New to elk hunting.

CJnGA

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Aug 23, 2021
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63
Hunting out west has absolutely nothing in common with whitetail deer hunting (only a slight exaggeration) - being a good golfer will serve just about as well. Being a strong hiker that is comfortable navigating through timber and steep terrain at times, in the dark would me much more important.

Somewhat agree. I think the biggest thing to wrap your head around is the expanse of the areas out west. On the first evening of my first ever Antelope hunt, we found what we thought was a prime spot - green grassy area in the bottom of a bowl - just before sunset. We sat ourselves up on 3 ridges overlooking it and thought "Oh yeah.. They'll come in here to feed before dark tonight" (whitetail hunting mindset). I spotted a LARGE group of antelope in the distance and thought "Oh man.. We're going tag out on the first evening! Nice!"... And we sat.... And we sat... And we sat... I finally pulled up OnX to figure out how far away that herd was and they were over two miles away. Then I pulled out my rangefinder to get some site points across that bowl - the spot my mind said was likely 100 yds was actually 200. And the spot I had originally estimated would be my long-shot limit at 300yds was actually about 450yds. It took a while for my head to adjust to the openness and judging distances. Needless to say, we didn't get anything that evening. After I realized what was going on, I packed up and walked back to the truck. When my f-i-l and dad got back they said "Why did you quit so early?" and I explained what was going on. It was a learning experience for sure. We ended up taking two antelope that week - one at 180yds which had the 'feel' of a 50-75yd shot in the woods back home and a 350yd shot which felt longish but not astronomical. Last year, I shot my muley at 200yds and didn't even blink an eye at it while back home in GA, you're lucky if you can see anything at 200 yds unless you're hunting a fresh logging cutover - even then you're always worried about what or who is on the other side of the cutover. Totally different mindset when hunting the vast areas of the west compared to whitetail country in the east.
 

steveshuntn1

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Sep 23, 2021
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I was going to say many of the same things as KB. I would encourage you to check out the success rates on the CO OTC hunts - here is a clue - they are terrible. Frankly, I love that so many newbies hunt CO, it keeps the better spots well better. Another important thing is to build a few points in places like CO, WY, MT, and even Utah if you are looking to cow hunt (forget limited entry hunts if you are just getting started you will never catch the point creep). Take it for what it is worth but forget bull hunting in places like Oregon, Washington, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah (except general hunts - a friend of mine just shot a stud on some Utah BLM in a unit no one thinks about)- focus on finding the best hunts you can in other states once you build 2-5 points. Do not fall into the trap of thinking you will eventually have enough points to draw premium units - you won't - period. New Mexico's draw odds have just gotten awful - I do not know a lot about Idaho but I added that to my application strategy last year and dropped another. You will hear people talk about drawing the random tags (someone has to draw them) - the application services and hunting magazines are selling you bull$^&* - if you like to gamble and do not have kids to put through college then knock yourself out. Do some research and be realistic - point creep is real and getting worse - application numbers have exploded in recent years and will only get worse - you have to be smarter than 90% of the people blindly following the advice of people making money off selling 'so you're saying there's a chance'. Most of these people are chasing the premium hunts and cannot do relatively simple math which shows you will never catch the point creep on even the average hunts in most western states that have point systems if you are just getting started. My strategy after I burn the points I accumulated starting many years ago is to burn my 'round two' points every 2-5 years on the best hunts I can and enjoy the experience.

Starting with a cow hunt is smart - a great way to get your feet wet.

Hunting out west has absolutely nothing in common with whitetail deer hunting (only a slight exaggeration) - being a good golfer will serve just about as well. Being a strong hiker that is comfortable navigating through timber and steep terrain at times, in the dark would me much more important.

Leave yourself as much time as possible and try not to get discouraged - even if you do not harvest you will learn a lot each day. I would suggest you plan on seven days of hunting if your schedule allows.

This advice may only be worth what you are paying for it. I should have asked your age - if you are 10 years old you may have time to catch point creep and draw a couple premium tags in 40-50 years - those are real numbers by the way.
Yeah I’ve been watching videos by Newburg and reading everything I can. It seems I’m way behind the ball on a premium hunt I can diy. I’m 47 by the way…I’ll try my luck at the lottery of bull tags in certain states, but it seems to be the otc is my best bet. My daughter is 19 so one day she may have a shot if she likes it. The good thing is I’m not gonna be bummed if I only hunt cows for a few years, just being in the mountains with my daughter, and at times my brother, will be an enjoyable experience. I know for sure I won’t kill one here at home!
 
