I have never hunted in the mountains or for elk

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Oct 29, 2015
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Burnsville, mn
My buddy has convinced me that I need to go to Colorado to hunt Elk this year. I have never hunted in the mountains or for Elk. We are going to be bow hunting in September and will be buying over the counter tags. What are some of the things I can be doing now that will improve my chances at a successful hunt?
 

genesis273

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Aug 30, 2009
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North Carolina
Start working out!
Read everything on here that relates to hunting elk in the mountains. I believe everything has been covered.
 

JWP58

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Apr 30, 2013
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In a van, down by the river
Get in the best shape of your life. Hiking with a loaded pack, at 10k feet is a whole different ball game.

Do it smart, slow increases in intensity and duration in order to keep from developing any over use injuries.

Enjoy it, September in the mountains is incredible.
 

LopeHunter

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MO-->CA-->NW-->AZ&NW
Train with a mouthguard so during training you will artificially restrict your breathing. Find some stairs and climb repeatedly with 20 pound backpack then increase until are packing 50 pounds. Read up on altitude sickness and gather together a first aid kit to deal with altitude issues. Avoid alcohol your first couple of days at altitude. Try not to go fullspeed your first day or two up in the mountains. Might consider a sleep aid. At altitude, my sleep suffers without an aid.

Is all worth it when you are up on the mountain!
 

Biggs300

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Nov 17, 2014
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People handle the stress of climbing, hiking and backpacking at altitude very differently. I started elk hunting in CO 5 years ago when I was 59 years old. I work out religiously and have for the past 15 years. I'm in great shape for my age while my hunting buddy is over weight and not in the best of shape. Plus, he has bad knees. But, he is a mountain goat and can out-climb, out-hike and generally out-hunt me and it is frustrating. Get in the best shape that you can and go have fun. Elk hunting in the Rockies is an experience that you shouldn't miss.
 

Elk247

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Feb 23, 2016
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Minnesota
Getting in shape is definitely number one. For me the toughest part is getting your feet in shape. I can run a marathon in under four hours but a week side hilling across mountains can really ware them down. Find some steep hills and don't just go up and down work at different angles so the sides of your feet get use to it. A good worn in boot really helps.
 
M

MN Public Hunter

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Pay an outfitter and just jump out of the truck like all the fat dudes on TV do.... :) In all seriousness, exercise, shoot your bow for a 50 yard shot and practice the cow calls :)
 

MTGomer

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MT —> AZ
I wouldn't put a number on a yardage to target. Just keep working up to getting comfortable at greater distance. I practice to 100 but would never shoot anything living past 60, and even that is only under absolutely ideal situations. Most the elk I've shot have been at 30-45. One was at 56 and another at 8ish.
Practice beyond your comfort level and the regular shots will feel that much easier. There's really no golden number, in my opinion.
 

JohnCushman

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Nov 27, 2009
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South East Colorado
What kind of distances should I be comfortable with shoot my bow? I have only ever hunted Minnesota and the longest shot I've had to take with my bow is about 20 yards.

That's really subjective and up to you. You're going to want a heavier arrow as well more than likely, so that may cut down on your effective distance. I shot a lighter deer and antelope set up arrow and I was making 80 yard shots without thinking twice (killed one antelope buck at 74 yards and one at 63), but then got new arrows over 120 grains heavier built for elk, with 50 grains of it being an insert in the front, and now a 60 yard shot is a pretty good arc for me now. But, you definitely want to practice further distances than what you would feel that you would shoot. If you're going to limit yourself to 50 yards, then practice out to 100, then 50 will seem like a chip shot. Plus, you will know your equipment and drop and if that 360 bull of a lifetime steps out into the meadow at 58 yards and you know it's only a foot high shot with your 50 yard pin and conditions are perfect, then you might be willing to take the shot.
 

BlakeA

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North Dakota
Go to a local high school football field with a loaded pack and mountain boots and go up and down the stairs as many times as you can continually building your time and endurance over the summer. Endurance and a strong core and lower body will help you tremendously. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Go have fun and don't give up! Good luck
 

nrpate05

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Jan 5, 2015
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A lot of good stuff here. Also, think about where you want to hunt and do some internet scouting. I'm assuming you won't be able get boots on the ground before the season. There is a lot of knowledge here about where to focus your hunting efforts and how to give yourself the best opportunity. It will definitely help to pick a few areas that you want to hit during the season rather than wandering aimlessly through the woods and planning on getting lucky. Once you have picked a unit, I wouldn't hesitate to call the biologist in that area and get some information about the elk herd. This will be a fun journey even if you come back with your tag in your pocket. Fall in the Rocky Mountains is unbelievable.
 

Gerald Martin

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Forget everything these guys have said. A flat brim bill cap is all it takes to shoot monster bulls. :)

Seriously, get as fit as you can, but don't be so stressed about it that you get intimidated. Give yourself as much time to hunt as you can so that you can take a couple of rest days when you get worn down. I think every elk hunter has experienced burnout after several hard days of hunting. I've found I like to hunt hard for a couple days and then take an easy hunt to recuperate.

Good boots or hikers that are well broken in before the hunt are a must. But the most important thing to bring with you is a positive mental attitude at all times and an ability to have fun regardless of how hunting is going.

Shot opportunities at elk are most likely not going to come as often as you are used to when hunting deer. I've seen a lot of guys who lose focus after several days without a close encounter and then blow a good encounter because they don't think it's going to happen. When it does, it takes them by surprise and they aren't ready.

Personally, I figure I'm going to get an opportunity to shoot at an elk for about every 12 days of hunting. There's a lot of guys better than me, but I expect it to take a while, but I know it's going to happen. Consequently, I don't get nearly as stressed over a couple days without action as I used to. As long as I know elk are in the area, I'm able to keep my head in the game.

This won't be your last trip, so start figuring how you are going to make it work out in subsequent years.
 
Joined
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North Dakota
Get a good "archery" range finder with the built in angle compensation, then use it a lot before and during your hunt. Make sure that your buddy's range finder distances are matching yours every once in a while. If you belong to an archery club that has "life size" 3D Elk targets, spend some extra time shooting at them. I spent a summer punching holes in an antelope decoy and was freaked out the first time I was within archery distance of an elk bull because of their size (the thing was huge compare to an antelope or deer target). Granted that was before electronic range finders were invented, but things often happen fast and/or you get caught up in the heat of the moment. There might be times when you aren't able to use your range finder or the elk moves when your at full draw, so being able to effectively judge their distance is a big deal when it comes to archery hunting. Also, be prepared to come home empty handed on your first trip due to the learning curve involved...although just spending time in the mountains is worth it in and of its self!
 
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