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Cow Elk in Colorado 1st Season Scouting and Hunting Tips

COrookie

Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
37
Location
Colorado
Hey everyone, been awhile since I have been on but it is that time of year again. I look forward to sharing some adventures again. Anyhow, I am new to big game, and did not draw my deer tag this year. I ended up picking up cow tags in Colorado for the first rifle season (Oct. 16th to 20th). None of them are premium units, all of them are heavily pressured and difficult.

I will be doing at least two 3 day scouting trips, first one next week. I have also been e-scouting. I am looking for tips and tricks on how to properly scout and hunt cow elk during this season. I have some spots I want to check out, and will check out at least a couple of them, but wanted to pick the brains of more experienced elk hunters.

Do to the nature of the units, I am planning on hunting a lot of private/public boundaries. However, I have identified some spots away from boundaries that may hold elk but I am unsure if cow will be in there, they seem more likely to hold bulls which I do not have a tag for. Should I still consider deeper pockets for cow elk at this time?

To be honest, should I even be hunting boundaries?

The fire area is huge, covers almost all of the unit. I actually did some backpacking in there once and saw quite a few cow elk, but that was about 2 months before the fire.

I am going solo, therefore I will probably not be backpacking in too deep anywhere and plan on being somewhat mobile for the short season.

What are some tips and tricks for cow elk?

Thanks a lot and happy hunting this season.

EDIT: Removed Unit Numbers
 
Last edited:

Bluffgruff

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 23, 2019
Messages
658
Get there early and find some elk to shoot opening day. Use your glass. Burn was not a complete loss, there should be elk in parts of it. Some parts of the burn still has closures, so sort that out. Good luck!

I'd pull your unit numbers off the post. People who can help you won't need them, people who are too lazy to ask for it will get the same info.
 

COrookie

Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
37
Location
Colorado
Get there early and find some elk to shoot opening day. Use your glass. Burn was not a complete loss, there should be elk in parts of it. Some parts of the burn still has closures, so sort that out. Good luck!

I'd pull your unit numbers off the post. People who can help you won't need them, people who are too lazy to ask for it will get the same info.
Sounds good, Maybe Ill hike in this first scout trip to check out the burn area. Also, didn't think about the folks who piggy back off the forums. I removed the unit numbers and the name of the fire area.
 

YaBoyTwoods

New member
Joined
Aug 3, 2021
Messages
16
I’d focus on food and water in relation to the cows. They’ll be feeding up heavily before winter hits. If you think an area will have bulls, the cows wouldn’t be far away.
 

D-Mac

Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2017
Messages
88
Location
Loveland, Colorado
That time of year, aside from the really old bulls in sanctuary, you'll likely find different groups of elk together or at least fairly close by. As far as staying away from boundaries and going in deeper, that all depends, I'm assuming there are roads along all the boundaries or at least its easy access. In that case I might be more interested in the deeper areas. Especially if you find feed and cover, but honestly if you scout it twice for 3 days each time, you'll have a decent feel for it, just be prepared to change your plan, the weather can do anything that time of year! Maybe 60 and sunny or 20 and snowy! Either way have fun!
 

COrookie

Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
37
Location
Colorado
That time of year, aside from the really old bulls in sanctuary, you'll likely find different groups of elk together or at least fairly close by. As far as staying away from boundaries and going in deeper, that all depends, I'm assuming there are roads along all the boundaries or at least its easy access. In that case I might be more interested in the deeper areas. Especially if you find feed and cover, but honestly if you scout it twice for 3 days each time, you'll have a decent feel for it, just be prepared to change your plan, the weather can do anything that time of year! Maybe 60 and sunny or 20 and snowy! Either way have fun!
Just got back from my first scout trip. Saw some elk, and I'm adding plans to my plans. I am thinking of heading up there a few more times and setting up some game trail cams in the area during archery and muzzleloader seasons so I can see how they are moving or if they are leaving the area. Between now and opener is gonna have a lot of traffic.
 

CowboyLeroy

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Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
139
Location
DIXIE, GA
At what age do burns start too elk again? I drew a December cow tag in north central CO in the second draw and being that I've only been to Colorado a handful of times I'm totally unable to hide my ignorance.
 

nrpate05

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 5, 2015
Messages
1,202
Just got back from my first scout trip. Saw some elk, and I'm adding plans to my plans. I am thinking of heading up there a few more times and setting up some game trail cams in the area during archery and muzzleloader seasons so I can see how they are moving or if they are leaving the area. Between now and opener is gonna have a lot of traffic.
Sweet that you saw elk, but take that with a grain of salt. I scouted a unit this time last year (sounds close to the one you are referring to...) and found a big herd, but couldn't find them once the season started. If possible, I'd scout as many days as you can directly before the opener.
 

COrookie

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Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
37
Location
Colorado
Sweet that you saw elk, but take that with a grain of salt. I scouted a unit this time last year (sounds close to the one you are referring to...) and found a big herd, but couldn't find them once the season started. If possible, I'd scout as many days as you can directly before the opener.
Ya I am betting that the elk will be gone. With it being an OTC archery unit on the front range I am sure it will get a lot of pressure. I am scouting a second spot not too far away from this spot as well. That way I have two spots narrowed down.

And ya I am considering requesting a couple of extra days off before the season to give me two or three full days of scouting before opener. Right now I will be there two days early, so really only will have one day of scouting before shooting light.
 

burtonsean

New member
Joined
Feb 4, 2021
Messages
8
At what age do burns start too elk again? I drew a December cow tag in north central CO in the second draw and being that I've only been to Colorado a handful of times I'm totally unable to hide my ignorance.
I've seen elk and deer back in burned areas with the fire still smoldering. They'll go back in as soon as it's safe if there's safety or water in there. Often times there's patches of timber that are left unburned or partly burned that are surrounded by burn that can hold elk and deer. The best though is the following 1-3 years when all that new growth adds really attractive forage for them. And then even after they still really like burn areas a little more than regular as it gets back to normal activity. That's been my experience at least.
 

COrookie

Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2020
Messages
37
Location
Colorado
You got a story on how the cow elk hunt went?
Got into camp two days early, Had a backpack malfunction so had to drive into town to get it fixed but still had most the day to scout.

Opening morning I got onto two cows. I was having a hard time figuring out what to do but decided to get up on a ridge and see if I could get a move on them. Started getting into late morning and they dipped into some really thick cover, I assumed to bed down, so I backed out not to bump them.

Went back in the afternoon and set up where I thought they may come out in the evening. About an hour of sitting and glassing I saw 2 hunters walking out of the cover the elk had gone into earlier. Was bummed out because they were clearly making a lot of noise, talking, and overall seemed like they had no plan. It is what it is, never did get back on those cows.

Days 2 and 3 I didn't see any more fresh sign or elk. Plenty of hunters tho. Moved locations end of day 3 and hunted some great habitat day 4, saw one other hunter but no elk. Half assed it the last day and just enjoyed the woods.

Overall a ton of fun, enjoyed every minute of it. Many lessons learned, one of them is finding a spot with less pressure. Another one is get into better shape (I'm not in bad shape). That being said it was a popular leftover tag with over 700 available when I picked it up so I went into the hunt knowing lots of people have the same tag.

Can't wait till next year. Will hopefully draw my deer tag for September and I may try to pick up the same cow tag because the country was beautiful and why not you know. I think if I figure that area out and spend more time there I could make it happen on a cow. I'll probably go hang out in that area a few more times starting next summer, learn the unit better.
 

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