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steveshuntn1

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Sep 23, 2021
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144
Are there area’s of Colorado that a new hunter should be looking at to hunt? I’m talking about the topography here. For instance the north west corner, or central Colorado etc. I’ve got family who went out several years ago, killed a bull elk the first 30 minutes of the hunt, but before he could get it taken care of and loaded up a blizzard blew in and he was scared to death driving back down the mountain.He said the road was barely big enough for one vehicle. This was an hour north of Denver. He won’t go back! I’m just wondering if this is what I should be prepared for, is this the type of roads that are the norm for hunting in Colorado? I don’t want to get into a bad situation the first time out that would possibly discourage my daughter from going back…she loves hunting, and I want her to have a good and safe enjoyable trip.
 

kwyeewyk

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Joined
Feb 22, 2019
Messages
967
Location
Washington
Are there area’s of Colorado that a new hunter should be looking at to hunt? I’m talking about the topography here. For instance the north west corner, or central Colorado etc. I’ve got family who went out several years ago, killed a bull elk the first 30 minutes of the hunt, but before he could get it taken care of and loaded up a blizzard blew in and he was scared to death driving back down the mountain.He said the road was barely big enough for one vehicle. This was an hour north of Denver. He won’t go back! I’m just wondering if this is what I should be prepared for, is this the type of roads that are the norm for hunting in Colorado? I don’t want to get into a bad situation the first time out that would possibly discourage my daughter from going back…she loves hunting, and I want her to have a good and safe enjoyable trip.
I think single vehicle dirt roads are the norm for hunting in the west in general, steep banks and limited pull outs in some areas, just have to deal with it, sucks when someone gets to backup. You just need to be prepared for the worst (might have to hang out a couple few days) and use good judgment. I carry chains for all tires, shovel, tow straps, I'd like to get some of the recovery tracks, hear good things about them. You can find roads that are pretty good in some areas but usually the easier the access the more people. Study your access and make a plan, keep track of the weather, know your limitations and you'll be fine.
 

J.Valen

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Jun 29, 2020
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247
Location
Colorado
I think single vehicle dirt roads are the norm for hunting in the west in general, steep banks and limited pull outs in some areas, just have to deal with it, sucks when someone gets to backup. You just need to be prepared for the worst (might have to hang out a couple few days) and use good judgment. I carry chains for all tires, shovel, tow straps, I'd like to get some of the recovery tracks, hear good things about them. You can find roads that are pretty good in some areas but usually the easier the access the more people. Study your access and make a plan, keep track of the weather, know your limitations and you'll be fine.
Those recovery tracks are worth every penny!
 

diamond hitch

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Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
751
Location
Western Montana
I won't pick a state since there already numerois opinions. My father took me out to where he had seen elk and urged me to sort it out at age 12. I got a calf that year.

By the next year I had determined that there were more elk on the north sides than the open south sides and they tended to travel at certain elevations but not all elevations. I killed a nice 350 bull that season.

The third year, we tried a third drainage and I started to understand migration paths and how they are affected by the weather. That year I stumbled into a cow after three weeks and a lot of miles later.

The bottom line is half of elk hunting is learning. I have a bucket of elk teeth and every elk is an experience totally differant from the previous ones. None of them are easy. Tenacity and suffer index seem to be major items in success. Give it your best !
 

steveshuntn1

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Sep 23, 2021
Messages
144
I think single vehicle dirt roads are the norm for hunting in the west in general, steep banks and limited pull outs in some areas, just have to deal with it, sucks when someone gets to backup. You just need to be prepared for the worst (might have to hang out a couple few days) and use good judgment. I carry chains for all tires, shovel, tow straps, I'd like to get some of the recovery tracks, hear good things about them. You can find roads that are pretty good in some areas but usually the easier the access the more people. Study your access and make a plan, keep track of the weather, know your limitations and you'll be fine.
My friends think I’m crazy because I’m a year away from going and I’m obsessed with it and preparing for it, but I would rather be way overdoing it than be stuck in a bad situation because I wasn’t prepared! I’ll be looking into the recovery tracks. I’m putting a winch on my truck…will be buying better tires and chains as well. My daughter is trying to learn to use an elk call she bought…so seeing her excited about it makes it all worth it!
It’s better to have it and not need it than to be there without it….I’ve always heard!
 

CJnGA

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Joined
Aug 23, 2021
Messages
63
My friends think I’m crazy because I’m a year away from going and I’m obsessed with it and preparing for it, but I would rather be way overdoing it than be stuck in a bad situation because I wasn’t prepared! I’ll be looking into the recovery tracks. I’m putting a winch on my truck…will be buying better tires and chains as well. My daughter is trying to learn to use an elk call she bought…so seeing her excited about it makes it all worth it!
It’s better to have it and not need it than to be there without it….I’ve always heard!

