Colorado GMU 86 elk and deer

blacksheep

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Oct 17, 2017
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Bethlto, Illinois
This year we are trying out a new unit to us. Unit 86. We are hunting 2nd rifle for deer and elk. Any tips or info would be greatly appreciated. I an headed out there with my family in mid June and I hope to get some scouting in.
Thanks

blacksheep
 

Chippewa

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May 5, 2019
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Good luck to ya. I'll be in 86 for 2nd rifle also. Not sure what to expect really, but looking forward to just seeing the mountains up close.
 
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Colorado Springs, CO
look around the border or 86 and 82, on the top of Hayden Pass. 86 looking good this year after 2 years of the fire there. Hard to kill something on 2nd season cause Elk still high, but you will see some nice pieces if you look high. I'm going there again for 4th season or maybe just across the ST on 681. Good luck. - ColoradoHunter719
 

Mason326

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Aug 21, 2016
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Midland, TX
Steep. Much steeper than it appears on google earth 3D. Prepare you heart/lungs/legs. They will be high in 2nd season rifle I would imagine. No experience with 2nd season particularly but I scouted it during archery for 4th rifle. Expect heavy or moderate hunting pressure anywhere within an 1/8-1/4 mile of a road or ATV legal/capable trail. Either be prepared for death march bushwacking hikes to get to less pressured basins or be creative and look for pockets where elk have easy access to feed and cover but are between pressured areas. Found tons of sign in an area directly below our glassing spot last year between us and a used ATV trail as we crossed to chase some far off elk. There were still some elk we could see fairly high in 4th season with 2-3 feet of snow on the ground. The elk must have 4x4/chains just like everywhere else.

There are elk there just like most any other unit, spend lots of time behind your glass and don't lose faith.
 

Mason326

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Midland, TX
Also, I imagine deer will be all over at that time (elevation wise). Some may still be high then but may depend on weather. Elk/deer may get split up pretty distinctly if you get a big snow high. Just speculation of course, like I said I've only hit August and November.
 

Chippewa

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Coming from a whopping 200ft above sea level here in Muncy PA I am definitely concerned about making camp at 8000 an not even a mile west can be 12000.
Best i can do around here is hike straight up to 2000 peak. Been trying to get out every weekend with my pack weighted down.
Also wondering if maps 3D is hard to judge mountains what about the roads I see. You can make out dirt lines around San Isabel national forest or are they non motorized? One road is marked in a ways as Mosher Creek rd 35, but only so far...
 

Mason326

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Midland, TX
Check OnX property boundaries, USFS Motor Vehicle Use Maps (restrictions, closures, dates, etc), and even google earth for access to those little roads. A lot of those little marked roads start on gated private property. I cannot vouch for 35/Mosher with ground verification, but it appeared landlocked/gated on maps.

Do you get altitude sickness? We camped at 10,000+ last year coming from ~2-3K and we had to bail down before season started, buddy got real bad altitude sickness. If you do or are unsure, may be helpful to sleep below 8k' or to take a few days before season starts to acclimate before sleeping at higher elevations. I'd take the former route if you are time limited. We slept at around 7,500 and he was better by the next day and was able to hoof it during the day at 8,000-10,500 for the next week. If you do cardio I bet you will be just fine, coming from that low I'd focus on heart/lung/mental workouts over legs or core work.
 

blacksheep

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Oct 17, 2017
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Bethlto, Illinois
I'm going out there next week and I hope I get a chance to look around. My buddy lives in Colorado Springs is going camping there in July and do some scouting. My wife's family is from Westcliffe and have access to several ranches including the Pines's, her family are all big hunters. I hope to gain a little insight from them. I am starting my workouts for October the first week of July. Cardio, legs, back and core.
 

