Colorado over the counter for 2022

WVmike

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Sep 6, 2020
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West Virginia
I plan on picking up an over the counter tag for Colorado for next year for the 2nd or 3rd rifle season. From my understanding, an over the counter tag grants you the opportunity to hunt any of the OTC gmu's in Colorado. I'm currently looking at units that have a large amount of public land. Unit 24 and the surrounding units are the main ones I have been e-scouting. Does anyone have any experience with the Flat Tops Wilderness? I know with it being 2nd or 3rd rifle, it will be mid October to beginning of November so I would imagine the elk would be down lower than the highest points in the Flat Tops. I have also noticed that there are a few outfitters that hunt that area but one of them is based in the northern part of the wilderness area. I've seen from research that this unit has a pretty decent amount of pressure especially in the 1st and 2nd rifle seasons. This will be my first elk hunt and I will be driving from WV with a buddy that will also have a tag in hand, if all goes well. Just looking for some insight into the over the counter process and with the Flat Tops. Any info is greatly appreciated.
 

EastTNHunter

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I hunted 24 during first rifle a few years ago. I hunted with an outfitter on horseback (I wanted to do a DIY hunt, but my dads health necessitated the horse access and outfitter assistance). To say that pressure was heavy in the non-wilderness area would be an understatement. ATVs were allowed outside of the wilderness area, but pressure was lighter on the wilderness side, especially back deep where we got to on horseback. Others who hunted different areas within the wilderness area had much different experiences, and although they went deep on horseback, they still had quite a few people on them that were willing to make the hikes and camp out there. Lots of trailheads to use, so access is not super tough. Hard to really hike away from the pressure. Beautiful country though.
 

WVmike

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Sep 6, 2020
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West Virginia
It looks as though there are alot of trailheads and with it being my first elk hunt, I would like the flexibility to be able to hike back to the truck within a couple of hours to be able to go to a backup spot if needed. I also wouldn't mind finding numerous spots miles from the road and setting up in a central location either.
 

TOGIE

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CO
from my experience in the flattops success comes with like three main things 1) luck 2) access to private land 3) an ability to hunt deep in the wilderness

i've had neither luck, access to private, nor an bility to hunt deep in the wilderness

have lots of spots in mind in the flattops. you'll show up to find too many people in a spot, or no sign, or both.

bottom line though, lots and lots of elk killed in the flattops every year by public land hunters.
 

old roper 42

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Apr 26, 2021
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I plan on picking up an over the counter tag for Colorado for next year for the 2nd or 3rd rifle season. From my understanding, an over the counter tag grants you the opportunity to hunt any of the OTC gmu's in Colorado. I'm currently looking at units that have a large amount of public land. Unit 24 and the surrounding units are the main ones I have been e-scouting. Does anyone have any experience with the Flat Tops Wilderness? I know with it being 2nd or 3rd rifle, it will be mid October to beginning of November so I would imagine the elk would be down lower than the highest points in the Flat Tops. I have also noticed that there are a few outfitters that hunt that area but one of them is based in the northern part of the wilderness area. I've seen from research that this unit has a pretty decent amount of pressure especially in the 1st and 2nd rifle seasons. This will be my first elk hunt and I will be driving from WV with a buddy that will also have a tag in hand, if all goes well. Just looking for some insight into the over the counter process and with the Flat Tops. Any info is greatly appreciated.
First and 4th rifle is only 5 days long, 2nd and 3rd are 7days. What helps 2nd season is 10 day break between 1st and 2nd. What hasn't been mention is 1st rifle deer tag starts 2nd elk season here in Co. So you not only have elk hunters, you now have deer hunter same units.
 

J.Valen

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Jun 29, 2020
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First and 4th rifle is only 5 days long, 2nd and 3rd are 7days. What helps 2nd season is 10 day break between 1st and 2nd. What hasn't been mention is 1st rifle deer tag starts 2nd elk season here in Co. So you not only have elk hunters, you now have deer hunter same units.
I’ve had it happen more than a couple of times where I was elk hunting and a deer hunter pointed me in the right direction to get me into elk.
 

WVmike

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Sep 6, 2020
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78
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West Virginia
Thanks for all of the info. I'm just trying to figure out a reasonable place to go that I can go to multiple spots or even units in case plan a, b, etc don't work out. I'm driving over 1,500 miles and I want to increase my chances as much as I can of getting a chance at harvesting an elk.
 

J.Valen

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Jun 29, 2020
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Thanks for all of the info. I'm just trying to figure out a reasonable place to go that I can go to multiple spots or even units in case plan a, b, etc don't work out. I'm driving over 1,500 miles and I want to increase my chances as much as I can of getting a chance at harvesting an elk.
When I first started elk hunting after moving here I just closed my eyes and picked a spot on the map and went for it. Had no idea until a couple years later and doing research that I picked a unit notorious for being a pumpkin patch. And yeah, there were other people but I still got into elk. I think the key is keep your expectations to having a good time wandering around some beautiful country (likely meet some likeminded folks whilst out there), that way the success of the trip isn’t determined on the harvesting an elk. I burned my points this year so I’ll be going OTC in 22 as well, maybe I’ll see ya out there! 😁
 

Muley_Stalker

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Dec 22, 2013
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Colorado
I picked a unit over 5 decades ago and hunt it exclusively. Needless to say I know it well. It's steep hard hunting and never crowded. Because it's hard hunting it takes no points for a cow and 1 or less for a bull.