Ha. You sound a lot like me. The planning and research is part of the fun. It drives my wife crazy!

The "better to have it..." quote has been the mantra of planning for our first elk trip this year (coming up in 3 weeks! whew!) . We'll figure out how to pack 'light' later.
 

steveshuntn1

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Sep 23, 2021
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So after spending some time on gohunt insider it looks like my daughter and I both have good odds for drawing a couple cow tags in Colorado for the 2nd or 3rd rifle seasons in multiple units. If anyone here was going for a couple cow elk which season would you apply for? I have to put in my vacation time for next year this week. I’m leaning towards the 3rd rifle.
 
Joined
Dec 11, 2020
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76
Location
Durango Colorado
3rd season has more of a chance for some really bad weather. Which isn't a bad thing it's just something to consider. I am in the middle of hunting 2nd season right now and there is very little snow. I have seen a lot of cows so far. If I'm not archery hunting than I just buy an OTC bull tag. I grew up here, but am still fairly new to hunting elk as I left for the military after graduating high school. There are certainly better areas in the state to hunt, but the Durango area is what I know. If you are coming down the the southwest corner of the state shoot me message and I'll help as much as I can. On a side note I had a beautiful 6x6 bull at 100 yards this evening and even though I had 5 minutes of legal shooting light left I couldn't see well enough to make a for sure shot so I had to pass for tonight. I doubt I'll be sleeping much tonight. I can't wait until tomorrow morning. Hopefully I can find that bull again.
 

steveshuntn1

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Sep 23, 2021
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3rd season has more of a chance for some really bad weather. Which isn't a bad thing it's just something to consider. I am in the middle of hunting 2nd season right now and there is very little snow. I have seen a lot of cows so far. If I'm not archery hunting than I just buy an OTC bull tag. I grew up here, but am still fairly new to hunting elk as I left for the military after graduating high school. There are certainly better areas in the state to hunt, but the Durango area is what I know. If you are coming down the the southwest corner of the state shoot me message and I'll help as much as I can. On a side note I had a beautiful 6x6 bull at 100 yards this evening and even though I had 5 minutes of legal shooting light left I couldn't see well enough to make a for sure shot so I had to pass for tonight. I doubt I'll be sleeping much tonight. I can't wait until tomorrow morning. Hopefully I can find that bull again.
I hope you get him. Let us know!
 

Redwine

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Dec 27, 2021
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Location
Newnan, GA
You're on the right track. This will be our third year going out west (from GA) and our first year going after elk. If you haven't been through them yet, check out Randy's video series on E-Scouting from a few years ago. He does a good job of explaining (at least at a beginner level like me) on where the elk may be at different times of the year which will help you figure out which areas you may have the best opportunity when you're looking to be out there. I haven't seen all of it, but based on the snippets I have seen, I think the Elk101 stuff is pretty good to help shorten the learning curve.

As far as pack - my personal opinion is 'buy once, cry once'. I picked up a SG Avail 2200 with a XCurve frame a few years ago and have used it out west for antelope and muley's as well as whitetail and pig hunting here in GA. Not saying that's the best pack to have, but don't assume framed packs are only useful out west.

For camp placement.... Not sure. We'll be figuring that out this year, too. My guess is that we'll find a spot for camp (truck-based wall tent) as close as we can get to where we want to hunt and hike the rest of the way in. But based on how my previous two years hunting in WY have gone, I fully expect to have to end up driving to a different area to start hiking in or maybe even relocate camp completely at least once due to hunting pressure or pure lack of game.
Georgia new out west hunter here too. What about getting meat back? Suggestions?
 

CJnGA

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Aug 23, 2021
Messages
63
Georgia new out west hunter here too. What about getting meat back? Suggestions?

What is this 'meat' you speak of? Never heard of it. haha

We had so much shtuff in the truck this time that we had decided that if we actually killed something, we were going to rent a small Uhaul trailer from out there and pile the meat in it to haul back - either in inexpensive coolers, or if it was cold enough, just lay it out and pack ice around it and wash everything out when we got home. Turns out, we weren't even close to needing to figure out meat hauling on this trip.

I think we found something that suggested around 200 qts of space was needed to contain a boned-out elk.
 