Chippewa

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Blacksheep, hope you get some good mountain time. I'll be taking the family to a cabin near Westcliffe next to Buck Mnt. We will be out in mid july for 3 nights. Hoping to get afew hours scouting as well. Prolly do some tourist stuff each day though. Rafting, 4 corners, an Sand Dunes. I just want to find elk...
 

blacksheep

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Bethlto, Illinois
Blacksheep, hope you get some good mountain time. I'll be taking the family to a cabin near Westcliffe next to Buck Mnt. We will be out in mid july for 3 nights. Hoping to get afew hours scouting as well. Prolly do some tourist stuff each day though. Rafting, 4 corners, an Sand Dunes. I just want to find elk...
I had a great time in Colorado last week. The upper elevations near Westcliffe got snow on the first day of summer. we went rafting on the Colorado river through WOA outfitters out of Canyon city and it was a blast. the water was only about 45-50 degrees and there was plenty of it. Horse back riding at Music Meadows Ranch was fun for the whole family. I saw a ton of deer and a herd of about 200 elk when we were up in Estes. My wife's cousin is going to set me up with some areas to hunt bordering their ranch in Westcliffe. They manage over 10,000 acres. The elevation is not joke. coming from 530 ft to 10,200 ft I really felt myself struggling to catch my breath at times, but by the end of the week I felt much better.
 

Chippewa

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Summer Snow! Holycow. Glad I ordered ordered tire chains. Was debating it. But sounds like good area to go. Hopefully the water warms up for mid July vacation there.
 

Mason326

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Estes is a hoot. Always frustrating to see so many elk and/or have to avoid getting in their way while flyfishing and then see notta during season!

Tire chains was a good call. I can only run rears on the tacoma or my brother's f150, but they still made a massive difference.
 

Chippewa

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Just got back from my very quick 3 days in Westcliffe. Glad to say alltitude had no affect on the wife an kids or me. Definitely get winded quicker. The two hikes we took to Balmans Reservoir and Hayden's Pass were an eye opener. Need to take way more water the next time. It was 90f, but wish I would of had my filter to refill for walk back down.

Awesome views Colorado. I think my kids will remember this vacation.20190717_161344.jpg
 

blacksheep

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Bethlto, Illinois
It is definitely beautiful there. The Sangre de Cristo's are stunning. I can't wait until October, I'm trying to get into "mountain shape" now.
 

KipCarson

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Aug 5, 2019
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Bossier City, Louisiana
I’ve never rifle hunted up there but have spent a lot of time in the summer and early archery season in 86 in the Sangres. In early bow season I’ve been miles in and had the best elk hunting of my life, not successful filling that tag mind you, but I was seeing elk every day and having some very close encounters. It was a hunt I’ll never forget. At the end of the week getting back to the truck I find people camped everywhere complaining how bad the hunting was and that “the elk are still way too high” I’m not sure where else they thought they were suppose to be first of September but elk don’t hand around the campsite! (I was hunting 11,800 to 12,500k) My advice is to you is go deep as you can! Make fitness your absolute top priority leading up to that hunt. I live at 200 feet above sea level in Louisiana and tend to unfortunately stay overweight... I’ve hunted up there fat and I’ve hunted up there skinny, hunting skinny is much more fun lol!

Altitude can suck for a flatlander but over the years I find water and ibuprofen to be my best weapon. My buddies laugh at me and joke about having to stop for me to filter more water but at the end of the day I’ve been the one with the least headaches and pains. No one was bothered down in westcliffe but there’s a big difference from 8k to 12k! I find the first 3 days up high to be the toughest for headaches but they seem to go away the longer I stay. It affects people so differently it doesn’t make sense, my brother who stays in way better shape is more affected by the altitude, go figure.

Good luck! I hope you find them!
 

Chippewa

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Thanks for the uplift. Hope we all have encounters an good weather. Just pick up a second spare tire, for the truck, an have been hiking 4 to 6 miles 1000ft elevations with 45lbs on. Outa breath but doin it. Even have the wife an kids out now. Can't wait to get after some bulls.
 
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