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New elk hunter help

TommyCorrgs

Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2021
Messages
30
I really try not to bump into moose too much, I'd almost rather deal with a Grizz than a momma moose!
I live right on the border of 65, I won't say anything about it in particular but for a lot of the units over here there is a vast amount of the unit the elk do not use, or only use at certain parts of the year, it isn't always easy to tell, there are some incredible looking areas that do not hold more than the occasional elk, and some areas that look terrible but tend to be full of elk, it's not always obvious what the reason is either, there is a spot that I killed elk in every year for 5-6 years and then an outfitter changed on adjacent private land, it was a tiny difference but totally changed the elk's pattern, I haven't seen an elk there since...

All that to say, keep moving, at least a drainage over every time, and much farther if still not finding sign... I'll usually try to do a somewhat systematic approach, day one is driving in, get camp set up, and drive around for the evening glassing, if I see elk that is the plan, if I see multiple herds the best chance or biggest bull gets the next morning, if I don't see elk then my first choice drainage from the look around gets the morning hunt, if I put on 8-10 miles and don't see elk or fresh sign I'm either glassing different areas in the evening or driving to my next choice and trying to cover as many miles in a new drainage as possible, if you stick with this, especially if you have two or three people split up doing this, you can check off a ton of territory pretty quickly, I don't think I've ever had this approach fail to locate killable elk in a couple days.
A momma moose chased my car this year and my friend was charged while riding her horse and got bucked off into some rocks, her horse ran way into the bush, she needed to throw her saddle bag at the moose to get it to piss off. She spent the rest of the afternoon finding her horse beat up from here fall. They can really make a fun day dangerous.
 

Martydog

New member
Joined
Jan 10, 2015
Messages
11
Location
West Virginia
two things, 1) if I hike 13 miles and don't see/hear much sign, I'll give it 1.5 days then I'm pulling camp and relocating to another area and trying again. 2) If you're hiking 13 miles, you should be covering 50 miles by glassing, spend more time behind your binoculars and less time wearing out your boots especially the first and last 1.5 hours of the day. My son bought a pair of Raven 10x binos on cyber Monday for a little over $200 and they are very good. I love my Vortex 10x42 and they have some reasonably priced models that are very good. I have no problem spotting elk 5+ miles away. Good Luck.
 

BT_NVhunter

Active member
Joined
Jan 4, 2021
Messages
126
A game warden once cautioned me where I was hunting that I was more likely to be charged by a moose especially a wounded one or a mama with a calf than a bear.
Ya I lived in Maine most of my child hood we used to hike a mountain called Mount Chase I asked my scout leader why? He said a Warden was chased up a tree by a Bull Moose during the rut and stayed in the tree for a night (don't know how much truth is in that) but everyone in the north woods of Maine says the same thing Moose are far more dangerous than bears.
 

Martydog

New member
Joined
Jan 10, 2015
Messages
11
Location
West Virginia
sorry everyone, my Son bought the Maven C1, 10x binos, not Raven like I had in my post, I was watching the Bills beat the Ravens when I posted that and guess my old mind confused the two. Anyhoo, I do recommend the Maven as a very good glass for the price.
 

mstevens317

Active member
Joined
Nov 20, 2020
Messages
197
My critieria for selecting a GMU. 1. Lots of public land (i.e. national forest) 2. Elevation change within the GMU (10K' to 7K'). No matter the hunting season or weather (hot, cold, snow, dry) the elk will be somewhere in the GMU since there is a good amount of elevation change. 3. Forest closures for Elk in the winter. If you hunt late season this is very important. The forest closure areas are CPW telling you where the elk are migrating every winter. If the GMU has high elevation summer areas and low elevation winter forest closure areas then the elk will migrate within the unit. I dont worry much about success rates. Any unit with these 3 items will have elk.

I hunt GMU 14 for 2nd rifle and its a pretty good OTC unit. Heavily used for non-hunting recreation so avoid the "pretty hiking trails" (i.e. trails that go to lakes or nice views) in september. Great unit for bear.
What does CPW stand for?
 

3855WIN

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 17, 2014
Messages
1,908
Location
Mississippi
You live in Denver and you can’t summer scout? I think you need to decide how important killing an elk is to you. Hard to believe you can’t shake loose for at least one weekend and check a unit out.
 

BT_NVhunter

Active member
Joined
Jan 4, 2021
Messages
126
Question for you experienced draw hunters when you enter a draw u automatically have one point going in correct or is your first year you go into draw with zero and when you do not draw then get your point for the next year? I got confused watching some draw odds video where it was said “if I have two points then this point for this year that gives me three and they’re squared so I have 9 lottery tickets”. So wouldn’t that mean the first year to have 1 pt right? I know it may seem dumb but to someone who has no draw experience going to draw odds page on gohunt has made me question it seeing the listing of zero points?
 

ShakeDown

Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2018
Messages
27
Location
The Rock
Question for you experienced draw hunters when you enter a draw u automatically have one point going in correct or is your first year you go into draw with zero and when you do not draw then get your point for the next year? I got confused watching some draw odds video where it was said “if I have two points then this point for this year that gives me three and they’re squared so I have 9 lottery tickets”. So wouldn’t that mean the first year to have 1 pt right? I know it may seem dumb but to someone who has no draw experience going to draw odds page on gohunt has made me question it seeing the listing of zero points?

Read the individual state regulations regarding points - bonus vs preference vs no point system. Not complicated but most states have their quirks to the draw system.
 