Redwine

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Dec 27, 2021
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Newnan, GA
What is this 'meat' you speak of? Never heard of it. haha

We had so much shtuff in the truck this time that we had decided that if we actually killed something, we were going to rent a small Uhaul trailer from out there and pile the meat in it to haul back - either in inexpensive coolers, or if it was cold enough, just lay it out and pack ice around it and wash everything out when we got home. Turns out, we weren't even close to needing to figure out meat hauling on this trip.

I think we found something that suggested around 200 qts of space was needed to contain a boned-out elk.
Thank you. I am planning to go out a few times to learn scouting and process out there. Also to help carry out hopefully. Better luck next year!
 

windymtnman

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Sep 17, 2014
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When it comes to camping. Is the norm to set up close to the truck and hike in every morning, or hike in a few miles away from the trailhead and truck and camp and then hunt in a large area from that camp? Just curious as to what the seasoned elk hunters do. I know on public land here in MS most guys can see the truck from where they hunt. If I walk half a mile in on a big chunk of public I have it to myself.
Also…pack recommendations? I’m getting my gear list and although I plan to make western hunting a yearly trip I’m not sure if I should by an entry level pack or frame( I have some good backpacks I use for hunting) or pull the trigger on a serious system like a mystery ranch.
As far as buying a pack goes, that is probably just one more opinionated topic? If I were doing what you're talking about doing, I would buy a good solid packframe, with the idea that you're going to be loading the shoulders and the rest of an elk on it. I dont' think there is a backpack made that will beat a packframe for hauling meat. You can do okay with a modestly priced back pack that really doesn't need to be camo for that matter, as it's most likely an elk isn't going to be seeing much of your backside. If you've never packed out an elk on your back for a couple miles, rough terrain, steep country, you'll be darn glad you have a packframe, as it's tough enough with the best gear, much less something less than that.
 

bisblue

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Sep 21, 2016
Messages
165
Just a thought if you've never been out west it might be worth picking something like an antelope or deer hunt in a flatter unit. You can car camp and run around out west to get a feel for checking maps and looking at distances.

Elk hunting is awesome and in my limited opinion I find that it's more about fitness than anything else. When I started elk hunting I was a rock climbing guide and a wildland firefighter and just being able to move on the mountain with them was the biggest thing for me in terms of success.

Some folks come out west and crush it some don't. But I would say physical fitness would be the number one limiting factor in people that I've seen come out west, especially if you're going to try to go get in there home country for a week.

Even what people would call a "flatter" unit you can do plenty of up and down hiking and wear yourself out
 

steveshuntn1

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Sep 23, 2021
Messages
144
Just a thought if you've never been out west it might be worth picking something like an antelope or deer hunt in a flatter unit. You can car camp and run around out west to get a feel for checking maps and looking at distances.

Elk hunting is awesome and in my limited opinion I find that it's more about fitness than anything else. When I started elk hunting I was a rock climbing guide and a wildland firefighter and just being able to move on the mountain with them was the biggest thing for me in terms of success.

Some folks come out west and crush it some don't. But I would say physical fitness would be the number one limiting factor in people that I've seen come out west, especially if you're going to try to go get in there home country for a week.

Even what people would call a "flatter" unit you can do plenty of up and down hiking and wear yourself out
Completely agree…number one thing I’ve learned on all the elk hunting information I’ve consumed is to get in shape. My daughter asked to do an elk hunt and she’s 19 so if I can spend some time with her in the mountains then I’m going. If we kill something great…if not oh well. I’ll still remember it as a good time.
 

bisblue

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Sep 21, 2016
Messages
165
Completely agree…number one thing I’ve learned on all the elk hunting information I’ve consumed is to get in shape. My daughter asked to do an elk hunt and she’s 19 so if I can spend some time with her in the mountains then I’m going. If we kill something great…if not oh well. I’ll still remember it as a good time.
Nice!

Hope y'all have an absolute blast
 

blacksheep

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Joined
Oct 17, 2017
Messages
124
Location
Bethlto, Illinois
I am still new to elk hunting myself. I just finished my 2nd season. I was discouraged during my first season. I didn't even see an elk. It was a lot of work and I got to see some beautiful country. The thing that got me was that there is just soo much area to cover. The areas we hunter were huge and some of it was very steep. This past season we hunted a different spot and saw elk on our scouting day. The next morning I successfully harvested my first bull. Then the real work began. Elk quarters are heavy! Be prepared for that and heave a good pack. It makes a world of difference! The most important thing that I can relay is to be in the best shape that you can be before you go. Yes it still sucks when you have to gain 1000 feet in elevation in a mile, but being in good shape makes it almost bearable. Another tip, get the best equipment that you can afford. Good luck.

blacksheep
 

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