hunter. When the tracks start zig zagging they are probably getting ready to bed down.

As far as still hunting the thick stuff I implement the same strategy as hunting whitetails in the timber. A painstakingly slow pace, with the wind in my nose. I may have a place I’m headed, but wind will change in the timber, so I may have to turn 30 degrees and go 500 yards off my course just to keep the wind on my nose. Plus unlike deer you can smell elk.

As far as nocturnal animals are concerned, it’s the same as deer. You just have to find them during the day. The bucks and bulls I’ve watched will almost always get up and feed a little or stretch during the day, they may only go in a 10 yard circle, but if you are there you can see them.

Like I said, take this for what it’s worth, I just filled my 1st tag on a 2nd season bull this year on my 3rd OTC tag between Idaho and Colorado.

I’ve never hired an outfitter, but as far as him telling you to stay out of an area so you don’t spook them, that seems counterintuitive after a couple days. I mean if there’s elk there, that’s where I’d be going.
 

williamshunts

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Just joined and am tagging along on this thread, as I am beginning planning on what will be my first OTC Colorado elk hunt next year. Great thread...already learned a couple things I had no idea about. Great site.
 

Wy067

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Cheyenne, WY
A bull track is usually rounder/wider/bigger than a cow's. Hard to say if a lone trail is a bull or cow. I'd bet on a bull, but I've seen more than a few lone cows as well.

Agree with Stocker, you didn't say how long you hunted, but I would have definitely would have changed things up after a day or two. I'd follow fresh tracks for as long as the wind/thermals allow. Use a good topo map/app to try and figure out where they'd be bedding.
 

Dinkshooter

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Full moon talk is such a pile. I spent a splendid evening hiking back to my camp after killing a bull on the Thursday of 2nd season, basked in a moon so bright I nearly didn't need my headlamp most of the time.

Doing the same thing over and over on an elk hunt is the prefect recipe to not shoot and elk.
 

AggieHunter

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I hunted elk on my on for the first time during archery season in Colorado this year. With the heat I couldn’t get anything to bugle so I spent my time hunting timber. I would just slowly follow game trails I find or walk through known bedding areas hoping to run into elk. I learned you can make more noise than you think and remember to use your NOSE to find elk. I had pretty good success still hunting timber.
 

Stocker

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Full moon talk is such a pile. I spent a splendid evening hiking back to my camp after killing a bull on the Thursday of 2nd season, basked in a moon so bright I nearly didn't need my headlamp most of the time.

Doing the same thing over and over on an elk hunt is the prefect recipe to not shoot and elk.
Yeah, I packed mine out all night with no headlamps. The moon and the snow made it bright enough I could see miles. I probably would have been able to enjoy it more if I wasn’t playing the big bad wolf, huffing and puffing. Lol

edit to add you are exactly right. My 1st elk hunt I did the same thing over and over for a week, last year I did it for 4 days until I just went all out, found elk. Even this year I played it safe opening morning, if I hadn’t I’d have killed a nice bull. Moral of the story is “go for it” take chances, try new spots, do stuff you think nobody else will do. There’s always a chance to blow out elk when you are where they are, but you can’t kill em if you aren’t where they are either.
 
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Dinkshooter

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@Stocker I swear, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights were some of the neatest I've ever experienced in the woods. It was beautiful!

Monday and Tuesday? I thought I was going to freeze to death.
 

Stocker

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@Stocker I swear, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights were some of the neatest I've ever experienced in the woods. It was beautiful!

Monday and Tuesday? I thought I was going to freeze to death.

We caught the snow Saturday night and it tapered off Monday morning. I killed my bull Monday night. I think it was ~0. I know it was -19 below that morning because I started the truck. The next morning when we finished packing him down it felt warm the we started the truck and it was -2. View outta the tent at ~6am Tuesday, picture doesn’t do it justice, but I swear the North Star put off enough light to see with.


We were down to long sleeve shirts and plenty warm at -2, I swear the sun bouncing off the snow in the mountains, combined with no humidity makes a 30 degree difference. If not more.
 

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jpauli

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Carroll Ia,
We caught the snow Saturday night and it tapered off Monday morning. I killed my bull Monday night. I think it was ~0. I know it was -19 below that morning because I started the truck. The next morning when we finished packing him down it felt warm the we started the truck and it was -2. View outta the tent at ~6am Tuesday, picture doesn’t do it justice, but I swear the North Star put off enough light to see with.


We were down to long sleeve shirts and plenty warm at -2, I swear the sun bouncing off the snow in the mountains, combined with no humidity makes a 30 degree difference. If not more.
Yes, the weather was a change-up. We had -5 roughly where Meeker had -13 F. Warmer on the mountain. The snow was beautiful. Glad to hear you had success.
 

jpauli

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A
Yeah, I packed mine out all night with no headlamps. The moon and the snow made it bright enough I could see miles. I probably would have been able to enjoy it more if I wasn’t playing the big bad wolf, huffing and puffing. Lol

edit to add you are exactly right. My 1st elk hunt I did the same thing over and over for a week, last year I did it for 4 days until I just went all out, found elk. Even this year I played it safe opening morning, if I hadn’t I’d have killed a nice bull. Moral of the story is “go for it” take chances, try new spots, do stuff you think nobody else will do. There’s always a chance to blow out elk when you are where they are, but you can’t kill em if you aren’t where they are either.
Appreciate the response, and the advice to take chances. I know we will be more aggressive next year.
 

jpauli

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Dec 25, 2013
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Carroll Ia,
Full moon talk is such a pile. I spent a splendid evening hiking back to my camp after killing a bull on the Thursday of 2nd season, basked in a moon so bright I nearly didn't need my headlamp most of the time.

Doing the same thing over and over on an elk hunt is the prefect recipe to not shoot and elk.
Thanks, for the input on the moon. I am just trying to figure out Elk behavior. Realize we need to changing it up more.
 

jpauli

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Carroll Ia,
A bull track is usually rounder/wider/bigger than a cow's. Hard to say if a lone trail is a bull or cow. I'd bet on a bull, but I've seen more than a few lone cows as well.

Agree with Stocker, you didn't say how long you hunted, but I would have definitely would have changed things up after a day or two. I'd follow fresh tracks for as long as the wind/thermals allow. Use a good topo map/app to try and figure out where they'd be bedding.
Thanks, for the insight. We hunted Sat through Thursday, all day sun up to sun down, except Sunday was a little snowy-16". Seemed all tracks went down hill. Spent most of the time on the meadow edges, waiting for the elk to move.
 

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