Danger_Denver

New member
Joined
Mar 28, 2020
Messages
24
You live in Denver and you can’t summer scout? I think you need to decide how important killing an elk is to you. Hard to believe you can’t shake loose for at least one weekend and check a unit out.
Valid point. I guess over a weekend might help, with drive time each way time is still limited. I was more coming from the scenario that my PTO would be better used with time in season than over the summer scouting. But some weekend trips might be worth it.
 

kwyeewyk

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 22, 2019
Messages
620
Location
Washington
But some weekend trips might be worth it.
Absolutely, the most important part if you're struggling to find them. For someone with experience locating elk coming to a new area with no chance to scout is doable, but still not ideal. But if you're having trouble finding them going into the next season without figuring them out is a recipe for failure. Figure them out before the season and it will start to fall in place.
 

CMF

Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2019
Messages
30
You live in Denver and you can’t summer scout? I think you need to decide how important killing an elk is to you. Hard to believe you can’t shake loose for at least one weekend and check a unit out.
Yea, I'd love be within 3-4 hours of elk country! We drive 3 hours one way every weekend to deer camp in MS.
 

DeathCar81

New member
Joined
Feb 6, 2021
Messages
5
I recommend gohunt.com and if you are cheap like me just do the 7 day free trial and use those 7 days to make your final decision on a unit
 

gordoferg

Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2019
Messages
76
Location
WNC
Yea, I'd love be within 3-4 hours of elk country! We drive 3 hours one way every weekend to deer camp in MS.
We do 4.5 hrs here in NC just about every weekend from Oct to Jan 1 except for the 2 weeks we in Colorado elk country e-scout it works but if ur there get ur boots on the ground good luck this next season to all
 

RHood

New member
Joined
Feb 6, 2021
Messages
9
Location
Boulder, CO
I'm not an expert by any means so take this with a grain of salt. This past season I went bowhunting in CO and it was my first year hunting elk, although I've hunted whitetails for years in the midwest. I wouldn't worry about success rates since a good portion of hunters don't ever go more than a mile from the nearest road (where there is often a lot of pressure) or leave the hiking trails and frankly don't have much knowledge about elk. It sounds like your working harder rather than smarter. Hiking 4hrs a day to get to where you want to hunt is too much effort IMO. Have you considered hunting with camp on your back? this year I hiked around 4 hours to get to the general area I wanted to hunt and from there I didn't have as grueling as a hike to get to where I wanted to go and I was in the spots I wanted to be in for the prime morning hours.

Also look for access into a unit that isn't an obvious access point where a majority of other hunters will be. I took a forest service road that was in a different unit and parked my truck there and then hiked 4-7 miles by trail to get to the unit I actually had a tag for. I ran into one outfitter camp over 8 days but other than that I had a decent portion of the unit all to myself because the other obvious access points for my unit would have made getting to where I went pretty difficult. I was in a unit that you can draw with 0 points and a very low bull to cow ratio but saw 8 bulls over 8 days (and 4 were within 100 yards) and was able to get several responses to location bugles that were not other hunters. I also averaged around 10 miles of hiking per day. I also didn't physically scout over the summer, I did all my scouting on google maps/earth and OnX. But I would definitely try to scout in person as I wasted a few days in areas that were just a waste of time.
 

Danger_Denver

New member
Joined
Mar 28, 2020
Messages
24
Have you considered hunting with camp on your back? this year I hiked around 4 hours to get to the general area I wanted to hunt and from there I didn't have as grueling as a hike to get to where I wanted to go and I was in the spots I wanted to be in for the prime morning hours.
Yeah, I want to get some equipment to at least start spike camping for a couple of days. Going in and out every day seemed like a waste of energy and time.

Also, I know you're correct of finding lees know/obvious access point. I thought I was doing that this year, but there were plenty of people and the "end of the roads" I picked. Need to working on finding less known areas this year for sure.
 

westelker

Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2021
Messages
50
So I’ve been out for one OTC 2nd rifle season 2019, and one OTC archery elk season 2020, and no encounters with elk yet. I want to go into 2021 CO draw with a better strategy. My main question is, how do you select a GMU?
Here is my scenario for this past September. I did some weekend hunts in GMU 14, it has a low success rate but also closer to my home in Denver, so I could do more 2-3 day hunts there since it’s only about 3 hour drive. I also did a 6 day hunt in GMU 65, has decent success rates and lots of public land, but also A LOT of pressure. In both locations I couldn’t get a single return vocalization from actual elk, but called in 3 different hunters at GMU 65. I spent 15 days in the field and didn’t get any encounters other than seeing herds of elk on private land in GMU 65.
How much stock do you put in recent harvest reports for your hunt planning? I’m tempted to rove to higher success rate GMUs, but not sure if private land is inflating those stats. I talk to a lot of hunters in 65 and 14 and they frequently said thing like “I’ve hunted this are for 20, 30, 40 years ect”. They don’t seem to care about elk numbers or harvest rates and they hunt “their” GMU every year. Should I pick a spot and learn the area really well and not factor harvest reports?
Summer scouting isn’t realistic for me either. I only have so much PTO and have a baby on the way, so if I have time off I want to save it for time in the field during the season.
I’m a little bummed because I spent all year working on my calling and in GMU 14 it seems like I didn’t get and answers from low elk population and none in GMU 65 because there was so much pressure. Both spots I was going deep, average of 12-14 mile days according to my OnX, so felt like I was putting in the work to get away from pressure and roads.
I know I’m probably not the only one out there trying to find a balance to the issue, I just want to be smarter in planning a hunt with a relatively higher success rate.
Thanks for any advice on what’s worked for you.
I can give you some very good insight on Unit 49. Since you live in Denver that isn't as far a 14 and 65. Plenty of elk and after the first few days not that many hunters. westelker's email
 

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