Not for everybody but it works for me.
 

vanish

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Nov 25, 2015
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Colorado
First and 4th rifle is only 5 days long, 2nd and 3rd are 7days.

2nd season is 9 days long.

If you dont think the 1st/4th season's 5 days is enough, show up days early and locate the elk. Happens to also be more effective than hunting 9 days straight ... at least imo.

But please no, hunt 2nd or 3rd. 😉
 

old roper 42

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Apr 26, 2021
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2nd season is 9 days long.

If you dont think the 1st/4th season's 5 days is enough, show up days early and locate the elk. Happens to also be more effective than hunting 9 days straight ... at least imo.

But please no, hunt 2nd or 3rd. 😉
Your right on 9 days. Fourth is 7 days Sept 13-19. Just one of those days
 

Mudranger1

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Jun 30, 2010
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Your right on 9 days. Fourth is 7 days Sept 13-19. Just one of those days
This is not the I Hunt Colorado FB group....4th season is neither in September nor 7 days. To the OP be careful what you read on the interwebs ;) I also advise anyone coming out to hunt OTC elk with me to make sure they are coming for the experience very first and foremost. Yeah we usually can get into elk but OTC is tough. It is doable but....
 
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BrokenChicken

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May 20, 2020
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113
Location
Denver, CO
last year i hinted a unit that borders 24. I also went out and scouted 24 few places. This was my only 2nd season (1st season i got a cow in a diff part of COlorado). Anyways i had 1st rifle Bull tag and got lucky the first day (3x5 young bull)
It was the only animal i saw in 5 days. But with that being said on first day shots were going off all around me at lower elevations. My hunting buddies and i backpacked in 5 miles, killed bull 4 miles in. I didn’t mind the pack out, weather was cool with some snow on 2nd day. So meat stayed solid cold. I did 3 trips and BIL did 1 load. Talking to people that were slightly lower they saw a lot more animals. So looks like we simply were little too high up. Last year was super dry so i wonder if they did get drawn further down for more green?
Anyways, if you’re willing to put in miles, and with little luck u may get lucky. All weather dependent. Just have a backup plan if a big snowstorm hits right before your hunt. Not necessarily because all animals may get pushed down, you simply may not be able to access muchnof the area on foot.
** cool experience: 2nd night a Mtn Lion found my meat in a tree and was able to just reach and rip one bag, ate half a backstrap. I salvaged the rest.
9D4ED935-30CD-4A4A-A331-1B6DF78F3ABB.jpeg
 

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WVmike

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Sep 6, 2020
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78
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West Virginia
Thank you guys for the insight. Shooting an elk would be an added bonus for the trip. Just trying to get some experience and see some beautiful country as well. Does anyone have experience with unit 53? I'm researching units with lower elevations that have a good amount of public land.
 
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WVB4

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Jun 15, 2021
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Alabama
My buddy and I (we are both from WV, but retired military living out of state) had our 1st CO OTC hunt last year during 2nd rifle. Trust me, I understand you wanting to speed up your learning curve. 2020 had some huge fires and it was very dry with little green veg where we hunted. We saw many mule deer but no elk during our trip.
My advice is use something like onX to e-scout, learn as much about elk as you can, and search forums like this for any nuggets of useful intel. That said, we got drawn for 1st rifle this year so we met up in CO a couple of weeks ago to check the units out ahead of the hunt. We incorporated the scouting trip into our family vacations so it was very brief.
We essentially just got a lay of the land which should be beneficial for the hunt, however we didn’t have time for any hiking. I would suggest showing up a few days before season to scout if possible to locate game, setup camp, and find out where other hunters may plan to hunt.
Good luck and enjoy the beauty of those Colorado mountains.
 

cedahm

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Sep 22, 2015
Messages
886
Location
Colorado
We essentially just got a lay of the land which should be beneficial for the hunt, however we didn’t have time for any hiking. I would suggest showing up a few days before season to scout if possible to locate game, setup camp, and find out where other hunters may plan to hunt.
Even a 'lay of the land' trip is highly worth it. Airfare being where it is (low) at the moment, a weekend scouting trip should cost the same as (maybe less than) the tag (although, this year, rental cars are staggeringly high in tourist areas but still reasonable in major airports).

I realize folks that live far away have varying schedules and work/life calendars that can preclude scouting, but there is no substitute for scouting. Whether you're doing it in summer, pre-season, or with a weapon in your hands, scouting matters.

This is another area where the "Elk aren't Whitetails" statement comes into play. There are - at a minimum - 4 steps to an elk in the freezer once you have a tag...Find them, Hunt them, Kill them, Get them out. And they have to be done in order. Sometimes there's a big gap between two of the steps and that's OK (except the gap between the last 2).
 
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